Admitted MESM Students Page

Congratulations on your acceptance to the Bren School's Master of Environmental Science and Management (MESM) Program! This page will give you all the information you need to determine if the Bren School is the best fit for you, as well as provide instructions on the next steps to take to accept our admission offer and become part of the Class of 2021. Here are 4 next steps you can work on now.

Please also visit the UCSB Graduate Division's Admitted Applicants page.

RSVP for the Bren School Admitted Students Day on Friday, April 5, 2019, or continue to the Visit the Bren School section of this page below for more details about how to explore the campus and meet our community. Click here to view the Admitted Students Day schedule.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming dates:

  • Admitted Students Day: Friday, April 5, 2019
  • Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) deadline: Monday, April 15, 2019
  • Bren School Master's Projects Public Presentations: Friday, April 26, 2019 at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
  • New MESM Student Orientation: Monday, September 16, 2019 - Wednesday, September 25, 2019
  • First Day of Classes: Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Bren School difference

The Bren School has earned a reputation as one of the top schools of its kind in the nation, and is among a handful of schools in the United States that integrates science, management, law, economics, and policy as part of an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem-solving.

Watch the video "The Faculty Experience: How Bren professors work" to the right to learn more about the Bren School's multidisciplinary research.

We think you have what it takes to succeed in our program, and we hope you decide to join our community.

The Bren School could be the right place for you if:

  • You want to receive superior professional preparation. Bren's MESM curriculum is designed to prepare students with the analytical, quantitative, and technical skills necessary to excel in the professional realm. With teaching from some of the top faculty in the field, students become conversant in the language, knowledge, techniques, and methodologies of various disciplines while developing problem-solving abilities and the adaptability that is indispensable to professional success. Our objective is to enable students to interpret, design, communicate, and implement management and policy solutions.

    Additionally, The Bren School's Master's Projects provide students with a year of training and experience in performing professional-level work--all before they even graduate! Master's Projects involve managing group dynamics, developing strategies, and applying technical expertise to solve complex, multidisciplinary environmental problems. These interpersonal and technical skills are highly valued in most job fields and help make MESM graduates more marketable. Students have the option of participating in either a Group Project or an Eco-Entrepreneurship Project, and both are highly regarded by prospective employers.

  • You want unsurpassed Career Services. The Bren School's Career Development Team has a record of helping its graduates to not only find jobs quickly, but to secure jobs in which they find great satisfaction. Over the past five years, 99% of Bren graduates have secured positions within four months of graduation, and a full 95% of the 2015 graduated class ranked their initial job placement as either ideal or close to ideal. Bren has four full-time staff members dedicated specifically to working with its MESM and PhD students, and each Career Development Team member has a background in the environmental field, human resources, career and academic advising, and/or professional writing. As a MESM student, the Career Development Team will help you polish your resume, hone your interview skills, and land internships and jobs that align with your career goals.

  • You want to develop a personal and professional community that you will remember and cherish for the rest of your life. The personal connections foraged at the Bren School last a lifetime. Our students experience a strong sense of community from day one, and the cultivation of relationships continues throughout the two-years, with each MESM class feeling like its class is the most tightly-knit class to come through Bren yet!

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Visit the Bren School and UC Santa Barbara

We can talk all day about how we think the Bren School is the ideal place to be for continuing, transitional, and entering environmental professionals, but nothing quite compares to experiencing the Bren School for yourself. If you haven't already, we strongly suggest making the time to get to know the Bren School and its community even better by experiencing it in person.

Consider these opportunities to learn more about the Bren School:

  • Admitted Students Day
    Friday, April 5, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

    The Bren School's Admitted Students Day is the time to get answers to all of your important questions, such as what it's really like to be a MESM student and what resources are available to you at UCSB. It is also a great opportunity to meet the students, faculty, and staff you would be working alongside the next two years, as well as hear how the Bren School's Career Development Team and its alumni network will help you achieve your professional goals.

    This is an all-day event and includes a tour of the facilities, a program overview, information about funding your education, a lunch with current students and professors, a preview of the Master's Projects experience, and a social mixer. Admitted Students Day takes place at Bren Hall on the UCSB campus.

    View the Admitted Students Day agenda, and RSVP online. RSVPs will be accepted until Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.

  • Master's Projects Public Presentations
    Friday, April 26, 2019 from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Come listen to the outstanding Class of 2019 Master's Project's Public Presentations, taking place in at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort in downtown Santa Barbara. The Master's Project is the capstone of the MESM program, with students completing either a Group Project or an Eco-Entrepreneurship (Eco-E) Project.

    The Group Project serves as the Master's thesis and trains students to work in teams while conducting comprehensive analyses of current environmental issues containing both scientific and management challenges. Group Projects provide students with an opportunity to partner with outside stakeholders as they define the scope of a real-world environmental problem and take an interdisciplinary approach to solving it. Group Projects are not hypothetical case studies; rather, each provides a deliverable for an actual stakeholder client.

    Eco-E Projects prepare students for careers as solutions-oriented environmental entrepreneurs who can identify opportunities where market demands overlap environmental solutions. Students who complete an Eco-E Project develop a business model, build a prototype concept, and create a go-to-market strategy for a new environmental venture. Every Eco-E Project develops a business model intended to bring to market a product or a service that addresses an environmental challenge.

    Immediately following the presentations is a poster session and reception. This event is well-attended by project clients, faculty, alumni, and community members, and is a terrific way to learn about the innovative and collaborative research being conducted by MESM students. No RSVP is needed to attend the Master's Project Public Presentations, but we ask that you please email if you plan to attend so we can connect with you!

  • Arrange a formal individual visit to the Bren School
    Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Bren Hall, UC Santa Barbara
    Want to experience Bren but can't make the Admitted Students Day event or the Master's Projects Public Presentations? The Admissions staff can help arrange an individual visit for you around your schedule. Individual visits are offered weekdays from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and can include a chat with an Admissions officer, a tour of Bren Hall, a meeting with a faculty member, connecting with a MESM student, and/or participating in a UCSB Office of Admission campus tour.

    To arrange your visit, please e-mail Please note that UCSB's finals week and spring break take place from March 18-29, 2019, and that the campus is closed on Friday, March 29, 2019 in observation of Cesar Chavez Day.

  • Explore the broader UCSB campus - Tours available seasonally
    Monday through Friday, time start times vary
    UCSB has a central Visitor Center that offers 90-minute guided campus walking tours led by current students or alumni. Tours visit key campus locations including a residence hall, the UCSB Library and the University Center. Tour guides showcase the physical campus while sharing personal experiences and tips from their student experience. Visit the Center's website to sign up for one of these tours.

  • Visit the Bren School online - anytime!
    The Bren School maintains a strong online presence to bring its community members the latest on our award-winning research, to help current and past students network effectively, and to share the sights and sounds of Bren life. As a MESM student, you will be invited to join BrenConnect, which links you with current and former students, and gives you exclusive access to career development resources, even after you have graduated. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or check out some Bren School colloquium or research talks on our YouTube channel.

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Life in Santa Barbara

Life in the American Riviera is good! Santa Barbara offers a plethora of beautiful sites to see, historical landmarks to visit, great food to try, hikes to challenge yourself on, and beaches to bask on. Read on to learn about local housing options, top sites to see, and other details to help you discover Santa Barbara.

Housing Options for UCSB graduate students

MESM students have many housing options to meet their needs, both on- and off-campus. UCSB's Community Housing Office (CHO) provides rental housing information, including off-campus rental listings, dispute resolution services, educational workshops, and move-in and move-out videotaping.

In addition to reading about the local communities below, we recommend visiting the Neighborhood Profiles section of the CHO website. Many students also rely on Craigslist, Apartment Guide,, or through local property management companies. It is up to the student to use discretion when considering listings posted on these sites.

Here is an overview of the different housing options and local neighborhoods:

On-Campus Options

What to Expect

Est. Monthly Costs

San Clemente Villages

Deadline to apply: Usually in May

-All utilities included in rent
-Close to campus
-Furnished, private bedrooms
-On-site laundry facilities
-Study areas provided
-You can identify roommates, or they pair you
-Bus stops nearby
-Close to UCSB activities
-New grad students guaranteed housing here
-9-month contracts make it easy to move
-2-bedroom or 4-bedroom options available
-Only service animals allowed

$764 - $874

Family Student Housing
Deadline to apply: rolling

-Close to campus
-Don't need to be married to be considered
-Priority for families with children
-Off-street parking provided
-Community Center in complex
-Only service animals allowed

$945 - $1,400

Santa Barbara Housing Cooperative

Deadline to apply: rolling

-Sense of community among roommates

$576 - $1,087

Off-Campus Option

What to Expect

Est. Monthly Costs

Goleta - Ellwood

(west of UCSB campus)

-Close to campus
-Often more affordable than Downtown
-Convenient to shopping
-Near Ellwood Butterfly Grove
-Suburban neighborhoods
-Some pet-friendly housing options

Private room in a shared house:
$700 - $1,000

Single apartment or studio:
$1,200 - $1,600

(east of UCSB campus)

-Close to campus
-Closer to downtown than Ellwood
-Cycling paths to campus
-Often more affordable than Downtown
-Suburban neighborhoods
-Some pet-friendly housing options
-Near the Goleta Amtrak station

Private room in a shared house:
$700 - $1,200

Single apartment or studio:
$1,200 - $1,600

Isla Vista

(next to UCSB campus)

-Close to campus
-Convenient shopping and restaurants
-Community comprised largely of students (mostly UCSB or city college undergrads)
-Walking distance to the beach
-Restricted driving/travel during Halloween
-Usually pets are not allowed

Private room in a shared house:
$700 - $1,300

Single apartment or studio:
$1,200 - $1,600

Santa Barbara - The Mesa
(between UCSB and Downtown SB)

-About a 15-minute drive to campus
-Often more affordable than downtown
-Suburban neighborhoods
-Close to the beach in some locations
-Close access to grocery stores
-Some pet-friendly housing options

Private room in a shared house:
$700 - $1,200

Single apartment or studio:
$1,200 - $1,600

Santa Barbara - Downtown
(city center)

-Close to Santa Barbara cultural highlights
-Close to shopping and restaurants
-Proximity to Santa Barbara Bowl
-Easier access to nightlife on State Street
-Close to Santa Barbara pier/harbor
-Near the Downtown Amtrak station
-MTD offers express bus routes from Downtown to UCSB campus
-More competitive rental costs
-Some pet-friendly housing options

Private room in a shared house:
$900 - $1,200

Single apartment or studio:
$1,200 - $1,800

Many Bren School students secure housing in the aforementioned communities. Visit the CHO website for more housing information.

Getting around UCSB, Goleta, and Santa Barbara

No matter where you choose to live, getting to Bren is simple! Many students choose to take advantage of Santa Barbara's extensive bike lanes and UCSB's bike-friendly campus. The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District offers free bus rides for full-time UCSB students, with direct lines running regularly between campus and Downtown, the Mesa, and Goleta. Student parking permits are available, and UCSB provides free parking on-campus for scooters and motorcycles. UCSB offers campus community members the opportunity to participate in its Transportation Alternatives Program as well.

Getting around Santa Barbara, or up and down California, is easy too. Amtrak stations in Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria make travel by train convenient for commuters, and the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) is less than five miles from UCSB, in the heart of Goleta.

Points of Interest in Santa Barbara

There is no shortage of of things to do and see in Santa Barbara county! From sandy beaches to urban wine trails, Santa Barbara has something for everyone. Here are some of the local attractions you may enjoy:

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (website)
2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Not only does it feature great exhibits, but there are also some beautiful outdoor spaces on the Museum's grounds.
Old Mission Santa Barbara (website)
2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The Santa Barbara Mission offers centuries-old architecture and stunning gardens, and is next door to the Museum of Natural History.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (website)
1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The Botanic Garden is close to the Museum of Natural History and the SB Mission, and is a point of interest for anyone wishing to learn more about California native plants.
Santa Barbara Courthouse (website)
1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
The SB Courthouse is a beautiful historical landmark, located downtown in the heart of Santa Barbara.
Downtown Santa Barbara (website)
State Street and the surrounding area
Downtown Santa Barbara is home to art galleries, shops, parks, and many cultural highlights of SB.
The Funk Zone (website)
Various locations surrounding 22 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
The Funk Zone features local art galleries, shops, parks, and restaurants, and is close to the Santa Barbara Amtrak station.
State Beaches/Stearns Wharf (website)
219 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Stearns Wharf is close to downtown and the Funk Zone, and it also features the Sea Center.
Santa Barbara Zoo (website)
500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to over 500 different animals and 146 different species of mammal, reptile, birds, and insects.

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Student Life/Involvement

The MESM program is a full-time program, with students either in class or working on Bren-related projects outside of class for an average of 40+ hours/week. Students typically take between 12-18 units per quarter, including units earned for their Master's Projects, but they still find time to participate in community activities, student governance, and part-time employment.

Student Activities

Bren School students are also engaged in a number of activities, both within and outside of the Bren School, including. Students participate on UCSB intramural sports teams, play in the all-student band Brengrass, or take part in a number of professional organizations like Net Impact or the Association for Environmental Professionals.

Student Governance

Bren students take part in the governance of the school through participation on program committees that do things like make changes to the MESM program, choose Group Projects, or advise the Dean on student issues. At the University level, Bren is represented by its students in the Graduate Students Association, which addresses graduate student concerns campus-wide. Dozens of MESM students take part in student governance, and you can too!

Bren School events

There is always something going on at Bren. Students have many opportunities to network through events such as quarterly faculty, staff and student cocktail events, student-selected speaker seminars and community colloquia. Have a look at the Bren Events Schedule to get a good of idea of the happenings at Bren.

MESM class chairs also organize frequent class bonding events, from bowling to chili cook-offs! Learn more about our class chairs and the role they play in strengthening our community by visiting the Giving section of the Bren School website.

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Paying for Graduate School

Graduate school is a huge commitment, not just in terms of time and energy but in terms of finances too. This section will help you understand the costs associated with attending UCSB.

How to fund your Bren School education: 6 common ways MESM students pay for their degree.

Recruitment fellowships from the Bren School

Recruitment Fellowships provide incoming students with support for their first year in the MESM program. Recipients are selected by the faculty-led Admissions Committee and demonstrate professional and academic promise. All admitted MESM applicants were automatically considered for Recruitment Fellowships, and no supplemental application was required. Applicants who were selected for general recruitment fellowships were notified in their Bren School admissions letters.

Enrollment costs at the Bren School

The cost of a graduate education at UCSB is very affordable, especially when compared to other world-class universities. For the 2018-19 academic year, the quarter program costs for graduate students are as follows*:


California resident costs

Out-of-state resident costs

International student costs

Total costs of 1st year in MESM program

(includes fees/tuition and health insurance)

(includes fees/tuition, non-residential supplemental tuition, and health insurance)

(includes fees/tuition, non-residential supplemental tuition, and health insurance)

Total costs of 2-year MESM program

(includes fees/tuition and health insurance)

(includes fees/tuition and health insurance; assumes student establishes CA residency)

(includes fees/tuition, non-residential supplemental tuition, and health insurance)

* Subject to change at the discretion of the University of California Office of the President

A comprehensive summary of quarterly fees and expenses is available on the UCSB Office of the Registrar's website here. The above totals account only for projected UCSB student fees and do not include cost of living expenses, such as housing, transportation, food, or school books/supplies. An up-to-date graduate-student cost budget, including living expenses, can be found on the UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships website on its Cost of Attendance section.

How do most students pay for their education?

Bren School students meet a substantial portion of their educational costs through fellowships, work-study, teaching assistant positions, personal funds, federal loans, and/or external employment.

  • Financial aid and FAFSA
    Students' Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms should be submitted as soon as possible after admission and are processed by UCSB's Financial Aid Office and not the Bren School. UCSB graduate students are notified of eligibility for student loans by the Financial Aid Office during the summer, typically in early July. Depending on your financial situation, student loans may be provided up to the amount comparable to the cost of attendance. For the first year of the MESM program, this may be up to about $35,000 for California residents and up to about $55,000 for non-residents. (This is a ballpark estimate of costs of attendance only, including living expenses; the actual amount of your student loan will be confirmed by UCSB's Financial Aid Office over the summer.)

  • Teaching Assistantships
    Because the Bren School does not have an undergraduate program, no TA positions are available for MESM students within the Bren School itself. The few TA positions that Bren does have available are to support MESM courses, and the University requires that they be filled by PhD students.

    That said, each year many MESM students are able to secure TA positions in other departments at the University. The UCSB Academic Student Employee Positions page has contact information for all departments that have TA positions available. However, TA positions in other departments are not necessarily abundant, and each department gives first priority to its own students, so you should not count on fully financing your education through such positions.

    The most abundant source of TA positions for Bren students has been the Environmental Studies Program (ES), a large undergraduate program in the College of Letters and Sciences. Since ES does not have a graduate program, it employs graduate students from other departments to cover its teaching assistant needs. Typically, in late April or early May, the ES Program posts an application for TA positions for the upcoming academic year. The deadline for submission is usually near the end of May. Many Bren students have science backgrounds, so employment in chemistry, physics and biology are also common. Students should apply directly to departments for available TA positions.

  • Student Assistant positions
    Periodically, Bren School administration and individual faculty have part-time employment opportunities for students to provide administrative, tutoring, or research assistance. Students who have a work-study allocation are especially attractive applicants for these positions. Student assistant positions pay an hourly wage but do not provide any fee or health insurance remittance.

  • Other on-campus employment opportunities
    Some UCSB departments employ graduate students as Readers and Tutors. Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) employs students as Tutors, Peer Learning Skills Counselors, and Intake Counselors for course-specific tutoring and academic skill development. A number of UCSB faculty, departments, and organizations employ students in administrative and service functions. Visit the Graduate Division's Campus Employment Opportunities site for additional opportunities. .

  • Off-campus employment opportunities
    Depending on their workload, Bren MESM students may work part-time or complete local internships during the academic year. The Santa Barbara News-Press classified section lists job openings in the Santa Barbara area. Gaucho Link — the UCSB "job board" — has listings from area businesses and residential employers for full-time, part-time, and seasonal employment.

    The Bren School’s Career Development team circulates dozens of announcements annually for internship and employment opportunities offered by local companies and organizations throughout the school year. Many of these opportunities are created specifically for Bren School students, offering MESMs the chance to gain experience relevant to their interests while also offsetting the costs of their graduate education.

Establishing California residency for tuition purposes

Many out-of-state students are able to establish California residency after their first year of enrollment, which helps to lower the costs of attendance substantially. Learn more about establishing residency on the University of California Office of the President (UCOP)'s How to establish residency page on the Understanding Residency section of its website.

If you are currently not a California resident but attended high school in California for at least three years and graduated from a California high school, you may be eligible for in-state rates under AB 540. Visit the UCSB Office of the Registrar web site for more information about establishing residency for fee purposes.

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Information for international admits

The Bren School values diversity in all its many forms, because, particularly in a collaborative and interdisciplinary setting, diverse perspectives arising from varied academic, cultural, and personal backgrounds are highly valuable. You can read the Bren School Diversity statement here. Sustainability challenges are diverse almost by definition, as they are associated with a wide range of environmental, economic, social, and cultural risks. Because those risks appear unevenly across society and geography, addressing them requires the varied perspectives of equally diverse people.

Bren School graduate students come from across the U.S. and around the world. For instance, the MESM Class of 2018 comprises 84 students from 16 countries, including Belize, China, Chile, Germany, South Korea and India. The Class of 2019 international students from Ecuador, South Korea, Belize, among other countries, with about 45% of its students coming from outside of California. Our PhD students and post-doctoral students are similarly diverse, contributing for a range of under-represented communities.

Excited to enroll at Bren School for Fall 2019? Check out the UCSB Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS)'s Newly Admitted Students page for next steps in your enrollment process.

In addition to reviewing this page, we encourage you to read through OISS's Welcome Guide for new international students.

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Enroll at Bren

If you are excited to join a community of peers as passionate and driven about environmental issues as you are, then submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) and become a member of the MESM Class of 2021 today!

Steps to take to accept our admission offer:

  1. Submit your SIR. You can submit your SIR by logging back in to your UCSB e-application and indicating you plan to enroll at UCSB. Admitted MESM students have until Monday, April 15, 2019 to accept our admission offers.

  2. Submit all required documents. To finalize your admission to the Bren School, you must send final/official transcripts to the UCSB Graduate Division. The only exception is students who attended UCSB; if you earned a degree from UCSB, you are not required to submit transcripts from the University. More information, including the mailing address, is available on the Graduate Division's website.

  3. Submit a Statement of Legal Residence (SLR). Please allow 5-10 business days after you have submitted your SIR to submit your SLR. Instructions for completing this process are outlined on the Graduate Division's Admitted Applicants page.

  4. International students - review the UCSB Office of International Students & Scholars "What to do First" page for important instructions regarding your visa! Visit it online at


Can I defer my admission?

UCSB only allows for deferrals in cases where the admitted applicant has been accepted for a prestigious,once-in-a-lifetime fellowship opportunity. Deferrals due to financial constraints, job opportunities, or family emergencies are not permitted.
In these cases, the Bren School might recommend you consider reapplying. Please
contact for more guidance.

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