Admission to the program is  highly selective. Comparable programs within the University of California system typically admit between 5% and 25% of the applicants. Each entering class of Ph.D. students will be comprised of four successful applicants.

Students with M.A., M.F.A., B.A., and B.F.A. degrees will be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program. Entering students are expected to demonstrate outstanding achievement during their masters education, or truly exceptional achievement during their undergraduate education.Candidates must have demonstrated skill in critical, theoretical and historical scholarship, and a demonstrated interest in film, television, video or new media studies. We are particularly interested in candidates with demonstrated experience in some form of artistic production, and an interest in combining creative work with critical and theoretical study.

Candidates should be aware that we will prioritize those who, in their application, outline a project or form of work that integrates critical and creative work together in a way that would be difficult or impossible to pursue in a either a conventional humanities program or a studio or production degree program. The Ph.D. program in Film & Digital Media is designed to provide a platform for the creation of hybrid work that would not be possible to accomplish elsewhere.

For more information about the official application process, please consult the UCSC Graduate Division and their Application Instructions for UCSC Graduate Studies Applicants. General campus information about graduate programs is also available through the Graduate Division: (831) 459-2301; email:

Information on sources of support is included on this website along with the online application. Your completed application must be submitted online with a nonrefundable application fee. Fee waivers are available for cases of hardship. Funds for waivers are very limited (international applicants are not eligible), but if you feel you qualify for a waiver, you should obtain a Request for Graduate Application Fee Waiver form from the Division of Graduate Studies to submit with your application for admission. Admission is for fall quarter only.


The following items are needed to apply:

  • Online Application
  • GRE Scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal History Statement
  • Portfolio of Work
  • Writing Sample
  • TOEFL Scores


Please see the Graduate Divison website for more information on official requirements.

The FAQ page also has more information.

It is important to note that in light of California's elimination of affirmative action as an admissions criterion, the Film & Digital Media Department reaffirms its commitment to the principles of affirmative action. These principles mean a commitment to diversity, equal opportunity, and outreach to underrepresented communities. Further, this commitment underlines our understanding that the very fabric and quality of our scholarship depends on the representation and interplay of diverse experience and perspectives. So defined, affirmative action is reflected in every aspect of the Film & Digital Media program, including scholarship, teaching, admissions, hiring, and the process of departmental governance.

Duplication of Higher Degree
It is the policy of the Santa Cruz campus to prohibit the pursuit of duplicate advanced degrees. However, applicants may petition the graduate dean for an exception to this policy if the degree sought is in a field of study distinctly different from the field in which the original advanced degree was attained. In order for a student who already holds the doctorate to be admitted or readmitted to work toward a second Ph.D. all of the following conditions must be met: (1) The applicant must petition the graduate dean in writing prior to the application deadline for the program in question.
(2) The department sponsoring the program to which admission is sought must support the applicant's petition.
(3) The department must present the graduate dean with a clear and complete outline of the program required for the degree sought, and must explain the intellectual separateness of the proposed program from that completed by the applicant in attaining the earlier degree.

The graduate dean will review all materials submitted and decide whether or not to admit the applicant, consulting with the Graduate Council when appropriate. Admission to a Ph.D. program after a professional doctorate is not subject to these restrictions.

International Applicants
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 or 220 on the computer-based test is required for admission.
Please be advised that UCSC greatly values the participation of scholars from diverse nations and cultures in our graduate programs, and we therefore actively solicit applications for admission from foreign applicants. However, because many of the financial aid programs available to UCSC students are restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, it is strongly recommended that international applicants seek scholarship support from their own governments and local organizations or societies.

All Applicants
Every applicant is urged to be certain that all parts of the application are complete when it is submitted and that it is sent in well before the deadline. If a file is incomplete, it may not be considered in a timely fashion. You will be notified by email whether or not you have been admitted for graduate study at UCSC after all reviews are complete. Under no circumstances will UCSC give out this information over the phone. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the United States are signatories, admitted applicants have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of fellowship offers.

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to: Graduate Program Coordinator Film & Digital Media Department University of California Communications Building, Room 101 1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA 95064 voice: (831) 459-3445 fax: (831) 459-1341 email: