Ph.D. Program Admissions Criteria

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences does not admit for a M.A. degree. Admission is to the Ph.D. program only, although students may complete a M.A. degree while they are enrolled. Students who have received a Master’s degree from another institution are encouraged to apply, but this will not advance progress through the Ph.D. program.

Psychological & Brain Sciences is an experimental psychology program that trains experimental psychologists for research and teaching positions in academic settings and for research careers in the private sector. If you are interested in a clinical, counseling psychology program, please see the Graduate School of Education.

Applications to the program are accepted for fall quarter only. All application materials are due by December 1.

University Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must have:

  • Received a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited university prior to the quarter for which the applicant seeks admission
  • At least a B average in undergraduate coursework

International applicants who have conducted their post-secondary education outside of the United States must have completed an undergraduate degree program equivalent to a University of California bachelor's degree by the beginning of their graduate program at UCSB. Equivalent undergraduate degrees usually include a minimum four years of university work and above-average scholarship.

Psychological & Brain Sciences Requirements

Admission to the Department is competitive and is based on consideration of intellectual potential, research experience, academic achievement, and program fit.

Successful applicants to the program typically have:

  • an overall grade point average in upper division (junior and senior) academic classes above 3.5 (on a 4-point scale)
  • scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination above the 80th percentile

There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

The applicant's record, as described in the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation, should indicate a commitment to research. Students considering application to the program are encouraged to gain research experience with their undergraduate faculty mentors in their junior and senior years.

Students are required to submit a statement of purpose, which should include descriptions of research experience and research interests. This program emphasizes the benefits of individualized attention and close faculty-student interaction, both of which are facilitated by a suitable match between the applicant's interests and the faculty's research expertise. Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek some familiarity with the research of faculty members with whom they might like to work and note these in the statement of purpose.

Letters of recommendation that include specific details of personal interactions with the applicant, particularly in classroom and research settings, are more informative than letters that include only abstract generalizations about the applicant.

Satisfaction of minimal standards does not, however, guarantee admission. Since the number of qualified applicants far exceeds the number of places available, many well-qualified applicants cannot be accommodated.