Admissions & Application

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(Please Note: Our applications open on October 1st)


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Application Deadlines

When applying to one of the graduate programs at the Baskin School of Engineering, please keep in mind the following application deadlines. Applications for Fall Quarter will be accepted beginning October 1st.
Please note - We do not offer Winter or Spring admission.

Applied Mathematics

PhD: January 10, 2019

Apply to PhD

MS: January 10, 2019

Apply to MS

Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics (BMEB)

PhD: December 1, 2018

Apply to PhD

MS: December 1, 2018

Apply to MS

Computational Media (CMPM)

PhD: January 10, 2018

Apply to PhD

MS: January 10, 2018

Apply to MS

Computer Engineering (CMPE)

PhD: December 16, 2018

Apply to PhD

MS: January 10, 2019

Apply to MS

Computer Science (CMPS)

PhD: December 16, 2018

Apply to PhD

MS: January 10, 2019

Apply to MS

Electrical Engineering (EE)

PhD: January 22, 2019

Apply to PhD

MS: February 15, 2019

Apply to MS

Games + Playable Media (GPM)

Professional MS: January 24, 2019

Apply to MS

Scientific Computing & Applied Mathematics (SciCAM)

MS: February 1, 2019

Apply to MS

Serious Games

Professional MS: January 24, 2019

Apply to MS

Statistical Science (STAT)

PhD: January 10, 2019

Apply to PhD

MS: January 10, 2019

Apply to MS

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

To which program should I apply?

The School of Engineering currently has several graduate programs, Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics, Computer Engineering, Computational MediaComputer Science, Games & Playable Media, Electrical Engineering, Statistical Science, and Statistics & Applied Mathematics. While some areas of research clearly fall within one program, others (such as systems, networks, VLSI) are represented in two or even three of the programs (e.g. image processing).

The Baskin School of Engineering also has designated emphasis' (graduate minor) in Robotics and Control and Statistics that may be pursued in conjunction with any graduate degree program.

You should consult the program pages to learn about their requirements, faculty, and research emphases in order to decide which program will best allow you to pursue your research goals.


What are the criteria for admission to graduate study in BMEB, CMPM, CMPE, CMPS, EE, GPM, SciCAM, STAT, and SAM at UCSC?

The evaluation process for applications is extremely complex, taking into account all the material submitted with the application. Grade point average (GPA), GRE scores, TOEFL or IELTS (for international students), letters of recommendation, research, industry experience, and statement of purpose all play a role.


Do I need a BME, CMPM, CMPE, CMPS, EE, STAT, or SAM degree to be accepted to your program?

No, but it certainly helps. To be considered for acceptance into any of our graduate programs, students usually have a Bachelor's degree in bioinformatics, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, or statistics & applied mathematics. For BMEB, CMPE, CMPS, EE, STAT, and SAM, occasionally applicants with degrees in fields such as mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics are considered for admission to the program. In special circumstances, alternative undergraduate preparation will be considered (e.g., a biology major may be appropriate for a student interested in the application of information and computer science to biological problems). An MS program might be suitable for those with some background in BME, CMPE, CMPS, EE, STAT, or SAM who wish to get a more complete education.  On the other hand, while many students enter the Computational Media department's degrees with strong computing backgrounds, students with strength in other areas are encouraged to apply.  For the Computational Media MS/PhD, Games & Playable Media MS, and Serious Games MS, strengths in areas such as game design, human-computer interaction, and media creation/interpretation are highly valued.


What kind of background should I have before applying to the program?

We expect most entering students (see exceptions below) to have a solid background in applied math & statistics, computer engineering, computer science or electrical engineering as well as some programming experience. Knowledge of discrete mathematics, data structures, and programming languages are particularly important. In addition courses in algorithms, computer architecture, and logic design are an essential preparation for graduate courses in computer engineering.

For biomolecular engineering/bioinformatics, strength in at least 2 of the 3 core areas: programming and computers, mathematics and statistics, and biochemistry and biology. We generally do not accept students who have not had any advanced mathematics. Knowledge of programming before entering the graduate program is also advised.

For electrical engineering, we expect most entering students to have a solid background in mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, or computer engineering, as well as some programming experience. Knowledge in three of the following areas, devices and circuits, electromagnetics, systems and signals, optics and optoelectronics, applied mathematics and statistics, are particularly important. In addition, courses in integrated circuits, solid state devices, optical electronics, fiber optics and integrated optics, applied electromagnetic theory, digital signal processing, random processes and linear systems are useful preparations for graduate courses in electrical engineering. Students are expected to have certain depth knowledge in their chosen field of research, as well as breadth knowledge in other areas.

For the Computational Media MS/PhD, Games & Playable Media MS, and Serious Games MS, students should have strength in at least one of the areas that will be important to their work.  This could be a background in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, graphics and visualization, software engineering, or some other area of computing. Or it could be strength in game design, in cultural interpretation, in an application area of serious games (such as wellness or learning), or in literary, visual, or auditory arts.


I don't have an academic computer background, but can I apply for your department's Master's programs?

Students with no computing background will most likely face difficulties in being admitted to most programs. However, the Computational Media MS/PhD, Games & Playable Media MS, and Serious Games MS programs are designed to accommodate students who come in with limited formal computing backgrounds, as well as those for whom computing is a strength.  It is still recommended that all students develop at least basic knowledge of computer programming before beginning these programs.


How do I choose whether to apply to the Ph.D. or Master's program?

Our Ph.D. programs are designed for people primarily interested in research and education in computing and related fields. If you like working on unsolved problems in computing, teaching computing to others, and/or using computing to expand what can be made and understood (from bioinformatics to computer games) the Ph.D. program would be a good choice for you. They take 4-6 years to complete. Typical careers are as a professor at a research university or liberal arts college, or as a researcher in an industrial or government research laboratory, although the opportunities are endless. Our MS programs are designed to expand and deepen the knowledge and skills acquired as an undergraduate.

Recent graduates have accepted tenure track positions at UC Davis, Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts. Other graduates are employed by prestigious research facilities such as IBM Almaden Research Labs, and the NASA/Ames Research Center. Some of our recent graduates have also been hired by companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitch, to name a few.


Do you offer quarterly admissions?

All programs accept Fall admissions only. Please see the Application Deadlines above for details.


When do admissions open and close?

For detailed information on each program please see the Application Deadlines above.


Can I contact the graduate program by e-mail?

For questions regarding the graduate programs you can contact the Jack Baskin School of Engineering by emailing us at

Application Materials

Academic Performance

The GPA is not the only criteria in evaluating transcripts. For most programs, grades in computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering and related disciplines (e.g., math, biology, physics) count more than grades in other areas. For the Computational Media MS/PhD, Games & Playable Media MS, and Serious Games MS, courses in areas such as game design, human-computer interaction, digital art, education, or media studies might be equally important (depending on your planned work in the program). We pay particular attention to upper division classes relating to your major. Generally students we have admitted in the past have a GPA in the 3.5 range. 


Letters of Recommendation

Letters must give a detailed, factual, and candid evaluation of the applicant's intellectual and problem solving capabilities. Rankings and comparisons with other students are very useful. Ask your recommender to follow these guidelines. All letters of recommendation must be sent through the online system you will set up when you begin the application.


Research Experience

Research experience, although not required, can be helpful in evaluating an application, especially for those applying to a Ph.D. program. If you have worked on a research project, please tell us about it and ask at least one of your recommenders to comment on it. If your work is part of a joint project, the recommender should indicate your specific contribution to the project. Include urls of abstracts or reprints of any papers you have published in journals or presented at conferences on your resume with your online application. Examples of our research are available.


GRE Scores

Because the only consistent measure across all applicants is the GRE, the ranking process relies on assessing qualitative factors. These scores let us compare the basic skills of applicants of diverse backgrounds. You will be measured against the applicant pool when you apply for admission. While we do not have a minimum required score for admissions, the quantitative GRE scores of admitted students have historically been in the 90th percentile or above and the analytical writing portion above 4.5.

We only accept GRE scores sent to us by the Education Testing Service's online delivery system. ETS will supply scores for tests taken in the previous 5 years. The code for the SOE is the same as UCSC: 4860. There is no need to put the department code. Please visit the ETS website for more information.

The GRE is optional for Biomolecular Engineering MS and PhD applicants, Games and Playable Media MS applicants, and Serious Games MS applicants.  The GRE is required for all other Engineering Graduate Programs.


GRE Subject Test

It is not required for admission.



Applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The minimum passing score for the TOEFL exam must be 570 on the paper-based , 230 on the computer-based or 89 on the internet-based test. The minimum passing score for the IELTS exam is 7.  If you have received a degree from an American or Canadian (English-speaking) institution or have lived in the United States for more than four years, you are eligible for a TOEFL exemption.  Departments will automatically grant this exemption to admitted students who qualify.  It is not necessary to request this exemption from the departments.  To be considered for Teaching Assistant support you must have scored a minimum of 26 on the Spoken portion of the internet-based TOEFL and an overall 8 on the IELTS. TOEFL test scores are valid for 2 years. ETS will only forward test result within that 2 year period. Please visit the ETS website for more information.


International Students

Criteria for admission are the same for domestic and international students with the exception of the TOEFL requirement. Further information regarding international applicants is available. More information regarding the UC Santa Cruz Office of International Programs is available.


Personal History Statement

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.

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. Please 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 underrepresented segments of society with your degree. Recommended length is a concise 1-3 pages, single-spaced.


Statement of Purpose

This should be a concise, well-written essay about your background and your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the field you have chosen. Selection committees place particular importance on the statement of purpose. It exhibits your ability to present ideas in clear, coherent language. Your statement of purpose should indicate:

  1. How knowledgeable you are in the desired field of study
  2. How your undergraduate studies and other experiences (work, community involvement, and so forth) serve as a foundation for graduate study
  3. How and why you intend to build on this foundation of knowledge and apply your graduate training to social or theoretical problems

Recommended length is a concise 2-4 pages, single-spaced. In addition, how and why you intend to build on this foundation of knowledge and apply your training to social or theoretical problems. Please mention in your personal statement why you want to pursue graduate work in bioinformatics, computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, statistics & applied mathematics, or technology & information management and why you would like to do it at UCSC. 


Electronic Portfolio

Computational Media MS/PhD, Games & Playable Media MS, and Serious Games MS Program applicants are expected to include a link to their online portfolio. The purpose of the portfolio is to support the case you make for yourself in your personal statement. If you have strengths in design, technology, media making, research methods, or cultural interpretation, include portfolio items that are easy for committee members to access (e.g., if you want to show off interactive software, include video of interaction, not just a downloadable executable) that demonstrate strength.


Work Experience

Please describe your work experience in the application and, if related to bioinformatics, computer engineering, computational media, computer science, games & playable media, electrical engineering, statistics & applied math or techonology & info management, mention how you think it will help you in graduate school.

Financial Questions

How much does it cost to attend graduate school at UC Santa Cruz?

Please visit Financial Aid and Scholarships for detailed graduate student costs.


I can't afford to pay for graduate school. Can you help?

Most of our Ph.D. students are offered support for at least the first year, and can expect to have support through their degree if they continue to make adequate progress. Support comes in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships (TA), or graduate student research assistantships (GSR). Graduate student assistantships are 20-hour/week positions that pay a stipend, tuition (and non-resident tuition if applicable), and health insurance. Typically a Ph.D. student will have a fellowship or TA the first year and then be offered a GSR in subsequent years by their advisor. Students should also look into applying for extramural fellowships. Once a faculty member gets to know you, you may also be offered a GSR.
We do not offer guaranteed funding for our Master's students.


Does a request for financial aid affect my chances of being admitted?

Admission and awarding of need-based financial aid are handled independently. Awards made at the time of admission (fellowships, TA, fee tuition waivers, research assistantship) are made on the basis of merit only.

The financial aid office can assist if you intend to apply for need- based support after your admission.

Financial Aid Office
201 Hahn Student Services Building
University of California Santa Cruz, CA 95064

More information regarding fees/tuitionfinancial aid and fellowships.


Stipends and Pay

Fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and nonresident tuition-fee waivers are available on a competitive basis. Stipends for the academic year (three quarters) range from $16,500 to $24,000 in 2015-2016. In addition, summer research assistantships ($9000 approx.) sometimes are available. For international students, the nonresident fees are also paid for graduate student research assistantships.

Application Questions

Are photocopies or faxes of any of the application materials acceptable?

Photocopies and faxes are acceptable only as place-holders in the initial application. You should upload a copy of your unofficial transcripts to your online application. This can either be a scanned version of your official transcript, or, if available, a downloaded PDF from your institution's online portal. See the Document Scanning Guidelines for information about scanning and uploading your unofficial transcripts to the admissions application. 

If admitted, we will require that an official, sealed transcript be sent directly from your degree-granting institution prior to enrollment at UC Santa Cruz.


Can I still apply if I cannot have all the material ready by the deadline?

Every applicant is urged to be certain that all parts of the application are complete when it is submitted. If a file is incomplete, it may not be considered. The graduate admissions will not accept applications after the application deadline has passed.


How much is the application fee?

Your completed application must be accompanied by a $105 fee ($125 for foreign applicants) payable with either a credit card or electronic check. This application fee is nonrefundable. Applications submitted without the fee are not considered.


I cannot afford the application fee. Can you waive it?

Funds for waivers are extremely limited, but you can obtain a "Request for Graduate Application Fee Waiver" from the Graduate Division to submit with your application for admission. Please note that international students are not eligible for fee waivers.


What is the University/Department code?

The code for the Baskin School of Engineering is the same as UCSC: 4860. There is no need to put the department code as all documents are submitted directly the campus graduate admissions office.


Where can I send my transcripts?

If admitted, we will require that an official, sealed transcript be sent directly from your degree-granting institution prior to enrollment at UC Santa Cruz. Official transcripts are be sent to the Division of Graduate Studies at the following address:

UC Santa Cruz
Graduate Application Processing
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

All other materials are submitted on-line.  Test scores are submitted electronically.

Admissions Questions

Can I take courses without being admitted?

Students who just want to brush up, or are unsure of their interest in a graduate degree, can enroll in individual graduate classes through University Extension's Concurrent Enrollment (Open Campus) options only with permission of the instructor. A small number of these classes can be applied to your MS or Ph.D. degree if you are later accepted to one of these programs. You should discuss this option with the SOE graduate advising office.


Do your departments have a probationary admission policy to allow some applicants to enter your program first and then asking them to finish those prerequisite courses before starting their graduate courses?

No. We do not offer probationary admission into any of our graduate programs.


I've already applied to the program and am waiting to hear back. When will I know if I'm accepted?

The review of applications is generally complete by February. Most offers of admission are prepared and mailed before April (please note this does not apply to programs with deadlines after January). Denial letters are sent thereafter. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the United States are signatories, admitted applicants have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of offers.


What are my chances of being admitted?

Competition is keen for admission to the graduate programs in Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics, Computer Engineering, Computational Media, Computer Science, Games & Playable Media, Electrical Engineering, Statistical Science, and Statistics & Applied Mathematics. Students entering the graduate programs must have completed the equivalent of a bachelors degree, demonstrated strength in their undergraduate studies, and performed well on the GRE. We cannot estimate your likelihood of admission based on your letter, resume, or email message.


Who decides whether you are admitted?

The Graduate Dean at UCSC is responsible for admissions. Faculty committees in Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics, Computational Media, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Games & Playable Media, Electrical Engineering, Statistical Science, and Statistics & Applied Mathematics evaluate the applications and make recommendations to the Dean. These recommendations are usually followed.


I have a question that is not answered here.

For further information regarding the UCSC graduate programs in Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics, Computational Media, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Statistics & Applied Mathematics please contact