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?

There is no page length requirement for the three components but we recommend 2 pages maximum for each.

The Statement of Purpose (SoP) should address your past research experience and accomplishments, your reasons for applying to our graduate program, and your particular areas of interest. For the research experiences, we are particularly interested in the questions you were addressing, how you chose your approach, and what you learned from the experience. We want to know why you want to pursue a graduate degree, how you know that (through your specific experiences), and why our program appeals to you. You may also include names of UCSB MCDB faculty whose research field interests you most.

The Personal Achievements and Contributions Statement (PACS) should describe aspects of your personal background, accomplishments or achievements that you feel will help you succeed in graduate school at UCSB and become an active contributor to the global scientific community. As an example, you may want to describe a particular challenge you faced in your educational journey or personal life and how you dealt with it. What did you learn from that experience about your own resiliency? How did that lesson better prepare you to be successful in a demanding graduate program? We are particularly interested in evidence of your problem-solving skills, resiliency, drive, community-building and leadership qualities.

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 Dec. 4, 2023.
  • The deadline for MS applications is March (TBA) 2024.

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 December 4th, 2023.
Applications are only considered for the Fall quarter of each year.


All MS application materials must be submitted by March (TBA), 2024.
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, 2024.

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. Masters students typically complete their degrees in 2 years.

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, but there is no guarantee of support.

How do I apply for financial support?

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