Current Student Policies


This section contains policies that are applicable to graduate students in the Physical Sciences Division, including information on:

The Student Manual is the official statement of University policies, regulations, and expected standards of conduct applicable to all students. Students are expected to be familiar with these policies.

In all instances, conduct involving a possible violation of University policies and regulations and other breaches of standards of behavior expected of a student in the Physical Sciences Division should be brought promptly to the attention of the PSD Dean of Students. The Physical Sciences Division follows the Area Disciplinary System outlined in the Student Manual.

Dean's Summons

From time to time, a Dean or their designee will require the immediate presence of a student to address a matter of genuine urgency. In such cases, the Dean or designee may issue a summons requiring the student to appear in person at a specified time and place, regardless of the student's other commitments. Failure to appear as required by the summons is a serious matter and may result in a restriction of registration or referral to an area Disciplinary Committee.

Divisional and Departmental Policies

In addition, PSD graduate students are required to comply with specific divisional, departmental, or program policies where such exist, including training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).

Academic Policies

Good Standing and Academic Probation Policy

Good Standing

In order to be in Good Standing in the Physical Sciences Division, students are expected to complete required courses, maintain GPA minimums, adhere to deadlines, and fulfill requirements as set out by each individual program or department. If a student has any questions about relevant degree milestones or maximum timelines for completion of requirements for a PhD or Master’s program, they are encouraged to contact the program directly or to reach out to the Dean of Students office at any time.

Students are expected to maintain Good Standing and make academic progress toward the degree throughout their graduate career.  If a student is deemed not to be in Good Standing based on the criteria outlined above, the student may be placed on Academic Probation upon the recommendation of the faculty in their program and approval of the department or program chair.

All PSD PhD students receive full funding as part of their offer of admission (via a University of Chicago source or external fellowship, award, prize, or grant) as long as they continue to make satisfactory academic progress. This funding support includes a stipend, annual insurance premiums, and the quarterly Student Services Fee. This support may take the form of a teaching assistantship, research assistantship, or stipend fellowship. All such assignments form part of the student’s academic and professional training and accepting an assignment is a requirement of remaining in good academic standing. Since these assignments are integral to the student’s academic and professional development, students are not permitted to decline funding in any given quarter of their degree program. Students on outside fellowship will receive a supplement from the program if their outside fellowship funding totals less than the funding amount noted in the offer of admission.

Academic Probation

Students on Academic Probation will be informed in writing about the expectations for how they may return to Good Standing and given a timeline for completion of those requirements, generally a minimum of one quarter.  A copy of this document, along with the student’s confirmation of receipt and acknowledgement of the terms of the probation letter shall be sent to the Dean of Students.

Students who are unable to meet the expectations outlined in the Academic Probation letter may not be permitted to continue in the program.

Current Contact Information and Residency

In general, students are expected to be in residence in Chicago for the duration of their studies, though limited exceptions do exist (e.g. Pro Forma status, etc.). The Dean of Students Office in the Physical Sciences Division requires students to either provide a current local (the greater Chicago area) residential address or to notify the Dean of Students Office that they will be residing elsewhere in a given quarter. Students must also provide a current phone number where they can be reached.

The Dean of Students Office will reach out during first week of each quarter to students who do not have a local residential address listed in their profile. Those students must provide an update to the Dean of Students Office about their current location and update their my.uchicago profile. Students who do not meet this requirement will have a registration hold placed on their records during week three of the quarter. This hold can be removed once a student provides the required information in their my.uchicago profile.

Disability Accommodations

The Divison's guidance on using disability accommodations and quarterly procedures can be found on the SDS Accommodation Process page

The University's policy on disability accommodations can be found in the Student Manual.

Student Disability Services (SDS) welcomes students to self-identify as an individual with a disability. SDS staff will engage with you in an interactive process to identify the necessary services and accommodations to ensure equitable access to University programs and services. Students can complete a request for an accommodation by submitting the online Student Disability Services Request Form.

If SDS determines that accommodations are appropriate they will provide the student with an Accommodation Determination Letter that states the approved accommodations. Copies are shared with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will assist with the implementation of accommodations.

For general questions about accommodations, please email

For questions about implementing your accommodations, please email Sarah Lippert, Assistant Dean of Students, Physical Sciences Division.


PhD and full-time MS students should not hold student positions that total more than 20 hours/week during Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters, per University policy. Some students may be eligible to hold positions that total up to 37.5 hours/week in Summer Quarter. Please note that international students have hours limitations to maintain their F-1 or J-1 immigration status.  

PhD Students

PhD students are considered to hold a “student position” if they are in an RA or TA position in any given quarter (including Summer). For records purposes, these positions have associated hours in Workday. Thus, any PhD student should plan to only hold their primary position (TA or RA through the department). If you are a PhD student and are interested in adding a position beyond your primary TA or RA appointment, you must receive approval from your department and the Dean of Students Office prior to accepting a second position.

Examples of positions that require departmental and DOS approval: TA position outside your department (e.g. Booth, The College, Summer Session), RA position outside your department, instructional grader, etc.

To request approval from your department and the Dean of Students Office, please email your Student Affairs Administrator and email to request the General Petition. Requests are not guaranteed to be approved.

General Petition

Students seeking exceptions to policies may use the general petition form (requests can be submitted to the Dean of Students). 

Grading Policies

Click here for grading policies

Family Life

Leaves of Absence

From time to time, students may want or need to take a leave of absence from their studies in the Physical Sciences Division. If you are considering a leave of absence, please contact your Student Affairs Administrator in your department or the Dean of Students Office directly ( for information about next steps. Generally, students are allowed up to four quarters of personal leave of absence and up to four quarters of medical leave of absence. The University's policy on leaves of absence can be found in the Student Manual. 

International students considering a leave of absence must consult with the Office of International Affairs in addition to working with their Department and the Dean of Students Office. Please note that you must work with both the Dean of Students Office and the Office of International Affairs to request a leave of absence. 

More details about Leave of Absence policies can be found here

Leave of Absence and Withdrawal Tuition Proration Policy

The Bursar publishes the tuition proration policy for leaves of absence and withdrawals on its website.

List-host Policies

  • Email messages must be related to the business and mission of the Physical Sciences Division.
  • Emails of a personal nature, such as notices of items for sale, lost or found items, and solicitation of goods or services are not allowed.
  • Messages that publicize or endorse causes (even a very good cause), such as relief efforts for victims of natural disasters or organizations seeking assistance that are not already associated with the University are not allowed.
  • List-host moderators have the right to withhold any messages that do not meet the guidelines set forth in this policy.

PhD Registration Limits

For students who entered a PhD program in the Physical Sciences Division before summer 2016, there is a twelve-year registration limit. For students who entered between summer 2016 and spring 2017, there is a nine-year registration limit. For students entering summer 2017 or later, the registration limit is seven years. Students who exceed these limits will be administratively withdrawn from their degree programs.

Per University policy, students who exceed registration limits after entering PhD candidacy may complete a dissertation independently and petition their program to defend the dissertation and to graduate.

Exceptions to Registration Limits for Students Entering Summer 2016 or Later

For students entering summer 2016 or later, leaves of absence are not counted against registration limits, nor is time spent in a formal master’s program such as MS-PSD.

Exceptions to registration limits may be granted by the Dean of the PSD on petition of the relevant department chair or program director, subject to approval of the Provost. Requests for exceptions should be submitted to the PSD Dean of Students. Such requests should ordinarily be made at least two quarters before the registration limit (e.g., seventh or ninth year) or at least two quarters before the end of any time extension that may already have been approved. Factors that will be taken into account in deciding whether to grant the exception include, but are not limited to: 

  • Whether the student has entered PhD candidacy;
  • The extent to which circumstances outside the student’s control have contributed to delayed progress toward the PhD;
  • Whether the exception is being sought in connection with an accommodation granted by the Student Disabilities Services Office;
  • and whether the student, along with the advisor and department chair or program director, has developed a reasonable plan, including clear, achievable milestones, for finishing in a timely manner.
  • Exceptions typically will be for no more than one year at a time.


Quarterly Registration Timeline

Graduate students should plan to register during eighth week (8th week) for the upcoming academic quarter unless instructed to register at a different time by the Dean of Students Office or their department/program. Registration reference guides are available on the Registrar’s website.

Students who do not complete registration until the first day of a quarter will ordinarily be assessed a late registration fee. This fee is not applied to students returning from a leave of absence.

PhD Student Registration Overview

The University of Chicago requires PhD students to be continuously registered. Students complete Ph.D. program requirements as established by individual academic units. To foster professional development and steady progress toward the degree, the Physical Sciences Division requires Ph.D. students to maintain satisfactory academic standing in each quarter of enrollment; and to be registered during the summer quarter in addition to autumn, winter, and spring.

Continuous registration means that PhD students must be enrolled for at least 300 units, including the option of research or advanced study. While registered, students may have access to student housing, library privileges, use of athletic facilities, eligibility for student health insurance, and access to the services of UChicago Student Wellness. 

Ph.D. students who do not wish to register in a given quarter may request a personal leave of absence (up to four quarters available for duration of studies) or a medical leave of absence (up to four quarters available for duration of studies). Ph.D. students who submit and defend their dissertation by the end of first week of their graduation quarter are eligible for a “no registration required” status during their graduation quarter. Students who submit and defend their dissertation by the early deadline typically do not receive departmental support that quarter.

MS Student Registration Overview

Ordinarily, full-time MS students in the PSD enroll in 300 units of courses during Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters.

Since most MS programs in the PSD do not require continuous registration, students should notify their program/department if they ever plan not to take courses during the Autumn, Winter, or Spring Quarter. Students who are considering not taking courses in an upcoming quarter should discuss their registration plans and degree progress with their program/department several weeks prior to the quarter they plan not to register.

International students should carefully review registration expectations related to their student visa in addition to discussing their registration plans with their program/department. To maintain F-1 and J-1 status, federal immigration regulations require students be enrolled full-time for all quarters listed on the I-20/DS-2019, with the exception of the vacation quarter (usually summer).

For Summer Quarter, MS students planning to take courses must term activate themselves prior to registering.

Booth Registration

Students interested in taking courses at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business should carefully review Booth's registration guide and timelines

PSD graduate students may not register for a Booth course in their expected graduation quarter if they need to receive a grade in the Booth course to complete their degree requirements.

Course Time Conflicts and Simultaneous Enrollment

Students who are interested in simultaneously enrolling in two courses that have a time conflict must submit a general petition to the Dean of Students Office. Simultaneous enrollment due to a time conflict is only granted in rare circumstances, and generally only for minimal or partial time overlap.

In the petition, the student should: (1) identify the two courses that have a time conflict (e.g. PHYS 12345/1 and PHYS 54321/1), (2) include written consent from the instructors of both courses that indicates that the instructor is aware of the time conflict and approves of the student missing a portion of their course meeting time, and (3) include written approval from their program leadership that the program will allow the student to enroll in two courses with a time conflict. These written approvals can take the form of email correspondence.

If a student is approved for simultaneous enrollment, it is the student’s responsibility to coordinate with their instructors to resolve any issues that result from the time conflict.

Registration Hold Policies

From time to time, students may have holds placed on their accounts. Students who have been placed on hold will not be able to register for courses nor access University services and facilities until their financial obligations or compliance with rules and regulations have been fulfilled.

If you see a hold on your account, please review this information on the Registrar’s website. You are also encouraged to reach out to your Student Affairs Administrator or the Dean of Students Office for more information and assistance with having the hold removed.

University Policies

Unregistered Students

PhD Students

PhD students have a continuous registration requirement for the duration of their degree program. In effect, this means that PhD students should be registered for at least 300 units each quarter.

PhD students who do not register will be contacted by their department/program and the Dean of Students Office. Students must register each quarter to receive their PhD funding as outlined in their offer of admission.

If a PhD student in regular student status remains unregistered at the end of first week of the quarter, they may be placed on an administrative leave of absence for that quarter.

MS Students

MS students should discuss their registration plans with their program/department each quarter for the upcoming quarter and follow any registration processes the program/department has in place.

Some programs may permit students to enroll in 0 units in certain quarters. It is the student’s responsibility to notify their program of their plans and engage in discussions about how this will impact their degree progress.

Students who do not register during registration week must complete a form indicating their plans for the upcoming quarter. This information will be shared with individual students’ programs.

MS students who are unregistered at the end of first week of the quarter and who have not discussed their registration plans with their program/department will have a registration hold placed on their accounts for the upcoming quarter. This registration hold is a student account restriction.

Students can have the registration hold removed by reaching out to the Dean of Students Office and their program to discuss their plans for continuing to make degree progress. If students do not contact their program or the Dean of Students Office by third week of the following quarter, they will be placed on an administrative leave of absence.

Administrative Leave and Withdrawal Policy

Graduate students who are restricted from registering must clear their restrictions by the end of the third week of the quarter or they will be put on an administrative leave of absence in that quarter. At the beginning of the next quarter, if the student has failed to clear all restrictions, the student will be administratively withdrawn from the University by their Dean of Students (unless the student is on a documented non-administrative leave of absence).

Vacation Time Guidance for Faculty

During the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters, Graduate Student Employees (GSEs) who are performing research or teaching services for the University are generally expected to schedule their vacation or personal time off during academic breaks (i.e., Winter and Spring Break), as outlined in the University’s Academic Calendar.  Students may also be able to take personal time over Summer quarter as approved by their supervisor at least two weeks in advance of the requested time off, or as soon as possible if two weeks’ notice is impractical under the circumstances.  

In general over the course of a calendar year, GSEs are expected to take a reasonable amount of vacation and personal time off, with the majority of time off expected to be taken during Winter and Spring Break.  Students holding a research position may opt to take the majority of their time off in the summer instead of over Winter Recess and Spring Break, with the approval of their supervisor.

Vacation and personal time while a student is holding a teaching position for the University is ordinarily not permitted, and if required for an exceptional reason for a brief period should be requested of a supervisor well in advance and alternate arrangements for teaching obligations to be met should be agreed upon.  Remote work while a student is holding a teaching or research position for the University is not permitted.