University of California graduate admissions


With so many prospective students applying for admission to UC graduate programs, it's important to stand out from the crowd.
Research student in water collecting samples
When you apply to graduate school, you’ll apply directly to each UC graduate program. If you're applying to more than one program, even on the same campus, you'll have to submit an application to each one. Each program may have different admissions requirements and deadlines, so you'll have to plan carefully.

Application form

Nearly all applications can be completed online. Each program’s website should list application deadlines, mailing addresses, GRE institution or department codes and other information. Carefully read and follow all instructions.

Application fees

You’ll be expected to submit a separate fee for each university—and perhaps each program—when you apply. Many institutions, including all UC campuses, offer fee waivers to applicants based on financial need or participation in certain programs, such as McNair Scholars. Check with each campus graduate division to learn more.


Generally, all your letters should be from professors. But if you have done research or been employed in your proposed field of study, a letter from your mentor or supervisor also may be helpful; check with faculty advisors in the programs to which you are applying. Request recommendations from professors in your field who know you well, think highly of your work, and can attest to your ability to succeed in the graduate program. Give recommenders enough time to provide you with a strong, thoughtful, well-written letter.


Most institutions will require that official transcripts be sent from each institution you have attended, including any community colleges. You may need to pay a fee for each transcript. Check with the 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.

Required testing

Some programs require applicants to take the GRE or other standardized tests. Prepare for and take tests early so you will have time to study and retake them if you’re not satisfied with your scores.

Statement of purpose

Admissions committees use this important essay to gain insight into your motivation, competence and potential as a graduate student. They will also look at it to evaluate your writing skills.

Personal history statement

Some schools may ask you to submit an additional essay, often called a personal history statement or personal 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 highlight your ability to persevere in the face of social, economic or educational challenges.

Supplemental materials

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

“What keeps me going is the community: Having a group of grad school friends reminds me that I am not alone; having non-grad school friends reminds me that there still exists a world outside of the classroom and library.”
Jada Wiggleton-Little Philosophy, UC San Diego Wiggleton-Little’s research looks at how people talk about physical pain and how those communications can go wrong.
Image of Jada Wiggleton-Little