Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of applicants are offered admission to your program each year?

  • Since 2001, the Department has generally received approximately 75 applications each year.
  • Of these, about (10-15) are generally offered admission to our program.

What is the average GPA for applicants accepted?

  • As a rule, the Department considers only applicants with undergraduate GPAs of 3.0 or higher.
  • A lower undergraduate GPA may be offset by a high GPA (3.6 or higher) in a Master’s program.

Do you require the GRE?

  • The Politics Department does not require applicants to take the GRE.

What criteria are weighted most heavily in admission decisions (i.e., letters, GPA, scores, etc.)?

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample
  • The fit of student research interest with faculty expertise.

What is the expected time to completion of a Politics Ph.D.?

  • 6-7 years, generally as follows:
    • (2) years of coursework,
    • (1) year of exams and dissertation planning,
    • and (3-4) years of research and writing.

Do Politics grad students participate in professional conferences?

  • Yes. The Department encourages participation in professional conferences and can offer partial support.

Do you offer a Master’s degree?

  • The department does not have a Master's program, nor does it admit students seeking a Master's Degree.
    • Although, students making good progress toward the Ph.D. are invited to apply for a Master's upon completion of their coursework and submission of a journal-quality paper.

What does the Department look for in graduate admissions?

  • The Graduate Committee and the Department take a comprehensive and holistic review of each application when making offers of admission.
    • We look for compelling statements of purpose that clearly demonstrate why pursuing a Ph.D. in Politics from UCSC is a logical next step in the applicant's career development. The statement of purpose should not just be a list of academic interests -- it should focus on your potential research questions.
    • We carefully assess the strength of the writing sample in terms of how it demonstrates research and writing skills.
    • We look for strong letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with the applicant's scholarly achievements.
    • And, we look for a clear fit of the applicant with the overall ethos, orientation, and structure of our program as well as research interests that intersect with those of the Department Faculty and the Affiliated Graduate Faculty—all as described on the Department Web site.

Application Fee waivers?

  • The Politics Department does not offer Fee waivers at this time. 

English Language Waiver for Admission?

  • If you declare English as your second language, the TOEFL/IELTS examination requirement will show up. 

    • TOEFL/IELTS waivers for admission may be requested by applicants who have completed a four-year bachelor's degree at an English-speaking institution.

  • You may also apply to request an exception to the requirement based on: 
    • Your language and life experience 
    • Where you may have used English in an academic setting, 
    • and other relevant aspects to your background and mastery of language (certificates in English, degrees earned). 
  • If you plan to request such a waiver, you must select a backup method of examination on the admission application in case your request is not approved. 
    • Indicate a future testing date and explain your desire and qualifications for a waiver of this requirement on the "Additional Information" page of the application.

    • Scores from the TOEFL ITP Plus for China Solution test are not accepted at UC Santa Cruz.

  • NOTE: The waiver of the language requirement will only be offered to admitted applicants - at the point of admission. 

I've read all I can about the program and faculty interests on the website. Whom can I contact if I have more questions about the program?

  • You may contact the Graduate Program Coordinator and/or our Director of Graduate Studies via email at