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 15 are generally offered admission (although not all accept).

What are the average GPA and GRE subscores 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. GRE scores are less important, although the University requires that admission of applicants with low GRE scores receive permission from the Graduate Division.

What criteria are weighted most heavily in admission decisions (i.e., letters, GPA, GRE, scores, etc.)?
Letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing sample, fit of student research interest with faculty expertise.

What is the expected time to completion of a Politics Ph.D.?
Six years, generally as follows: two years of course work, a year of exams and dissertation planning, and three 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. 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 at test scores, both in absolute terms and in the context of the rest of the application. We look for compelling statements of purpose that clearly demonstrate why pursuing a PhD in Politics from UCSC is a logical next step in the applicant's career development. 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.

I've read all I can about the program and faculty interests on the web site. Whom can I contact if I have more questions about the program?
You may contact the Graduate Program Coordinator and Advisor via email at or by phone at 831-459-4450.