University of California graduate admissions

Santa Barbara

A World-Class Education: UCSB is one of 62 research-intensive institutions elected to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. Our renowned faculty includes six Nobel Laureates, while our graduate programs consistently rank among the top ten in the nation.

UC Santa Barbara is a hub of excellence for nearly 3,000 graduate students from 45 countries across the globe. In the humanities, the arts, the social sciences, education, engineering, and the sciences, our graduate students discover novel ways of thinking, learning, teaching, and conducting research. Learn more about UC Santa Barbara’s exciting academic community.

In its 2022 listing of the “Top Public Schools,” U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Santa Barbara No. 5. Among “Best National Universities,” which includes both public and private institutions, UCSB placed No. 28.

In its new ranking of leading graduate and professional programs at American universities, U.S. News & World Report magazine has rated two of UC Santa Barbara’s programs among the top 10 in the nation in the 2023 list of “Best Graduate Schools.” The UCSB materials program is ranked No. 2 among public institutions and No. 5 overall. The chemical engineering program, also part of the College of Engineering, was ranked No. 9 overall and No. 6 among public universities. The College of Engineering itself was ranked No. 14 among public universities. UC Santa Barbara also placed highly in rankings for earth sciences, physics, psychology, and social work.

UCSB graduate students thrive in an inspiring location. Located on 1,000 acres along the California coast, the campus is 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Take a virtual tour of the campus.

The UCSB Graduate Division and the campus community strive to provide support for every facet of graduate student life on campus. Located on the first floor of the UCSB Student Resource Building, the Graduate Student Resource Center is the primary resource for graduate students at UCSB for career and professional development support, offering a variety of workshops and events, individual advising, and referrals to other campus resources that serve graduate students. A wide array of health and wellness, academic counseling, and housing resources on campus allow graduate students to thrive as they pursue their academic, social, and career goals. Learn more about campus resources for graduate students.

The UCSB Graduate Scholars Program is a comprehensive program designed to provide mentoring, resources, and professional development for incoming graduate students that are traditionally underrepresented in the academy. Graduate students can also join graduate student organizations and affinity groups to further support their cultural, academic, and professional activities at UC Santa Barbara.

UC Santa Barbara is known for its culture of collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship; with faculty, graduate students, and alumni pioneering research, advocacy, and policy across disciplines and industries. Graduate students can pursue interdisciplinary emphases in 16 different areas. Doctoral candidates can participate in year-long interdisciplinary and classroom teaching experiences through the UCSB Crossroads Program. The campus also fosters interdisciplinary research initiatives and programs at the Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

UC Santa Barbara is home to 10 national institutes and centers. Among them are the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Materials Research Laboratory, both funded by the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Army-funded Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies. Learn more about UC Santa Barbara’s research centers.

UC Santa Barbara’s renowned faculty includes six Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur “genius” fellows, elected members of national and international academies and societies, winners of Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, and recipients of other highly acclaimed awards. UC Santa Barbara’s membership in the American Association of Universities reflects its status as one of the top research universities in North America. In 2015, the CWTS Leiden Ranking rated UC Santa Barbara seventh worldwide for its scientific performance.

UCSB is also the primary location for groundbreaking research initiatives and groups like the nation’s first NSF-funded Quantum Foundry and the Koegel Autism Center at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, which has been recognized as one of the top 10 state-of- the-art treatment centers for autism in the United States. Learn more about campus centers and projects. UC Santa Barbara professor Shuji Nakamura was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to energy-efficient LED lighting technology. The UC Santa Barbara Grad Slam, a competition in which graduate students present a three-minute talk on their research, received a national award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education.

Undergraduate research programs and opportunities

Completing a research project before you apply to graduate school can help you be a competitive applicant. You don't have to be a UC Santa Barbara student to take advantage of the campus's programs. 

Academic Research Consortium (Open to UCSB & Non-UCSB Students) 

CSU/Sally Casanova Scholar Program (Open to CSU Students)

UC LEADS Program (Open to UCSB Students)

Undergraduate Research (Programs for UCSB & Non-UCSB Students)

Contact information

UCSB Graduate Division 
Graduate studies contact: or visit our staff directory.