Prospective PhD Students

Our doctoral students bring a diversity of backgrounds and experiences and come from California, the U.S. and the world. What they all share is a driving quest to become rigorous scholars whose research matters to the lived realities of those people who are historically underserved or harmed by public schooling and other institutions and structures. They want their research to reach widely, to impact both academia and everyday practices. Our students want their research to contribute to making real change for a more just society. 

The Education Department at UC Santa Cruz invites applications from people:

  • interested in learning to be ethical and rigorous scholars.
  • committed to improving educational opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for youth from diverse social and linguistic backgrounds. 
  • experienced working in the field of education, understood broadly to include formal or informal learning environments, youth programs, social change agencies, community-based organizations, and more.
  • with strong academic preparation.

Further we especially encourage applicants who are:

  • Multilingual.
  • Bring a critical understanding of diversity within their own life experiences and background.
  • Have completed a master’s degree.


Each person comes to research shaped within their own lived experiences, helping to define the questions they ask and the methodologies they use in seeking to answer or clarify those questions. We are a community of scholars who seek a broad diversity among our students.  We are drawn to those with potential to contribute to thinking, dialogue, and knowledge creation that will shape the future of scholarship in education. In your application please let us know who you are and what brings you to want to pursue an Education PhD with the faculty in the UCSC Education Department.


The minimum grade-point average (GPA) established by the University of California for admission to graduate school is 3.0. The Ph.D. in Education program looks for demonstrated excellence in its doctoral students, whether that manifests in high grade-point averages, strong letters of recommendation, or an exceptionally strong statement of purpose and record of impactful achievement. Applicants will be evaluated on their individual merits and also with regard to how well their proposed doctoral projects can be supported by the existing resources of the program. Only students pursuing the Ph.D. in Education will be admitted to the program.


  • Bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, from an accepted university prior to the quarter for which admission is sought

  • Experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • 3.0 GPA or above 

  • GRE scores are not required

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Personal History Statement

  • A writing sample, preferably in education or a related field. The sample can be a term paper, a field report, a research proposal, or an essay written especially for the application

  • A transcript from each college-level institution attended, regardless of length of time in attendance of if a degree was received.  For purposes of review, unofficial transcripts can be uploaded to your application. Official transcripts will be requested later from anyone who accepts an offer of admission.

  • Three current recommendation letters specifying potential for scholarly productivity

  • Current resume

  • Application fee ($135 for domestic applicants, $155 for international applicants). This fee does not guarantee admission and in non-refundable.

    • For information about fee waivers or exemptions, see the Graduate Division FAQs. International applicants are not eligible for application fee waivers or exemptions.
  • Demonstration of English Proficiency. International applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must have taken either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System test (IELTS) within the past two years, and submit the official scores (unless you qualify for a waiver for admissions and for TAships). 

    • To be considered for admission, the minimum TOEFL scores are 550 for the paper-based TOEFL test, 220 for the computer-based test, or 83 for the internet-based test; the minimum IELTS score is 7.
    •  To be considered for Teaching Assistantships, a speaking score of 26 or higher on the internet-based TOEFL or overall and speaking IELTS scores of 8 are required. 
    • If you think you might qualify for a waiver of the TOEFL or IELTS, review the information and follow the instructions under English Language Testing. The requirements for admission and to qualify for TAships are not the same. Include the reason you're applying for a waiver, as well as any required documentation.
      • The language exam may be waived: (a) for the purpose of admissions for an applicant who earned their bachelor's degree (not a master's) at an English-speaking institution, and (b) for the purpose of assigning TAships if the applicant submits a letter from a faculty member who supervised their TA teaching during a master's program. 
      • If you have questions about language waivers, email
  • Prior to completing your application, we highly recommend a personal interview with at least one of our faculty members. Please contact an education faculty member whose research interest is similar to your own. (Emeriti faculty, Visiting faculty, Lecturers, and Teacher Supervisors do not advise new students.)


  • K-12 classroom experience

You must submit your application by the December 1 deadline (11:59 pm PST). Supplemental materials (e.g., letters, test scores) will be added to your application as they arrive, but you are strongly encouraged to request letters and to schedule the required tests so that the results will be available by the deadline (or shortly afterwards). The initial review of applications by the admissions committee will begin shortly after the deadline. The campus, including the graduate admissions office, is closed beginning Thursday Dec 23 until Monday Jan 3.

Before submitting your application, please review it for completeness and accuracy, and be sure that the required and correct versions of documents are attached. Revised application documents are not accepted.


  • Please focus your application materials so that you convey a clear sense of: 1) the strength of your preparation to pursue scholarly inquiry; 2) the connection between your scholarly interests and social justice; 3) your short- and long-term goals; and 4) the fit between your interests and goals and our program and faculty.

  • If possible, please select a writing sample that demonstrates your strengths in academic writing and scholarship.

  • In the aggregate, your letters of recommendation should speak to your academic abilities and potential as a scholar.

  • During the preparation of the application, you are encouraged to make direct contact via email with current faculty whose research interests you share to explore the fit between your own interests and those of the program.


Email invitations will be sent in late January for this invitation-only visit. 

A virtual visit for possible admits will be on Friday February 10. Applications will be reviewed in December and January and some applicants will be invited for a visit. Some of those invited to the visit will receive offers of admission.

An important part of the visit includes interviews that each invitee will have with department faculty, including possible advisors. Invitees will also hear about the program and campus, as well as meet with some current students.


The official notification for all admissions decisions is made by Graduate Admissions. All applicants will be notified via email in the applicant's portal by Graduate Admissions whether or not they have been admitted. Departments do not make the official offers, and the information that they can give via phone, e-mail, fax or in person is limited.

For questions, email: