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Preparation for Graduate Study

Pre-Admissions Questions:


Is there a suggested timeline for undergraduates to prepare for graduate school?

Yes, one of the initial steps in applying to a graduate or professional school is to research application deadlines so that you can develop a timeline of when to submit test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essays, etc. Below is a timeline to help you in planning your application process:

Junior Year

  • Begin researching available programs
      1. Talk to faculty/alumni/current students in the program
      2. Review grad school guides/directories
      3. Request promotional materials
      4. Visit schools’ websites
  • Start exploring financial aid resources
  • Take a practice test
  • Sign up for required standardized test
  • Attend Career Center Graduate/Professional School Workshops
  • Identify potential recommendation letter writers
  • Order an unofficial transcript and check for and correct any discrepancies
  • Take the required standardized test

Senior Year

  • Write the first draft of your Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement
  • Request your letters of recommendation from faculty
  • Order official transcripts
  • Write final draft of Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement
  • Complete your online application and send your official transcript
  • Apply for aid available through program; assistantships, fellowships, scholarships etc.

Senior Year – Spring Semester

  • Complete and submit financial aid applications
  • Visit prospective campuses if possible, and talk to faculty/students to help you make your final decision
  • Follow up with schools to make sure your file is complete
  • After receiving acceptance from the school of your choice, send in the required paperwork, and contact other schools and decline acceptances
  • Write thank you notes to people who helped you

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What do I need to do to prepare my application for submission?

Register and prepare for the Graduate Record Examination. Please consult the Educational Testing Service (ETS) regarding the locations, test dates, and the time it will take for score reports to reach Davis. Visit Scores must not be more than five (5) years old. We urge you to take the GRE no later than October. This will ensure that your scores are reported to us in time for our January 15th deadline. The institution code for Davis is 4834 and the correct Department code is 1001 for Chemical Engineering.

Contact three (3) individuals regarding letters of recommendation. Though recommendations from professors are preferred, letters from employers, are also acceptable. Tell them whether or not you have Waived your Right to Access and also remind them that letters are to be sent electronically as part of your online application.

UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended. International applicants should request one (1) official transcript from each university they have attended and have official English translations prepared. Please see the section on Transcripts contained in the Graduate Studies Website for International Students.

All students will be instructed to upload scanned copies of their transcripts after the online application is submitted. Current and former UC Davis students do not need to submit electronic transcripts. Your transcripts will automatically import into the application. For more details visit:

Applicants from countries in which English is not the official language must also satisfy the Evidence of English Language Proficiency requirement. This is usually satisfied by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The institution code for Davis is 4834. The Department code for TOEFL is 64 for Chemical Engineering. TOEFL scores cannot be more than two (2) years old at time of application. The minimum score required for admission to the Department is 600 on the paper test, 250 on the computer-based test, and a minimum total score of 100 based on the reading, listening, writing, and speaking categories on the internet-based test for TOEFL (iBT).

The International English Language Testing System is also acceptable. The minimum acceptable score is 7 on your most recent exam. The score cannot be more than two (2) years old. More information about IELTS can be found at

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Does CHE admit applicants for the Winter or Spring quarter?

No, we only admit in the Fall.

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Does the Department have a supplemental application?

No, all you need to submit is the general U.C. Davis graduate online application form found at

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What are the minimum requirements to be considered for admission to a graduate program in CHE?

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution.
  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, with a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.2 (B) if you attended an American university or a university that uses a similar 4.0 scale.
  3. The General Test of the Graduate Record Examination.
  4. TOEFL or IELTS test (if applicable)

Satisfying minimal standards, however, does not guarantee your admission, since the number of qualified applicants far exceeds the number of places available. As a result, many well-qualified applicants cannot be admitted.

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Can I still apply to your department although my undergraduate degree is not in Chemical Engineering or Materials Science?

Admission to the graduate program requires a bachelor’s degree from a recognized academic institution and a proven record of good performance on the part of the applicant. Most of our graduate students have bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering or materials science, or metallurgical or ceramic engineering. Applicants of great promise with degrees in other areas can be accepted; however, depending on your background, you may be required to complete a series of upper division undergraduate courses before you begin your formal graduate studies.

If required, these courses must be taken for credit and for a letter grade, not on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Credit for these courses will only be counted toward graduate degree requirements to the extent that they fall within the limit on undergraduate units. They are considered preparation for your graduate courses.

View Required Courses

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Do I need a Master’s Degree before applying to the Doctoral program?

No, we do not require a M.Sc. degree before you apply to the PhD. Program.

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What qualities do you look for in a good candidate?

The University of California, Davis offers admission to those applicants who have the highest potential for graduate study and who, with the benefit of the graduate education, are most likely to contribute substantially to their academic or professional fields through teaching, research or professional practice.

UC Davis views as a high priority the enrollment of men and women from different backgrounds and demographic groups.

Admission decisions are based on the quality of the applicant’s academic degrees and record, the personal history statement, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation from professors or others familiar with the applicant’s academic work, performance in aptitude and achievement tests, relevant work experience, preparation in the proposed field of study, and on the appropriateness of the applicant’s goals to the graduate program and of the applicant’s research interests to those of its faculty.

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What are my chances of being accepted into your program?

If UC Davis is your preferred choice for graduate study, and you believe that you have superior qualifications, then we encourage you to apply. However, you should be aware that admissions are very competitive. Most successful applicants last year had GPAs above 3.5 and GRE quantitative scores above 80%. We can give you some statistics from previous years.

Application, Admission, and New Enrollment Headcount
Term Program Applications Admitted New Enrollment Headcount
Fall Quarter 2013 Chemical Engineering 183 55 10
Fall Quarter 2014 Chemical Engineering 184 71 14
Fall Quarter 2013 Materials Science & Engineering 166 48 14
Fall Quarter 2014 Materials Science & Engineering 195 60 20
Average Scores for Admitted Applicants
Term No. of Admitted Applicants GRE Verbal Score GRE Quantitative Score GRE Analytical Writing Score U.G. G.P.A.
Fall 2013 Chemical Engineering PhD 40 157 164 4.21 3.64
Fall 2013 Chemical Engineering MS 16 156 165 4.09 3.63
Fall 2013 Materials Science & Engineering PhD 35 159 164 4.15 3.60
Fall 2013 Materials Science & Engineering MS 13 155 164 3.81 3.40

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