A day in the life of a Ph.D. student at GPS

Take a tour of a day in the life of a current UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) student, Luke Sanford. Here, we tag along with the Ph.D. student during summer prep orientation to piece together his typical day.


  1. On some weekdays, Luke Sanford's alarm sounds off even before the sun comes up. It's all in stride with striking a work-life balance, an important part of staying self-disciplined as a student in GPS's joint Ph.D. program with the UC San Diego Department of Political Science.
  2. After a quick sans-traffic commute to La Jolla from his home in Clairemont Mesa East, Sanford is beginning his day with one of his favorite hobbies: Surfing.
  3. "It’s definitely the best time to go. It’s not crowded or windy, and the waves are usually the best then," he says.
  4. About two hours later, showered and in working-mode, Sanford is on campus. The first order of business is to make a pit stop at his office on the third floor of the Social Sciences building, located just a stone's throw from GPS.
  5. Social Sciences building
    Social Sciences building
  6. With his course materials now in hand, he is teaching "math camp" to incoming students at the School as part of summer prep.
  7. At the end of class, Sanford returns the graded homework and collects new assignments. Then, he makes a break for his office.
  8. Taking advantage of his downtime, Sanford does a little work for a project he is working on with Assistant Professor Jen Burney.
  9. Around noon, it's a short walk back to GPS to reconnect in the courtyard with a few of the School's new students over free lunch—an occasional perk for GPS's graduate students.
  10. Lunch in the courtyard
    Lunch in the courtyard
  11. Then from 12:30-1:30 p.m, Sanford holds his office hours in a nontraditional, but more casual setting: At Home Plate, a bar and restaurant conveniently located on campus across from the School.
  12. Thereafter, he puts in some more time toward his dissertation research at the office.
  13. But before heading home for the day, he has an appointment with Assistant Professor Gordon McCord ... on the tennis court.
  14. Again, all in stride with striking a work-life balance.
  15. Read a Q&A with Sanford to learn more about what attending GPS entails today.