PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS 2020-01-14T12:56:27-08:00

Applications for the Fall 2020 cohort have now closed.
Applications for the Fall 2021 cohort open October 1, 2020. 

Who Should Apply

Students admitted to the Master of Science in Coastal Science and Policy and participating in the PhD Designated Emphasis Program come from diverse backgrounds and have interests that range across the coastal zone (from land to the sea).

The Coastal Science and Policy Program is interested in students with demonstrated experiences in and a passion for sustainability sciences, economics, and policy. Most will have completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university 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 three emphasis areas: biological sciences, physical sciences, and the social sciences (including policy and economics). 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. 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 

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.

Application Window

Applications for Fall 2021 open Thursday, October 1, 2020 and are due Thursday, December 10, 2019 at 8:59pm Pacific Standard Time.

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.

  • 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 10, 2019 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
  • Writing samples (1-4)
  • Instructions for the above sections may be found HERE
  • 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. Contacted stating why you are requesting a fee waiver.
  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, both international and domestic, are eligible to apply for the 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 has made special arrangements 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 your professional assessment of the candidate .

Please submit your letter in advance of the application deadline to ensure that the prospective student’s application can be evaluated in full. If you are having trouble submitting your recommendation or will not be able to submit by the application deadline, please notify the program at

Please review our 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 (modified from the Switzer Foundation Recommendation Instructions):

  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 in their chosen field contribute to solving real-world coastal sustainability problems(from land to the sea), especially in the near-term?
  4. How does the candidate view their work within a larger interdisciplinary, social or policy context?
  5. Expand upon the candidate’s collaboration, engagement and/or communication skills?
  6. What other characteristics make this candidate stand out for you in terms of their leadership, scientific or technical ability or field of study?

Where possible please cite specific examples wherever possible to highlight your personal experience with the candidate. Your letter will help us better understand the prospective student’s strengths and areas of growth.

You will receive an email with a link to upload your recommendation letter in the application portal. Your recommendation should be uploaded directly by you as an attachment or written into the space provided. Please do not email your letter to the program.

If you have questions or encounter an issue, 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
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