Every Professor has different ideas of what is necessary to achieve a Ph.D. The first step towards graduating is discussing this process with your advisor; be sure to iron out your timeline for graduation, post-graduation plans, and status while you write your thesis with them.
Filing fee is an administrative status that graduate students can go on in their final semester. It is very important to discuss with your advisor if you will go on filing fee or not. Filing fee is optional, though many professors prefer for their students to go on filing fee because it is significantly cheaper for them. If a student is in good standing, meaning that they have been in graduate school less than 5-5.5 years, it is not strictly necessary for them to go on filing fee. Your advisor cannot force you onto filing fee, but if they are in financial straits you could be placed on filing fee or end up teaching your last semester.
Students who which to go on filing fee status must apply by the end of the first week of instruction in the semester in which they intend to file their thesis/dissertation. Filing fee status is only valid for the length of the semester for which it was approved and may only be used once. While on filing fee, students do not enroll in units or hold a non-registered status, so may not be appointed as a GSR or GSI. International students wishing to go on filing fee are required to obtain the signature of the International Office student advisor on the filing fee application in order to satisfy their VISA requirements.
If you do choose to go on filing fee it is important to know how that will affect your life. If you are on filing fee you will not be a student so you will lose access to the Libraries, the bus pass, and gym access. Most importantly, perhaps, is the state of your health insurance. Students on filing fee status are not automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and must apply for the plan in order to enroll. If you are working in a lab you absolutely must have health insurance. U.S residents on filing fee status may purchase SHIP any time during the year. Foreign students on approved filing fee are required to have full medical coverage during the semester and must purchase the Bay Area Counties plan. The UHS site has information on current premium costs as well as other short term coverages available. The UHS website is http://uhs.berkeley.edu/.
Ready to graduate? Talk to Lynn Keithlin (email@example.com). To graduate you will first need to be on the Degree list, which you can register for with Lynn. She will need information regarding the degree you are graduating with, which semester you are graduating, and your full name according to the campus registrar.
Registering for the Degree list is different from registering for commencement. Towards the end of March Lynn will send out information on commencement. You will be able to register for that online (http://chemistry.berkeley.edu/commencement) and walk in the ceremony if you so choose.
Filing the Thesis
Students can submit their dissertations electronically. Guidelines for filing can be found at: http://grad.berkeley.edu/policies/pdf/dissertation_guide.pdf.
Missing the Filing Deadline
If you miss the filing deadline for your thesis it very important that you talk to you advisor and Lynn Keithlin. If you need an extension of one week, often a deadline extension can be accommodated. However, if you need significantly more time, it is very likely that you will have to move the date that your degree was received to the next semester. This requires letters from your advisor.
Filing fee complicates the process of extending your time here since you are only allowed one semester. If you do not finish in your filing fee semester you must provide evidence for why you did not finish your thesis and a letter from your advisor. Additionally, you must submit a re-admittance form, associated fees, and another letter from your advisor stating that you will be supported, either by a salary from them or a teaching job.
It is also possible to use the summer session to extend when you can file, and is often cheaper. To stay registered during the summer session you must take three units of research so you can file during the summer with a graduation date in the Fall.