Global Studies is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to understanding globalization as a multidimensional, multi-level and historical process. Global Studies bridges social science and humanistic approaches to analyze the social, cultural, political, environmental, and economic consequences of global flows, institutions, and processes. Global Studies scholarship is motivated by engagement with contemporary transnational social problems across multiple theoretical perspectives and methodologies.

Our graduate students work closely with 17 core Global Studies faculty in conjunction with over 20 Affiliated Faculty members from across the campus, providing access to a wide variety of scholarship and expertise. The regional, disciplinary, and methodological background and research focus of our faculty provide a good guide to the areas of graduate study most suitable to pursue in Global Studies at UCSB. Prospective applicants should focus on full-time, tenure-stream faculty who will be in residence during your intended period of study as potential mentors and advisors.

We offer both an MA and a PhD program. The programs share an academic core, and are distinguished by their relative emphases. The academic core of both programs combines multi-method research training with study in three related areas of specialization:

  • Global Political Economy and Development
  • Global Cultures and Ideology
  • Global Governance

The MA was founded to provide students wishing to pursue careers in civil society (broadly conceived) with broad academic training and some guidance towards application of academic training to practical experience. The PhD is intended to serve future academics as well as students targeting other research-based careers that require deeper academic training.

MA in Global Studies
The Master of Arts (MA) in Global Studies is a terminal two-year degree. It provides hands-on interdisciplinary research training to students planning careers working in civil society organizations and shaping policy. Alumni from the MA program have gone on to build meaningful careers in civil-society work, including in media, socially responsible business, government, environmental protection, organizing, policy-research, economic development, local and international NGOs, education, law, and academia.

Coursework in the first year of the program steeps students in a wide range of social sciences and humanities frameworks useful for analyzing major social problems, and provides training in the diverse empirical research methods that such analyses require. An MA practicum series also provides regular exposure to visiting practitioners working on such problems. Additional language training is provided for students who are not already fluent in two or more languages.

The Summer and the Fall of the second year are dedicated to (usually international) field research, internship, or study away. Closely supervised by faculty of their choice, students utilize this time to identify and understand a social problem, develop a research project around it, and gather evidence. The Winter and Spring of the second year are dedicated to project completion. A growing alumni network facilitates internship and job search.

MA funding packages are competitive. The program is supported by a generous grant from the Orfalea Foundation, which funds students during their time away and the practicum series. MA students may also receive teaching assistantships, which provide tuition remission, health insurance, a monthly stipend, and valuable teaching experience.

PhD in Global Studies

The PhD program in Global Studies provides a unique interdisciplinary degree for students who wish to study global issues such as conflict, immigration, human rights, environmental sustainability, global cultures, diasporas, and development from an interdisciplinary perspective. PhD research in Global Studies typically involves a field studies component. It requires mastery of a second language, and the completion of a PhD thesis.

The PhD is an academic program designed to train scholars of Global Studies in academic research and university-level teaching. An MA in Global Studies is not a required prerequisite of the PhD program, and admission to UCSB’s MA in Global Studies is not a pathway to the PhD program.

Mailing Address

Department of Global Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
SSMS Building, 2nd Floor
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-7065


Department Phone Number
(805) 893-4668

Degree icon Degrees Offered

Address iconDeadlines

Fall Only:

  • December 15, for the following academic year (by 11:59 PM PST)

Requirements Icon


  • Online application (
  • Statement of Purpose, Personal History and Diversity Statement, and Resume or CV (submitted in the online application)
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (submitted online)
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended (submitted online)
  • English Language Exam Scores (if applicable): TOEFL Internet-Based Test (IBT) total score of 80, or TOEFL Paper-Based Test (PBT) total score of 550, or IELTS Overall Band score of 7, or Duolingo English Test total score of 120, or higher
  • Writing sample of 15-20 pages (submitted online)
  • Final/Official transcripts will be required for all applicants who are admitted and have indicated their intent to enroll at UC Santa Barbara by submitting a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). UC Santa Barbara reserves the right to require official transcripts at any time during the admissions process, and rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between uploaded and official transcript(s) are found.

Optional PhD interdisciplinary emphases in Demography; Environment and Society; Information Technology & Society


Global Political Economy and Development; Global Cultures and Ideology; Global Governance