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Graduate Admission

[ graduate degrees offered | division of graduate education and postdoctoral affairs | general requirements for higher degrees | financial ]

Admission Requirements


Applicants for graduate admission must present official evidence of receipt of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education or the equivalent, with training comparable to that provided by the University of California. A minimum scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent for course work completed in upper-division or prior graduate study.

Admission Policies

Duplication of Advanced Degrees

Normally, duplication of advanced academic degrees—MA, MS, PhD—is not permitted. A duplicate academic degree is one at the same level (e.g., a second master’s degree or second PhD), regardless of the discipline or the specialization awarding the degree. A professional degree at the master’s or doctoral level (e.g., AuD, DMA, EdD, MAS, MBA, MCEPA, MEd, MEng, MF, MFA, MIA, MPAc, MPP, MD, PharmD) is not regarded as a duplicate of an academic degree.

Students who already hold an advanced academic degree may be admitted to UC San Diego to pursue a second advanced academic degree at the same level only under limited circumstances, and only with the consent of the graduate dean (on behalf of the Graduate Council). Recognizing that there are circumstances in which it is appropriate for a student to pursue a second degree, the graduate dean will consider the following criteria when reviewing requests for permission to do so at UC San Diego:

  1. The degree already held by the student must be in a fundamentally different disciplinary field from the department or program to which the student is applying. A request for permission to be admitted to a degree program at UC San Diego should document this clearly and should indicate the differences both in intellectual training and in qualification for future employment that the second degree would confer.
  2. The department or program considering the applicant must make a clear case that there is no other way at UC San Diego for the student to obtain the same outcome for future employment prospects (e.g., by pursuing a master’s program or postdoctoral study rather than a second PhD).

If the decision of the graduate dean is that the student should be admitted to a particular department or program for a master’s degree alone, the student is barred from requesting permission to continue for a PhD in that department or program.

Departments and programs that award an MA or MS in the course of progress toward the PhD may confer the master’s degree on any enrolled PhD student who has met the departmental and university requirements for the degree, unless the student already holds an MA or MS in the same or related field. In particular, departments and programs may confer the MA or MS on a PhD student who holds a master’s degree in a different discipline without the need for a petition to the Graduate Council or the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Departments and programs are encouraged to consider waiving precandidacy requirements for students who already hold a master’s degree in the same or related field in order to decrease the time to degree.

Nondegree Study

There is no “student-at-large” classification at UC San Diego; application for admission must be made to a specific department or group. Applicants who wish to enroll for “course work only” within a department or group and who do not intend to pursue a higher degree at UC San Diego may request admission for nondegree study. Applicants for nondegree study must satisfy all admission requirements and are not eligible for fellowships or assistantships. Nondegree status is granted for up to one year; students may petition the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs for a second year of nondegree status.

Part-Time Study, Including Half-Time

Students who enroll in fewer than twelve graduate or upper-division units each quarter are considered part-time students. International students on F1 or J1 visas must be enrolled full-time each quarter. Students who are approved by their major department and by the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs for enrollment in a program of half-time study (maximum of six units or fewer) for reasons of occupation, family responsibilities, or health, may be eligible for a reduction in fees. All other part-time students (seven to twelve units) pay the same fees as full-time students.

Part-time study may be pursued in several masters’ programs and a few doctoral programs at UC San Diego. In all instances, part-time students must satisfy the same admission requirements as full-time students and are eligible, at the discretion of a department, for appointment to 25 percent time teaching or research assistantships. Admitted students must file the petition for half-time study with the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs no later than the last day of the second week of the quarter to be eligible for a fee reduction.

Application Procedures

When to Apply

Each graduate program sets a unique application deadline. Most deadlines occur between December and February for admission to fall quarter. A few programs accept applications for winter, spring, and summer admissions. For specific program deadlines, refer to the graduate admission instructions on the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs website or contact the specific program office. Applicants need not have completed their undergraduate programs prior to applying.

How to Apply

UC San Diego utilizes an online application. Payment of the nonrefundable application fee is made by credit card. The online application can be accessed via the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs website, where detailed instructions for completion of the application are provided.

Additional program and application information can be obtained from each graduate program office. Access the UC San Diego website and the appropriate program’s graduate study information. Telephone numbers and campus addresses are listed with the department information in this catalog. The primary documents required in support of an application are listed below. Each program may require additional documents.

Required Supporting Documents

All supporting documents, including letters of recommendation, should be completed using the online application. Any supplemental materials may be uploaded to the online application or emailed directly to the applicant’s prospective major department or program according to department or program specifications.

All required supporting documents must be submitted before the start of the quarter to which an applicant is admitted. Failure to submit required documents by Friday of the fourth week of the quarter will result in a hold on future registration until the documents are provided.

Academic Records

One set of final official transcripts of all previous academic work completed after high school graduation, including certification of degrees received or documentation of status upon leaving each institution, is required for each application submitted. Only official records bearing the signature of the registrar and the seal of the issuing institution will be accepted. Applicants with academic work in progress who expect to complete a degree program before the intended date of enrollment at UC San Diego must submit evidence of degree conferral and a final academic record, as soon as they are available. The undergraduate degree must be completed prior to the start of graduate study.

International Applicant Academic Records

All admitted, international applicants who have earned a degree(s) from an institution(s) outside of the United States and intend to enroll at UC San Diego are required to complete and submit a WES Course-by-Course evaluation. They may create their account via Applicants will be prompted to input their academic history, and will then be provided with a list of documents required for the completion of their evaluation. Once the evaluation has been completed it must be sent directly to the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs Admissions Office for review. Applicants with academic work in progress who expect to complete a degree program before the intended date of enrollment at UC San Diego must provide evidence of degree conferral and a final academic transcript as soon as they are available.

Foreign academic records should show titles of all courses attended each year, years of study (or duration of study), examinations passed, seminars completed, and grades or marks received in all institutions where formal records are maintained. Official evidence of degree conferral must also be supplied, together with evidence of rank in class if possible.

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Scores

Most graduate programs require that applicants take the GRE. Contact the specific program for further information. Applicants who are applying for admission to a department, group, or school that requires that they take the GRE should do so as early as possible to insure the timely receipt of their score results. Applicants must take the GRE no later than fall in order to meet most departmental deadlines for admission. Consult the GRE website for further information. Only official scores sent to UC San Diego by ETS will be accepted for admission.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants should arrange to have three letters of recommendation submitted online to UC San Diego. If paper letters are necessary, they must be mailed to the prospective major department, group, or school. It is most important that letters of recommendation be completed by individuals in a position to analyze an applicant’s abilities and academic or professional promise.

International Applicant Requirements

English Language Test

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language is required for all international applicants whose native language is not English. Non-native English language speakers may be exempt from this requirement if they have earned or will be earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree with grades of B (3.0) or better from either:

  • A regionally accredited US college or university where English is the sole language of instruction, or
  • A foreign college or university which provides instruction solely in English. Applicants may verify whether they meet this requirement by using the IAU World Higher Education Database (WHED). If English is not the sole language of instruction listed, if no language is listed at all, or if the institution does not appear on the WHED website, applicants are required to submit English proficiency exam scores. No other documentation (e.g., letters, language certificates, school websites) may be used in place of WHED as a means to obtain an exemption from the English proficiency requirement.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 85 for the Internet Based Test and 64 for the Paper Based Test. Please note the Paper Based Test does not have a speaking component. TOEFL information and forms are available at the TOEFL website.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Training exam: The minimum IELTS score is Band 7.0. IELTS registration information is available on the IELTS website.

The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic). The minimum PTE academic score required for graduate admission is overall score 65. Registration and test information is available on the Pearson website.

International students whose native language is not English will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency before they may serve as teaching assistants.

International Applicant Financial Statement

International applicants accepting admission to UC San Diego are required to certify that they possess sufficient funds to cover all fees, transportation, and living expenses during the first academic year of graduate enrollment at UC San Diego. Please refer to this link for required funding for your program and acceptable financial documents to submit:'s-Pr

Opportunities for employment, on or off campus, are extremely limited, and international applicants should not base their educational plans on the hope of finding employment after arriving in the United States.

Admission and Registration

Official admission to graduate study at the university is contingent upon review of an applicant’s record; receipt of official final undergraduate transcript showing degree(s) awarded; receipt of official final graduate transcripts showing degree(s) awarded if applicable; receipt of post-graduate academic records; an affirmative recommendation by the prospective department, group, or school; and action by the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. The graduate dean or the prospective major department, group, or school may deny admission if an applicant’s scholastic record is undistinguished, if the preparation is judged inadequate as a foundation for advanced work, or in the event that no further students can be accommodated for a given quarter. Only the official Letter of Admission from the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs constitutes formal approval of admission to a graduate program at UC San Diego.

Official notification of admission by the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs will be sent via email well in advance of the beginning of the quarter for which application has been made. Applicants should call their prospective major department if formal notification is not received four weeks prior to the beginning of the quarter for which they applied.

Admission to graduate standing does not constitute registration for classes. A student is not officially registered for classes until the entire registration procedure is completed each quarter. Information and all necessary registration materials will be available at department offices approximately two weeks before the opening of the quarter. (See Academic and Administrative Calendar.)

Deferral and Reapplication

Applicants who are admitted but decide not to register in the quarter for which they first apply may request deferral of their application for a later quarter within the same academic year or the academic year immediately subsequent. Application for admission of an approved deferred applicant for the subsequent academic year may be made by submitting a statement of activities and official transcripts of any academic work undertaken since the first application to the department or group. Admission is not guaranteed to previously admitted applicants who have an approved deferral. In no case are application files retained for more than four consecutive academic quarters from the date of first application. Application after this period may be made only by completing a new application and providing all necessary documents, including payment of the graduate application fee.

Students who are denied admission must submit a new application and fee together with required documentation in order to be considered for admission in another academic year.


A graduate student whose status has lapsed because of an interruption in registration must petition his or her department for readmission at least eight weeks prior to the first day of the quarter in which reenrollment is intended. Do not submit an application for admission. Students must submit supplementary transcripts of all academic course work undertaken since last enrolled at UC San Diego to their home program, pay a readmission fee of $135, and complete a General Petition and a supplementary Statement of Activities. In addition, a Statement of Legal Residence is required for all students returning after an absence of two quarters or more.

Readmission is not automatic.