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Application Instructions

Your application for graduate study at UC Santa Cruz must be completed and submitted through our online application by the posted deadline.
 Click to View All Application Deadlines 
Before you start:
  1. Review the application requirements for the program you are applying to. Here's how: 

    1. Go to our complete list of programs

    2. Scroll down to see all programs ordered by division (Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Physical & Biological Sciences, Social Sciences)

    3. Click on the name of the graduate program you are applying to, to see application requirements and a link to the program's website.

  2. Read our Frequently Asked Questions

  3. Important notes for all applicants

  4. Payment/Application Fee Waiver:

    1. If you are a US Citizen, AB 540, or Permanent Resident of the United States, you may request an application fee waiver if you believe you are eligible.

    2. For full requirements for Fee Waiver eligibility see our Application Fee FAQ page:

    3. ​Incomplete waiver requests or requests that do not demonstrate eligibility will be denied. If your fee waiver is declined, we will contact you via the email you used on your application. You will be given a limited time (next business day, for example) to pay the application fee. 


After you submit your application, you will not be able to change/add to your application. You will be able to login to check your application status, review your application checklist, and see your letters of recommendation status.


Only one application may be considered from each applicant within a given admission-processing period.

  • Simultaneous applications to multiple departments are not accepted; any application fee paid for multiple applications will be forfeited.


Add our two email addresses to your email address book:


Note that application fee payments do not guarantee you admission. Application fee payments are non-refundable.

Ready to begin?

Go to (Opens October 1, 9am PT)

Step 1: On the "Application Instructions" page, Select an Admit Quarter/Year & Program

See our list of Graduate Programs offered at UC Santa Cruz!

Returning users can log in. First-Time users will be asked to create an account: 

  1. Register using your email address, first and last names, and birthdate (month, day, year).

  2. A temporary PIN will be sent to your email address; enter it and re-enter your birthdate.

  3. You will then need to set a password for your account.

  4. You're done! Continue on by selecting Start New Application

Please select:

1. The Term of Admission (Admit Term) you are applying for (i.e. Fall 2023), and

2. The Graduate Program you are applying to (i.e. Earth Sciences M.S.).

  • Please note that several programs allow non-degree (NDG) options for visiting and EAP students.

  • All programs begin in the fall except for Education Credential. Education Master's Applicants: Be sure to select summer quarter when you log in to your application.

  • Only available programs will be displayed; if a program's deadline has passed, the program will be omitted from the list.

  • UC Santa Cruz does not allow applicants to submit multiple applications during the same admission cycle. 


You may change your program before you submit the application: 

  • Changing your program will result in the loss of any data or documents you've entered on those pages.

  • Be careful to review your application prior to submission to ensure that all of your information is complete and relevant to your new program.

  • Any recommenders that you've registered thus far will be moved to your new application; recommender invitations do not have to be resent.

  • To change the program to which you are applying, select a new program in the "Intended Program of Study" section in the Online Application: Application Instructions page, before submitting your application.

Step 2: Biographical Information & Personal Background

You can only create one account and you may only submit one application.

Complete the requested information including your name, date of birth, mailing address, etc. 

  • Within the next few pages, you will be asked to supply additional personal, contact and residency information.  

  • This information will create your official record in our application system. Please follow the directions and complete all the appropriate information carefully as you would like it to appear on your official university records.

Regarding Names:

  • International applicants: if you are admitted we will use the name you enter here for your visa application; use the same name that you use on your current passport.

  • If a section doesn’t apply to you (for example, if you do not have a middle name) leave that field blank.

  • If your transcripts have a different name that you no longer use, you can include this name in the “Previous Names” section in the Personal Background page of this application.

  • If you have a preferred or chosen name, that can be specified under "Preferred/Chosen Name" in the Personal Background page.

  • Were you a registered student or previous applicant to UC Santa Cruz, and have since changed your legal nameYou will need to change your name with UC Santa Cruz so that your student record is updated; please contact the Registrar's Office.

Step 3: Complete Application

Be sure your test scores are reported to us directly: ETS School Code 4860 (no department code)

​Complete all required pages and items (marked by an asterisk - "*").


Read about the Required Supplemental Application Materials (transcripts, recommendations, etc.)


All required fields and pages must be completed before you submit the application. There are several optional pages which you may choose to skip.


Step 4: Payment/Application Fee Waiver


Application fees are not refundable.

The application fee is $135 for domestic applicants & permanent residents, and $155 for international applicants. This fee can be paid by credit card. **This fee does not guarantee admission and is non-refundable**

Fee Exemption

If you are a US Citizen, AB 540, or Permanent Resident of the United States who has participated in an approved program, you may be eligible for a fee exemption. See the full list of approved programs on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

To apply for a Fee Exemption:
  1. Navigate to the Payment section of the application, choose "Fee Exemption" from the drop-down menu

  2. Complete the information in the following drop down menus to tell us which program you participated in

  3. Click "Continue"

Fee Waiver

If you are a US Citizen, AB 540, or a Permanent Resident of the United States, you may request an application fee waiver if you believe you are eligible. Please note: If you pay the application fee via credit card, your money will not be refunded to you.


Eligibility requirements are stated on the Application Fee FAQ page. You will need to provide one of the following three documents:

  1. A statement of need from a financial aid officer at the college or university that you are currently attending. This statement must include your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), the financial aid officer’s signature, and your signature verifying that the information reported is correct. Or,

  2. A copy of your Current Student Aid Report (SAR) (not from the previous year) from your FAFSA, or a copy of your CALSAR statement from your California Dream Act Application showing your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). The California Dream Act Application (Dream App,, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA, form are both available beginning October 1st. Do not submit a copy of your Dream App or FAFSA. Or,

  3. A copy of your most recent Federal Income Tax return. Provide either your Form 1040, if listed as an independent, or a copy of your parent’s or guardian’s recent Federal Income Tax return, if listed as a dependent. Tip: If you fill out the FAFSA you can use the SAR (see option 2) instead of submitting a tax return.

When you have uploaded the appropriate documents, submit your application by the application deadline.


You can not make any changes (additions of materials, edits to your personal statement or research statement, etc.) to your application after submission. 


Application deadlines are for submission of all documents. You are strongly advised to submit your application and supporting materials well in advance of the official deadlines. There is no guarantee that materials received after the deadline will be reviewed.

Your online application will be available for review after it is submitted. Supporting materials submitted by other parties (i.e. transcripts, test scores and letters of recommendation) are not available to applicants. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 does give students, once enrolled, the right to inspect their records

Questions about your submitted application materials should be directed to the program you applied to. File information is provided only to the applicant unless you give permission to release information on your file to a specific person. You can request to give this permission in the field for additional information on the application. 

Step 5: Submit the Application

Required Supplemental Materials


Remember! You may provide 

unofficial transcripts for the application.


You may upload a scanned copy of your unofficial transcripts to your online application in the Academic History section. We do not need official transcripts for the application.

Unofficial copies may either be scanned versions of your official transcript, or if available a downloaded PDF* from your institution's online portal.


Refer to the Document Scanning Guidelines at the bottom of this page for requirements and information about scanning and uploading your unofficial transcripts to the admissions application.


If you are admitted to UC Santa Cruz, we will require that an official, sealed transcript be sent directly from your degree-granting institution prior to enrollment at UC Santa Cruz (transcripts are not required from universities/colleges where you did not earn a degree).   


*Please note that Rights Managed PDF's are not uploadable. You must print and scan these documents before they can be uploaded to the application system.


Statement of Purpose & Personal History Statement

The Statement of Purpose should be a concise, well-written essay about your background and your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the field you have chosen. The requirements for your Statement of Purpose may vary depending on the program you are applying to, so be sure to read the program's application requirements page: go to Graduate Programs; scroll down and click on the name of the program; application requirements will open in a new window.

The Personal History Statement is required of all applicants.This statement will be used in conjunction with your application for graduate admission and financial support. Please note that the Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose. As with the Statement of Purpose, the requirements may vary depending on the program you are applying to. Read the program's application requirements page: go to Graduate Programs; scroll down and click on the name of the program; application requirements will open in a new window.

Supplemental Materials

 Some programs require additional materials such as a résumé or writing sample be submitted with your application. Read the program's application requirements page: go to Graduate Programs; scroll down and click on the name of the program; application requirements will open in a new window.


You may also contact the program you are applying to for further information.



Three (3) letters of recommendation are required, up to 5 may be submitted. All recommendation letters are required to be submitted electronically through the online application.  You must register recommenders via the Recommendations page of the online application. We highly suggest you register your recommenders two weeks in advance of the deadline.

  1. Click the Add Recommender link. Enter in details for your recommender, you may also include a short message to them (they will see the message when they log in to enter your recommendation).

    • Select whether or not you waive your right to review your recommendation. You must make this selection for each recommender. Type your name as a signature, and note that this selection is final and not reversible.

  2. After entering their details and confirming your right to waive, click the Send To Recommender button to generate an email to that person with a unique, secure link with which they will access the online recommendation submission form. 

  3. Your Recommendations page will not be complete until at least three recommenders have been sent their invitations; you can not submit your application without completing this section.

    • If you plan to use a letter service, please review that service's instructions before registering your recommenders in the online application; many services will provide you with a unique email address under which you'll register each recommender, allowing the service to electronically submit the letters.


Important details:
  • Be sure your recommender's information is accurate and that the person you've registered is willing to provide you with a recommendation before sending their invitation through this page.

  • The recommender information supplied by the applicant can be changed through the application (before you submit the application), or by clicking the link on the status page (after the application has been submitted).

  • You will have the ability to rescind a recommendation request if needed.

  • You and your recommender will receive an email when the recommendation is submitted. You can also see if it has been submitted on the application Status Page; however, you should not wait for your letters to arrive before you submit your application.

  • You may wish to have your recommender add our email address,, to their address book to ensure our email invitation is not accidentally marked as spam.

  • Please see our page on Letters of Recommendation for further information.


Important Notes

  1. When using the online application, you may save your work and return to the application at any time before submitting it. You do this by returning to the application and selecting "Continue Application" from the left-navigation bar.

  2. Applicants may only submit one application per calendar year (winter-fall). Any application fee paid for multiple applications will be forfeited.

  3. All materials submitted as part of your application for admission are the property of UC Santa Cruz and will not be returned to the applicant, nor shared with another individual, institution or organization under any circumstances.

  4. Applicants are expected to complete the application accurately and completely. Read our Policy on Falsification and Accuracy of Application Materials.

Document Scanning Guidelines

  • Scan the lowest dpi setting that results in a legible document-we recommend using 200dpi whenever possible.

  • Ensure that your scanned copy is clearly legible and can print on letter size paper (8.5 x 11).

  • Make sure that the uploaded document displays in the proper portrait or landscape format.

  • When scanning your transcripts, please include a single copy of the transcript legend (the back page in most cases).

  • If your Social Security Number (SSN) appears on any scanned document, make sure to remove or redact it before you upload the record. If we identify an uploaded document that includes a SSN, we will delete it and ask for re-submission. Be aware that this may delay the review of your application.

  • Save your document as a PDF file.

  • Make certain that the file size is less than 2.5 MB (2056 kB). Scanning in "gray scale" or "black and white" may produce the best results. If the scanned file is too large, make a photocopy first then scan the photocopy. Experiment with different settings until you find one that results in the smallest file size.

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