Tips for new students

Here we summarize things you will need to be aware of and adminstrative tasks that you will need to complete within your first week or two here at UCSD. These tasks include obtaining an email account, getting your student ID card, registering for classes, etc. In some cases, it will help you to complete these tasks in a particular order! We have tried to order these tasks in the proper order in which to complete them.

Important note! We strongly suggest that you complete as many of these tasks as quickly as you can when you first arrive at UCSD. As soon as the undergraduate student arrive, the lines at the registrar, burser, and cashiers' offices all grow exponentially. You can save yourself a lot of time by completing these tasks when you arrive. Also, some things are done on a first-come-first-serve basis. An example of this is in obtaining office space in EBU1.

Campus Maps

Campus maps are available from Parking and Transportation Services. Campus maps are also printed in the UCSD telephone directory, the General Catalog and the Schedule of Classes. An electronic copy can be found at

Making phone calls

On campus phone numbers all begin with "534-xxxx" or "822-xxxx". When you are making an on-campus call from an on-campus phone, you only need to dial the last 5 digits of the phone number. Ex: "4-xxxx", or "2-xxxx". If you want to make an off-campus (but local) call from a campus phone, you must first dial an "8", and then the full seven digits of the number you are calling. (some on-campus phones will not let you make even local calls, but most will). Long distance calls from on-campus phones require a special access code that your advisor will give you, once you have an advisor.

Obtaining an Office

Talk to the ECE Grad Staff (Room 2800) about getting office space, if you'd like.  Chances are you'll already have an office if you're affiliated with a lab.  Priority for general office space is first given to T.A.s, then to Ph.D. students, and finally to M.S. students. Within these groups, office space is assigned on a first come, first served basis. Naturally, students who are here early (or already here in the case of continuing students) stand a better chance of obtaining an office. However, office space will always be a bit short in EBU1.

Paperwork & Administrative Tasks (To Do Right Away!)

Take care of the following paperwork/administrative tasks in your first few weeks at UCSD:
  • Get keys for the front door of the building, your assigned office (see section above), and any lab spaces that you will be using. Keys can be picked up from the staff on the 2nd floor.
  • Get a Social Security number, if you are a foreign student. You will need this to complete your employment paperwork. The Social Security Administration is located on 909 Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach (483-7646). The International Center on campus can give you more details on this process.
  • Bring a picture ID (A drivers licence, for example) to the ID office, and ask them for a UCSD photo ID card. They should be able to give you your student ID # (which is also sometimes called your "A number", because it begins with the letter "A") right then and there. The ID card is free, but if you lose it a replacement will cost around $10.00.
  • Register for classes!
To register for classes, first you need to know what classes you want to take! Each of you is in a sub-discipline of the ECE dept. Some of you will be in the "Optics" field. Some of you will be in "Applied Physics". Some of you will be in "Wireless communication", etc. etc. Each sub-discipline has a particular set of "core classes", which are required, or (in some cases) suggested. You should get started on these core classes right away! Some of them are offered only once per year, so if you miss the quarter when it's offered, you'll have to wait a full year before being able to take the class! Pick your classes carefully...and we suggest that as soon as possible, you plan out a schedule which allows you to finish the course requirements in the span of two years.  Don't forget to sign up for ECE 290! For help in picking classes, we suggest:
  • Obtain a course-requirement sheet for your sub-discipline from the 2nd floor ECE grad office. (They're also available online) Read through the course-requirement sheet, and select classes accordingly.
  • Read the course-descriptions of the courses you will have to take in your sub-discipline. The course descriptions are available in the UCSD "course-catalog" (not to be confused the with quarterly "course-schedule"). The course catalog is available at the bookstore. It is also available on-line at: . If it appears as though the course descriptions you read do not fit your interests, you may be in the wrong sub-discipline! Consider changing sub-disciplines. There's no shame in that! Remember, this is YOUR grad career!
  • Talk to your faculty advisor. Note that even if you do not yet have a research advisor, you DO have a faculty advisor! (You are assigned one when you first arrive!) Your faculty advisor can help you pick some good classes to take.
  • Talk to older graduate students in your sub-discipline, who may be able to make recommendations about what classes to take, and which professors to take them from.
To register for classes, you will need the course ID and section ID numbers of the classes for which you want to register. (You'll also presumably want to know what days and times the classes that you're signing up for are held!). All of this information is available in the quarterly Schedule of Classes, which can be purchased at the campus store or online at WebReg.

WebReg can also be used to register for classes online. Simple instructions on how to register can be found at:

Full time students need to take a minimum of 12 units per quarter. (Although typically,full-time first and second year students take more than 12 credits per quarter). Try to schedule your course work so that you can finish it all by the end of your second year.

Opinions differ about when the best time is to get started doing research. Some say: "just concentrate on your course work during your first two years, and worry about research later". Others think you should start doing research right away. Most people have opinions that fall in between these two extremes. For the first quarter or two, adjust to UCSD and take your classes. By the third quarter, you should probably try to have identified an advisor and a research project. Then, in addition to your required coursework, you can register for Research (ECE299).

Attend the Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) given by Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S).  This is required for all UCSD employees. After taking the class, give your paperwork to the Grad Office to be put in your employment file. Important Note!! If you fail to take an IIPP class in the first quarter, your pay will be terminated! Don't let this happen to you! Register for an IIPP class! The IIPP class schedule and registration are available at: Office of Environment, Health, and Safety ( 

If you are an out-of-state US citizen, you are *required* to become an in-state-resident as soon as possible! (The department pays a lot less money for in-state tution!). Paperwork to change your resident classification is available at the Registrars Office. The forms ask for reciepts and proof of residence in the state of California. So it behooves you to save rental and bank account receipts! Also, you must obtain a California drivers license (or, alternatively, simply a California ID). These are obtained through the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). It takes one year from the time that you obtain a CA drivers license until you can be considered a CA resident! So get your drivers license (or ID) early! (Definitely in the first quarter that you're here).

Mail: Your mailbox, and sending out mail

Graduate student mailboxes are located in the basement of EBU1 in a small room across from the elevators (it shares a window with the courtyard). It is important to check your mailbox at least once a week. Often, important mailings are put in your mailbox, and you can miss out on events or notices if you do not check your mailbox frequently. Also, since you will be sharing a box with two or three other students, it is only courteous to empty your mail on a regular basis. Your address is:

Joe Student 0407
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0407

Please do not have personal mail delivered to these mailboxes.

Outgoing mail can be dropped off in the ECE mail room near graduate affairs on the 2nd floor of EBU1. There are three kinds of outgoing mail. (1) Normal stamped mail, (2) inter-departmental mail: This is mail that has an on-campus address. Only the mail code is needed on the envelope, and a stamp is not required. (3) budget-mail: This is for mail that you are sending for business purposes. An "index number" is written on the mail in the place where you would normally stick a stamp. Your advisor then picks up the tab for the mail. Make sure you use this only for business related mail...else you'll have an unhappy advisor, which just isn't worth the cost of a stamp.

Grad Student Lounge

The graduate student lounge is located on the 3rd floor of EBU1 (Room 3327)  There is a dining table, microwave, and refrigerator, as well as couches, a TV, a foosball table, a ping-pong table, and a dart board.  You can get access by swiping your student ID if you are a current ECE graduate student.  If you have any trouble gaining access, please contact one of our lounge chairs (found on our list of ECE GSC officers).

Grad Study Area

There is a graduate study area located in the 3rd floor of EBU1/Jacobs Hall, room 3329.  You access the grad study area by going through the grad student lounge - so if you have access to the grad student lounge, you can already get into the grad study area.
--Get your learn on.
--Make use of the ECE-related books dispersed around the room; they are for everybody to use.
--Come up the solutions to the world's energy problems.

--Prop open the door that leads directly to the outside patio. This door is an exit only.
--Steal the ECE-related books dispersed around the room; they are for everybody to use.
--Make any type of mess (including; but not limited to; scrap paper containing flawed calculations, disgusting and smelly food, empty pens, and shoes).

Driving, Busing, Biking and Parking

If you plan to drive to campus, several types of parking permits are available from the Parking Office located at 400 University Center. There are many varieties, including yearly permits, ten day in-quarter permits, quarterly night/weekend permits and one-day permits. Grad students can purchase staff permits (for green spaces) or less expensive student permits (for yellow spaces). Quarterly night/weekend permits (also available at the Gilman and Northview Information Booths). Costs of these permits can be found online at

Be warned that all parking spaces are in great demand; the green spaces near EBU1 are full shortly after 8am and stay full until 4:30pm. If you plan to drive, arrive early!

An alternative to driving is the city bus service; a sticker is available for your ID card from Rideshare Operations giving you free bus service in the University City area. Rideshare Operations is located in the Parking and Transportation Office in the Gilman Parking Structure.

Pedal Club: A terrific program is available through the Rideshare Operations office called "pedal club". If you bike to work every day, and have registered your bike with the campus police, you can obtain a free 10-day-per-quarter parking permit from the Rideshare Operations office. This permit allows you to park your car on campus in green spots 10 days per quarter.


Paychecks for Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants can be directly deposited to your bank account. In order to do this, you will need to obtain a form from your credit union or bank, fill it out, and submit it (along with a canceled check) to the payroll office. If you do not have direct deposit, your paycheck must be picked up from the student assistant in the 2800 pod. 

Fellowship checks cannot be direct deposited. No taxes are automatically withheld and the recipient is responsible for making quarterly tax payments.


Graduate students are required to carry the Graduate Student Health Insurance Policy (GSHIP) or to prove that they have their own insurance (eg. from an employed spouse). For PhD students in ECE fee remissions generally pay for health insurance, and most students don't find this a problem.

Dental/Vision insurance is now included through the University for no additional fee. See the insurance office at the Student Health Center for information on this.

Car Insurance is required by law in California, though you should still make sure that you carry uninsured motorist coverage.