Graduate Application FAQs

Fall 2025 Application Portal Opens: Details coming soon!

Fall 2025 Graduate Application Deadline: Details coming soon!

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

The Graduate Admissions Committee makes final admissions decisions, not individual faculty. Please wait for contact from faculty after you have submitted your application. Within your application, you should clearly discuss which of our faculty you are interested in working with based on you research interests. Our website provides information on our faculty, including their CVs and current research projects.  Please review our faculty and include in your Statement of Purpose how our faculty 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.

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

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

It depends.  If you have received a degree from an institution where the verified sole official language of instruction is English, then the English Language Requirement is usually waived. Please review details regarding "Exemptions from the English Language Admissions Requirement" on UCSB Graduate Division's website. Applicants who receive a degree in the U.S. do not need to take an exam.

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 after you have signed the SIR (Statement of Intent to Register). 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 by the deadline.

The lengths for the Statement of Purpose and Personal History and Diversity Statement should be 2-3 pages (preferably 2) each, double-spaced, with 12-point font size. The Writing Sample should be no longer than 10-12 pages in length.

We believe that standard criteria like GPA are often weighed too heavily in admissions decisions.  Although we take GPA 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 to make a clear and convincing case for their admittance in addition to their GPA.

The Department is interested in applications from individuals with a variety of social scientific backgrounds (e.g., communication, psychology, sociology, political science, and others). On rare occasions, individuals with non-social science backgrounds are considered if they have well-developed research interests that align with one or more of our faculty's interests. Coursework and/or experience in social science research (quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods) are especially important.

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.

Yes, the Graduate Division has a first-come, first-served fee waiver program for qualified U.S. citizens and permanent residents. 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. You can read more about the fee waiver here

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.  

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 will let you know.