Why Graduate School?

Statement via Alberto Ledesma, PhD, UC Berkeley (Former Undocumented Graduate Student)

According to the latest research, a majority of undocumented students who have chosen to brave the stresses of graduate college experience do so because they want to help their families. These students understand that in getting a graduate degree they are not only opening doors into the professions, they are also acting as role models for other family members, advocating for their communities, and making a significant social impact by equipping themselves with the ethos that comes when one has advanced academic credentials.

The few students who have succeeded in getting accepted into programs also report that their success is due to their academic performance in their undergraduate programs, the advocacy they received from key mentors, connections to activist organizations, and the knowledge they have gained as undergraduates in demystifying the graduate application process. Below, we offer a few points of advice that may assist you as you are thinking about applying to graduate school. As always, please note that these points of advice are offered as general observations and not as a rigid prescription. To get into graduate school, the main requirement is that you have the desire and opportunity to work towards that goal.


Financial Aid Resources Available for Prospective Undocumented Graduate Students

Outside Sources


Office for Graduate Diversity

The Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) plays a central role in advancing the university’s mission to foster academic excellence through diversity. OGD provides support services for prospective and continuing students on the Berkeley campus in an effort to maintain a more diverse graduate student community. OGD serves as a resource for the admissions process, academic support services, financial advice, and professional development. It also provides a forum for ideas and programs designed to enhance the educational experience of undocumented students. Constantly a work in progress, we are working towards creating an evermore vibrant community of undocumented graduate students. We urge you to get plugged in right away to experience the benefits of UC Berkeley graduate community support! You can get involved by following OGD on Facebook and Twitter.


Undocumented Student Program (USP)

USP provides academic counseling, legal support, financial aid resources and has an extensive campus referral network through which they can help students develop the unique gifts and talents they each bring to the university, while empowering a sense of belonging. The program’s mission is to support the advancement of undocumented students within higher education and promote pathways for engaged scholarship.


Rising Immigrant Scholars Through Education (R.I.S.E)

R.I.S.E can serve as an amazing resource to build community at Cal! They are the only undocumented student led and founded organization in Berkeley. Their events vary from study jams, to community dinners, to wellness workshops, and even projects such as building resource guides for future undocumented students! R.I.S.E is a flexible space here to help you and other community members grow! You can get involved by following RISE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Multicultural Community Center (MCC)

As a student-won and student-led space the MCC facilitates students greater involvement in multicultural related education, collaboration and cross/inter-community building. As a social justice inspired space, their events vary every semester given the interest of the community! In the past, the MCC has hosted community welcome dinners for Queer and Trans students, poetry readings, healing circles, movie viewings, and countless workshops on varying topics! When its not hosting an awesome event, the MCC is a great space to go study or catch a quick refreshment! You can get involved by following the MCC on Facebook and Instagram.


Chicanx Latinx Academic Student Development Center

The Chicanx Latinx Academic Student Development Center (CLSD) is a student-run, student led and community-supported. CLSD advocates for the retention and graduation of Chican@/Latino students and empowers students to become leaders, professionals, and scholars.