How does the LAFF Fellowship support Fellows?

Fellows may receive financial support to earn the MESM degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management with a specialization in Coastal Marine Resources Management. More importantly, fellows engage in specialized training in innovative resource management and conservation approaches within the Latin America context. Financial and curricular support for fellows may include the following on a case by case basis:

  • Up to the full cost of tuition and academic fees for the two-year MESM degree program at the Bren School*
  • Living allowance, graduate student health insurance, books, supplies*
  • Roundtrip airfare to the Fellow's home countries and to their internship site in Latin America
  • $5,000 summer internship to cover costs associated with the summer (where needed)
  • Specialized seminars and short-courses, and a Fellow-led colloquium speaker series
  • Annual Workshop in Latin America that engages Fellows, Alumni, and regional experts in fisheries management and marine conservation
  • Optional intensive English language training prior to starting the MESM program

*The LAFF program stongly encourages candidates to apply for indipendent funding to support their graduate degree. Government scholarships for graduate studies in science and technology are available in some Latin America to their citizens (such as CONICYT, CONACYT, CAPES, etc.). If these programs are not available in your country, please explain on your LAFF application.

Am I qualified to apply for the Latin American Fisheries Fellowship?

Qualified applicants must have a strong academic record, and have completed their undergraduate degree by the start of the program. Strong applicants have experience and demonstrated professional interest in the areas of marine conservation, fisheries sustainability, and/or marine resource management. Canididates must also demonstrate commitment to pursuing impactful careers in Latin America.

Does the LAFF program offer Fellowships for PhD Students?

In very select cases, the LAFF program offers students pursuing a PhD at the Bren School complimentary financial support to supplement their primary funding source (i.e. complimenting scholarships such as CONACYT, CONICYT, CAPES, PRONABEC, SENICYT, etc.). PhD students selected to be LAFF Fellows have research interests clearly related to marine resource management dynamics in Latin America.

PhD Students are eligable for the LAFF fellowship support after awarded admission to Bren's PhD program under a faculty advisor, and indipendent funding to cover the cost of tuition and fees is secured. PhD LAFF Fellows are then selected to recieve financial support each year on a case-by-case basis by the program advisors, considered on the basis of strategic alignment with the mission of the program.    

What does the application process for the Latin American Fisheries Fellowship program entail?

Prospective fellows must submit two applications. Applicants apply to the Bren School through the online UCSB Graduate Division, and complete the LAFF Application by January 10, 2010. Visit the MESM Admissions page for more information about the Bren School application process and to access the UCSB online application.
Fellows must be accepted into the MESM program in order to receive the Fellowship.

To learn more about applying to the LAFF program visit Apply. We recommend contacting the LAFF program at early with any questions or if you need additional guidance with the application process.

Do I need to be fluent in English?

The Fellowship is offered through the Bren School at UCSB, where all graduate courses will be instructed in English. Coursework and projects require both verbal and written proficiency. We recognize English is a second language for many Fellows, and therefore offer an optional intensive English course (OISS English Workshop Video) through the Office of International Students and Scholars during the summer before the start of the program, and extra support where needed on writing skills.

Are exams required for admission to the Bren School and the LAFF Program?

Yes. All students applying for admission to the Bren School must take the GRE. Applicants should adequately study before taking this exam since admissions to Bren are on a competitive basis. In addition, international students applying for the LAFF program must take the TOEFL exam. Use the following links to locate your nearest testing center and register to take the test:

Can I retake GRE or TOEFL exams required for the Bren School and LAFF program if my first scores aren’t sufficient?

Yes. Once your exam scores are reported to Bren, your highest scores will be considered with your application materials. While there is no strict minimum GRE or TOEFL Score, applications are considered on a competitive basis - so higher scores can be beneficial to applicants.

All international students with TOEFL scores below 100 (IBT) will be required to take the intensive 4-week English course before the start of the program.

What are the prerequisite courses required for admission to the program? What if I have not completed all of these as part of my undergraduate degree?

The Bren School emphasizes quantitative and analytical approaches to environmental problem solving, so it is essential for students to have an adequate mathematical foundation. For admission to the Bren MESM program, Applicants must have completed the following prerequisite coursework at a college or university:

  • Calculus – at least two quarters or one semester
  • Statistics – one semester or quarter
  • Science – three quarters or two semesters (may be any combination of chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, or atmospheric science, though chemistry provides especially valuable preparation)

Under special considerations, strong applicants for the fellowship who may not have completed all prerequisite courses by the application date, may be considered for conditional admission pending their completion of missing coursework before the start of the program.

What is the recommended application timeline for Bren and LAFF?

First Steps (starting as early as possible before the application deadline)

  • Contact the LAFF Program Coordinator at to learn more about the application process. We appreciate your interest in the program and can be available to talk more about it if you are considering applying.
  • Locate the nearest GRE testing center and register to take the test.
  • Locate the nearest TOEFL testing center and register to take the test.

October - December

  • Begin to compile your application materials (essays, transcripts, reference letters, resume, etc. as required for the applications)
  • Study for GRE exam
  • Study for TOEFL exam
  • Take GRE and TOEFL exams
  • Complete your Bren School (UCSB Graduate Division) and supplemental LAFF applications and submit as early as possible before the deadline


  • Submit completed applications no later than the January 10, 2016 deadline

For more information and FAQs about the program and admissions, visit the Bren admissions page.

What opportunities related to Latin American Fisheries and available to fellows?

Building on the Bren School’s interdisciplinary, solution-oriented curriculum that includes rigorous coursework, a capstone Group Project or Eco-Entrepreneurship Project, a summer internship, and advanced training in leadership and communications, the LAFF program provides specialized training for future leaders in marine conservation and management.

Fellows gain knowledge and skills in innovative approaches to sustainable fisheries and marine conservation through short-courses, seminars and workshops, a fellow-led colloquium series, field trips, as well as tailored Group Projects or Eco-E ventures, and directed research opportunities to explore themes of individual interest within Latin American coastal marine resource issues, market-based fisheries management, and conservation planning.

  • Annual Workshop: The Latin American Fisheries Fellowship program hosts an annual workshop featuring presentations from academics and professionals on a range of topics related to marine management. Participants include managers, students, and scientists from Latin American and U.S. government agencies, non-profits, and universities.
  • Short Courses: Each year, the Latin American Fisheries Fellowship program sponsors short courses that cover a range of topics in the field of fisheries and marine conservation. These courses are often taught by visiting professors who are experts in their field.
  • Seminars: The LAFF program organizes colloquiums and seminars that cover a variety of marine environmental topics, which are led by members of Bren’s world-class faculty as well as visiting experts in the marine management field.
  • Internships: LAFF Fellows complete an internship during the summer between their first and second years in order to gain professional experience, learn about a particular field, develop contacts, and apply what they have learned in the classroom to real world situations. Fellows are compensated through their LAFF award for their work, providing a unique opportunity to secure substantive placements with organizations in Latin America of particular interest.
  • Directed Research: Fellows have unique opportunities to engage in collaborative projects with major initiatives and research groups associated with UC Santa Barbara's prominant faculty, as well as with LAFF Alumni and allied organizations working in the field.

What is the LAFF Network?

The larger aim of the LAFF program is to build a network of interdisciplinary environmental professionals that have the advanced skills and training to be highly effective in solving marine resource and sustainability challenges. The LAFF network brings together world-class professors, experts in the sustainable fisheries and marine conservation fields, and students who are highly motivated to tackle marine environmental sustainability challenges in Latin America. Visit the Meet with LAFF Network page to learn more about who makes up this network.

In addition to serving as a resource for other Fellows and Alumni in collaborative and strategic ways, our aim is also to serve as a resource for a wider community of marine environmental professional in Latin America.

Where do LAFF alumni work after completing the LAFF program?

The Latin American Fisheries Fellowship program has sponsored fellows from over eight countries, and Fellows eventually return to Latin America to work for organizations or agencies committed to improving the management of marine resources, and health of ecosystems and coastal communities. To learn more about what Fellows are doing after their tenure at Bren, visit the Meet with LAFF Network to see individual bios.

Does LAFF have a waiting list?

The LAFF Fellowship is a competative program, and applicant pools are broad and deep. In the event you are interviewed and selected as a top candidate, but not awarded the LAFF fellowship, you may be added to our Wait Pool which is a non-ordered pool of top applicants that may be awarded full or partial funding and selected for strategic composition of the cohort.

Can I reapply to the LAFF program if I was not selected as a Fellow in the past?

The LAFF program receives more applicaitons for the fellowship than can be awarded, and due to this many highly qualified and talented candidates are not selected to become Fellows. LAFF encourages applicants who were not selected for the award to reapply if they are still interested, taking steps to further bolster their applications. Please contact the Program Manager to learn more about what we are looking for in our Fellows as you consider reapplying.