Graduate Students are students who are pursuing a Master's or Doctorate degree (or both). There are a few thousand of them in Davis. Since graduate school isn't really about taking a set number of units and requirements vary by department, they have been known to stick around for a long time. That is, until they get sick of school or funding runs out. Only 45% of UCD graduate students actually complete their program. To figure out when a grad student will graduate, retreat to a safe distance and ask him or her how long until they're done. Then multiply this value by 1.5 to get a good estimate. Doctoral students may spout an acronym ("A.B.D" or "E.B.D.", for "all but dissertation" or "everything but dissertation", respectively) when this question is asked; it means that they have completed all their doctoral coursework and passed their quals (qualifying exams), and "only" need to complete their dissertation* in order to get the degree. It is generally considered unwise to inquire into a grad student's research: either it's not going well, in which case the grad student will probably try to hurt you for reminding him or her of it; or it's going well, in which case you'll be treated to a rambling and impenetrable lecture on Furrier Transformers or something.

Grad Students are members of GSA and are served by the Division of Graduate Studies. Many of them are also Teaching Assistants, and they can participate in community service through the Graduate Student Community Service Committee. They are often planning on becoming academics.

You can recognize them by the fact that they are too busy with "work" to describe themselves in the Davis Wiki. They're generally more disheveled than undergraduate students, as they're more concerned with academics than appearance, with the males often sporting the "thesis beard." Another way to recognize graduate students is to go to campus on weekends and holidays. Notice that you'll see less people, but you'll still see some. To your surprise, some of those people are still acting like it's still a school day—backpacks on, hurrying about like they're about to miss a class. If you've ever overheard someone making jokes about Foucault, bounded rationality, PCR machines, hegemony, or anything else that seem like something painfully awkward to be talking about outside of discussion—you can be 95% certain you are listening to a graduate student.**

The natural habitat of a graduate student includes Mishka's, Sophia's, and Delta of Venus. They are known to frequent trivia nights since free food is one of their three food groups (other two—beer and coffee). The courtship grounds of graduate students are largely unknown. Grad students are nocturnal. If encountered during the daytime, they are frequently irritable, and may attack without provocation. Approach with care, and do not taunt.

Piled Higher and Deeper, a popular webcomic, can often be seen attached to office doors or bulletin boards throughout campus buildings, departments, and research labs. A satire of life in graduate school, grad students everywhere can identify with it. It pretty much accurately describes their lives and experiences here at Davis as well.

* And rewrite it, and include all of the picayune and frequently contradictory suggestions made by their committee, and defend it in front of a bunch of professors, and print it out so that it meets every last one of the University of California's formatting requirements, and then rewrite it to account for new research that's come out since the first draft.

**The other 5% are math majors. Sometimes math majors are even dorkier.

see also Graduate Student Social Event Calendar

Practical Advice

If you plan to go forward in academia, make sure that you network and volunteer. As you move through junior faculty positions and write your first grant proposals, they will ask you to list synergistic efforts and activities not directly related to your graduate work. Getting into grad school is not the end of your resume building. Once you obtain your advanced degree, to continue in academia you will have to defend your commitment to expanding knowledge (research), diversity, and the educational process. Despite the work load, you should choose committees and services that you can volunteer on and try to forge relationships with others in your field.


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Then there are those grad students too busy describing themselves on Davis Wiki to do their work. That's why you don't get your papers back on time. -TonyMagagna

I'm one of those grad students, too. - BrentLaabs

I wish I was a dissheveled grad student =( too. - MichaelGiardina It's "were," Michael. Remember: the subjunctive follows the conditional. Dr. NO (a grad student who made it out—BA to PhD—in just under 7 and with only two breakdowns that required hospitalization)

No you don't. Unless you are a masochist that is. - EricKlein

Oh look, there's one of those dissheveled grad students now. We're 'working' weekends, holidays, AND nights. -DanComing

This must be a description of Grad Students in real fields like Science or Math. English Grad students don't really do anything, unless there's something I'm supposed to be doing that I don't know about. Basically, we're the people in the movie theater laughing at the movie because the plot is cliche or we see some reference to Salinger or Derrida that no one else gets. Our job is to be pretentious and look good. That's it. If there's work, no one has told me about it. - NathanMilos

Seriously. Why would we be updating wiki pages about ourselves if we had anything better/more urgent/more exciting to do? Oh, the humanities. - MelanieMadden

Does anyone know the location of the cute wooden apt. building that is shown on the "Apartments" page, next to the listings for Central Davis? I want to live there! There is a caption about how grad students may appreciate the smaller complexes......believe me, I'm appreciatin' and I want to appreciate my UHaul right on over there.- SignoraStella

Where is SirPallas when you need him to talk about his theory of hazing?KenBloom

2006-09-11 11:04:44   It's generally considered rude to ask a PhD student how many years we have left. It's a little more acceptable to ask the question of a master's student. —AmyGoogenspa

I have not met anyone in my program who would consider that rude. "When are you getting out" is pretty casual conversation, as I would imagine it is in prison. If you're offended at someone asking that, you're taking yourself a little too seriously. —PhilSpear

I would say the bigger problem is that most of them don't have an actual answer but feel obliged to make up some story, possibly unrelated to the question. Besides, what's the rush? —AlexMandel

See PhDComics.

I've never had any sort of negative reaction, and I've been asking people from various departments at various universities around the country for many years. It's basically part of the "what's your research?" and "what's your group like?" (or, if you know the department well, "who's your advisor?") series of questions that usually pop up over lunch or at a diner. Most people ramble on for a bit about it, talking about their planned series of papers or any hold ups they are dealing with. —jw

2006-12-18 15:15:51   HEHEHE —HilarieLloyd

2008-02-11 14:41:52   The hallmark of grad students - going home at 11pm so they can get up early on Saturday to work on their experiment! —pizzapieGuy

2008-02-11 15:17:35   Grad students are often found munching at food sources that are open late. We don't have time to actually eat something until 11 or 12 at night, by which time most food sources are no longer offering food. —IDoNotExist

-I'm fairly new to In n Out Burger since I didn't have it back at home in Utah. The fact that they're open until 1 am is how I satisfy my hunger on those late nights! —RichardTrendall

2011-04-06 12:13:51   Whoever wrote this page deserves a cookie! If you are still in Davis contact me and I will bake you some, if not thank you for the great laugh. —DanielleC