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Application – FAQs

Some Frequently Asked Questions…

Does the department admit students solely for the purpose of obtaining a master's degree?

No, the department does not admit students solely for the purpose of obtaining a master’s degree. All applicants are admitted to a single M.A./Ph.D. program. The M.A. degree in history is looked upon as a valuable stage on the path to the doctorate. Although it is understood that some students may choose not to continue beyond the M.A., and that others may not be permitted to do so, the aim of the program is to provide students with research training leading to the doctoral degree.


What is the application deadline?

The application deadline is Monday, December 11, 2023. The department admits in the fall of every year (no winter or spring admission).

How long should my writing sample be?

Your writing sample should be moderately sized – a research paper – 20-25 pages or a chapter or two of a thesis. ( Please note: the exact number of pages may change to accommodate the new on-line application process – any changes will be listed at the online application site).

How long should my Statement of Purpose be?

There is no length requirement for a statement of purpose, though most are three to four pages. It is more important for your statement to be concise and specific. What are your scholarly interests? What faculty members and programs at UCSB seem well-suited to aiding you to gain the knowledge and training you need to pursue those interests as a professional? See the Statement of Purpose and Recommendation Guidelines for further advice.


What credentials do I need to apply?

Applicants will be required to have completed an undergraduate major in history or its’ equivalent (approximately 40 upper-division quarter units or approximately 24 upper-division semester units). History is a discipline that benefits from training in other fields, so applicants who do not meet these requirements are still encouraged to apply, but are also strongly urged to contact faculty in their proposed field of study for advice. GRE is NOT required for admission. The Graduate Division of the University requires applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the junior and senior years. The average GPA of students admitted to the Graduate History Program is 3.55 for the junior and senior years. Those students who successfully compete for merit-based awards usually have higher GPAs.Applicants must submit a suitable sample of historical writing, such as a term paper or equivalent, and three letters of recommendation. These should address the applicant’s academic qualifications for graduate work in history. In addition, applicants ordinarily are expected to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in upper-division history courses (or 3.75 in master’s courses).

What are my chances of admission?

It should be stressed that admission to the program is competitive, and satisfying these minimum requirements does not, by itself, guarantee admission. At the same time, the decision to admit is based on consideration of the entire file, and promising applicants in unusual circumstances whose records fall below the minimum should not be discouraged from applying. The grounds for not admitting applicants are diverse. Even well qualified candidates may be denied admission. No faculty member may be available in the field in which the student is applying; or there may be no room for qualified candidates in the program. The reasons for non-acceptance may be that the candidate: (1) is not competitive; (2) has inadequate preparation; (3) lacks a faculty sponsor; (4) has interests not suitably represented in our department; (5) is applying in a program which cannot accommodate any more qualified candidates; (6) has inadequate facility in English (foreign students).

Any tips for a good application?

Since the faculty members in the appropriate fields do the work of selecting their graduate students, you should pay close attention to your statement of purpose, specifying the nature of your research interests as precisely as you can. Faculty give these statements very close scrutiny. Drafting a cogent and careful statement is of the essence, for it is your argument for wanting to study a particular field of history here at UCSB. You should also give some thought to the faculty you ask to write recommendations, since these letters also are carefully scrutinized. Faculty who know you best as a person may not be the best persons to ask. In general, faculty with whom you have worked most recently, especially those who have supervised you under conditions that most closely approximate graduate work (for instance, independent study or a research paper) are in the best position to write effective letters. We realize that many candidates are applying to several graduate schools and many are well qualified for admission to history programs. But in evaluating applications to our program, we look for specific reasons why we should accept a particular student at UCSB.

What is a faculty sponsor and how do I find one?

Since no student is accepted without a faculty sponsor, please make arrangements to introduce yourself to a few professors with whom you might want to work, via email. Check the ‘people’ section of the history department webpage for the bio’s and email addresses of the faculty members. Please read the biographies to make sure that the faculty member you choose is a good match for your particular interests. You might also want to read some of their published work. The faculty members are accustomed to communicating via email. These emails help to determine, if nothing else, whether or not the History Department at UCSB will be able to support your particular interests.


Application Checklist

Don’t forget to look at the checklist on our Application page for details on all of the materials that you’ll need to submit in order to complete your application!