Undocumented Students

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Determining what to pursue after graduation is stressful for all students, however, with additional stressors such as employment barriers and fears of deportation, preparing for life after graduation can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

It is common to have questions such as: What career or industry is best for me and supports my values? How can I gain experience and employment in this industry? Will I be able to land a job after graduation without a work permit? How do I apply for and fund graduate school?

Career Services is here to support this journey. We are committed to ensuring your success, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. You can use this page as a guide to get started.



Key Campus Resources @ UCSB

Explore Grad School: Undocumented Students

For complete information on graduate school search strategies and the application process, review our starter tips to Explore Grad School in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Strategies for Furthering Your Education

When you consider continuing your education, it is common to wonder when is the best time to attend graduate school. The best time is when you feel most confident in your decision and your experience. If you are not sure whether or not you want to go to graduate school, it will show in your application. Many students choose to take time off in between undergraduate and graduate school in order to gain more experience, save money, and determine which graduate program is right for them. 


Graduate School Requirements

The first step to finding the best graduate program is determining which program best suits you. Click below to see a few factors to consider when reviewing different graduate programs.

What is the GPA requirement and what is the program’s average accepted GPA? Does your GPA meet this and is it close to their average? Have you completed all of the prerequisites for the program? Do you need to take the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or any other entrance exam?

What are the experience requirements for the program? Have you completed and documented those experiences? If your academic history does not qualify you as a strong candidate, taking time to gain experience in the field can make your application more competitive.

Does this university have resources specifically for undocumented students? How easy is it to find support on campus through a form of an undocumented student services office? What student organizations are available to find support? 

What types of financial aid are available to you? Does this program or university offer scholarships or assistantships to offset the cost of the program?

Funding Graduate School

Paying for graduate school could be the greatest stressor when deciding whether or not to pursue it. Funding from the program may depend on the type of program which you apply to. For instance, Ph.D. programs within the STEM fields are often fully funded by the institution, while Ph.D. programs within the humanities fields and Master’s programs in most fields are often not.

Click below to see additional sources of funding that can help alleviate or satisfy the cost of graduate school. 

Private and institutional scholarships and grants may be available, and some are exclusively open to undocumented students. Check with your institution to see what may be available to you. For instance, the California State University (CSU) system offers the State University Grant. Immigrants Rising has also published a list of graduate scholarships that do not require proof of citizenship or permanent residency. 

Many graduate programs will offer assistantships which allow students to work on campus as research assistants (RAs) or teaching assistants (TAs). You have probably worked with these graduate assistants in your course labs or lectures. If you have DACA status, you qualify to work as a graduate assistant where you are paid and can receive a stipend to cover tuition costs. 

Depending on the restrictions of each banking institution, you may be able to receive private loans. Large student loans could require a co-signer; however, some banks may allow a small, private loan without one. 

Graduate school can be a costly endeavor, but with advanced research and planning, you may be surprised to find many opportunities that offer financial support.


Learn More

See all of our tips to get familiar with graduate school on our Grad School 101 page.