Application FAQ

For questions related to specific graduate programs, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator in the sidebar.

Graduate Application FAQ

Application Materials
  • What do I need to apply?
  • Applicants will need to submit the following:

    1.  Completed Online Application (Please note that a completed online application includes paying the Application Fee)
              •  Online application
              •  Payment information
              •  Fee waiver information
              Fee waivers are managed by The Office of Graduate Studies, usually for most nationally recognized graduate preparation programs. In addition to these preparation programs, there are fee waivers for participants of Envision UC Davis – a program for California residents. In 2019, the College of Engineering also launched a fee waiver program. Find out more about our fee waiver program here. Contact Alin Wakefield in College of Engineering Dean's Office for details of applying for a COE Equity Program fee waiver.
    2.  Statement of Purpose and Personal History and Diversity Statement
               •  Your written statement of purpose should highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specializations and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis. Tell us what draws you specifically to Davis and/or the program to which you are applying.
              •  The Personal History and Diversity Statemen is where you can discuss your personal story and life experiences! The story you share will help faculty readers understand how you have overcome adversity, and what drives you to pursue graduate study at this time.
              •  The Office of Graduate Studies provides further writing guidance here about both required statements. The prompts are available year-round. Application Tip: Get started on your personal statements sooner rather than later, and be sure to proofread!
    3.  Transcripts
              •  You must upload academic records for every college-level institution you have attended or are currently attending (including community college, transfer coursework, study abroad, summer session, etc.).
    4.  Official GRE General Test Scores
              •  Most graduate programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test and some also require the subject test. Applicants should arrange to have GRE scores sent to UC Davis electronically. The UC Davis campus code for GRE scores is 4834. It is not necessary to list a specific department code.
    5.  English Language Requirement (if applicable)
              •  Applicants must submit official TOEFL or IELTS examination scores unless they have earned or will be earning a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from either:
                   o  A regionally accredited U.S. college or university where English is the sole language of instruction, OR
                   o  A foreign college or university which provides instruction solely in English.
                   o  The minimum TOEFL score to be eligible for admission is 80 on the internet-based test (iBT). Scores older than two years will not be accepted.
                   o  As an alternative to the TOEFL, you may submit scores from the Academic Modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) designed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and administered by the British Council worldwide. An overall band score of 7.0 is required for admission to graduate study at UC Davis.
                   NOTE: The minimum TOEFL and IELTS scores are different for two of our Engineering programs, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. Please be sure to read their minimum English language proficiency requirements linked above. Please note, if you are admitted, there may be additional testing or coursework required to graduate or to hold a teaching assistant position.
    6.  Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
              •  We strongly recommend that at least two letters be academic recommendations and primarily from faculty. The third could be another letter from academia, a supervisor, a mentor, etc. However, this letter still needs to address your research abilities. All letter writers must be able to attest to your qualifications to pursue graduate study, your ability to work with others, and to meet deadlines.
              Application Tip: Asking for a letter of recommendation can be intimidating, but be sure to ask recommenders if they can write you a strong, positive, detailed letter.
              Application Tip: When possible, waive your right to view your letter of recommendation. Sometimes not waiving your right to view letters can indicate that you are worried about the contents of the letter. Additionally, some faculty may refuse to write you a letter unless you waive your right to view the letter.
  • Should I apply if I do not have previous research experience?
  • Yes. You may wish to consider applying for MS to get experience in research before committing to 5+ year PhD program.
Application Process
  • When does the application for graduate admission become available?
  • The application usually opens around September 1st for admissions for the following Fall quarter. The application is available here: grad.ucdavis.edu/apply
  • When is the application deadline?
  • Application deadlines vary by program. For admission for Fall 2021, here are the priority deadlines for all COE graduate programs. Apply by the priority deadline to ensure your application is reviewed.
    Biological Systems Engineering January 15, 2021
    Biomedical Engineering December 1, 2020
    Chemical Engineering January 15, 2021
    Civil & Environmental Engineering December 15, 2020
    Computer Science January 15, 2021
    Energy Systems January 15, 2021
    Electrical & Computer Engineering January 5, 2021
    Materials Science & Engineering January 15, 2021
    Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering December 15, 2020
    Transportation Technology & Policy January 15, 2021

    The full list of application deadlines for all UC Davis graduate programs is available here. Some programs may also have later “space available” deadlines. It is best to check with a specific program before submitting an application to see if they are still accepting applications for the degree track you intend to apply for.

  • Can I apply for admission for Winter or Spring quarters?
  • It depends. Prospective applicants should check with the specific program they are interested in to see if a Winter or Spring application would be considered before relying on this option. Be aware that funding opportunities are more abundant when applying for Fall admission.
  • Do I have to have an M.S. degree first before I can apply for a PhD?
  • No, completion of a Master’s degree is not required for admission to any COE PhD program. For some programs, PhD admission may be more competitive. If you apply for the PhD program, but would also be interested in admission to the MS, it is recommended to write about this as part of your statement of purpose or talk to your graduate program.
  • Can I defer my admission offer?
  • Admitted students who have not yet enrolled in coursework may request to defer admission for up to 3 quarters (1 year). Requests must be approved by the individual graduate programs. Note that any funding offers are not guaranteed when deferring. Please check with your individual program regarding the process to request a deferral or alternate admission term.
Requirements for Admission
  • I have less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA as an undergraduate. Should I still apply?
  • Many factors beyond GPA are given full consideration when you apply. Admission committees may also consider other aspects of your application, such as strong grades in your upper-division major coursework, your standardized exam scores, strong letters of recommendation attesting to your aptitude and chances of success, internship experience, undergraduate research, or extracurricular activities. All applicants for graduate admission should be aware that UC policy requires that applicants must have earned a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA from their undergraduate degree granting institution in order to be eligible for admission to a graduate program. An exception to policy will be required when a program chooses to admit an applicant with a GPA below 3.0, which must be reviewed and approved at the Graduate Studies level upon recommendation from the program.
  • What is the minimum GRE score to be eligible for admission?
  • There is no specific minimum GRE score required for admission for all COE graduate programs. However, some programs or concentrations have recommended score minimums so applicants should check in with the program directly for additional information.
Finding a Research Advisor
  • Do I have to know my research advisor before applying, or do I have to contact a faculty member before applying?
  • In most cases, no, but you will be asked to generally identify your research interests and potential faculty mentors on your application. The best way to do this is to start by reviewing the program’s website and the list of faculty research areas. Try to identify a short list (3-5) of professors who appear to perform research in the area(s) you would like to study. Then, use the internet to search for academic publications written by these faculty members that you will then read. After reading the publication, write to them with a brief introduction and a thoughtful question or insight. By showing interest in their work and having further conversations, you can begin to clarify if you may wish to continue working together.
  • How will I find or be matched with a faculty member who will serve as my research advisor?
  • The process to match graduate students with a faculty advisor varies by program and degree objective. Be sure to consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator for further details. In some programs, students rotate between faculty labs in the first two quarters, and then make a final decision. In other programs, students are expected to find an advisor by proactively meeting with faculty in the department with whom you share research interests. Still, in other programs you may be matched with an “initial” advisor who may differ from the advisor you ultimately work with. It is important that you understand early on how the process works in your program.
  • How can I get to know more about my faculty advisor?
  • Shared research interests are a good place to begin establishing rapport with a potential faculty advisor. Start by reviewing the program’s website and the list of faculty research areas. Try to identify a short list (3-5) of professors who appear to perform research in the area(s) you would like to study. Then, use the internet to search for academic publications written by these faculty members that you will then read. After reading the publication, write to them with a brief introduction and a thoughtful question or insight. By showing interest in their work and having further conversations, you can begin to clarify if you may wish to continue working together.
  • How can I best prepare to work with my faculty advisor?
  • Attending group meetings with the faculty member, speaking with current students in that lab. Some faculty members may provide you with papers and ask for your feedback or a write up on them.

Graduate Funding FAQ

  • How do students typically pay for their graduate degrees?
  • Many of our graduate students receive assistance paying for school. This assistance varies – in the form academic employment in positions like a Teaching Assistant or Graduate Student Researcher. Often, positions like these will provide support for all your tuition/fees, health insurance, and provide a living stipend. Consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator in your program for more specific details.
  • How can I be considered for funding?
  • All applicants are automatically reviewed for any available funding at the time of their admission review. This review includes all fellowships, teaching assistant positions, research positions. Be sure to check program pages for any specific fellowship deadlines. Applicants do not need to submit any special requests to be considered for funding. All domestic students should fill out the FAFSA (Federal Application for Federal Student Aid) or the California Dream Act application by March 2 to become eligible for fellowships and to become eligible for loans, if necessary.
  • Is funding available for Ph.D. students?
  • Yes! In general, PhD students can expect four years of full funding. Full funding means tuition/fee remission and a living stipend. The exact amounts and sources of support varies by program, but typically comes in the form of fellowship funds, Teaching Assistantship (TA), Graduate Student Researcher (GSR), and/or Reader positions. Please consult further with your interested program.
  • Do you offer funding for M.S. students?
  • Students pursuing a MS degree should explore all funding opportunities, including self-funding or loans. Although funding from the graduate program is not guaranteed for MS students, options may be available. For example, you be able to secure a Teaching Assistantship (TA). Please consult further with your interested program.
  • How do I contact a faculty member to ask about funding?
  • Start first with online research. Review the website of the department/program. Look for the faculty members who have research interests that align with yours. Once you have identified a short list of potential faculty, try a Google search to find one of their publications. You should contact the faculty member after you have read their publications and have thought about one or two thoughtful questions relating to the research. Introduce yourself and let them know that you have read their work and would like to learn more. By demonstrating curiosity, you may have a better chance of establishing further communication when you can, then, inquire about funding opportunities.

Graduate Housing FAQ

  • What kind of housing options are available in Davis?
  • UC Davis Student Housing and its public-private partnerships (P3) have housing specifically for graduate and professional students, including apartments on campus and Cooperative Housing. Within the City of Davis, there are numerous options including apartments, studios, rooms-for-rent in houses, and others. Most leases run September 1 – August 31, and renewals begin in January. It is important to begin your housing search as early as possible.
  • Is family housing available on-campus?
  • A: The campus offers three conveniently located, on-campus apartment complexes that provide supportive environments for UC Davis students with families. Consult the Family Housing information provided by UC Davis Student Housing for details.
  • What cities are nearby where I can also look for housing?
  • The following cities are within driving distance of Davis:
    City Name Approximate Distance (mi)
    Dixon 9 miles
    Woodland 10 miles
    West Sacramento 12 miles
    Winters 14 miles
    Sacramento 15 miles
    Vacaville 18 miles