Graduate FAQs


Is the GRE exam required?

No. The GRE is not required for the current application cycle.

What is my application status? Is my application complete?

Your application status is available online using the email address you used and the password you created when you started your application.

What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and Statement of Personal Contributions?

The Statement of Purpose is a brief statement outlining your reasons for applying to our graduate program, particular area of specialization within the major field, past academic work and research experience. You may also include names of UCSB MCDB faculty whose research field interests you most. Basically, we want to know why you want to pursue a graduate degree, how you know that (through your specific experiences), and why our program.

The Personal Achievements / Contributions Statement should describe aspects of your personal background, accomplishments or achievements that you feel are important in your contribution to a diverse population at UCSB. For example, include any economic challenges experienced while achieving higher education, any unusual or varied life experiences that might contribute to the diversity of the graduate group like fluency in other languages, experience in living in bicultural communities, academic research interests focusing on cultural, societal or educational problems as they affect underserved segments of society or evidence of an intention to use the graduate degree toward serving disadvantaged individuals or populations.

Where can I get answers to my Graduate Division Admissions and Applications Questions?

The Graduate Division Admissions FAQ page has answers to questions about the online application, fees, test scores, admissions decisions and more.

When will I know if I have been accepted to UCSB?

Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis beginning the day after the admissions deadline. PhD applicants will be invited to interview during the recruitment weekend, held in early February. Most PhD admission decisions will be finalized by early March. Masters applicants will be notified by early April. We ask that applicants be patient during this period. You will be notified by email when a decision has been made on your application, and your Application Status Page will be updated with a decision letter.

When is the Application Deadline?
  • The deadline for PhD applications is Monday, December 7, 2020
  • The deadline for MA applications is Monday, February 22, 2021

All application materials must be received by these dates.

When will I be notified if I was admitted to the Graduate Program?

Spring and Summer

Prospective students should contact Faculty of Interest.

Late August / Early September

Graduate application available through UC Santa Barbara’s Graduate Division.


All PhD application materials must be submitted by Monday, December 7th.
Applications are only considered for the Fall quarter of each year.


All MA application materials must be submitted by Monday, February 22nd.
Applications are only considered for the Fall quarter of each year.

Late February / Early March

Admissions and financial notifications distributed to prospective students.


Statement of Intent and Financial Deadline – April 15th.

What is the average time to degree?

The normative time for the PhD degree in MCDB is 5.5-6 years. MCDB PhD students take preliminary exams at the start of year 2, then advance to candidacy in year 3. Thesis track Masters students complete the degree in 2 years; Exam track Masters can complete the degree in as little as 1 year.

Financial Support

If I am accepted to UCSB, what sort of financial package can I expect to receive?

All rotating PhD students are fully supported through a combination of Research Fellowship/TAship in year 1. After that it is the responsibility of the student and their faculty advisor to arrange funding via employment from TAships, grant funds, or fellowship. There are several separate outside fellowships as well as department fellowships that are offered to students once they are advanced to candidacy. For more information see the Graduate Division's Financial Support and Fellowships section. Masters students can apply for TAships or arrange for employment as a student researcher with their faculty sponsor.

How do I apply for financial support?

The completed application for admission automatically serves as the application for financial support.