Information for New Graduate Students
Orientation Heading link
Graduate Student Orientation for new students in the Department of Biological Sciences will take place in late summer 2023. The program will include both Department-specific and University-wide information.
Handouts from orientation
The i-Card is the official identification card of the University for students, staff, and faculty. It is important to obtain an i-Card and carry it with you at all times. The i-Card is needed to enter certain labs and buildings, for access to certain student-related events and services, and to check material out of the library.
Once you have registered for a course, you may obtain your i-Card. This should be done as soon as possible following your registration. You will need to bring a print-out of your registration and either a driver’s license, state ID card, or passport to the i-Card Office. Complete information, including locations, is available from the i-Card office.
First Semester Registration
After you receive your official admission letter, via email, from the Office of Admissions and Records you will receive information on when you may register and instructions.
Registration, including changes to any existing registration, begins a number of months before the term and continues through the first official ten days of the term (first official five days for summer session). During the registration period, all registration activity is done by the student using Student Self-Service, which may be accessed from UIC Web for Student. When attempting to register, if you receive an error message directly pertaining to the class or section you are requesting, consult with the department offering the course as an override may need to be input into the system to allow you to continue to register. Once the override has been added you still have to register for the course in Student Self-Service. If you receive an error message that you do not understand, consult the Registration Help Line at (312) 996-8600.
All Teaching and Research Assistants must register for a minimum of 8 semester hours. Nine hours is the minimum for the CTA UPass. Graduate students who are supported either by a fellowship or a tuition-and-service-fee waiver alone must register for a minimum of 12 semester hours.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition and fees are set by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
The tuition and fee schedule and your payment obligations are available from the Office of Admissions and Records website.
Assistantships (option 1)
All new Assistants should complete the university hire process by the beginning of August, if at all possible. You will receive an email from the department providing a logon ID and password to access the university’s NESSIE system in order to submit required forms on-line. Additionally, all students must visit the department to complete and submit an I-9 (Employment Eligibility) form in person. International students must check in to UIC’s Office of International Services, register for courses, and then return to Beth Brand’s office (3250 SES) to complete this form.
A letter of offer will be sent to you following your acceptance of our offer to begin graduate studies in our department. Detailed information about registration procedures will be sent to all incoming graduate students in early summer.
The Nessie System: What must be done by a student, and what may occur if the appointment is late or if Nessie information is missing
If you have been granted an assistantship there are a number of important steps that you have to complete to ensure timely processing and receipt of your first stipend check.
- You will receive a formal letter of offer from the unit (usually your academic program) that is attempting to hire you.
- After you have accepted and returned the formal letter of offer for the assistantship, the unit that is hiring you will complete the necessary information in the university database.
- When the hiring unit completes the previous step, it will trigger an email to you with logon and other information for an online system called NESSIE.
- In NESSIE, you will need to complete the HR Application and Payroll information (demographic, educational, and bank deposit information).
- You will be sent a logon for the I-9 Tracker. Log on and complete the I-9 before your first date of hire. You will also need to bring in acceptable official identification to verify this form.
- The department relays financial information regarding the student’s first year of support to the Office of International Services (OIS). The incoming student is also responsible for submitting documents to OIS, including financial documents.
- The processing for international students on a visa allows less flexibility with regard to the start date, so it is important to complete the necessary steps in a timely fashion.
It is only after all these stages have been successfully completed that your appointment becomes official and allows you to begin your duties and receive the monthly stipend, which is paid on the 16th. In addition, if the appointment comes with a tuition waiver (contact your unit to find out exactly which parts of the tuition and fees are waived and which are not), it is only at this stage that the waiver is available to be applied to your account, assuming you have also correctly registered for the total hours required to receive the waiver. If the appointment for the assistantship is offered or processed late, or any of the steps outlined above are delayed, there is a possibility of missing your first monthly stipend check. Although you will receive an adjusted payment one or two weeks later (assuming the beginning date is properly processed and assuming you worked for that period), not having the first check can cause financial issues you did not anticipate. Therefore, if you do not receive timely responses you should always contact the hiring unit to ensure procedures have not been overlooked. See the Graduate College Assistantships website for additional assistantship information.
Registration requirements for assistants
All Teaching and Research Assistants must register for a minimum of 8 semester hours; graduate students who are supported either by a fellowship, or a tuition-and-service-fee-waiver alone, must register for a minimum of 12 semester hours.
What the department expect from assistants
Most assistantships in the Department of Biological Sciences are half-time (20 hours per week) appointments. Some quarter time (10 hours per week) appointments are awarded, depending on the needs of individual students.
The duties of teaching assistants vary. Depending on the class you are assigned to, you may be teaching laboratory sections, grading exams, lab reports, or homework assignments, leading discussion sections, or helping with laboratory preparation. In some cases, teaching assistants attend required weekly meetings with the course instructor and the other assistants involved in the class. In your letter of offer, you will receive some general information about your duties. Exact details for each class will be provided at an initial meeting with the class instructor before the start of classes.
Research assistants are usually selected and hired directly by a faculty member to work in their research laboratory. Details about the expectations of a research advisor will vary depending on the laboratory and should be clarified in discussions between the student and the researcher who has hired them. A research assistantship generally contributes to the ongoing research project in the laboratory. In some cases, work conducted under a research assistantship becomes a part of the student’s graduate research project.
Our Graduate Specialist will be your primary source for advising. Once you have selected a lab, your research advisor along with your committee will work with you to help you decide on appropriate coursework and research goals. The University has specific guidelines about the composition of the M.S. defense committee, the Ph.D. preliminary exam committee, and the Ph.D. defense committee.
Beth Brand will work with you and your committee to help you navigate through the deadlines, paperwork, and general requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Please feel free to contact her with any questions you may have.