Graduate Studies

2017-18 General Catalog

UC Santa Cruz offers graduate study in more than 40 academic fields. About 800 graduate students are enrolled at the certificate, master’s, and doctoral levels. The small size of the UCSC graduate programs encourages close working relations between students and faculty in an informal atmosphere conducive to rapid learning and professional growth. Many graduate programs have interdisciplinary components, and students are encouraged to explore the conceptual connections between related fields as they acquire mastery in their areas of specialization.

Research facilities at UCSC are excellent, and there are extensive opportunities for graduate students to engage in significant independent study and research (see Resources for Learning and Research). Graduate students are also encouraged to obtain teaching experience, primarily as supervised teaching assistants. They are highly valued members of the UCSC community, contributing substantially to the research and teaching conducted on the campus.

Degrees and Programs

The University of California, Santa Cruz, offers graduate programs leading to advanced degrees or certificates in the following areas:


Degree or Certificate



Applied Economics and Finance M.S.

Astronomy and Astrophysics


Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics


Chemistry and Biochemistry


Computational Media


Computer Engineering


Computer Science


Digital Arts and New Media


Earth Sciences


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology






Education: Teaching (credential program)


Electrical Engineering


Environmental Studies


Feminist Studies


Film and Digital Media


Games and Playable Media M.S.



History of Consciousness


Latin American and Latino Studies








Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology


Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology




Ocean Sciences








Programs in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering


*Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics (BMEB)
*Chemical Biology, Biochemistry, and Biophysics (CB3)
*Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCD)
*Microbial Biology and Pathogenesis (MICRO)

Psychology (social, developmental, or cognitive)


Science Communication: Science Writing


Scientific Computing and Applied Mathematics


Social Documentation




Statistics and Applied Mathematics


Technology and Information Management


Theater Arts


Visual Studies


Program Descriptions

Descriptions of individual programs appear under the specific disciplines in the Programs and Courses section. Application materials for all programs are available online at the Division of Graduate Studies; applications for the upcoming academic year are available starting October 1 of the prior year.

A list of graduate programs with links to additional information is available at Inquiries about part-time study should be directed to the individual departments. If there are any problems with the online application process, please email


At UC Santa Cruz, individual graduate programs are directed by the academic departments. Overall policy is determined by the Graduate Council, and coordination and record keeping for matters common to all graduate students—such as admission applications, fellowships, and advancement to candidacy—are the responsibility of the Division of Graduate Studies. The dean of graduate studies is the chief administrative officer. Graduate policies and other information can be found online in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Catalog Rights

Students matriculating in a given graduate program will select the UCSC General Catalog they will follow to meet their requirements. This can be either the one published the year they enter the program, or any subsequent catalog published prior to the year they are awarded the degree sought. Students who seek readmission after a break in attendance of more than two years (six regular quarters) must adhere to the graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission or to those subsequently established for all portions of the degree requirements not already fulfilled. The readmitting program will determine which degree requirements remain to be fulfilled, and will communicate this information in the letter offering readmission. This determination constitutes a formal requirement for readmission to the program, and the student’s acceptance of readmission implies acceptance of the program’s written stipulation of remaining degree requirements. Should any student choose to follow catalog requirements for a year in which the catalog is not printed in hard copy, the requirements will include any online catalog update for that year. A student must follow the chosen catalog in its entirety, including both the individual degree program and general university requirements. General university requirements may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Evaluation of Performance

Graduate students are graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) or, at student option, A, B, C, D, F. The grade A, B, or S is awarded for satisfactory work. A graduate student receiving a grade of C, D, or U will not be able to use the credit for that course to satisfy any course requirement for a graduate degree. Courses in which a graduate student receives a grade of C, D, F, or U may be repeated. Credits will be counted once, and the most recently earned grade will determine whether a degree requirement has been met. Repeating a course more than once requires the prior written approval of the dean of graduate studies.

Graduate student performance in all courses taken for credit at UC Santa Cruz may also be evaluated according to the Narrative Evaluation System. A narrative evaluation typically describes the nature and requirements of the course, the student’s strengths and weaknesses in the various aspects of the course (e.g., discussion, laboratory work, term papers, and examinations), and the student’s general understanding of the course content. Evaluations may be used by academic advisers and become part of the student’s official academic record.

Please also refer to the statement on Academic Integrity; Appendix F, Graduate Student–Faculty Adviser Relationship Guidelines; and Appendix O, Official University Policy on Academic Integrity for Graduate Students, published in the Student Policies and Regulations Handbook.

Diversity-Enhancement Programs

The Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship and the Dissertation-Year Fellowship are part of the University of California’s Academic Career Development Program.

The Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship is a merit-based diversity-enhancement program that provides financial support for students from diverse backgrounds to pursue and successfully complete a graduate degree. This fellowship is awarded to entering doctoral students who have overcome significant obstacles to achieve a baccalaureate-level degree, and whose economic, educational, or social background contributes to intellectual diversity of the graduate student population. Departments identify applicants from among their pool of admissions applications. Applicants should refer to the information under Financial Support in the application to gain a better understanding of this fellowship. Fellowship recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The Dissertation-Year Fellowship is available to continuing students who are advanced to candidacy. Enrolled students are assisted through formal and informal group orientations, individual advice about academic matters, financial aid, postdoctoral opportunities, and the provision of information about career planning, health care, and housing.

Departments nominate applicants for this fellowship from among their qualified students. For information, see the Division of Graduate Studies website.

Exchange Program

A graduate student in good standing at UC Santa Cruz who wishes to take advantage of educational opportunities available only at another campus of the University of California may become an intercampus exchange graduate student for a quarter or more. This program also permits students to take courses at more than one UC campus during the same quarter.

To participate in the program, a student must have the approval of his or her faculty adviser, the dean of the Division of Graduate Studies at UC Santa Cruz, and the graduate dean on the campus to be visited. Application forms may be obtained from the Division of Graduate Studies and should be submitted three weeks before the quarter in which the exchange begins.

Student Life

The campus offers a variety of programs to enhance the quality of student life, all of which are available to graduate students. These include child care, sports and recreation, health services, cultural events, transportation services, and the UCSC Women’s Center. See Campus Life for information on these services and a description of the local community. See Disability Resource Center for services available to students with disabilities.

College Affiliation

Graduate students at Santa Cruz have the opportunity to affiliate with one of the 10 colleges on campus (see college descriptions). Participation in the activities of a college may include taking an occasional meal there, living at the college, or participating in the college’s educational and preceptorial programs or in its extracurricular activities.

Graduate Student Association

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is an organization of all graduate students at UCSC. It seeks to advance the general welfare of the graduate student body and is responsible for promoting extracurricular activities on campus.

Graduate students elect a GSA steering committee, which coordinates activities and their funding. In past years, the steering committee has sponsored student social gatherings, musical events, poetry readings, lectures by visiting scholars, and other activities of special interest to graduate students. A portion of the college student government fee, paid by all students, is available to the association for this purpose. The steering committee also recommends graduate students for appointment to university committees.

Graduate Student Commons (Grad Commons)

Located in the Quarry Plaza, the Graduate Student Commons (Grad Commons) exists solely to serve the needs and interests of graduate students at UCSC. The Grad Commons is the only building on campus that is owned and operated entirely by graduate students. It provides a comfortable and welcoming space, fostering graduate student interaction and a sense of community. The Grad Commons is open 24 hours a day for all graduate students and graduate student groups to use the various study and meeting rooms. In addition, the Grad Commons holds numerous events each quarter to enrich graduate student life and cultivate professional development.

Social events such as monthly 1st Friday Socials, quarterly parties, and art shows are sponsored by the Grad Commons to promote a sense of community and cohesion among graduate students across the various departments. Health and wellness activities are available to help graduate students relax from the stresses of TAing and research. The Grad Commons also offers a wide range of professional development workshops each quarter to support graduate student success in academia and beyond. Past professional development workshop topics include: grant writing, conflict management, résumé and CV writing, website design, time management, teaching and diversity statements, communication skills, preparing for your Qualifying Exam, and more. Visit the Graduate Student Commons website to learn about upcoming programming and ways to get involved with the Grad Commons.


As at all UC campuses, finding housing may be a challenge. Students who wish to reside on campus should submit their application as soon as possible. Likewise, students who wish to live off campus will want to start looking at available rentals and costs as soon as possible.

On-campus Graduate Student Housing for 82 individual students is located adjacent to “Science Hill,” home to many of UCSC’s academic facilities. Four students share a furnished apartment  with four single bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. Visit the Grad Housing website, or email

Students with families may apply to live in Family Student Housing, a complex of two-bedroom unfurnished apartments. Located on the west side of campus, the 22-acre site is adjacent to a nature reserve and overlooks the Monterey Bay. Refer to the Family Student Housing website, or email

To assist students in locating living accommodations in the surrounding communities, the Community Rentals Office maintains a list of available rentals.

Application and Admission

Application Deadlines

Students may apply for only one UCSC graduate program at a time. A list on the Graduate Studies website shows the date set by each program as the final deadline for submission of all documents. Please visit the Graduate Studies website for the most current information on applying to UCSC graduate programs. Application deadlines may be updated on or before applications open. The dates listed are the official deadlines, but students are strongly advised to submit applications well in advance of the deadline. If an application deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, there will not be staff available for assistance.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted with graduate status at UCSC, a student must have completed a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited undergraduate institution of acceptable standing and demonstrate ability to pursue a program of study leading toward an advanced degree. Preparation must provide an adequate foundation for advanced study, as determined by the department for the program in which the student intends to enroll. If the bachelor’s degree is not in the same discipline as the graduate program, the student must have sufficient preparation in the intended area of study to undertake graduate-level work.

To apply for admission, application materials (including test scores, written materials, and any required supplemental materials) must be submitted before the deadline date to the Division of Graduate Studies. UC Santa Cruz requires that applicants complete an online application to be considered for admission to a graduate program. The application and the accompanying materials should be complete and accurate.

Specific questions regarding particular graduate programs should be directed to the program you are inquiring about; the list of graduate program contact information is available online.

Admission application. Applications for all programs are available online at the Graduate Studies website. The completed application is paid for online with either a credit card or e-check. This application fee is not refundable. Application fee waivers are available for cases of hardship, and fee exemptions are available for students who participated in approved grad-prep programs. International applicants are not eligible for fee waivers.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. If the applicant is applying for admission to a program that requires the GRE, the scores must be received by UC Santa Cruz Graduate Application Processing before the application deadline. It is strongly recommended that all applicants complete testing by November, since December test scores will not reach the division prior to most application deadlines.

The Educational Testing Service should be asked to forward the test scores directly to the division. UC Santa Cruz’s school code is 4860. Test results are electronically submitted to UC Santa Cruz Division of Graduate Studies four to six weeks after the exam has been taken. Please consult the Graduate Studies website to see which exams are required for each program.

Supplemental material. Many graduate programs have special application requirements, such as writing samples, portfolios, auditions, or personal interviews. The Graduate Studies or program website (or the website for the program to which the student is applying) should be consulted and all of the requirements specified should be fulfilled.

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.

Transfer of Credit

UC Santa Cruz does not automatically grant credit for graduate-level work undertaken at other universities. Each department determines credit transferability on an individual basis.

International Applicants

Applicants from other countries must meet standard admission requirements and, upon admission, provide satisfactory evidence of financial support before they may obtain the necessary visa documents. Because it normally takes much longer to process international applications, such students are urged to apply as early as possible. Once the student has been formally admitted, a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) will only be issued by the UC Santa Cruz Office of International Education when all requirements are satisfied. Please note that international students are eligible for neither need-based financial aid nor application fee waivers.

For those choosing to take the TOEFL, a minimum score on the paper-based TOEFL of 550, or 220 on the computer-based test, or 83 on the Internet-based test is required for admission. Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering require 570 on the paper-based test, 230 on the computer-based test, and 89 on the Internet-based test. Any international students who wish to be considered for Teaching Assistant opportunities must score a 26 or higher on the Spoken Word portion of the Internet-based test.

For those choosing to take the IELTS, our institution requires an overall band score of 7 or higher on the IELTS. An overall score of 8 from the IELTS test is required for all new international students who may serve as a Teaching Assistant at any time during their graduate career. 
UC Santa Cruz only accepts scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. No paper Test Report Forms will be accepted. An institutional code is NOT required. Please contact the test center where you took the test directly and request that your test scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system. All IELTS test centers worldwide are able to send scores electronically to our institution. For inquiries on test dates, fees, and preparation, please contact your nearest test center (see the IELTS website).

All official academic records must be issued in the original language and accompanied by English translations prepared by the issuing institution. If translations are not available from the institution itself, translations may be prepared by government or official translators. In order for translations to be acceptable, they must bear the stamp or seal of the issuing institution or government agency and the original signature of the translator. They must be complete and exact word-for-word translations of the original documents, not interpretations. Grades must not be converted to the American scale. Specially prepared English versions are not acceptable in place of documents issued in the original language. Once submitted, documents may not be borrowed, returned to you or sent elsewhere.

International applicants are not required to submit evidence of financial support until they have received formal admission to a graduate program. A Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) will not be issued by the UC Santa Cruz International Programs office until all standard admissions requirements have been met and the UCSC Financial Certificate and supporting financial documents have been received and approved.

Application Processing

The Division of Graduate Studies receives most application materials and creates a file for each applicant. Once the application is submitted online, it will be available to the appropriate department for review and recommendation. Applicants are admitted by the graduate dean following recommendations by the departments. Applicants will be notified by email whether or not they have been admitted for graduate study at UCSC after all reviews are complete. Under no circumstances will UCSC give out this information over the phone, in person, or by proxy. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the U.S. are signatories, applicants admitted to graduate schools have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of fellowship offers. Any information about the completeness of the file can be found on the MyUCSC student portal once an application has been submitted. Specific questions about the evaluation of the application should be directed to the department to which you are applying.

Fees and Expenses

Fees and expenses for graduate students are shown below. Tuition, fees, and other charges are subject to change without notice by the Regents of the University of California. For current fee information, check registration fees.

Graduate Student Fees, 2017-18




Student Services Fee (formerly University Registration Fee)



Tuition (formerly Educational Fee)



Campus-Based Fees



GSHIP Health Insurance (waivable)



Total for California Residents



Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (a)



Total for Nonresidents of California

11,122.36 33,367.08

(a) A limited number of Nonresident Tuition Fellowships are available. Please refer to the Financial Support section.

For information on fee refunds, see Finances.

Minimum annual expenses, including registration fees, for a single graduate student living on campus are estimated to be $41,294.58 per academic year. Students should not plan to undertake graduate study without assured funding, since outside employment in the Santa Cruz community can be difficult to obtain. An estimated sample student budget for the 2016-17  academic year is provided below. Non–California residents should add $15,102 in nonresident tuition and fees to the total.

Graduate Student Budget, 2017-18



Books and supplies


Room and board (on or off campus) (a)


Transportation (b)






a) Estimated room and board for graduate students living with family is $5,622.

b) Expenses of owning a car and parking on campus are not included here. For parking fees, see Transportation and Parking Services.

c) Some graduate programs are also assessed a professional fee.

Required Fees

Required fees are due and payable before the start of each quarter. These typically include tuition and fees, on-campus housing and meals if applicable, and campus health insurance if you do not secure a waiver. You will need sufficient funds to cover required fees and other personal expenses at the start of each term. For many financial aid recipients who are enrolled at least half time, tuition and fees on the student account are paid automatically with approved student aid funds. Financial aid recipients should note that fellowship, grant, and loan checks or bank deposits in excess of university charges are refunded to students via direct deposit or check, but are not available to you until the first week of instruction each quarter.

The Student Services Fee supports student services that provide a supportive and enriching learning environment and that are complementary to, but not part of, the instructional program. Programs include, but are not limited to, services related to the physical and psychological health and well being of students, social and cultural activities and programs, services related to campus life, and educational and career support.

Tuition helps support student financial aid and related programs; administration; libraries; operation and maintenance of plant; the university’s operating budget; and all costs related to instruction, including faculty salaries.

Campus-Based Fees help support a wide range of student services, including extracurricular programs, campus child care, community and public service projects, and free-fare use of the local transit systems.

In addition, all students are assessed a mandatory Health Insurance Premium. The Cowell Student Health Center provides primary care services for the plan, while a contracted insurance company provides major medical and hospitalization insurance. Dependent coverage is also available. Detailed information is on the UCSC Student Health Insurance website, or contact (831) 459-2389.

Waivers from the mandatory insurance fee are available for students who can show that their outside plan provides coverage equal to or better than the student health insurance plan. Deadlines for applying for a waiver are listed in the Schedule of Classes and the Graduate Student Handbook.

Nonresident Tuition

A resident of a state other than California or of another country must also pay nonresident tuition. General criteria for residency are in Appendix A.

Non-U.S. citizens note: Regardless of how long you live in California, only U.S. citizens and holders of immigrant visas may become qualified for resident classification.

Late Fees

Late fees may be assessed if a student fails to make university payments or enroll by the specified deadlines. Late fees are assessed on a graduated basis for each month there is an unpaid balance on your university account. Late fee amounts of $50 for each late registration payment and/or late enrollment and $25 for a late housing payment. Deadlines are published online in the Graduate Student Handbook and the Schedule of Classes, and they appear on the Statement of Account.

Deferred Payment Plan

See the information under undergraduate expenses.

Financial Support

The University of California, Santa Cruz, makes a strong effort to provide financial support to all graduate students who make normal progress in their program of studies. Certain kinds of support are awarded on the basis of academic merit, and others are granted on the basis of need. Students are encouraged to apply for both kinds of assistance by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form must be submitted after October 1 prior to the academic year for which you are requesting aid. The FAFSA may be filled out online and filed electronically at the FAFSA website. To receive need-based support for the fall quarter, the FAFSA should be submitted no later than three weeks prior to the end of spring quarter of the year you are enrolled. Applications for student loans for each academic year will be accepted until April of that academic year. More detailed information about the application process and loans can be found at Students may also visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, 205 Hahn Student Services Building, or call (831) 459-2963.

Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants

Students who received Cal Grant A or B as undergraduates within the last 15 months may request a one-year extension from the California Student Aid Commission to attend a teacher credential program. The Cal Grant A and Cal Grant B programs paid a maximum of $12,294 for 2016–17 for study at the University of California. Renewal of these awards requires the student to submit the FAFSA by March 2nd. In addition, the student must submit a Request for Teaching Program Benefits Form (Form G-44) to the California Student Aid Commission.

The federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants to students who intend to teach in a high-need field in a public/private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. The program at UCSC is for M.A. Education students. In exchange for receiving this grant, you must sign an Agreement to Serve and complete online counseling. This grant converts to a loan with retroactive interest if the Service Agreement is not fulfilled. More information and a Fact Sheet can be found at the Federal Student Aid TEACH Grants website.

Teaching Assistantships. For the 2016-17 academic year, half-time teaching assistantships provide a salary of $6,684 per quarter.

Graduate Student Researcher Internships. For the 2016-17 academic year, salaries for graduate student research positions range from $4,561 to $8,940 per quarter (depending on department) with state and federal taxes withheld from these amounts. The division and the UCSC Career Center can provide information about external graduate fellowships and grants.

Student Loans

Graduate students can qualify for federal student loans by completing the FAFSA. Graduate students are eligible for Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS loan programs. For additional information , see the UCSC Financial Aid and Scholarships website.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

The federal government will forgive all or part of a student loan under certain circumstances. This can include performing volunteer work or military service, or practicing medicine in certain communities. For a summary of such exemptions, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

[Return to top]

Revised: 09/01/17