Criteria for Admissions

Applications for admission to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs are invited from students who have completed undergraduate degrees in biology or who have demonstrated excellence in some related discipline (e.g., environmental sciences, marine sciences, botany, or evolutionary anthropology, for example).

Admission to the program is based on the applicant’s application, consisting of the statement of purpose, transcripts of undergraduate work (and previous graduate-level work, if any), three letters of recommendation, and the recommendation of EEB faculty. Note: the GRE is NOT a requiremnt for admission. 

**We highly encourage applicants to email the EEB faculty with whom they are interested in working prior to submitting their application materials for consideration. This is the only way to confirm that they are accepting students for the upcoming academic cycle.

Application Procedure + Important Dates

Step 1: Check the EEB website for faculty whose research interests complement yours, and read their prospective students pages. Consider reading some of their publications in addition to their website materials to assess their research interests, as well as their philosophy for mentoring students. Some faculty will provide information on their lab webpages about whether they plan to admit students in the coming application cycle.

Step 2: Reach out through email. If you are interested in working with a faculty member, reach out to those individuals well ahead of the application deadline. Most inquiries about graduate school start in the summer prior to the application deadline. Make this email succinct, but provide enough information for the faculty to understand your research and/or professional experience and why you are interested in their lab. It is most compelling if you can connect those two themes (e.g., how your previous academic, research, or professional experience has led you to or prepared you for research in their lab). You do not need to have a specific research project defined. Rather, you should be prepared to discuss the types of questions you find interesting, as well as how you could envision addressing those types of questions in the faculty member’s lab.

This email should include your curriculum vitae (the academic version of your resume), which lists your degrees, research and professional experience, and any publications or presentations you have given. In addition, some faculty may request additional materials, such as a writing sample and a personal statement. Check their websites to see if they have other requests. 

If a faculty member does not respond right away to your email, it is perfectly acceptable to resend the email after a few weeks. Most faculty get a lot of email, so it is easy for messages to fall through the cracks.

Step 3: Set up a meeting with your prospective advisor (often via phone or zoom) to discuss your research interests and their advising approach, etc.

After meeting (online or in person) with a faculty member, you can ask whether they encourage you to apply. This will give you more insight into whether your application will be seriously considered. You may also consider talking to other graduate students in the lab or previous students to gain more information about lab culture. Armed with this information, you can then formally apply to the program through the UCSC Graduate Division website.

Graduate students at UCSC are funded through faculty grants, teaching assistant positions, or fellowships. Prospective students are highly encouraged to apply for fellowships (e.g. the NSF GRFP, usually due in October or early November), and ask their prospective advisors if they have funding that could support new students. Students that are not supported by either a fellowship or research funding from their advisor will be supported by teaching assistantships.

All applications are submitted online via the UCSC Graduate Division website. Your application will only be reviewed once all materials are received and your application fee has been paid.

Applications are reviewed on yearly admissions cycles, for Fall Quarter start-times. The Graduate Division’s online application system open on October 1 each application cycle. The EEB Ph.D. and M.A. program applications submission deadline is December 10.

Applications are reviewed and responded to by the national April 15 graduate program response deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the minimum GPA and GRE subscores needed for applicants to be accepted to the program?
As a rule, the Department considers only applicants with GPAs of 3.0 or higher. This is a University of California admissions requirement. Please note, GRE scores are no longer required for admissions.

Do I need to take the GRE Biology Exam for admission to EEB? 

No, the GRE Biology Exam is not a requirement for applying to our graduate program - but do send us your scores if you take the exam!

What's UCSC's Test Reporting Code? 


I'm an international applicant. Where can I find information on English language and academic records requirements?

International applicants can find answers to all application-related questions on the UCSC Graduate Division's International Applicants informational webpage

Should I contact any professors before applying to the grad program in EEB?

Yes! We strongly encourage all applicants to our Ph.D. and M.A. programs to email EEB faculty with whom they are interested in working before submitting their applications. Our admissions committee relies on the input our faculty to make their admissions decisions, and all students in the EEB graduate program are admitted directly into their advisors' labs. Contacting faculty whose labs you are interested in joining before submitting your application is a crucial step to ensuring a good research - and admissions - fit! In the online application you will be asked to indicate your faculty preference. You are allowed to enter up to 3 choices if you are in the process of choosing a mentor. 

Is any funding available to graduate students in EEB? 

The Department is committed to admitting applicants to the program with full financial support awards in place. These financial support awards may be comprised of various types of funding: fellowship awards, Teaching Assistantships, Graduate Student Research assignments, and/or outside fellowship awards (e.g. NSF GRFP, etc.). M.A. students are generally not eligible for Teaching Assistantships and we ask that you can show proof of funding for two calendar years. All applications are automatically considered for the UC systemwide fellowships and awards. Your faculty contact will let you know if you are under consideration for a university award or if you need to apply for your own funding. 

What writing Samples should I prepare? 

The required application materials include:

  • Résumé
  • A Statement of Purpose:
    • Please describe your plans for graduate study or research and for your future occupation or profession. Include any information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and qualifications for graduate study at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Recommended length is a concise 2-4 pages.
  • A Personal History Statement:
    • Required of all applicants. This statement will be used in conjunction with your application for graduate admission and financial support. Note that the Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose. Recommended length is a concise 1-3 pages. 
    • UC Santa Cruz is interested in a diverse and inclusive graduate student population. In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

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

You may contact the Graduate Program Coordinator via email at Judy Straub,