Admissions Process


Admissions Process

CST Program Overview

Cultural Studies at UC Davis is an interdisciplinary graduate group that draws from scholarship and faculty across many departments and programs.  Unlike traditional disciplines, in which students select faculty mentors and course offerings from within a single department, Cultural Studies students are encouraged to build a dissertation committee with graduate group faculty members from a variety of departments; they also have the opportunity to construct a highly individualized and project-oriented course of study. The flexibility and decentralization of the Cultural Studies program works best for students who are self-motivated, resourceful, and disciplined.

Commitment to Diversity

The Graduate Group in Cultural Studies is committed to promoting an environment in which all students, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, national origin, ability, visa status, religion, age, area of research, or economic background, are welcome, well supported, and given the tools they need to thrive intellectually. Our holistic admissions process takes into account, along with more traditional academic criteria, applicants' personal backgrounds as well as their potential for leadership for promoting diversity and equity in higher education.

Degrees Offered

Technically, we offer both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, but at this time we are committed to bringing in students who wish to pursue a doctorate degree. We are not accepting applications for the M.A. program.

UC Davis Admissions Information and Applications

You can apply for graduate admission online. Please use this on-line application to submit all of your application materials.  Documents should not be mailed to the Cultural Studies office.  In order to ensure you are completing all steps of the application process, please review the Graduate Studies webpage HERE.

The application fee is $135 for the domestic application and $155 for the international. The fee must be paid before the application will be considered as complete, and the fee must be paid for each application submitted.  Fee waivers are available for applicants who have participated in particular programs.  A list of these programs is available HERE.


The application deadline is December 15. Materials submitted after this date will not be accepted.

Please note that the GRE is required for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle.

To be considered for fellowships, grants, and loans, applicants must complete the FAFSA, and submit fellowship applications by December 15.

CST Admissions Process

One of the most common questions we are asked by prospective applicants is “how do you decide whom to admit?” In the section on Requirements and Tips we offer you guidelines and tips for compiling a strong application.  After reading the information on this site, if you have additional questions regarding the application process or materials, please email Kaitlin Dabdoub at   

Application Process Timeline

  • Mid-December: Your complete application is received by December 15. No applications submitted after that date will be accepted.  By this point, the CST admissions committee has received instructions for reviewing the applications.
  • Mid-December to mid-January:  Admissions committee members begin individual application reviews. 
  • Late January. The admissions committee meets to discuss applications, make admissions decisions, and make internal fellowship recommendations. The Chair informs admitted candidates informally by email or phone.  Staff send admissions and fellowships recommendation to Graduate Studies.
    *Your admission is not official until it has been approved by both CST as well as Graduate Studies.
  • Mid-February. Official letters of acceptance are sent from Graduate Studies.

Keep in mind, there may be circumstances that require an adjustment of our planned timeline. If you haven’t heard a word by the end of the first week in February, we may just be delayed.  Please be patient, we will update you as soon as we're able.

If You are Accepted

Congratulations!  You will receive a call or an e-mail from the chair informing you of the committee’s decision. The program will start communicating with you about a recruitment visit and other matters related to admission.

What if I Don’t Get Accepted?

Many people who apply to graduate school, especially for the first time, do not get accepted. Realistic goals and back-up plans are always a good idea. We have tried to give you information about how to put forward the best possible application for our program (and much of the information is transferable to many other graduate programs).  We hope that your efforts will bring about the result that you desire, but if that’s not the case, here are some suggestions:

  • If you'd like to know more about the committee's decision regarding your application, contact CST staff at  Please keep in mind this is a very busy time for staff and we receive many requests for information.  We will respond to your query as expeditiously as possible, but your patience is greatly appreciated.
  • If you are considering reapplying, take the time before the next application cycle to refine your initial dissertation plan.  Conduct additional research, review Ph.D. level writing, specify your goals, and communicate with faculty & students in your field. 
  • The most common reason an applicant is not accepted is because they were not a 'good fit' for the current program.  This could mean a number of things.  The admissions committee may have determined you would be better suited for another program, we may not currently have the appropriate affiliate faculty to advise and support your research, we may already have several students in your specialty area thus limiting our ability to find you adequate student employment.  These circumstances change from year to year and are not a reflection of your perceived potential.  Don't be discouraged if you are not accepted the first time.  

We want to congratulate everyone who has taken the plunge and applied to graduate school to pursue advanced research. It’s a big commitment over quite a long duration and we applaud you for taking this major step.