The Department of Political Science offers flexible programs of graduate study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Our aim is to provide the highest quality graduate training for students who go on to academic teaching and research positions, and to non-academic careers in the public and private sectors. Our graduate students benefit from an active, engaged faculty, extensive methodological training, a focus on inter-disciplinary approaches, and close work with a faculty mentor under our apprenticeship model of faculty-student relationships. Many students establish intellectual connections with other disciplines and departments on campus.

Students are trained in primary and secondary fields of political science, in addition to methods. The primary field is chosen from four traditional sub-fields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory) and is completed via coursework and a written comprehensive exam. The second field may be chosen from the four main sub-fields, or from the department's foci in Politics of Identity and Politics of the Environment, or it may be defined by the student, subject to approval. The second field is completed via coursework and by either a written comprehensive exam or a field paper. Students also complete via coursework a breadth requirement outside their primary and secondary fields. In their second and third years, students take a two-quarter research workshop with the goal of producing a publishable paper during the third year.

The department admits applicants through a process of holistic review that considers academic preparation; research experience; perseverance; leadership and outreach activities connected to the university’s goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and self-knowledge. We do not currently consider GRE scores.

Mailing Address

Department of Political Science
University of California, Santa Barbara
Ellison Hall, Room 3834
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9420

Degree icon Degrees Offered

Address iconDeadlines

Fall Only:

  • December 31, 2023 (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 600, or IELTS Overall Band score of 7, or Duolingo English Test total score of 120, or higher
  • Writing Sample (submitted in the online application)
  • 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.

Environment and Society; Feminist Studies; Global Studies; Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences; Technology & Society (Ph.D. Only)


Comparative Politics, American Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Methodology, Politics of Identity, Politics of the Environment