Application Process

Application Materials and Deadlines: Application materials and detailed instructions are available online through the UC Santa Cruz Graduate Division. Applications are due Thursday, January 7, 2021. Applicants may check the status of their application online or by emailing the department graduate adviser at

For questions about the application process including fee waiver information, please visit the UCSC Grad Admissions FAQ site.

General Qualifications of the ApplicantsEach year we receive over 300 applications. Of these, we accept 15 or fewer into our program. The majority of successful applicants have an undergraduate degree in physics or astrophysics with strong classroom performance. We will not accept scores from the GRE General or Physics Tests in our reviews during the 2021-2022 application process. A research background in astrophysics is very helpful, but research experience in any field is valuable. We look for strong letters of recommendation and read the "Statement of Purpose" and "Personal History Statement" carefully. Our goal is to identify enthusiastic students who are well-prepared to thrive in an exciting research environment, and who will make the best use of the particular strengths and opportunities in our department.

Site Visits: We encourage prospective students to visit. Students accepted into the program are invited to a departmental visit in winter quarter. During the visit, prospective students meet with faculty and current graduate students, learn about the program and research being done and explore the campus. We encourage students to combine visits (and travel reimbursements) with other west-coast schools. Nothing replaces a visit, but there are many beautiful photos of the campus available on our astronomy website galleries. Additional photos of Lick Observatory are available at the Lick Picture Gallery.

Student Financial Support: The department will make a best effort to provide 100% support for its students during the normative time to degree.

Other links and resources for prospective students