Statement of Purpose and Supplementary Materials

There are three sections to the Statement; can you explain them?

The first section is the standard academic statement of purpose.  This is where you outline your research goals and academic interests, as well as your career goals.  It is crucial to the Admissions Committee that your statement 1) demonstrates familiarity with the academic study of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, and 2) clearly states how your goals fit in with our programmatic strengths.  You should also emphasize how and why this department will meet your research needs, and with whom you anticipate working.  Applicants applying with a master’s degree to the PhD program should articulate a focused and nuanced understanding of their intended area of research interest.  Applicants applying to the MA program are not expected to have narrowly focused areas of interest, but should indicate to the committee a general area/tradition.

The second section is oriented toward how you would contribute to the diversity of the student population at UCSB.  One of the reasons for this section is that there is a campus-wide fellowship competition based on merit plus diversity; this section helps the department identify applicants who might fit within a diversity profile and be nominated for the fellowship competition.  Be sure to pay careful attention to the requested information and be aware that there are many ways to fit within a diversity profile.  This section can also be regarded as a personal statement, where information on travels, life experiences, volunteerism, etc., can be included.

The third section simply asks for a resume or a curriculum vita.

The Statement of Purpose is the only place in your file where the Admissions Committee gets to hear your voice.  It is well worth the time to craft it so it reflects who you are.

How long should the Statement of Purpose be?
There is no specific required length for the Statement; it varies widely and the emphasis should be on the quality of the information given rather than the quantity. As a very general rule of thumb, the first section is typically two to four pages long while the second section is usually shorter, perhaps one or two pages in length.



The instructions say three letters of recommendation are required; can I send more?
Yes, the online application permits up to four letters.


Do all of my letters have to be from former faculty or academic sources?
It is very important that all three required letters be from former faculty or academic sources who can attest to your abilities in the classroom and to your writing and research abilities.  Additional letters can be from an employer, a colleague, or whomever you choose.  Remember that these letters are read alongside the other parts of your application, so choose letter writers who can best reveal what you want emphasized in your application.


I've been out of school for quite a while; do I still need letters from former instructors?
You would be surprised at how many faculty remember their former students, even after ten or more years.  It is always a good idea to approach them even if you’re not sure they’ll remember you.  If you had a good working relationship with any of your instructors, you should definitely ask them.  If you truly can’t find any faculty recommendations, then submit the best letters you can from reliable sources.



Exactly what transcripts are required?
According to the electronic application instructions, we must have an official transcript from every post-secondary institution you’ve attended.  Bachelor’s and master’s transcripts must show conferral of the degree if the program has been completed.  If the program is still in process, the most recent transcripts showing all work to date should be submitted.  If the applicant is admitted on the basis of a partial transcript, final transcripts showing conferral of the degree will have to be submitted as soon as the degree is actually recorded.Transcripts must be uploaded to the online application site.


What constitutes an official transcript?
You will NOT need to mail in an official transcript in addition to your online application UNLESS we request it from you. Official transcripts are labeled as such and printed on special copy-proof paper, and a seal from the registrar’s office is included.  To be considered official, all transcripts must arrive in the original sealed envelope as issued by the registrar, usually with a signature or registrar’s seal across the flap.  You may have registrars send the transcripts directly to our department or they can be sent by you, as long as the transcripts remain unopened and in their original sealed envelopes.  Usually if the transcripts are released to the applicant it is noted on the envelope or on the transcript itself.  If the Graduate Program Assistant receives a transcript that seems unofficial or arrives in an envelope that appears to have been opened or is unsealed, she cannot accept it and you will have to solicit another set of transcripts.

International Applicants: The Graduate Division provides criteria for evaluating foreign transcripts.  International applicants may need to work closely with the Graduate Program Assistant and/or the Graduate Division to ensure that all required documents are submitted.



Is a writing sample required?
Yes, we do require a writing sample.  This is usually a copy of a well-written term paper, and it should reflect favorably on your writing and research abilities.  It is most helpful if the sample explores your area of academic interest.  There is no specific length required, but it should be no longer than 10-15 pages.  Applicants who have written a master’s thesis often submit an excerpt.



Can supplemental materials arrive after the deadline?
All letters of recommendation and transcripts, as well as GRE results, should be submitted online by the stated deadline of December 20.  If a letter of recommendation or transcript arrives late due to circumstances beyond your control, we will accept it, but be aware that incomplete applications cannot be considered for review and late materials can jeopardize the whole application.  We strongly advise you to get your materials in by the deadline.