Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a B.A. in Visual Studies or Art History to be considered for admission?
No. The admissions committee is interested in a proposed program of study that is supported by your previous coursework and experience, but there is no requirement for a B.A. in a particular field. 

Is financial aid available?
The program provides students with a minimum of three years of financial support in the form of teaching assistantships and/or fellowships. Typically, fourth and fifth year students have also received teaching assistantships when requested. Teaching assistants appointments cover tuition, student services fee and GSHIP health insurance.

How long will it take to earn the degree?
The program is designed for completion in six years, though time-to-graduation will necessarily vary. The six-year time period is an estimate of the time it takes to successfully complete all the requirements and take all courses in sequence. The courses are all listed on the Program Requirements page.

Does the program admit students for an M.A. in Visual Studies?
No. While our Ph.D. students earn an M.A. in the course of their studies, we only admit students who intend to earn a Ph.D.

Do you offer January Admission?
No. All students begin in the fall quarter.

What are the key admissions criteria?
We look for students who are highly motivated, independent and who articulate in their statements of purpose a coherent and focused course of study that fits with the expertise of our faculty. We expect applicants to have demonstrated skills in research and writing. 

What should my statement of purpose include?
Your statement of purpose should describe your intended course of study at graduate school, explaining what you wish to accomplish and how your prior schooling, work experience or background has prepared you to begin. Include any information that may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your preparation and qualifications for graduate study. The statement of purpose is typically 2-5 pages long.

What should my statement of personal history include?
This statement will be used in conjunction with your application for graduate admission and financial support.  In this essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. UC Santa Cruz is interested in serving a diverse and inclusive graduate population. Please include any educational, family, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally under-represented segments of society with your degree. Please note that the Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose. Recommended length is a concise 1-3 pages.

What kind of writing sample is required?
The writing sample you send should be the piece of research that best illustrates your scholarly abilities. It would be ideal if it is on a topic related to what you hope to pursue at graduate school. It should not exceed 20 pages, double-spaced, with 12 point font. Images may be included in addition to the twenty pages of text, but you will still need to reduce the overall file size so it can be uploaded (2MB limit). To keep within this size limit, you may want to save your images at a lower resolution.

The online application states that Letters of Recommendation must be submitted online. Can my Letter of Recommendation be sent in a hard copy?
We do not accept hard copies of letters of recommendation. Some schools have letter services, as we do, and we will accept letters sent via a letter service. There are also private letter services, such as Interfolio, that will keep recommendation letters on file and send them out to schools at the applicant's request.

Are there minimum GPA or GRE scores for admission?
We have no published minimum scores.

How long is my GRE score valid?
Current GRE Board policy states that your scores are retained for the 5 testing years following the testing year in which you tested.

Can the program be completed online with out-of-state residency or part time?
No.

Who needs to take the TOEFL exam?
Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 550 on the paper-based TOEFL, 220 on the computer-based test, or 83 on the internet-based test, is required for admission. Any international students who wish to be considered for Teaching Assistant opportunities must score a 26 or higher on the Spoken Word portion of the internet-based test.

I am an international student who received a B.A./M.A. degree in the United States. Do I need to take the TOEFL?
For this program, an applicant may be eligible for waiving of the TOEFL exam if the applicant has a B.A. or an M.A. from an accredited U.S. institution. Preliminary approval for eligibility lies with the graduate committee, and final approval for the waiving procedure lies with the Admissions Committee once an applicant accepts an offer.

Do you accept transfer students?
Transfer students will be considered, but students not previously enrolled in a visual studies graduate program are unlikely to be granted advanced standing.

Where Do Visual Studies graduates find work?
Visual studies graduate programs in the U.S. have historically placed their graduates in museum curatorial departments and in university departments and programs of visual studies, art history, media studies, communications, film and women’s studies.