Prospective Students

Henley Gate, UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara and the Department of Political Science is deeply committed to recruiting and supporting a diverse graduate student cohort and to developing scholarship, leadership, and professionalism of graduate students from all backgrounds including underrepresented minorities, first generation college students, students who identify as LGBTQ, women, veterans, disabled students, or any other students from non-traditional backgrounds.

Our Ph.D. program combines rigorous training in research methods, breadth of coursework across the discipline, and flexibility through a comparatively large set of options for qualifying fields. Beginning in Fall of 2018 an updated set of new requirements will be in effect. In the new requirements, students will train for their first field in a traditional area: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory.  For their second field, they may train in another traditional area, in Environmental Politics, the Politics of Identity, or in special cases another subfield.  Students also take breadth coursework outside their first and second fields; this may take the form of a third field or a range of courses across fields other than than their first and second.

We welcome applications from highly-qualified prospective students in all areas. If you are considering applying, please feel free to contact the department by email:

Kathryn Ficke
Graduate Program Advisor
Ellison Hall, Room 3835
(805) 893-3626

Professor Bruce Bimber
Director of Graduate Admissions
Ellison Hall, Room 3708

Applying to the Political Science Department at UCSB

Application Materials & Deadlines

The APPLICATION DEADLINE is December 14 for the following September.  Students are only admitted into the program for Fall Quarter. 

All application materials should be submitted via the Graduate Division's Online Application.  For department specific information and a link to the online information, please visit the Political Science section of the Graduate Division webpage.

The department requests the following materials (submitted online):

  1. Transcripts from each college and graduate program attended: Please upload unofficial transcripts online. Originals are sent directly to the Graduate Division, only if admitted and attending.
  2. Three letters of recommendations
  3. Official score reports on the Graduate Record Examination GRE  (institution code 4835) ***The department is waiving the GRE requirement for the 2021 admissions cycle.
  4. Statement of Purpose, Personal Achievements/Contributions, and Resume or CV.
  5. One writing sample
  6. TOEFL score for international students

For more information, on applying to a graduate program at UCSB, please visit the Graduate Division's application webpage.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find information about admission and the graduate program?

We encourage you to explore our graduate program web pages where you should be able to find much of the information for which you are looking.

Once admission decisions are sent out, you will receive initial information about funding. The Graduate Program Coordinator and the Graduate Division Website provide additional information on the cost of attending UCSB and financial aid opportunities.

Who should I contact for more information?

If you are looking for general information beyond what can be found on our website, please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator, Kathryn Ficke.

We also encourage you to contact individual faculty members in your area or areas of research. A full listing of faculty with contact information can be found on our online directory.

Is there a minimum GRE score for admission?

***The GRE requirement has been waived for the 2021 admissions cycle.

We judge each applicant by his/her total merits and circumstances. Standardized test scores are viewed in relationship to the letters of recommendation, GPA as recorded on transcripts, and a focused/well-written statement of purpose. Although the department does not have a specific minimum GRE requirement, we wish to ensure that our students are adequately prepared to pursue graduate work. Higher scores may increase your chance of admission and for funding consideration.

What is your policy on TOEFL/IELTS scores?

According to the UCSB Graduate Division, applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. Exemptions or exceptions to this requirement will be considered for those students who have completed an undergraduate or graduate education at an institution whose primary language of instruction is English. Proof must be provided by sending the final/official transcripts associated with the degree.

The campus minimum TOEFL score for consideration is 550 when taking the paper-based test (PBT) and 80 when taking the internet-based test (IBT). The department requires a minimum score of 600 for the written test or 80 for the internet based test. Our minimum IELTS score for consideration is an Overall Band Score of 7.

What is your admission rate and how many students usually receive funding support?

Our acceptance rate is usually about 1 in 3. Our entering class size is about 8 students, all of whom receive 5-year financial aid offers. These offers include fellowship money as well as Teaching Assistantships. In the first year, most financial packages are primarily fellowship-based, with one Teaching Assistantship.  In subsequent years, most financial aid comes in the form of two Teaching Assistantships, with fellowship funding to cover all fees and tuition. 

What is the size of your entering class?

The entering class size is about 8 students. 

How many of the incoming students are international students?

The number of international students in each cohort varies. In general, about 1/4 of our admitted students have an international background.