How to apply

Each UC graduate program has specific application deadlines and admissions requirements, so plan carefully. Here is an overview of what you'll need to provide when you apply.

Application forms and deadlines

All UC graduate school applications can be completed online. Each program's website lists application deadlines, GRE codes and other important information. UC graduate programs often have different requirements and deadlines, and some require applicants to submit supplementary materials via postal mail, so carefully check all instructions.

Application fees and fee waivers

When you apply, you'll be expected to pay a separate fee for each UC campus — and perhaps each program. All UC campuses offer fee waivers to applicants based on financial need; check with the campus's graduate division to see if you qualify.

Participants in certain programs, such as McNair Scholars and Peace Corps volunteers, are also eligible for fee waivers.

Recommendations

Most programs require recommendations from three professors who can attest to your ability to succeed in a graduate program. Request recommendations from professors in your field who know you well and think highly of you and your work.

A few programs may specifically state that they allow recommendations from employers or other people who are familiar with your work; otherwise, only submit letters from professors.

Be sure to allow adequate time for recommenders to respond with a thoughtful letter. Request letters by October of your senior year if you're applying for the following academic year.

Transcripts

You must submit records of all college-level courses you have taken by requesting official transcripts to be sent from each institution you have attended, including any community colleges. You may need to pay a fee for each transcript. Check with institutions to which you are applying to be sure official transcripts are required. If the program explicitly states unofficial transcripts may be submitted, you can save yourself some money.

GRE and other standardized tests

Many programs require you to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or other standardized tests. Arrange for your score to be sent to all institutions to which you are applying. Many program websites list their specific GRE department code or institution code, which you'll need to order your score reports.

Statement of purpose

The graduate program admissions committee uses this important essay to gain insight into your motivation, competence and potential as a graduate student, as well as to evaluate your writing skills.

Personal statement

Some schools may ask you to submit an additional essay, often called a personal history statement, that highlights how you will contribute to the school's diversity and be an asset to the program. This is different from the statement of purpose. The personal history statement allows you to share your achievements and ability to persevere in the face of social, economic or educational challenges.

Supplemental materials

Some — but not all — programs allow you to include additional information, such as your résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), publications or portfolio. Do not include any supplemental materials unless the application instructions specifically state that they are accepted.

Reality check

  • Allow plenty of time for transcripts, recommendation letters and test scores to arrive before each program's deadline.
  • Read all instructions and follow them precisely. Each school and funding application may have different requirements and deadlines. Note that some institutions allow applicants to apply to just one program.
  • Apply early so if there are problems with your application, you'll have time to fix them before the deadline.