Images of UCSB

  • The cliff outside of Computer Science
  • Sunset over Santa Barbara hills
  • Looking north outside of Computer Science
  • The courthouse in downtown Santa Barbara
  • Behind the UCSB library
  • Another flawless sunset
  • The Santa Barbara airport
  • Fireworks near the Santa Barbara Pier
  • Palm trees along the cliff
  • Kohn Hall
Prospective graduate students: Please read the following carefully. Hopefully it will answer most of the questions you have on graduate admissions to U. C. Santa Barbara.
General information
  • Why should I come to UCSB for graduate school?

    This question is best answered by visiting this webpage.

  • How big is the department?

    Basic Department statistics:  we have about 185 graduate students, about 110 of which are PhD students.  The Department has about 29 full-time faculty and a couple of more jointly appointed faculty.

  • Can you tell me my chances of getting into UCSB's PhD program?

    We receive around 400+ PhD applications per year and admit between 30-50 students.  Our goal is to have roughly 20-25 students join the program each Fall.  We only accept applications for Fall quarter admission.

    It is truly difficult to look at any individual applicant and assess their likelihood of getting into the program.  The reason is that there is fair amount of difference in the quality of students between years.  We can only determine the top candidates we wish to accept based on reviewing all applications together.  So please do not email the faculty individually to ask about your chances of admission. Without looking at all of the applications together, we cannot make any decisions on admission.

  • What about financial support?

    PhD students who are admitted to the program are given 5 years of guaranteed support (as long as you make progress in your studies).  Most students start out as a TA (teaching assistant) for the first year, and take classes while getting to know the faculty. Note that most top graduate programs include TA experience as part of your PhD requirements. Working as a TA for a quarter or two will provide valuable teaching experience that is a critical part of any academic job application. Once a student has started to work with a faculty advisor, the advisor generally provides financial support as an RA (research assistant).

  • Can I work with you when I get to UCSB?

    When students are accepted to UCSB, they are generally accepted without any prior ties to any faculty members. When you get here, you will have a period of time when you can take classes, get your bearings in graduate school, and slowly get to know the faculty members.  Usually sometime in the first year, most new graduate students will match up with faculty members to do short term projects, at the end of which the two sides will decide if an ongoing advisor/advisee relationship will work out.  So don't worry about finding an advisor before applying, you'll have time to explore your options after you get here.  

    Personally speaking, we (Ben Zhao and Heather Zheng) are always looking for excellent students, particularly those who exhibit a willingness to learn, creativity, deep thinking, and a strong competitive drive.  But please, apply to UCSB first.  We will be more than happy to meet you once you have been admitted and arrive on campus.  But we are unable to respond to most of the unsolicited email we receive from prospective students.

application details
  • Is there an application fee required?

    Yes.  Graduate applications to UCSB cost $60.

  • I've sent in my pre-application to the graduate division a while ago, and I still haven't received any acknowledgements. What's going on?

    Sometimes the mail gets lost between the graduate division and the computer science department.  One way to ensure your application goes forward is to contact our department directly for the pre-application.  You can do that by emailing to request a pre-application.

  • Is the TSE test required?

    As of 2005, we do not require the TSE exam for graduate applications.

  • How can I make my application stand out?

    Well, one thing that is often not as complete as we'd like in applications is the descriptions of prior research experience. If you have participated in research projects, please describe the projects in detail, your contribution to the overall project, and send us links or abstracts to publications that you have.
Life in santa barbara
  • What's the weather like?

    Santa Barbara is renowned for its gorgeous and temperate weather.  San Francisco and the bay area is generally known as one of the most gorgeous places on earth.  In comparison, Santa Barbara is further south, so it's warmer in the winter. But because it's so close to the ocean, the ocean breezes cool off the summers, keeping the daily temperature in the summer around 80F.  After living here for a few years, I occasionally get bored of the daily sunshine and ocean breezes. But those times are rare and far in between. I usually call up a friend at one of my favorite schools in the northeast, and they will quickly remind me of how lucky I am to be living in Santa Barbara.

  • What Do I Do for Fun in Santa Barbara?

    Here is a very short list of local activities students can take part in. Missing from the list are the recreational and professional beach volleyball games on the Santa Barbara beach front. Students also take weekend road trips to Los Angeles (90 minutes drive), San Diego (3 hours) Las Vegas (6 hours), and San Francisco (5.5 hours).

  • What's the department like?

    Since I haven't been here long enough to forget my interview trips, I can honestly tell you that the department is one of the most close-knit and friendly that I've seen.  The department is small enough that graduate students can get to know all the faculty, and big enough that there is critical mass for doing interesting projects in each of the major areas of research.  Faculty here care about the progress of each student, and it is very difficult for students to "get lost in the crowd" as might happen in a very large PhD program.

    Finally, the staff at the CS department are simply the nicest people on campus. They routinely bend over backwards to help students out with their needs and problems.