IV. Admissions

This section of the Handbook focuses on admission policies generally. For more explicit information on processes and procedures, please refer to the Prospective Students section of the Graduate Division website for information on applying for graduate studies at UCSC.

Criteria for Admission

UCSC is committed to the recruitment, admission, and retention of a highly qualified and diverse graduate student population. The University of California offers admission to those applicants who have the highest potential for graduate study and who, with the benefit of graduate education, are most likely to contribute substantially to their academic or professional fields through teaching, research, or professional practice.

Requirements for graduate admission to the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California are:

  • Awarding of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited university prior to the quarter for which admission is sought
  • At least a B average in the last two years of undergraduate coursework.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English

Satisfaction of these minimal standards, however, does not guarantee admission, since the number of qualified applicants far exceeds the number of places available. As a consequence, many well-qualified applicants cannot be accommodated. Students should also refer to individual departments for additional admission criteria. The application for admission also requires applicants to submit 3-5 letters of recommendation, statements of purpose and/or personal history statements, as well as unofficial transcripts and other materials. Refer to the Graduate Admissions website for full information.

Please note that only one application may be considered from each applicant per admission cycle. Simultaneous applications to multiple departments are not accepted.

Application Fee Waivers & Exemptions

A limited number of application fee waivers are available for applicants who can demonstrate serious financial need (available to US Citizens, AB 540, or Permanent Residents of the United States; not available to International applicants). The Fee Waiver Request must be accompanied by proof of need that meets specific financial criteria, explained in the application Payment section.

Applicants who are affiliated with particular programs, as well as US military veterans, are potentially eligible for a Fee Exemption. Check the complete list of exempted programs for the qualifications for this exemption.

Standardized Tests

GRE Tests: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by a limited number of programs; please check this list of GRE test score requirements for specific programs. 

English Proficiency Tests: UCSC does not admit students conditionally in order to learn English prior to beginning an academic program; an excellent command of written and spoken English is required prior to enrollment. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores must be no more than two years old at the time of application. Read more about the requirements for English Language proficiency.  

Duplication of Higher Degrees

It is the policy of the UC Santa Cruz campus to prohibit the pursuit of duplicate advanced degrees. However, applicants may petition the graduate dean for an exception to this policy if the degree sought is in a field of study distinctly different from the field in which the original advanced degree was attained.

In order for a student who already holds the doctorate to be admitted or readmitted to work toward a second Ph.D.—or toward an academic master’s degree—each of the following conditions must be met:

  • The applicant must petition the graduate dean in writing prior to the application deadline for the program in question.
  • The department sponsoring the program to which admission is sought must support the applicant’s petition.
  • The department must present the graduate dean with a clear and complete outline of the program required for the degree sought, and must explain the intellectual separateness of the proposed program from that completed by the applicant in attaining the earlier degree.
  • The graduate dean will review all materials submitted and decide whether or not to admit the applicant, consulting with the Graduate Council when appropriate.

Admission to a professional master’s program after a Ph.D.—or to an academic master’s program after a professional doctorate—is not subject to these restrictions.