New Graduate Students

Welcome to the UC Berkeley Department of Mathematics! 


We are thrilled you will be joining the Berkeley mathematics community this fall! This page contains pertinent information that will help get you started as a graduate student at Berkeley. 


Complete New Student Onboarding 

You've accepted our offer; now help the Office of the Registrar prepare your student record by completing the "Scheduled Tasks" found on the "My Dashboard" tab of your CalCentral account. Scheduled tasks typically include completing the Statement of Legal Residence (SLR), immunizations form, and for international students, the Non-immingrant Information Form (NIF). In addition, you will be required to complete two mandatory Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Prevention trainings (online and in-person). You will receive more information on these requirements via CalCentral and from the department. Thus, it's important that you regularly check your CalCentral account for important campus notifications and tasks. 


For International Students - Obtaining Documents for your Visa Application via the NIF 

The Berkeley International Office (BIO) provides student advising to international students across campus and is responsible for issuing visa documents to all incoming international students. We highly encourage all international students to complete the NIF (Non-immigrant Information Form) as soon as possible in order to give plenty of time to gather the documents required to apply for a student visa. Your departmental offer letter can serve as proof of financial support. If you need assistance locating your departmental offer letter please contact Jon Phillips at jjphillips [at] berkeley [dot] edu. We also recommend you visit BIO's website for new students as you will find a wealth of resources specific to international student arrival including information on visas, housing, money, enrollment, transportation, and health care. 


On this page: 

Important Dates & Planning your Arrival 

Important Dates • Arrival • Housing Resources • Financial Matters • Medical Reminders • Student Groups

Orientation & Academics

Prelim Info • Math Orientation • Fall Enrollment 

Employment as a GSI or GSR 

GSI/GSR Overview • Requirements for 1st time GSIs • Language Requirements • Resources for GSIs

Campus Resources

Variety of useful Links 

Graduate Program Contacts 

Contact Info 


Important Dates & Planning your Arrival

Important Dates: 

  • Prelim Workshop - TBD. (Last year's schedule: Wednesday, August 5, to Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Every weekday from 3-4pm)
  • Mathematics Graduate Student Orientation - Wednesday, August 18, 2021, 1015 Evans - Full-day program
  • Enrollment Opens for New Graduate Students - July 16th, 2021
  • Teaching in the U.S. Classroom Conference (REQUIRED for first-time international GSIs) - Thursday, August 19, 2021 
  • Fall 2021 Teaching Conference for New GSIs (REQUIRED for first-time domestic & international GSIs) - Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Fall 2021 Math Prelim Exams - Monday, August 23, 2021 & Tuesday, August 24, 2021
  • Fall 2021 Graduate Division Graduate Student Orientation - August 16-20, 2021
  • First Day of Fall Semester - Wednesday, August 18, 2021
  • First Day of Fall Instruction - Wednesday, August 25, 2021

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Planning your Arrival 

This summer, we recommend that you arrive in the Bay Area as early as possible in order to get settled for your first year of graduate study. An arrival in early August would be ideal so that you can participate in the prelim prep workshop and complete HR onboarding for new GSIs in advance of your appointment start date (8/1/21). We understand that international students may only enter the country within 30 days of their I-20 or DS-2019 start date - again we recommend arriving as early as your schedule allows. 


Our department orientation (8/18) is not required, but it is highly encouraged that you attend. Not only will you be able to meet your fellow classmates, but we'll also be reviewing campus and department resources, program requirements and expectations, and will host our own Sexual Violence Sexual Harrassment Training, which satisfies the university's in-person SVSH training requirement. We'll also end the day with the office draw! 


Please note that for those of you serving as a GSI this fall, you are required to attend the Teaching Conference for New GSIs and first-time international GSIs are required to attend the Teaching in the U.S. Classroom Conference (tentative dates above).

In summary, while it is encouraged that you arrive in Berkeley as early as possible (early/mid-July), the latest you can arrive and still attend all of the required trainings and take the fall prelim is mid-August.


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Housing Resources in Berkeley  

University Campus Housing Website (for Ida Jackson, Manville, University Village)

CalRentals - University Listings for Off-Campus Housing and Summer Sublets

The Graduate Assembly's Housing Guide: Best Practices for Finding Housing 

Berkeley International Office Housing Resources

MSRI Housing Links (Short-Term Housing)

Rent To Own Labs (this site is unaffiliated with UC Berkeley)

*If you need a housing reference from the department please feel free to use Jon Phillips, Graduate Advisor, jjphillips [at] berkeley [dot] edu, 510-642-0665. Please notify him in advance so he knows someone may be contacting him for more information. 


Financial Matters

Students in the Math Department are funded through a combination of sources including Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) salaries, department top-off stipends, university fellowships (Berkeley, Chancellor's, Regents, Ning, etc.) or external fellowships (NSF, NDSEG, NPSC, etc.). In order to receive fellowship payments from the university, students must be officially registered and in good standing. To be considered registered, you must be enrolled in at least one class, have had at least the first installment of fees paid, and have no registration blocks. Please note that full-time enrollment (12 units or a DSP approved reduced course load) is required to remain in compliance with fellowship policy.


Here is an estimation of when you can expect to receive your first payments from the university (assuming you are a registered student at this time): 

  • GSI or GSR Salary if HR onboarding completed by August 7th: September 1, 2021 (for August work); if HR onboarding completed after August 7th: October 1, 2021 (for August & September work)  
  • Department Top-Off Stipend - ~August 16, 2021
  • Department Moving Stipend (Math & Applied Math Only) - ~August 16, 2021
  • University Fellowship Awards (Berkeley, Chancellor's, Ning, etc.) - ~August 19, 2021
  • External Fellowships - Please refer to granting institution for pay dates  


A delay in payment could be caused by not being considered a registered student, not having an up to date GLACIER record (for international students only), registration blocks, or department delays. 


To receive your fellowship payments via direct deposit please make sure to sign up for EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). The EFT website can also be accessed in CalCentral


To receive your GSI/GSR salary payment via direct deposit please sign up for EFT during your HR onboarding session with Campus Shared Services (CSS). After you GSI/GSR appointment has been processed by CSS HR, you can also sign up for direct deposit via UC PathIf you plan to receive paper checks instead of signing up for direct deposit, please make sure your address is correct in CalCentral.


Also, please keep in mind that receiving financial assistance from the university may have tax implications that you are not very familiar with. University and department staff are not able to give tax advice so we encourage you to consult the IRS website for more information, and or a personal/family certified tax accountant for assistance. 


International students can find more information on U.S. taxes via the Berkeley International Office website on tax reporting. 


If you have any questions regarding financial matters please don't hesitate to contact Isabel Seneca at isabel [dot] seneca [at] berkeley [dot] edu


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Stay Healthy! Medical Checklist and Immunization Information 

Once enrolled for the fall term, your Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) coverage will start on August 1, 2021 and run through December 31, 2021. Your spring 2021 coverage, once enrolled, starts January 1, 2022 - July 31, 2022. If you have alternate health insurance coverage and do not want to enroll in SHIP please submit your waiver to the University Health Services (UHS) by the deadline in mid-July - see link below for more information and to submit the waiver. Before arriving, please review the new student medical checklist below so that you come prepared for any medical emergencies that may arise. Also, please make sure to review the UC Immunization Requirement policy either via the link below or through your CalCentral account.  


New Student Medical Checklist 

UC Immunization Requirement 

Information on Waiving SHIP - Deadline ~July 15, 2021


Connect with your New Berkeley Math Friends  

The Noetherian Ring - Women and Gender Minorities in the Department of Mathematics at UC Berkeley 


Unbounded Representation URep (website TBD) 

Berkeley GEMS - Gender Equity in Mathematical Studies 

More information on the Math Grad Life website:

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Orientation & Academics 

Prelim Workshop & Prelim Exam 

(This prelim section is for Math and Applied Math graduate students only. Logic students can find more information on program requirements and the Logic prelim exams here.

Taking the prelim exam is the first requirement math graduate students will attempt in the program. All graduate students are required to pass the exam within their first three semesters of the program. It is held every semester (fall & spring) on the Monday and Tuesday mornings before instruction begins. This fall the exam will be held on Monday, August 23rd and Tuesday, August 24th. 


The purpose of the prelim exam is to make sure that graduate students have sufficient working knowledge of foundational undergraduate material in the early stages of the PhD program, and to give early feedback on gaps in knowledge. Its intention is not to weed out students, but rather help strengthen one's understanding of core material. There is no penalty for having to retake the exam more than once so we recommend students take the exam in the fall.


The Prelim Exam also gives you the chance to meet with your cohort and study! It's good to get in the habit of studying and working together - math doesn't have to be lonely in graduate school! We encourage you to attend the Prelim Workshop, which will be run by current graduate students. A practice prelim exam will be held the week before the exam. Topics will alternate between algebra and analysis. You can find the complete schedule on the workshop website (updates forthcoming). 


You can find more information on the prelim as well as resources to help you prepare and past exams here


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Math Graduate Student Orientation (For all incoming Math, Applied Math, and Logic students)

The Mathematics Graduate Student Orientation is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18th, 2021. It will be an all day event, which will include a continental breakfast and lunch. Please RSVP by August 1, 2020 (RSVP form will be sent via email). More information including a full agenda will be sent closer to the date. You can see a recent general agenda here. New students aren't required to attend, but it's highly recommended that students make every effort to be present. Curious about what to expect for your time here? Check out the MGSA Wiki


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Fall 2021 Enrollment 

Fall 2020 enrollment for new graduate students opens on July 16th, 2021, 9:15am - 12:15 pm. Registering on-time, and before August 1st, ensures that you will have timely access to health insurance coverage and access to campus resources. 


Course enrollment at Berkeley occurs in two phases (1 & 2) and is assigned based on one's standing (Grad, UG Freshman, Sophomore, etc.). For fall, new graduate students are able to sign up for classes in one phase in late July. All math graduate students must be enrolled full-time with a minimum 12-unit course load. Students needing accommodations such as a reduced course load must be registered with the Disabled Students' Program. 


As a program requirement, all first years are required to enroll in at least four courses. At least two of these must be graduate courses in Mathematics. Math 375 and 303 do not count towards the satisfaction of this requirement. Math 375 is a pedagogy course that all first-time GSIs are required to take. For reference of the course offerings to expect, you can view the fall 2020 course schedule with course descriptions here and a quick view list of fall 2019 courses here. To view courses offered in other departments visit the Berkeley Guide. I recommend using the top ribbon to search by subject rather than by keyword. 


Before finalizing your course schedule, please discuss your plans with your assigned first-year faculty adviser. You will be assigned a faculty adviser in early summer. If you have any general questions about enrollment and your options please feel free to contact Jon Phillips as well at jjphillips [at] berkeley [dot] edu



Employment as a GSI or GSR 

The two primary forms of employment for graduate students in the Math Department are Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointments. GSRs are appointed directly by the supervising faculty member. The majority of first-year students work as GSIs for the department.


In late spring/early summer an application will be sent out to all students who will be working as GSIs this fall so that we can collect your teaching preferences. We will do our best to match you to your preferences, but please keep in mind that you may not be assigned your first choice. The majority of first-year students are assigned to our larger, lower division courses as assignments are made based on seniority and prior GSI experience. When submitting your preferences please make sure that your own course schedule does not conflict with the course you may be assigned to as a GSI. Some instructors require attendance at lecture and you will always need to be available to proctor in-class midterms and final exams. The instructor teaching the course is your supervisor so please make sure to have your travel plans for winter and summer break approved by them in advance of making any travel arrangements. You may be needed several days after the final exam is given to complete final grading and administrative duties so it's important that you work with your supervising faculty member to identify when it will be okay for you to depart from campus for breaks.


Fall GSI appointments officially start on August 1st, 2021 and end on December 31st, 2021. Thus, students are paid for the entire month of August and December even though GSI work typically doesn't begin until the start of the semester and usually ends before December 31st. In order for students to be paid the correct amount it is important that they complete HR onboarding (official employment verification) with Campus Shared Services (CSS) in early August (exact date forthcoming). Students who do not complete onboarding on time will not be paid their GSI salary until October 1st. More information on onboarding sessions will be sent later this summer. 

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Requirements for first-time GSIs: 

  • Attend the daylong Teaching Conference sponsored by the GSI Teaching & Resource Center. This conference is held each semester on the Friday before classes begin - this fall it will be held on Friday, August 20th. Pre-registration is required. All first-time international GSIs must also complete the Teaching Conference for International GSIs, which takes place in the fall semester the Thursday before classes begin - this fall it will be held on Thursday, August 19th. Pre-registration is also required for Thursday's offering.
  • Successfully complete the online course GSI Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching before interacting with students (in person or online) as an instructor.
  • Enroll in and complete the 300-level pedagogy course for first-time GSIs, Math 375. All GSIs teaching for the first time on campus must take a 300-level pedagogy course, regardless of prior teaching experience or previous courses taken at other universities. If you have a course conflict with Math 375, students may take a pedagogy course offered by another department as long you have approval from the Vice Chair for Graduate Studies, Sug Woo Shin, and the alternate department. 
  • All first-time GSIs must attend an hour-long Academic Student Employee (ASE) orientation session. Advanced registration is NOT required.


Language Proficiency Requirements for International Students 

International students must satisfy an English language proficiency requirement in order to serve as a GSI. If English is your first language, if you attended a US institution for your undergraduate degree, or if you scored at least 26 on the speak portion of the TOEFL IBT, then you are automatically eligible to teach. All other students must pass an English language proficiency exam, and in some cases take a class before being eligible to teach. We will write further about the steps needed to satisfy this language requirement in advance, but please be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that this requirement is satisfied, and that your offer of a GSI appointment is contingent upon satisfying this requirement


Resources for GSIs:

GSI Teaching and Resource Center 

GSI, GSR, Reader and Tutor Guide


If you have any questions regarding GSI or GSR matters please don't hesitate to contact Isabel Seneca at isabel [dot] seneca [at] berkeley [dot] edu

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Campus Resources 

Logic Resources

Graduate Division Campus Resources Page - Comprehensive website of all resources on campus

2018 Graduate Student Handbook - Graduate Division's most recent Graduate Student Handbook

Guide to Graduate Policy - Graduate Division Policies on Graduate Studies at Berkeley

Berkeley International Office (BIO)

Berkeley Parking & Transportation

CalDining - 2019-20 Meal Plan for Graduate Students (on-campus dining commons)

Cal 1 Card - Student ID Card 

Cal Rec Sports - RSF, Campus Gym 

UC Berkeley Basic Needs Security

Food Security • CalFresh • Food Assistance Program • UCB Food Pantry

Campus Life 

Campus Safety

Gender Equity Resource Center (GenEq)

Graduate Assembly

Undocumented Student Program 

Math Stats Library

University Health Services (UHS) 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UHS

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Graduate Program Contacts 

Graduate Advisor (Primary Staff Contact for Admissions & Recruitment; advisor for all Applied & Pure Math students in Years 1 & 2, and all Logic students)  

Jon Phillips | jjphillips [at] berkeley [dot] edu or 510-642-0665


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Graduate Advisor (Primary Staff Contact for Mathematics Funding & ASE Hiring; advisor for all students Years 3 and beyond, excepting Logic students)

Isabel Seneca | isabel [dot] seneca [at] berkeley [dot] edu or 510-664-4802


Christine Tobolski

Director of Student Services 

Christine Tobolski | ctobolski [at] berkeley [dot] edu or 510-644-4603



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