ECE Apply FAQs


General Application Questions

What are the requirements for a completed application?

Application Requirements

An application is considered complete once:

  • the online application has been completed and submitted
  • the application fee has been paid
  • all transcripts, supplemental documents (Statement of Purpose, Resume/CV, Personal History and Diversity Statement), letters of recommendation, and scores have been received
    • Statement of Purpose: this is a brief statement outlining your reasons for undertaking our graduate program, the particular area of specialization within the major field, past academic work, and academic goals. You may also include names of UCSB ECE faculty whose research field interests you most.
    • Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Personal History and Diversity Statement:
      • Should be one page minimum, two pages maximum, 250 words minimum (not including header and title), double spaced (PDF). This should not be a duplicate of the Statement of Purpose.
      • This statement should describe aspects of your personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that you feel are important in your contribution to a diverse population at UCSB. For example, include any economic challenges experienced while achieving higher education, any unusual or varied life experiences that might contribute to the diversity of the graduate group like fluency in other languages, experience in living in bicultural communities, academic research interests focusing on cultural, societal or educational problems as they affect underserved segments of society or evidence of an intention to use the graduate degree toward serving disadvantaged individuals or populations.
    • Three letters of recommendation: While three letters are required, applicants can submit up to four letters of recommendation. Academic references are preferred, although applicants may submit one letter from industry.
    • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts with the official university seal and grade scale are acceptable for application purposes. Please redact identifying personal information such as social security numbers and home addresses.
      • International Applicants: Degree certificates required (if the degree is awarded) AND original language and certified English translation transcripts required.
      • TIPS for uploading official transcripts:
        • Must be current transcripts with institution name/identifying marks (e.g., logos, seals, stamps...) and transcript legend or university key (grading scale)
        • Do not upload transcripts from secondary or higher secondary schools
        • Only PDFs accepted with a 10 MB size maximum
        • Black and white copies are sufficient
        • Ensure scan can print on letter-size paper - 8 ½ by 11 in (21 ½ by 30 cm)
        • Select the “view document” button to verify whether the transcript(s) meet all requirements
          NOTE: UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found.
    • GRE scores: ECE has eliminated the GRE requirement for admission
    • TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test scores (DET) if applicable: International students whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or DET. Exceptions to TOEFL, IELTS, or DET testing may only be considered for those students who have or will be completing an undergraduate or graduate education at an institution whose primary language of instruction is English, or are permanent residents of the U.S.
      • How should I submit my scores? Applicants should instruct ETS to send TOEFL or IELTS official scores to UCSB Institution Code 4835. A department code is not required. DET scores will be managed centrally by the Graduate Division.
      • What are the minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or DET scores required? The minimum TOEFL score is 550 for the paper-based test and 80 for the internet-based test. The minimum IELTS score is an overall band score of 7. The minimum DET score is 120.
      • If I have already taken the TOEFL, IELTS, or DET, how long are my test scores valid? Scores can be no more than two years from the date that the online application is started.
      • May I waive the TOEFL, IELTS, or DET requirement? Exceptions to TOEFL, IELTS, or DET testing may only be considered for those students who have completed an undergraduate or graduate education at an institution whose official sole language of instruction is English.
When is the graduate application deadline?

Application Deadline

  • MS, MS/PhD, PhD:
    Fall 2025 (admission and financial support) — December 15, 2024
    • (submission will extend through 11:59pm on December 16th since the 15th falls on a weekend)
  • PhD ONLY: Applicants must have a Master's Degree to apply
    Winter 2025 (admission only) — November 1, 2024
    Spring 2025 (admission only) — January 2, 2025
Should I send, email, or upload additional materials such as papers, awards...?

Supplemental Materials

We Do Not accept additional materials. A mention of papers, technical reports, theses, etc., in the resume is sufficient. Also, Do Not send copies of your passport.

If we receive such materials, they will be discarded.

Applicants will not be notified once the application is complete - it is the applicant's responsibility to follow up and review their application status.

What is and where can I find my student PERM #?

UCSB Perm # / Student ID

The PERM # is your unique UCSB student identification number that you will use throughout your studies at UCSB. To find your PERM #, refer to the application status page several days after completing and paying the online application fee.

How do I choose whether to apply to the BS/MS, MS, MS/PhD or the PhD program?

Choosing whether to apply to the MS or PhD Program?

  • The PhD program is open to applicants who hold a master's degree or its equivalent in either electrical and computer engineering or computer science or related fields and who demonstrate unusual ability and promise for professional success. It is also open to applicants of exceptional promise directly on completion of a baccalaureate degree program. The program prepares individuals for a career in academia as a professor at a research university or liberal arts college, or as a researcher in an industry or government research laboratory. The program typically takes 5 years to complete.
  • Applicants with only a baccalaureate degree who intend to seek the PhD degree should apply for simultaneous admission to the MS/PhD program.
  • The MS program is designed for individuals who are interested in further developing their knowledge and skill base in a rigorous academic program in preparation for either a PhD program or a professional position. The program offers a flexible curriculum with either a research (thesis) track or a comprehensive exam. Our average MS student completes the program within 2 years.
  • The combined BS/MS program seeks to prepare undergraduate students at UCSB more deeply and broadly than the Bachelor's program alone. The BS/MS in ECE program is ONLY open to current UCSB Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering students. The program allows outstanding students to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering or Materials and to complete graduation requirements for both degrees ideally within five years. Graduate units taken during the student's senior year will allow the completion of MS program requirements in the fifth year. The BS/MS process is an internal process and not completed through the Graduate Admissions online website.
What criteria do you use for acceptance into your programs?

Acceptance Criteria

The evaluation process for applications is extremely complex, taking into account all the materials submitted with the application. All applicants for admission to graduate status are required to present evidence of a high level of technical skill, scholarship, and aptitude for electrical and computer engineering. This evidence normally is provided through a combination of undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and accounts of professional goals and experience. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The ECE Department does a thorough evaluation in a committee consisting of several faculty members. Then the UCSB Graduate Admissions Office evaluates each nominated application to determine whether or not their minimum standards for admission have been met

What are my chances of being admitted?

Admission Prospects

It is not possible to evaluate an individual's chances of admission without reviewing their file within the context of the peer applicant pool. 

My GPA is not on a 4.0 scale, so how will it be evaluated?

GPA Scale Evaluation

  • Many institutions, particularly those outside of the US educational system, do not grade students on a 4.0 GPA scale. Our faculty is familiar with the higher educational systems of countries all over the world and evaluates an applicant's academic performance within that individual's local context.
  • When applying, you do not have to convert your grades to a 4.0 scale. Instead, please indicate your overall standing and the grading scale used in the fields provided in the online application.
My bachelor's degree isn't in ECE. What kind of background should I have before applying to the program?

Degree Background

The graduate programs are open to those who have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, other areas of engineering, or in mathematics, physics, or other related fields of science. Applicants with degrees in fields other than electrical and computer engineering or computer science may be required to complete undergraduate prerequisite courses. Fundamental subject areas required include mathematics through differential equations and advanced calculus, a full year of college-level physics, and introductory computer programming.

I'm a current/former UCSB student in the MS program who wishes to continue/transfer to the PhD program, how do I apply?

Current or former students continuing or transferring into the PhD program

Students who are already involved in the MS program at UCSB and who wish to work for a doctorate should discuss their prospects with their faculty advisor and other professors. If, after receiving advice and encouragement, a student wishes to apply for the PhD program, they must start and complete a new application via the Graduate Division application website. This application is usually done after passing the PhD Screening Exam. Current students who apply and are accepted into the doctoral program will be fully eligible for central recruitment funding including the International Doctoral Recruitment Fellowship (IDRF) if they apply and are admitted. If admitted, students will be given a new start quarter for the doctoral degree objective. This means that the degree clock starts anew.

Application Status

I have already applied to the program and am waiting to hear back. When will I know if I have been admitted?

When will I know if I am admitted?

  • Admission decisions will by finalized by early May.
  • Applicants are accepted and rejected on a rolling basis. 
  • To check your application status, log into your eApp and review your Overview page and/or Application sections. Your Application Status page will be updated with a decision letter when a decision has bee made on your application.

Transfer Questions

Can I apply course credit from UCSB Extension or from another institution toward my degree requirements if I am admitted?

Course credits from UCSB or another institution

  • Students may transfer, to UCSB, units from upper-division and graduate courses that were completed while the student was enrolled in another graduate program. A grade of B or better is required and courses already applied toward a degree awarded are not transferable.
  • Students may transfer a maximum of 8-quarter units from an accredited college outside of the UC system and a maximum of 12-quarter units from another UC. Transferred units do not affect UCSB academic residency requirements.
  • Currently enrolled graduate students may not take courses through UCSB Professional and Continuing Education (formerly UCSB Extension) that can be completed through regular enrollment at UCSB. If courses are taken, no unit credit will be counted toward fulfillment of degree requirements.
  • Transferred units appear on transcripts as follows:
    • Non-UC institutions - only total number of units transferred appear on unofficial and official transcripts
    • Other UCs - name, course title, units and grade appear on unofficial and official transcripts
    • UCSB Professional and Continuing Education - course title, units and grade appear on unofficial and official transcripts
I am currently enrolled in a graduate program at another institution. How do I transfer to UCSB?

Transferring from another graduate program

Students who wish to transfer from another graduate program into the ECE Department at UCSB follow the same procedures as all other applicants. Please submit an application through the UCSB Application for Graduate Admission. If admitted, your academic advisor will work with you to transfer all eligible coursework.

Application Fee

Can the department help pay the application fee?

Application fee payment

  • Unfortunately, the department cannot help with paying the application fee.
  • Graduate Division processes any fee waiver requests through the online application. A limited number of fee waivers are available for qualified US citizens and permanent residents. McNair Scholars and California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) applicants are among those eligible. Fee waivers are not available to international applicants. You may apply for a fee waiver within the online application. Within your application click on the Payment Information tab and scroll down to the fee waiver information. Submit your request online by selecting the option relevant to you and uploading your supporting documentation. You must submit your fee waiver request at least two weeks before the application deadline. Do not submit a fee waiver request the day before the application deadline; it will not be processed and your application will not be reviewed.

Funding/Financial Support Questions

Does the department provide funding/financial support for your graduate students?

Types of funding/financial support

All submitted admission applications are considered for departmental financial support and are merit-based. Types of financial support available include:

  • Graduate Student Research (GSR) Positions: pays a monthly stipend plus fees, health insurance, and nonresident tuition. Offers are made by individual faculty members.
  • Teaching Assistantships (TAships): Pays a monthly stipend plus fees, health insurance, and nonresident tuition. Offers are made by the department.
  • Fellowships: most pay a quarterly stipend plus fees and health insurance and sometimes nonresident tuition. Offers are made by the department or UCSB's Graduate Division.
How can I apply for departmental financial support?

Applying for financial support

The completed application for admission automatically serves as the application for financial support. Applications must be completed and submitted by December 15th to be considered for financial support. There are no exceptions for applications completed after the December 15th deadline.

I have been admitted to the graduate program, how do I find out if I received departmental financial support?

Financial support status

Not all students admitted into our graduate program are awarded financial support. If you have an award, notification of a Teaching Assistantship (TAship) or a Graduate Student Research position (GSR) is sent by the ECE Department soon after the Dean of the Graduate Division notifies you of the final admission.

Can I apply for financial aid?

Applying for financial aid

Need-based aid is only available for domestic students:

If I am international student, do I need to submit a financial statement at the time of application?

International students and financial statement

All international students need to complete documentation of financial ability to pay for expenses for the first year of study at UCSB. Applicants do not need to submit a financial statement until they have been officially admitted and will not be penalized in any way for not submitting the financial statement earlier with other application materials.

Please note that newly admitted students should refer to the O.I.S.S. (Office of International Students and Scholars) website and send the financial statement directly to O.I.S.S. and not the ECE department.

Send to:
Office of International Students Scholars
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA

What is the cost of attendance?

Cost of attendance

The Cost of Attendance is calculated by the Financial Aid Office


NOTE: Applicants will not be notified once the application is complete and it is the applicant's responsibility to follow up and review their Application Status