Does the History of Consciousness Department offer a Master's degree?

No, is it a Ph.D. program only.

I am currently an undergraduate student. Can I apply to the History of Consciousness program with only a bachelor's degree?


What is the average number of applicants to the History of Consciousness program, and how many students are accepted?

Applicant pools typically range from 130 to 150. Usually we admit a small percentage of those applicants.

Can I be admitted to your program in January?

We admit in the Fall Quarter only.

Can you tell me, on average, how long the program will take?

Normative time to degree for the History of Consciousness Department is seven years. The national average for Humanities is seven years, so this is a typical time period. Remember, though, that it is not just the courses taken that make up a career in History of Consciousness, but primarily the process of designing, writing, and producing an acceptable dissertation which usually takes more time than one has anticipated.

How do I apply to your program?

All applications to graduate programs are submitted online. For instructions on how to apply, visit the Division of Graduate Studies. This website is also a valuable source of general information about graduate studies at UC Santa Cruz.

No materials should be sent directly to the History of Consciousness Department.

For questions related to the online application process, system issues, technology challenges, please contact: or (415) 615-1805.
For questions regarding university policy about your application that are not answered through the Graduate Division website, please contact: or (831) 459-5905.

What are the key admissions criteria?

In evaluating an application, our primary concerns are:

  • Does the applicant have a well-articulated, focused project and a clear idea of how to go about the initial investigation?
  • Could the applicant's work be done in a single discipline? Since History of Consciousness is an interdisciplinary program, we admit only those applicants who propose interdisciplinary research.
  • Is there a match between the applicant's proposed area of research and the expertise of the faculty? The Statement of Purpose needs to detail an intellectual project or domain of study in sufficient depth to allow our admissions committee to determine whether we have the faculty resources to support and guide your work. 

Students are admitted on the basis of their ability to do sustained, independent, doctoral-quality, interdisciplinary work. Prior achievement, such as previous graduate work, work experience, political and/or community activism, is always a plus.

 Can you tell me what my Statement of Purpose should include?

 Your Statement of Purpose should include:

  • A personal statement giving sufficient background to explain how you came to be involved/interested in your area of research.
  • A project proposal describing the research you wish to pursue, how you plan to go about it (i.e., research design), at least initially, your methodology (i.e., necessary tools and skills), and the anticipated results (i.e., research content).
  • Why you want to get a Ph.D.

The Statement is typically 2 to 5 pages long.

How much weight is given to GRE scores in selecting applicants?

The GRE is optional, but highly recommended. Our admissions committee looks at the entire application, the GRE scores being only one component. The most important parts of the application are the Statement of Purpose and the letters of recommendation. We also consider carefully past academic record and the writing sample.

I was not able to register for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) on time, but want to take the GRE and submit my scores. Will I be able to complete all the admission requirements except the optional GRE requirement and send this information at a later point?

Yes. The GRE requirement is optional, but if you choose to take it, send in your application with a note that your GRE scores will follow and forward the GRE scores as soon as you receive them. In order to make arrangements for taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), check out the website:

What code should I use to report the GRE scores?

Since the GRE scores go directly to Graduate Admissions, a department code is not needed. Use the following code only: 4860.

Are there scholarships available for graduate students?

Most scholarships are obtained from outside the university system. We encourage you to do a web search for outside funding at the same time as you are applying for Ph.D. programs. Some fellowships can only be used in the first year of graduate study, e.g. the Mellon; you would apply for these in the fall before you enter graduate school so that, if successful, you will have funding for your first year. Some of our students have obtained Ford, Mellon, Javits, or National Science Foundation scholarships. Our Division of Graduate Studies also awards a small number of one- or two-year fellowships to entering students. The History of Consciousness Department itself has extremely limited funding for student support.

How do graduate students support themselves while they are in your program?

Most graduate students support themselves by a combination of teaching assistantships and student loans. To read more about graduate student financial aid, please visit the Financial Aid Office website link for Graduate Student Aid Office.

Will I be a teaching assistant for the History of Consciousness Department?

There are very few teaching assistantships within the History of Consciousness Department because we do not have an undergraduate major. As a result, our students are usually TAs for other departments which do not have graduate programs or have only recently initiated such a program: American Studies, Feminist Studies, CRES, HAVC, Film, Philosophy, Politics; and also a few History of Consciousness general education classes. Students apply every year for TA openings for the following year. TAships are assigned on a quarterly basis.

Is there adequate support from faculty and students to pursue a primarily visually-based curriculum? Could any of my MFA credits be applied to the program?

No to both questions.

I will be pursuing graduate-level work at another university next year. Is there any provision to transfer course credits that I might earn there in order to reduce the amount of time I would have to spend completing a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness?

There is no way to transfer units earned for work previously performed in another graduate degree program. The History of Consciousness Ph.D. is not dependent on the fulfillment of a specified number of units.

What is your policy on deferral?

We cannot defer admission. An applicant who is unable to accept admission for the year in question can reactivate the application for the following fall term. However, while the applicant has a very good chance of again being offered admission, there is no guarantee this will happen.

Who should I contact to discuss specific interests such as my current thesis work and how it applies to my Ph.D. intentions?

Ruby Barnett - Please allow several days for a response.

Are there other Ph.D. programs similar to the History of Consciousness program?

There is the Modern Thought and Literature program at Stanford, another program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. None are exactly like ours, but there are similarities.

Is there a site where foreign applicants/students can find answers specific to them?

Yes. The Office of International Education is a source of information for international students and for current students wishing to go abroad to study.