Admissions FAQ

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Admissions FAQ

Cultural Studies Admissions FAQ

  • What can I do with a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies?
  • The answer to this question depends upon the personal goals of the student. Most people pursue a Ph.D. degree in order to continue on an academic career path. Most permanent teaching positions in four year universities and colleges require a Ph.D. (or proof that the degree is almost complete) as a condition of employment. Dissertations in our field can lead to drafts of book manuscripts that can be considered for academic or commercial publication, and such publications may also be required in an academic career path. Ph.D.s are also employed by governmental and non-governmental organizations. There are many possiblities for a degree holder, but it is important to consider your long-term goals very carefully before embarking on this process. The academic (and non-academic) job market can be very uncertain, and the long years involved in the pursuit of a Ph.D. require sacrifice and commitment on the part of the student and, in many cases, their loved ones. We offer training and resources to help our students enter the academic and non-academic job market.  With realistic expectations, hard work, and good mentoring, most Ph.D.s in interdisciplinary fields find the kind of work they are seeking after they finish their degrees.  Interdisciplinary training and lots of TA experience gives our graduates skills to offer in any number of programs and departments. Our Ph.D.s are currently employed at a range of academic institutions, including major research universities, teaching oriented colleges, as well as more specialized institutions, including: Yale, Harvard, UC San Diego, U Kansas, U Pittsburgh, UC Davis, CSU Sacramento, Boise State U, Saint Mary's College of California, University of San Francisco, College of San Mateo, California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (Portland, Maine).
  • What is a Graduate Group? Is it different than a department?
  • A graduate group is an interdisciplinary graduate entity that confers an advanced degree above the B.A. Initially formed to combine the talents and skills of faculty and students from a variety of broad areas in order to offer specialties in an interdepartmental subject, graduate groups have grown in size and importance at UC Davis. The graduate group structure provides flexibility in forging intellectual inquiries by facilitating combinations of faculty and students that a disciplinary departmental structure might not make possible. However, it is important to keep in mind that the affiliated faculty in a graduate group all hold appointments in other home departments and programs and their ability to contribute to the graduate group may vary over time.
  • How do I contact faculty, students, and staff?
  • Usually, email is the preferred method for initial communication.  If you have general questions about the program, admissions, or would like to make an appointment to speak with the program coordinator or program chair, you can use the Contact Form on our homepage or email culturalstudies@ucdavis.edu.  Faculty, staff, and student email addresses (and sometimes phone numbers) can be found in the profiles on our People page. 
  • How many applications do you receive and how many do you accept?
  • We receive anywhere from 70 to 100 applications, and usually accept 5 to 13 applicants.  
  • What are the program requirements?
  • A student’s total program for the Ph.D. degree must include a minimum of 70 units of graduate courses and seminars relevant to teaching and research in his or her areas of emphasis. These units include the first year required core seminar series (CST 200 A-C), the Research Seminar (CST 250), the Directed Research series (CST 270 A-C), and 6 units of Colloquium (CST 290) over 6 quarters. The students must pass a preliminary exam at the end of the first year, pass a foreign language requirement, produce a satisfactory dissertation prospectus, pass a qualifying exam to advance to candidacy, produce a satisfactory dissertation, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout all graduate work at UC Davis.  For further details, please see the Cultural Studies Handbook.
  • How long is the Ph.D. program?
  • Time to degree in interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences varies, but is rarely less than 5 years and can sometimes be as many as 7+.  If a student makes the most efficient progress through the program, the required courses and qualifying examination leading to advancement to candidacy could take 3 academic years. After advancing to candidacy, dissertation research and writing could take from 1 year (very uncommon) to 2-5 years.
  • Do I need an M.A. degree?
  • No, but an M.A. degree is excellent preparation for a Ph.D. program.  Generally students who hold an M.A. degree have the advantage of experience with graduate level work, often have a more focused dissertation plan prior to beginning the program, and may have an easier time completing program requirements.  With that being said, we have many outstanding students who have not previously attended graduate school.  
  • Do you recognize M.A.’s from other programs?
  • Typically, we do not recognize M.A. degrees from other institutions as substitution for our required units. We appreciate the training and experience that an M.A. from another program provides an applicant but we cannot waive our requirements.
  • Are you admitting students to your M.A. program?
  • Currently we are not accepting applications to the M.A. program.  M.A. and Ph.D programs require different amounts and types of resources, and we have opted to use our resources to support and cultivate the Ph.D. program.   We are one of the few Ph.D. programs in our field in the world.  We want to ensure our students receive the best preparation and training we can offer.  If a Ph.D. student passes the qualifying exam but decides to withdraw from the program they will be offered the opportunity to receive a terminal M.A.
  • Can I be admitted to your program in Winter or Spring quarter?
  • We admit in the fall quarter only.
  • How do I pay for Graduate School?
  • How to complete a Ph.D. without going deeply into debt is a subject that interests everyone who considers graduate studies. Our program does not have its own fellowships, so our students tend to rely on three types of support: 1) Teaching Assistantships and Readerships; 2) Research Assistantships; 3) internal or external fellowships.  Because we do not have an undergraduate program, most of our students support themselves by working as TAs in other programs and departments for up to 3 quarters per year.

    Tuition and fee remission (including health insurance), a monthly stipend over 9 months, and other benefits accompany teaching and research assistantships. Student employment salary scales can be viewed HERE.  The Office of the Dean of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies guarantees a minimal level of support for all Cultural Studies students for their first five years at UC Davis. There is a five to six year cap for TAships and Research Assistantships.  Note that graduate students may work up to 15 quarters as a Teaching Assistant or Associate Instructor, and up to 15 quarters as a Graduate Student Researcher. Appointments beyond 15 quarters may be made on an exception basis up to a maximum of 18 quarters. The 18 quarter limit is absolute and no exceptions will be granted. A minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA is required to hold an academic appointment.

    CST will cover first year Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) for out-of-state US residents.  These students must apply for California residency immediately upon arrival in Davis in order to avoid being charged NRST after the first year.  CST will also cover NRST for first year international students.  International students are charged NRST only in the first year as long as they are making normative progress towards their degree. 

    While some internal fellowships are awarded to incoming students, many more fellowships, both internal and external, are open to more advanced students who are researching or writing their dissertations.  CST students have an excellent track record for receiving fellowships.  For external sources of funding, students should consult the Annual Register of Grant Support, Peterson’s Financial Register for International Study, The Graduate Scholarship Book: The Complete Guide to Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for Graduate and Professional Study. Check the UC Davis Graduate Studies Financial Support website for more detailed and helpful information.

    Summer support may be available dependent on program funding.
  • What will my education cost?
  • Current tuition and fee schedules are located at the Budget & Institutional Analysis website HERE.  Graduate students employed as Graduate Student Researchers, Teaching Assistants, Associate Instructors, or Readers with a minimum 25% appointment (a standard TAship is a 50% appointment) receive full in state tuition remission, and remission of most fees (~$230 in fees remains with a TAship).  
  • Do you accept international students?
  • Yes, UC Davis values the participation and unique perspectives of international students in our graduate programs. Non-US resident students should be aware that many financial aid programs are limited to US citizens and permanent residents. International students are normally granted a three year waiver for out of state tuition. Students who have not advanced to candidacy by the beginning of their fourth year may be required to pay out of state tuition.  For more information, visit the Services for International Students & Scholars webpage.
  • Do I have to be in residence?
  • Yes. For at least the first 3 years or until you complete your required course work, you must attend seminars and participate in required program activities. After you advance to candidacy, you may conduct your dissertation research anywhere (although you must pay filing fees, etc. as required by Graduate Studies).
  • Is it possible to participate in the program on a part-time basis?
  • Occasionally we admit a student on a part-time basis, who, for reasons of occupation, family responsibility, or health is not able to attend full-time. At present, resident part-time students pay the full registration fee and one-half the educational fee. Nonresident students pay these fees plus one-half of the nonresident tuition. Because it is very challenging to complete required Ph.D. level course work on a part-time basis, students need to present a very strong and compelling case for this request.

    Please note that for purposes of student employment and internal funding (fellowships, block grants, etc.), only full-time students (meaning enrolled in 12 units or more) are eligible.