The UCSC Physics Department is committed to providing an excellent education to a diverse population of graduate students and we encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.  We employ a holistic process to assess candidates’ knowledge and passion for physics, as well as whether or not they have the perseverance and tenacity required to complete the doctoral program.  Of particular importance is the alignment between the research interests of the candidate and those of the department.  While taking into consideration a candidate's undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, student statements, and GRE scores (if provided), we do not disqualify applicants based on any single factor.  In particular, the department recognizes the documented limitations of the GRE as an equitable predictor of success in graduate studies and research. 

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Our Fall 2019 graduate program application window is from October 1, 2018 until January 15, 2019. 


The Graduate Division offers Waivers for students who are experiencing financial hardships. You can find more information here. Please note that you must obtain approval prior to paying the applicaiton fee.  

Fee Exemptions avaliable for members of the following organizations:

 ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students)
LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation)
Peace Corps
UC LEADS (University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees)
CAMP (California Alliance for Minority Participation)
MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers)
PREP (Post baccalaureate Research Experience Program)
UC-HBCU Initiative (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alumni for Campus Outreach)
CBSE-RMI (Center for Biomedical Science and Engineering - Research Mentoring Institute)
MBRS/IMSD (Minority Biomedical Research Support/Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity)
Project 1000
* UCEAP Reciprocity
CfAO-RIM (Center for Adaptive Optics - Research Internships on the Mainland)
McNair Scholars Program
SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science)
* US Military Veteran
CSU Pre-Doctoral Program
 MIRT (Minority Biomedical Research Training Program)
STEPS Institute (Science, Technology, Engineering, Policy and Society)
Diversity Forum (The California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education)
NAC (National Astronomy Consortium)
SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
Graduate Pathways to STEM Conference
NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates)
SURF-IT (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology)

Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator with any questions:

Ben Miller 

Phone: (831) 459-4122





Required application materials:

  • Recommendations
    Three letters of recommendation are required. Additional letters, up to five total recommendations, will be reviewed but will not help or hurt your application.
  • 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 2-3 pages.
  • Personal History Statement
    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.
  • Resume
    Upload your résumé in PDF format.
  • Research Interests
    Please indicate the three research areas you are interested in studying. This information will be used to ensure that the faculty in your areas of interest have an opportunity to review your application. If you feel none of the areas listed match your interests, please use the "other" field. Be sure to describe your interests and background in detail in your statement of purpose.
    Please provide your reserach interests in ranked order, with #1 being your highest-order preference.  You will be able to select form the following list:
    • Applied Physics
    • Astrophysics and cosmology experiment
    • Astrophysics and cosmology theory
    • Biophysics
    • Condensed matter experiment
    • Condensed matter theory
    • Material Science
    • Particle physics experiment
    • Particle physics theory
  • GRE Scores (ETS offers a fee reduction program)
    Please note that the we have recently changed our policy concerning application materials and the GRE. 
    • General Exam- Optional 
    • Physics Subject Exam- Recommended 
  • English Language Competence
    • TOEFL 
      • Paper-based, 550
      • Internet-based, 83
  • Grade Point Average
    • Undergraduate GPA & Scale
    • Graduate GPA & Scale (if applicable)
  • Transcripts 
    Unofficial transcripts must be uploaded to the application before you can submit this application. You must upload at least one transcript to your application. For review and decision purposes we accept electronic versions (PDF) of your academic records, which we consider to be "unofficial." If an offer of admission is made, you will be required to send us official paper documents for verification. Admission offers will not be considered final until we have received the official documents that match the uploaded record.
  • Academic Information (publications, teaching experience, etc.)
    • List articles, books, or any other materials published, with dates of publication. Provide URLs to publications where possible.
    • List name, approximate dates, and location of any institution at which you have taught.
    • Present occupation or position
    • Describe degree of proficiency (reading and speaking) in languages other than your first language.
    • List relevant advanced or research work that you have completed in your chosen field of study.
  • Diversity Fellowships
    This page is optional. 
    The Santa Cruz campus of the University of California has a long-standing goal of achieving a graduate student population that reflects the diversity of the state. Applicants who have excellent potential as future faculty and researchers, and whose enrollment would contribute to the diversity of our graduate student population, are invited to apply for these fellowships. You should complete this form if you believe that you meet both criteria and wish to be considered for one of these awards.

Please visit the Division of Graduate Studies website for more information about the application process.