PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS 2022-07-20T14:14:48-07:00

Applications for the Fall 2023 Cohort Open October 1, 2022 

Interested in Applying to the CSP Masters of Science Program?  Click here to sign up for one of our virtual open houses (dates and times below)

  • MON 29 AUG 2022, 11am – 12pm Pacific
  • FRI 23 SEP 2022, 3 – 4pm Pacific
  • FRI 14 OCT 2022, 9:30 – 10:30am Pacific
  • WED 26 OCT 2022, 10 – 11am Pacific
  • TUE 8 NOV 2022, 3:30 – 4:30pm Pacific
  • TUE 15 NOV 2022, 11am – 12pm Pacific
  • MON 28 NOV 2022, 3:30 – 4:30pm Pacific
  • WED 17 DEC 2022, 2 – 1pm Pacific

Interested in the CSP PhD Designated Emphasis? Please email for more information. Note, the PhD Designated Emphasis is akin to a minor for students admitted to a UCSC PhD Degree Granting program.

If you would like to receive information about upcoming application deadlines or information sessions, please fill out the following google form (we will not share your personal information and will only share information about the program).

In addition, information on UCSC’s COVID response and topics relevant to current and prospective graduate students can be found at the Graduate Division Website here and Health Center here.

Who Should Apply

The Graduate Program in Coastal Science and Policy is a unique interdisciplinary program educating students to pursue coastal sustainability solutions from land to sea. The program emphasizes collaborations with practitioners, in real-world settings, working to solve some of today’s most wicked social-environmental problems. The program prepares rising leaders to identify, innovate and advance scalable and socially just solutions to coastal sustainability challenges. Students can pursue a two-year Master of Science in Coastal Science and Policy or a PhD Designated Emphasis Program. Students come from diverse backgrounds and have interests that range across the coastal zone (from land to the sea).

Most students will have completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university and some post-graduation work in a field relevant to coastal sustainability. Relevant fields are diverse and include biology, conservation science, earth sciences, chemistry, oceanography, environmental studies, social sciences, economics, human ecology, political science, sociology, engineering, and interdisciplinary programs.

Specific additional requirements prior to admission include at least one course in statistics, as well as coursework in at least two of the following three areas: biological sciences, physical sciences, and the social sciences (including policy and economics). Students are not expected to have identified a faculty advisor prior to joining the program if admitted. Students from underrepresented and diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, socioeconomic, and disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

In order to ensure intensive interactions among students, faculty, practitioners and other CSP affiliates, cohorts will remain small (~10 students per cohort). Based on financial need and program resources, CSP offers a limited number of fellowships for incoming Masters of Science students (packages may cover a portion or a combination of tuition, fees, or living stipend).

If you have questions regarding the application process for the Masters of Science Program or are interested in the PhD Designated Emphasis Program, please contact us at If you would like to hear about upcoming application deadlines or informational sessions, please fill out the following google form (we will not share your personal information and will only share information about the program).

Note, prospective students interested in participating in the PhD Designated Emphasis Program must apply to a PhD degree granting program at UC Santa Cruz and will not apply directly to the Coastal Science and Policy Program. CSP does not limit which programs PhD Designated Emphasis applicants come from. If admitted to UC Santa Cruz, students apply for the Designated Emphasis in their first or second year. 

Want to hear students’ perspectives? click here

Our Progress by the Numbers

The Coastal Science and Policy Program is making great progress on meeting our goals:

15% Admit rate (278 applicants to date; ~70 applicants per year)

Admitted Student Body:

  • 18 Countries Represented
  • 53% International 47% Domestic
  • Diverse, Inclusive Student Body: 71% Black, Indigenous or Persons of Color
  • All of our students have or enter with 2-10 years of Sustainability Experience

70% fully funded for two years-tuition, fees, living stipend
30% partially funded (full funding year 1, partial funding year 2)
Over $610,000 in student self-generated funding
Over $3.4M in program raised funding

Highly Tailored Approach

The CSP Program takes a highly tailored approach to help our students meet their learning objectives and goals. Although each student must take the required courses (including a methods course and an elective) and complete a practical capstone project (or capstone and summer placement), there is significant tailoring and flexibility for each student. Below we include a visual to show the variety of pathways and progressions through the CSP program.

How To Apply for the Master of Science

Go to and click “Start New Application.” Choose “Coastal Science and Policy MS” Program to begin the application process. Application opens October 1 each year for entry the following Fall.

  • For specific instructions for the Coastal Science and Policy Program application package click HERE  (please review these instructions).
  • For general instructions on how to apply to graduate school at UC Santa Cruz, click HERE and find answers to frequently asked questions HERE.

Your application for graduate study at UC Santa Cruz must be completed, submitted, and paid for through the online application by the deadline.

Timely submission of your application and supplemental materials is critical for the application review cycle; please read the instruction guides provided to you before you begin your application so that you are familiar with the required elements of a complete application for admission. Once your application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email (please verify receipt of this email).

Applications are due Thursday, December 9, 2022 at 8:59pm PST and can not be reopened.

If you have questions regarding the application process, please contact us at

  • Coastal Science & Policy statement of purpose
  • Personal history statement
  • Statement of Financial need (optional)
  • Resume/CV
  • College transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Two writing samples or excerpts (no more than five pages in length)
  • Instructions for the above sections may be found HERE or download the  CSP_Application Instructions 2022 PDF
  • CSP applicants are not required to identify a faculty advisor in order to apply. 
  • CSP applicants are not required to submit GRE scores. These scores will not be considered as part of your application.
  • CSP seeks to provide its students with individual fellowships and thus students are not eligible for other forms of financial support from the university (e.g. Teaching Assistant or Graduate Student Researcher positions). If you would like to be considered for a CSP fellowship, please upload a one page Statement of Financial Need letter. 
    • Domestic students should also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • International students are encouraged to complete and upload the Affidavit of Student Support.
  • On the Financial Support page, applicants need to identify other fellowships or scholarships for which you have applied or that you have been awarded.
  • Where possible, CSP students are supported by individual fellowships and thus are not eligible for diversity fellowships from the university. In the application, select the “section not applicable” link on the Diversity Fellowships page.
    • Be sure to use the newest version of an internet browser that meets our campus web browser security standards.
    • Only one application may be considered from each applicant within a given admission-processing period (winter through fall of the same calendar year).
      • Simultaneous applications to multiple departments are not accepted and any application fee paid for multiple applications will be forfeited.
    • Be sure to add three email addresses,, and to your email address books so our messages don’t get marked as spam by your email provider. You will be notified of your admission decisions from these accounts.
    • Application fee payments to the UCSC Graduate Division and your application will only be delivered to UCSC.Graduate students are an integral part of UCSC’s research and learning community and we look forward to the prospect of your joining us.
  1. At minimum, have completed, uploaded, and submitted the following items to your application: statement of purpose, personal history statement, statement of financial need, and your resume.
  2. Not yet paid for your application to the University.
  3. Requesting the fee waiver:
    • Domestic Students-in the application portal, follow the directions for requesting a fee waiver. 
    • International Students-Contact stating why you are requesting a fee waiver and attach your financial needs statement. If you are granted a fee waiver, we will provide additional directions for how to complete the fee waiver section in the application portal (NOTE: DO NOT SELECT FEE WAIVER as an international student). 
  4. NOTE: if you have applied, and received, a fee waiver for a past application cycle, we are unlikely to grant one for this application cycle.

 ALL applicants are eligible to apply for a fee waiver and we encourage you to submit the request if you have a need. Note: The online application portal states that international students are not eligible, however the CSP program will consider requests on a case by case basis and work with the Graduate Division to allow international students to apply for the application fee waiver if needed.

The Coastal Science & Policy Program is interested in the referee’s professional assessment of the candidate. Please share the following instructions with your letter writers. 

Referees should submit their letter in advance of the application deadline to ensure that the prospective student’s application can be evaluated in full. Please review the program website here to gain a stronger understanding about the program.

Recommendation letters should be limited to no more than two pages and should address the following questions:

  1. How long, and in what capacity, have you known the candidate?
  2. What is the candidate’s capacity for leadership, in terms of their ability to influence and organize others, achieve positive outcomes, and commitment to their self-development as a leader?
  3. How will the candidate’s proficiency from their prior education and/or work experience position them to succeed in the Coastal Science and Policy program and to contribute to solving real-world coastal sustainability problems (from land to the sea), especially in the near-term?
  4. What have you observed about the candidate’s collaboration, engagement and/or communication skills?
  5. What other characteristics make this candidate stand out for you in terms of their leadership, scientific or policy ability or prior experience?

Where possible, referees should cite specific examples to highlight their personal experience with the candidate. The letter will help the program better understand the prospective student’s strengths and areas of growth.

If a referee is having trouble submitting their recommendation or will not be able to submit by the application deadline, please contact us by email:

  • For program-specific questions contact for help.
  • For technical assistance with the online application portal email or call: (831) 459-2281

The Coastal Science & Policy Program offers a limited number of fellowships each year for incoming Masters of Science students. Financial support packages range from no financial support to partial or full support that can be used towards tuition, fees, and living expenses. Support is based on financial need and program resources.

Students seeking financial support from the program should complete the statement of financial need in the application portal.

In addition, domestic students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA.

Additional financial aid resources can be found here. This list is not comprehensive, but can serve as a starting point for applicants who wish to seek additional external support.

Curious about the cost of attendance, a committee of 5 faculty and 2 PhD candidates created a new tool. Click here to use the tool. Note, CSP core courses, seminars and workshops do not typically require purchase of books or other fees. In addition, public transit is free for students with their current student ID and most health care costs are covered by student health insurance.

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