Graduate Application Qs

Updated Grad Application Deadline: January 1st, 2019

Do you have a terminal master’s program?

We do not have a terminal master’s program.  Our two programs are either an MA/PhD or PhD program.

Do you admit students in any quarter other than Fall?


Should I contact the faculty I’m interested in working with before I send in my application?

The Graduate Admissions Committee makes final admissions decisions, not individual faculty. Out of respect for faculty’s time, please wait to contact faculty after you have been admitted to the program, but do share your connections to their research within your application.

Our website provides information on our faculty, including their CVs.  Please review the faculty and write in your Statement of Purpose how several faculty of ours align with your research interests and goals. 

If you are admitted, our program is small enough that you will have the opportunity to work closely with numerous faculty members. You also will have plenty of opportunities to meet with and talk to individual faculty once you are admitted and before you have to make a decision about joining our program.

How long does it take to graduate with a PhD?

If you enter with a bachelor’s degree, it is a 5-year program, with most students receiving their M.A. degree at the end of the second year.  For students entering with an M.A, it is a 4-year program.

How many applicants am I competing against, and how many do you admit?

The average number of applications received each year ranges from 100 to 130.  We typically admit 10% of applicants.

I’m an international applicant – do I need to take the TOEFL?

It depends.  If you have received a degree from an English-only university, then the TOEFL requirement is usually waived, but it may need to be confirmed that it is on the approved list for acceptable English-speaking universities. 

Applicants who receive a degree in the U.S. do not need to take the TOEFL.

Applicants who have not received a degree in the U.S. or at an un-approved English-only university must take the TOEFL.

Do you need official transcripts?  Is there anything I should mail to the department during the application process?

Unofficial transcripts are acceptable and can be uploaded to your application.  Please be sure to black out the first five digits of your social security number if it is present on your transcript.  If you are admitted into our program, the Graduate Division will require official transcripts at that time.

We no longer require that any paper documents be sent to our office, including transcripts.  If paper documents are sent to our office, they will be shredded.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to upload all required materials to the application system online.

How long should my Statement of Purpose, Contribution Statement, and Optional Writing Sample be?

The lengths for the Statement of Purpose and Personal Contributions/Achievements should be  2-3 pages (preferably 2) each, double-spaced, with 12-point font size.  A writing sample is not required, but you may choose to upload a paper that is no longer than 10-12 pages in length. The CV is a separate document from the Statement of Purpose, Contribution Statement, and Optional Writing Sample. 

What qualities is the Graduate Admissions Committee looking for in an applicant?

We believe that standard criteria like GPA and GRE scores are often weighed too heavily in admissions decisions.  Although we take GPA and GRE scores into account, our primary criterion for admission is the question of fit: Do the students’ research interests align with those of the Department?  Are there faculty in our Department that would be able to mentor the students’ research pursuits? Does the student have the skills to succeed in our program?  These questions can be addressed in the students’ statement of purpose and make a clear and convincing case for their admittance in addition to their GRE and GPA.

What is the minimum GRE scoring you require?

We do not have a minimum or average GRE score because each applicant is considered holistically.  However, competition is fierce, so overall strengths in all areas of the application are important.

I can’t take the GRE until past the January 1st application deadline.  Can I still apply?

All application materials are due by the deadline of January 1st, including required GRE and TOEFL scores.  However, if there is a significant reason why you are unable to meet the deadline, then pay your application fee, submit your application, and contact Staff Graduate Program Advisor, Tricia Taylor, as soon as possible.  She  will work with you to make sure your application is noted and an extension is approved.

Do you accept international students?  What about funding?

Yes, we do admit international students.  Funding for international students is the same as domestic student funding with respect to out-of-state tuition costs and is paid for by the department and the university.

I can’t afford the application fee.  Is there any fee waiver program?

Yes, the Graduate Division has a first-come, first-served fee waiver program for qualified U.S. citizens and permanent residents who qualify.  Be sure to apply for the fee waiver, located within the online application (UCSB Online Application), as soon as possible because there are a limited amount of fee waiver funds available.

What kind of funding do you offer, if any?

Students admitted into our program receive full funding during their time in the program when in good academic standing. 

Funding includes:  tuition, out-of-state tuition (including international students), health insurance, campus-based fees, and guaranteed 50% time employment during the academic year (Fall, Winter, and Spring), which results in a monthly paycheck.  Academic good-standing is required.

How do I apply for a fellowship?

Applicants do not self-nominate for recruitment fellowship opportunities at UCSB.  The university provides recruitment fellowships for which the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee nominates based on the pool of applicants.  If you are nominated and approved for a fellowship, the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Kam, will let you know.