General Information

We receive more than 1,000 applications for the Ph.D. program in ECE at UCSD each year. Of these more than 250 applications are specific to the Electronic Circuits and Systems area. Of these applications, we typically admit no more than 10 each year. This makes our admissions process extremely competitive. Here are some tips for applying to UCSD.

Applying for M.S. or Ph.D. : At UCSD, applicants to the M.S. program are considered to terminate with the M.S. degree. On a rare occasion, a M.S. student will join the Ph.D. program with the approval of a faculty advisor. If you want to do a Ph.D. at UCSD, you should apply to our Ph.D. program so that we can consider you for our graduate fellowships! If you have already earned an M.S., we will consider your application. However, preference is given to incoming students who will earn both the M.S. and Ph.D. at UCSD.

A successful M.S. applicant should have a strong GPA and GRE scores. Successful Ph.D. applicants will also have strong reference letters and perhaps even research publications.

Contact Faculty: With so many applications, it is difficult for graduate applicants to “stand out”. If you are  interested in coming to UCSD, identify faculty with whom you would like to conduct research and contact them by email. You shouldn’t always expect a response - we receive many emails each day - unless you demonstrate a clear interest in our research. It is recommended that you have “done your homework” by studying our research publications and describing what you might contribute.

Contact Many Faculty: Your chances of catching the eye of an advisor are highest when you contact multiple faculty members. It is quite common that applicants do not have a specific area of research at the time when they apply. Cast a wide net. However, try to demonstrate a deep understanding of the research of each faculty member that you contact. We delete form letters.

Competitive Institutions: We compete for students with peer institutions that have STRONG circuits research groups such as UCLA, UCB, UT-Austin, UW, Columbia, and Georgia-Tech (among others). Every school functions differently. Many make a large number of M.S. offers hoping to pick the best M.S. students for the Ph.D. program. This is not how UCSD operates. If you are admitted to our Ph.D. program, it is our expectation that you will find an advisor and remain in our Ph.D. program. Rarely do our Ph.D. students “drop out”. We believe that our approach to the Ph.D. program is more friendly.

Professor Buckwalter has joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Santa Barbara.  Any interested applicant should contact him at buckwalter(at)

Applying to the graduate program at UC San Diego in Electronic Circuits and Systems