The purpose of the Senior Residence requirement is to provide reasonable assurance that a student who secures a Bachelor’s degree from Berkeley has spent enough time and completed enough work at Berkeley for the degree to be associated with the Berkeley campus.
First, it is the policy of COCI that in order to grant variances to the Senior Residence requirement it must be shown that the spirit of the requirement has been met. For example: A student who completes all upper division major and college requirements through UC Berkeley would likely be considered as having met the spirit of the Senior Residence requirement.
Guidelines for Variances
Students who have completed all required coursework but do not meet the Senior Residence requirement should contact the appropriate adviser or dean and seek assistance in requesting a waiver. The adviser or dean can then submit a request to COCI and include a copy of the student’s unofficial transcript and a cover letter outlining the circumstances surrounding the student’s request.
COCI considers the following circumstances when evaluating requests for variances to the Senior Residence requirement for cases not fitting the above policy statements:
1. The degree to which the student’s program of study meets the spirit of the Senior Residence requirement.
2. Whether the deficiency is due to factors that, to a large part, are beyond the student’s control. Such factors could include issues of health, family emergencies, financial hardship, and misadvising.
3. The size of the deviation.
- Less than five units: If the variance request is submitted by the dean or director of the student’s college or program, and is well documented (including an unofficial transcript, specific and valid reasons why the request is being made, etc.), COCI will approve the request in almost all cases. Of course, each Senior Residence Waiver request is unique, but there is an excellent chance that COCI will approve a properly documented sub-five-unit waiver request.
- Between five and ten units: Must be thoroughly documented and supported. The circumstances prohibiting the student from completing the units in residence must be shown to be outside of the student’s control, and the units must be taken at an acceptable institution, preferably one comparable in academic rigor to those within the University of California system. Successful Senior Residence Waiver requests that fall under this category are typically made on behalf of students who participate in a study abroad program that is not affiliated with the UC Education Abroad Program, as well as those who are unable to fulfill the requirement due to unforeseen and unavoidable personal, financial, health, or family-related issues.
- Above ten units: Rarely approved outright. In order to receive COCI’s approval, a case would have to be extremely compelling and well documented.
Submitting a Variance Before Coursework is Completed
While COCI prefers that Senior Residence Waiver requests be submitted after the student in question has completed his or her coursework, a request may be submitted in advance if a student expects to be unable to meet the Senior Residence requirement due to pressing personal or academic reasons, and is particularly concerned regarding the likelihood of receiving approval for a variance. In such a case, the following procedure should be followed:
1. The student must first consult with an academic adviser regarding the circumstances surrounding the expected need for a Senior Residence Waiver.
2. The student and adviser must develop a specific course of action (“academic plan”) that will result in the student completing all required coursework at an acceptable institution, preferably one comparable in academic rigor to those within the UC system. For instance, “[Student] will attend [College/University] and satisfactorily complete [X] units.”
3. The adviser must prepare a Senior Residence Waiver request that includes the student’s unofficial transcript, a cover letter describing the student’s circumstances, and the academic plan that has been developed by the adviser and student.
4. COCI will review the request and may approve the student’s academic plan, indicating that if/when the student completes this plan the Committee intends to approve a Senior Residence Waiver for this student. It must be understood, however, that approval of the student’s plan is not official approval of a waiver of the Senior Residence requirement.
5. After the student has completed the coursework outlined in the academic plan, and the necessary processes have been completed to ensure that all transfer units and grades have been posted to the student’s transcript, the student must contact the appropriate academic adviser (and/or dean’s office) and ask that an official Senior Residence Waiver request be submitted on his or her behalf.
Students should always be sure to remind their advisers that their academic plans were pre-approved by COCI and that this is a follow-up to that request. Deans/advisers must similarly note in their Senior Residence Waiver requests to COCI that the request is a follow-up to a case in which the academic plan was already approved.
6. COCI will then review the final status of the student’s transcripts, confirm that the academic plan was fulfilled, and grant the Senior Residence Waiver. Upon approval, COCI will notify the Office of the Registrar that the student should be cleared for graduation.