Ph.D. Program Application Process

Application Resources

Details on how to apply online

Graduate Application Online: To apply and/or to check the status of your application

Office of International Students & Scholars: Help for international students and scholars, including assistance with visa status

Contact Us

Email for questions about applying 

Apply Online

Applications to UCSB graduate programs are completed online via the UCSB Graduate Division application.

Application Deadline for Ph.D. Program only

Our graduate program is focused on doctoral education, therefore, we do not admit students seeking a terminal M.S. degree.

Applications for the Fall 2021 quarter must be submitted in complete form by December 11, 2020 at 11:59 PM PST

Please be aware that very few positions are typically available for Winter and Spring quarters. The application deadline for ALL quarters is December 11, 2020.

All applications received by this deadline will receive full consideration for admission and financial support. Applications received after this deadline may be considered for admission and departmental support but not for the centrally administered University fellowships. However, students should be aware that delays in submission or completion of the application beyond the deadline may result in a lower priority for admission depending on the number and quality of earlier applications. 

Application Requirements

The graduate admissions committee makes decisions based on a hollistic assessment of an applicant’s portfolio of academic degrees and grades, research experience, the statement of purpose, the statement of personal achievements and contributions, resume/CV and letters of recommendation. The admissions committee also considers the appropriateness of the applicant’s goals to the degree program and to the research interests of the program’s faculty.

To be considered for admission in the Materials Ph.D. Program, you need to:

  1. Complete the online graduate application.
  2. Submit a Statement of Purpose. Please limit your statement to 2 pages.
  3. Submit a Personal Achievements/Contributions statement. Please limit your statement to 2 pages.
  4. Submit Resume or CV.
  5. Submit three letters of recommendation online.
  6. Fill out and submit the Departmental Academic History sheet.
  7. Submit one unofficial transcript from each college or university you have attended.
  8. International students must submit TOEFL/IELTS scores. 

Please do not mail hard copies of the statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, TOEFL scores for international students, resumes, or publications. 


  1. Electronic Application to be submitted through the UCSB Graduate Division online application.
  2. Required Documents to be submitted with the application by the deadline for Fall quarter.

The following must be uploaded to the Statements and Supplemental Documents section of the application:

The application allows you to upload a total of 6 documents in the Statements and Supplemental Documents section. Do not upload your transcripts in this section.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (must be submitted electronically and directly by recommenders). Please select referees that can truly assess your potential for graduate education and comment on any relevant accomplishments. For example, professors or researchers in whose groups/labs you have had research experiences as an undergraduate, or who have good knowledge of your academic abilities from having you in one or more courses in your major. Letters from instructors with little knowledge of your abilities are not recommended.
  • Letters must be submitted electronically, and we encourage you to make your recommenders aware of this at an early stage.
  • Recommenders should use institution or company letterhead, not blank paper, when submitting their recommendations. A signature is also recommended.
  • Review of applications begin once they are complete. You are thus encouraged to submit your application as early as possible, and to make every effort to assure that your letters of recommendation are submitted as early as possible, on or before the December 11, 2020 deadline. Keep in mind that we will not consider your application if your application is not complete.

​Unofficial Transcripts

  • A scanned copy of your unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary educational institutions attended submitted electronically by the application deadline.
  • Upload all pages of your unofficial transcript from this institution (including the grading scale, which may be on the backside of the transcript). The transcript must be produced by the university with all appropriate seals/stamps. Remove your Social Security Number by crossing/blacking out numbers before uploading (if applicable).
  • International Applicants: Please include your degree certificate within the same file if you have received your degree. Uploaded document must include both the original language transcript and a certified English translation. English transcripts are required and must be a complete, exact, and literal translation of the original transcripts. English translations must be provided by the school or an official agency. 
  • Final/Official transcripts will be required for all applicants who are admitted and have indicated their intent to enroll at UC Santa Barbara by submitting a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found.


  • UCSB does not accept MyBest scores. 
  • Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. 
  • Applicants who will have earned a degree equivalent to a U.S. undergraduate or graduate degree from an English-speaking country or English-only institution before the start of their first quarter at UCSB are exempt, as evidenced by their previous official coursework transcripts.
  • TOEFL and IELTS test score dates must be from within two years from the time of application (i.e. from the day the applicant submits the online graduate application).
  • Applicants must make arrangements to take the TOEFL directly with ETS at Scores must be reported to UCSB; the institution code is 4835. A department code is not required, but if one is provided, it will not prevent the Graduate Division from receiving scores as long as they have been routed to institution code 4835. 
  • Applicants must also “self-report” scores, by entering their exam information in the “Exam Scores” section of the application. Only the most recent and complete set of TOEFL or IELTS test scores will be reviewed for admission—combining multiple score reports from separate test sittings will not be permitted. 
  • Applicants choosing to take the IELTS must make arrangements directly with the International English Language Testing System at An institution code is not required to report the score results to UCSB. Applicants must send scores electronically and contact the Graduate Division directly at and provide their name, birth date, and test date. Graduate Division staff will check for scores and match with the online application.
  • Desirable scores are 600 on the paper-based test (PBT) or 100 on the Internet-based test (IBT). The Graduate Division requires minimum scores for admission consideration.

Other requirements include:

  1. The application must specify the quarter, year, and degree program (PhD) for which you are applying. Please remember that receiving an M.S. on the way to the Ph.D. is not a requirement in the UCSB Materials Department. Because our graduate program is focused on doctoral education, we do not admit students seeking a terminal M.S. degree. Also, please be aware that very few positions are typically available for Winter and Spring quarters therefore, the department encourages you to apply for the Fall quarter. 
  2. You must also specify the area of emphasis among those listed below that you would like to pursue as a gradaute student. Given that the balance of our incoming class is, in part, defined by desired research areas, your input here is very important. We encourage students to keep their interests broad during the application process. You may elaborate on your specific research interests and faculty members of particular interest in your statement of purpose: Electronic and Photonic Materials; Functional and Quantum MaterialsMacromolecular/Biomolecular Materials; or Structural Materials.
  3. You must also specify your faculty interests. You may select a minimum of three (3) faculty and up to a maximum of five (5) faculty. Take some time to read more on our faculty members and their areas of research

If you need further clarification, contact the Staff Graduate Program Advisor at or one of the faculty members of interest.

Application Fee

All applications require a non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants, and $140 for international applicants. No application will be processed until the application fee has been received. This fee can be paid by credit card or with a check/money order using the Check/Money Order Submission Form found on the last page of the application.

Fee Waivers

A limited number of application fee waivers are available to qualified U.S. citizens and permanent residents who demonstrate evidence of financial need or proof of participation in an undergraduate research program. McNair Scholars and California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) applicants are among those eligible. Fee waivers are not available to international applicants.

You may apply for a fee waiver within the online application. Within your application click on the Payment Information tab and scroll-down to the fee waiver information. Submit your request online by selecting the option relevant to you and uploading your supporting documentation. You must submit your fee waiver request at least two weeks before the application deadline. Do not submit a fee waiver request the day before the application deadline; it will not be processed and your application will not be reviewed.


Will you be requiring the GRE for the Fall 2021 admissions?

No, we will not be requiring the GRE for 2021 admission.

Do you accept applications for Winter or Spring quarters?

Please note that while we accept applications for Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters, we generally have more openings to admit new students in the Fall. 

Is a preliminary application required?


Does your department have a rolling application process?


What is the minimum score for the TOEFL?

International students whose native language is not English must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This requirement applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countries in Africa.

The desirable TOEFL scores for admission into the Materials Deparment vs the Graduate Division minimum score requirement for admission consideration is as follows:

Desirable scores:
TOEFL: 600 (Paper), 100 (Internet)
IELTS: 8 (Overall Band Score)

UCSB minimum:
TOEFL: 550 (Paper), 80 (Internet)
IELTS: 7 (Overall Band Score)

UCSB does not accept MyBest scores.

What are the institution and department codes for ETS (Educational Testing Service) to send TOEFL scores?

UCSB’s Institution code is 4835. A department code is not required. Exam scores are sent electronically from ETS to the Graduate Division. Departments no longer receive test scores directly.

What financial support is available for students?

All students admitted into our Ph.D. program are guaranteed financial support. This support is guaranteed for as long as they remain in good academic standing with the department and university and are making satisfactory progress towards completing their degree requirements. Financial support comes in the form of a stipend and/or a combination of teaching and researcher appointments, plus payment of fees, non-resident tuition (if applicable) and health insurance.

Is my GPA high enough to apply?

The graduate admissions committee makes decisions based on a hollistic assessment of an applicant’s portfolio of grades, research experience, statement of purpose, personal achievements/contributions statement and letters of recommendation.

My undergraduate degree is in an area other than Materials Science.  Do  I have a chance of being admitted?

We welcome students with strong backgrounds in Chemistry, Engineering, Materials, or Physics to join our multidisciplinary graduate program. The admissions committee seeks evidence in the application portfolio (e.g., transcript, research experience, statements) of adequate preparation for coursework and the broad research areas in the Department. 

Do you accept applicants seeking a terminal M.S. degree?

Because our graduate program is focused on doctoral education, we do not admit students seeking a terminal M.S. degree.

From whom should I secure letters of reference?

We advise you to secure as many of your letters as possible from tenure-track faculty, either at your home institution or at other institutions in which you have been, e.g., a summer research intern. Letters from supervisors at industrial internships or jobs, can be informative as well, particularly if they foucs on potential for growth as a researcher. As a courtesy to your references, we encourage you to give them at least a 3 weeks notice (if not more, given the high demands for letters during the graduate application period) and to follow-up to make sure they have received the link requesting a letter of reference. 

May I log back into my application after submitting it to make edits?

Applicants may modify the following four sections even after submitting and paying for the online application:

  • Address
  • TOEFL Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Statements & Supplemental Documents (only unlocked documents)