Incoming Students

Welcome to UC Santa Barbara! We look forward to having you join our program. The following will assist you in your transition to Santa Barbara and answer questions you may have concerning the PhD program, Orientation, housing, and more.

Finding Housing in Santa Barbara

You should plan to arrive in Santa Barbara as early as possible. This will give you an opportunity to get settled before Orientation begins.

Please give housing some serious thought right away. Santa Barbara has relatively low vacancy rates for rental units. Students who choose to reside in off-campus housing should start their search right away. Resources that may help you find private housing are available in the sidebar.

Students can also opt for university-sponsored housing, which tends to be convenient and affordable. If you are interested in applying for the San Clemente Graduate Student Housing for the upcoming school year, please visit the UCSB Housing website for important deadlines and all the necessary information.

Establishing California Residency

Eligible non-California residents should take all the necessary steps to establish California residency immediately upon arrival. This may include getting a California driver's license, establishing a local bank account, registering to vote, and designating California as your permanent address on all school and employment records.

For more information, please visit the Office of the Registrar's website.

Arriving in Santa Barbara

Upon arriving in Santa Barbara, the following resources will be at your disposal:


All students are issued a UCSB identification card, which is used as proof of registration and will grant you access to student services on campus. This includes the dining commons, Davidson Library, the Departmental Computer Lab, and more. It can also be activated to become a personal debit card using the University’s Gaucho Bucks program.

Students will receive their ACCESS card when arriving on campus. Otherwise, cards are issued by the ACCESS photo center, which is located inside the University Center.

Graduate Office Mailbox

Every PhD Student has a mailbox in the Economics Graduate Office, North Hall 2120. Please check your mailbox as soon as you arrive in Santa Barbara. It will contain important documents that require your attention.

You may also use the Graduate Office as a temporary mailing address until you find housing. Please do not send large packages. Incoming mail for the Graduate Office mailbox can be addressed with the following:

[Name], c/o Economics Graduate Office, UCSB, Santa Barbara CA 93106-9210

Departmental Computer Lab Account

All graduate students are issued a login and password for a Departmental Graduate Computer Lab account. The required form for the account will be placed in your mailbox. Please complete this form as soon as possible after your arrival.

Creating a U-Mail Account and a UCSBnetID

Departmental email accounts ( are not issued to graduate students. You will need to create a UCSB U-Mail account (, which will be the primary means of communication between the Department of Economics and you.

When your U-mail account is activated, you will receive your UCSBnetID. You will need your UCSBnetID to access university web pages, including GOLD, Financial Aid, Housing, and BARC. We recommend checking your U-mail (and your GOLD account) regularly for messages, as the university will communicate with you through these channels on matters like pass times, payment deadlines, etc.

If you have trouble creating your U-mail account or UCSBnetID, contact the Help desk at Phelps Hall 1517 or call them at 805.893.5542.

Orientation and Math “Boot Camp”

The Department of Economics hosts a three-week Math "Boot Camp" for incoming PhD students prior to the beginning of Fall Quarter. The “Boot Camp” will give students an informal review of the math skills needed for the PhD program, and will kick off the first day with Orientation for all incoming PhD students. Registration is not required, but highly encouraged. No grades or course credit will be given.

The Department will also host a campus-wide TA Orientation for all incoming graduate students. Attendance is mandatory for all graduate students who will become Teaching Assistants or Readers, even if you are not a TA/Reader in your first quarter or your first year at UCSB.

For more information about these events, please visit the Department of Economics Graduate events page.

International Students

Please note that International Students may be required to attend certain events in Orientation. This can include the:

  • Teaching Assistant English Language Placement Examination (TA ELPE)
  • English Language Placement Exam (ELPE)
  • Cultural Awareness, Laws and Immigration Training Workshop (CALI)

Please visit the Department of Economics Graduate events page to see which events are mandatory for you to attend.

Registering for Classes

Prior to Fall Quarter, you will receive an email from the Office of the Registrar. It will direct you to a “Welcome New Students” page on the Registrar’s website, which gives instructions on how to register for classes. If you have not received an email by early September, please call the Registrar’s Office and they will be able to assist you.

Graduate students will register for classes online via UCSB's GOLD system, typically between September 1 and the first day of classes. All first-year PhD students are required to enroll in ECON 297 in addition to their PhD core classes for Fall Quarter (ECON 204A, ECON 210A, ECON 241A). For more information, please see the “Program Timeline” section below.