- Search Policies
- B. ADMISSION
- B1. General Admission Policies
- B1.1 Admission and Enrollment Allocations
- B1.2 Admission Cycle and Requirements
- B1.3 Evaluation of Applicants
- B1.4 Redirection of an Application
- B1.5 Ranking of Applicants
- B1.6 Reporting Admission Recommendations to the Graduate Division
- B1.7 Informing Applicants of Admission or Denial
- B1.8 Special Categories of Students
- B1.9 Documentation of Admission Decisions
- B2. Applicant Records
- B2.1 Registration of New Graduate Students
The Admissions office of the Graduate Division monitors all matters dealing with applications for graduate study and recommendations of admission. Changing information, including deadlines, contact information, and specific information needed, is available through other information sources made available by the Admissions office. An Admissions Handbook for staff supplements this Guide with changing information.
B1. General Admission Policies
The Graduate Division sets targets for total enrollment, and determines the number of admission recommendations that may be made by each program. These numbers are sent annually to each graduate program in the fall semester. If a program admits for both fall and spring semesters, targets for both cycles are included in the same memo.
The Graduate Division provides a central platform for application to graduate study at Berkeley. Individual programs are responsible for reviewing applicants and recommending admission for the top applicants in each cycle. The Graduate Division monitors whether the minimum application requirements established by the systemwide Academic Senate and the Berkeley Division’s Graduate Council have been met and has the ultimate authority to approve or deny admission. An applicant is not officially admitted to the university until notification from the Dean of the Graduate Division is received.
B1.1 Admission and Enrollment Allocations
The Graduate Division sets admission and enrollment allocations for each program. Graduate enrollment is carefully monitored by the state, and it is vital that programs adhere to their assigned allocation.
How the Graduate Division Determines Admissions Allocations
Graduate admissions allocations are calculated based on success in maintaining student progress, awarding degrees, and minimizing the number of students who leave without a degree. These factors are weighted to produce a projected number of openings for new students, which when added to expected continuing and returning students, will equal the enrollment target. This target number of newly admitted students is mutiplied by the “show rate” from recent years for that program (the proportion of applicants who were offered admission and then enrolled).
How the Graduate Division Determines Enrollment Targets
The enrollment target is the total number of students in a program; it is approximately equal to the annual number of students admitted times the Normative Time to degree for a program. Enrollment targets are set based on the ability of a program to support students financially, to provide academic advising, and to guide students to success in meeting benchmarks for retention, advancement within normative time, and completion of the degree. The Graduate Division produces reports for programs that provide standard measures of these progress benchmarks.
Procedure to Request Increases in the Admissions Allocation
Programs may wish to make a one-time request for additional admissions allocations for the current admissions cycle, to admit specific, identified applicants. Requests are made using the cover form distributed with the admissions allocation notification, accompanied by a memo signed by either the Program Chair or the Head Graduate Advisor, following the instructions on the cover form.
Requests for additional admissions allocations can only be made after review of applicants, because they must be justified by comparing the applicants proposed for additional admissions nominations to previously recommended applicants. Both the form and the required memo should be submitted via email to the Associate Dean for Admissions and Degrees.
Procedure to Request Increases in the Enrollment Target
Programs may request consideration of an adjustment to increase or decrease their ongoing enrollment target, not affecting the current year’s admissions allocation, by responding to a questionnaire available by writing to the Associate Dean for Degrees. The questionnaire asks for assessment of financial and advising capacity, as well as any other bases to change the enrollment target, and will be reviewed in conjunction with data on program success in retention, advancement within normative time, and completion of the degree. Once set, a new enrollment target will stay in place for three years, and then be reviewed against program outcomes.
B1.2 Admission Cycle and Requirements
The online application provided by the Graduate Division is available to applicants in early September each year. Graduate programs normally consider applicants for the following fall semester. Some also consider applicants for spring admission of the following year. Individual programs set the deadline for completion of applications. For programs taking part in fellowship competition, deadlines may be set within the range of December 1–January 5. The final deadline for all applicants can be no later than February 10. (The Berkeley Law School oversees applications for law degrees, which may not follow all the procedures outlined here.)
Programs establish expectations for the content of a complete application within the Graduate Division regulations, and should post on their websites any specific information applicants might need to complete a competitive application.
Applicants may only apply to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Procedure for Readmission
Applicants previously formally enrolled at Berkeley, however briefly, who wish to be considered for a new degree program must apply to the new degree program through the Online Application for Admission per the program’s normal admissions and review cycle. This policy is to ensure a transparent, thorough, and fair application review process, independent from an applicant’s current or past enrollment at Berkeley. There is no need for these applicants to submit the former “Application for Readmission” or the “Change of Major” forms.
Note that students returning to the same degree program after a period of withdrawal are covered under the “re-enrollment” process in the new Student Information System; they do not need to use the Online Application for Admission.
Required Documents for Admissions Applications:
- Official transcripts. Transcripts of all college-level work must be uploaded into the application system for review. In general, international applicants are required to upload official copies in the original language and accompanied by English language translations. Specially prepared English versions are not acceptable in lieu of the records in the original language.
- Letters of recommendation. Applicants can request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
- Evidence of English language proficiency. All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and most European countries. However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a U.S. university may submit an official transcript from the U.S. university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement: 1) courses in English as a Second Language, 2) courses conducted in a language other than English, 3) courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and 4) courses of a non-academic nature. If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.
B1.3 Evaluation of Applicants
Admission to graduate study at Berkeley is granted on a competitive basis. The Graduate Council encourages programs to develop diverse communities of graduate scholars. Program admission committees should review the Graduate Council Statement: “Diversity in Graduate Student Recruitment and Selection” to ensure that review includes a variety of criteria to avoid eliminating applicants who are well-qualified and would contribute to the university’s goals in this area.
Uniform Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- a bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- a minimum grade-point average of B or better (3.0);
- if the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g. Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, 90 on the iBT test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7; and
- enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees as evidence of broad research training, not as vocational training certificates; therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to take up new subject matter on a serious level without undertaking a graduate program, unless the fields are completely dissimilar.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics Ph.D. could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a Ph.D. in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the Ph.D. degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Program Admissions Criteria and Processes
Beyond the uniform minimum requirements for admission, a program may choose any criteria that are appropriate as a basis for its evaluation, including but not limited to undergraduate and graduate grade-point averages, work experience, test scores, letters of recommendation, and evidence of past achievements.
Participation by current graduate students in admission review is permitted, at the discretion of the program. If students participate, they must be briefed on and abide by the standard rules of confidentiality.
Admissions criteria and ranking procedures are subject to review by the Graduate Division.
Recommending Deferred Admission
Programs can recommend that an applicant’s admission be deferred, once, if the applicant has been recommended for admission but is unable to enroll on schedule and wants to begin graduate school in a later semester. Departments that admit only for fall semester can recommend deferring an admission only until the next fall semester; those admitting for both semesters can recommend deferral until spring or the following fall.
Deferred admission may be offered only to superior applicants. Applicants admitted by exception may not be deferred. Applicants whose entry might be deferred must be reviewed and ranked with the current applicant pool. Under no circumstances can deferred admission be offered to an international applicant who has not yet received a basic degree or whose scholarship, preparation, or English proficiency does not meet the university’s minimum admission standards.
Applicants with Deficiencies in Preparation
Applicants with serious deficiencies in preparation should be denied admission. Programs should recommend limited status for students who are making a radical change of field and who would need to complete an undergraduate major. Limited status is an undergraduate classification. Applicants who lack some course work but not the entire undergraduate major may be recommended for admission through an exception request. For more information on limited status and other options available to applicants who do not meet requirements for admission, see “Special Categories of Students” (section B1.8).
Procedure for Documenting Admissions and Ranking Criteria
The Graduate Division maintains a record of the current procedures each program uses to evaluate applicants and make admissions decisions. Anytime procedures change, programs should send an updated description to the Associate Dean for Admissions and Degrees.
Procedure for Deferred Admission
After a student has been admitted and has completed SIR, the academic program should submit the “Request for Deferred Admissions” form to the Graduate Admissions Office, justifying the reason for the deferral (deadline: June 1). Graduate Admissions will send a deferral status memo to the department once the deferral is processed.
A deferred student’s admission counts against a program’s admissions allocation only for the academic year in which the student was originally admitted. Unless special exceptions have been approved, a deferred student must join the program no later than one year after the original review date and recommendation for admission.
- Deferrals must be requested via the “Request for Deferred Admission” form by the Head Graduate Advisor, uploaded into the student’s application record.
- The deadline to submit deferrals for the following year is June 1.
- Departments can only defer applicants who have accepted admissions through SIR.
- TOEFL exam scores must be valid for the deferral period.
- If a department that admits only for fall requests a one semester deferral to the following spring, the request requires an exception to the normal starting date of the program. The department must explain why the applicant will not be at an academic or financial disadvantage by starting in the spring.
B1.4 Redirection of an Application
The Graduate Division wants to ensure that programs recruit from pools of applicants who have selected the best program for their interests. Given the richness of graduate program offerings, a prospective student can easily find more than one program which might fit their interests and experience. Sometimes an admissions committee judges that a well-qualified applicant would be better served by consideration by a different graduate program. This option should only be considered when the alternative program is either on the same level (e.g., a PhD applicant may be redirected to another PhD program) or is on a more advanced level (e.g. a masters’ applicant may be redirected to a PhD program). The program asking to redirect the applicant is affirming a belief that the applicant has the credentials for general admission to a Berkeley graduate program.
Both the original program and the suggested alternative program must agree to redirect the application. The applicant must have two weeks to decide whether to accept the proposed redirection or ask that the original program make a final decision. If both programs and the applicant agree to redirection, the original program should contact the Graduate Division’s Admissions office to arrange for the application to be made available to the alternative program by changing the requested major. The applicant’s consent must be confirmed directly.
B1.5 Ranking of Applicants
Rankings provide an objective measure of a program’s basis to recommend admission or denial for a particular candidate. The applicant’s rank enables the program and the Graduate Division to be specific about the faculty judgment of an individual’s qualifications compared with competing applicants. If a disappointed candidate asks for a detailed explanation or takes legal action, rankings can be essential to explaining and defending the program’s recommendation. For these reasons, programs must rank all applicants, even those who are clearly inadmissable.
B1.6 Reporting Admission Recommendations to the Graduate Division
Candidates for admission who are ranked by the program within its admissions offer allocation are recommended for admission through the Graduate Admissions online application system. Applicants offered admission after review by the Graduate Division must complete the Statement of Intent to Register form online.
Procedure to Recommend Applicants Who Meet the Uniform Minimum Requirements:
Programs directly enter recommendations for admission into the Graduate Admissions database.
Each recommendation for admission must specify:
- the major and degree to which the applicant is to be admitted;
- for domestic applicants, the grade-point average for work completed for the bachelor’s degree, computed on all undergraduate course work completed after the first two years and up to the award of the bachelor’s degree;
- the applicant’s ranking in program review
- the test scores, if appropriate, for TOEFL or IELTS.
- required academic records
The designated Program Administrator enters the recommendation information, GPA, and program ranking in the admissions database. After the application is reviewed and approved for admission, the applicant is notified of the official decision.
Procedure to recommend applicants based on exceptional admission:
The program must outline how the applicant does not meet Graduate Division requirements and their justification for requesting permission to admit the applicant in a memo to the Associate Dean for Degrees and Admissions. The Graduate Division may approve the plan or make suggested changes as a condition of approving admission with deficiencies.
Once the Associate Dean for Degrees and Admissions approves admission, the program must provide the applicant in writing (with a copy to the Graduate Division) a description of:
- the nature of the deficiencies;
- the approximate time allowed to resolve them; and
- whether the background work can be taken concurrently with graduate study or whether the applicant must complete the course work before beginning the graduate program.
This letter establishes the Graduate Division’s expectations for the admitted applicant to resolve the deficiencies. Students will not be permitted to continue to register if they do not meet the conditions of their admission within the stated period.
Procedure to recommend an applicant who already holds a masters or doctoral degree:
If a program wants to recommend admissions for a student already holding a masters or doctorate to a second Ph.D. or to a lesser degree, the head Graduate Advisor must request an exception in writing.
B1.7 Informing Applicants of Admission or Denial
Programs must not inform applicants that they have been admitted until the official notice has been sent by the Graduate Division.
When a program recommends admission of an applicant, and the applicant fulfills the minimum requirements or an exception is sought and granted, and the program has not used up its admissions allocation or has sought and been granted an additional admissions allocation, the Graduate Division will issue an admission notification from the Dean of the Graduate Division to the student. Only written notice from the Dean of the Graduate Division constitutes an offer of admission.
Deadline for admissions decisions for applicants who are citizens or permanent residents:
Admissions decisions for programs admitting for fall semester should be finalized by June 1 (for programs admitting students to begin in fall). Programs are encouraged to review the response to offers of admission by May 15, and if necessary, request additional admissions offers based on lower than expected acceptance rates. Any applicants whose status is still “undecided” on July 1 will be changed to “declined”, to ensure that applicants receive notice of the final decision concerning their applications.
Deadline for admissions decisions for applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States:
Applicants who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States must be recommended for admission no later than May 1 for fall semester and October 1 for spring semester in order to allow time for their visas to be processed.
After the program recommendation, the Graduate Admissions Office will send the student the official admissions notification. Admitted students must notify the Graduate Division of their intent by completing the Statement of Intent to Register form online. For students who accept the offer of admission, they will receive an email with their Student ID number and instructions on how to create a CalNet ID to access the student portal CalCentral to start the on-boarding process. The student must review the on-boarding messages and checklist items under “Tasks” on My Dashboard that they will need to complete in order to register.
Response Deadline for Applicants Offered Admission
Applicants indicate their intent to accept admission by completing the online Statement of Intent to Register (SIR).
UC Berkeley subscribes to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) policy, “Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants,” which states: “Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution.”
Programs may set a response deadline that conforms to this resolution, as long as applicants offered admission with financial support are not required to respond before April 15. There is currently no Graduate Division deposit required for those who accept the offer of admission, and no Graduate Division deadline for students offered admission unless they are offered fellowships requiring response by April 15.
Notifying Applicants Who are Denied Admission
All applicants denied admission should be notified in writing. Programs must enter the denial decision into the admissions system before July 1. The program must retain supplemental materials (transcripts, forms, letters of recommendation, etc.) for at least two years. To ensure that all applicants receive a final decision, unless an exception has been made, any applicant whose status is still “undecided” on July 1 will be changed to “denied”.
Rescinding an Admission Offer
If an academic program needs to consider rescinding an admission offer, contact the Director of Graduate Student Services for further guidance.
B1.8 Special Categories of Students
Graduate students at Berkeley are normally engaged in full-time study leading to a degree. Course work only status, visiting student researcher status, Education Abroad Program Reciprocity status, and limited enrollment status for undergraduates, are special categories each of which has specific requirements, and limitations in relation to graduate programs.
Course Work Only
Course-work-only status permits students who are not working toward a higher degree to enroll in a maximum of two semesters of graduate work. These students must meet the same requirements for admission as those set for other entering graduate students. Course-work-only applicants, therefore, must be evaluated and ranked with all other applicants.
Course-work-only status is appropriate only for students who want to enroll in courses that are not available elsewhere or who want to complete a limited amount of course work for professional advancement. After two semesters, the registration of course-work-only students will be blocked. Course-work-only status cannot be used as a probationary status preliminary to being admitted to a degree program. These students will not be permitted to enter a degree program at a later date, unless they are current UC employees.
Course-work-only students, except UC employees and students in the Education Abroad Program (EAP), count in program admission allocations. Course-work-only students are not eligible for the fellowship competition and may not be appointed as Academic Student Employees or Graduate Student Researchers.
Students Working for Graduate Degrees at Another Institution
Applicants who want to study at Berkeley before they have completed work toward a graduate degree at another institution may apply for admission to
- course-work-only status (above); or
- visiting student researcher status; visiting student researchers a) visit to conduct research for the purpose of meeting doctoral degree requirements at another university; b) conduct research of mutual interest to and endorsed by an academic department, ORU, or other Berkeley campus unit; and c) are appointed for at least one month and not more than one year in duration. The Visiting Scholars and Postdoctoral Affairs program manages this process.
Education Abroad Program Reciprocity
In 1980, the Education Abroad Program (EAP) inaugurated non-degree/no-fee direct exchange programs with a number of universities abroad. Prospective participants apply initially to the University of California Study Center located at their home institution abroad. The individual study centers select the successful participants and submit applications for those students to the Systemwide EAP office located in Santa Barbara. The Systemwide EAP office will complete an online application for Course Work Only status for the specific program. Students who enroll in this non-degree category are not eligible to continue in a degree program upon completion of their course work, and their registration is limited to a maximum of one year.
EAP Reciprocity applicants do not count against the program’s admissions allocation. They are not required to pay the application fee. If accepted, they are admitted to course-work-only status (see above). Applicants must meet all minimum University requirements for admission, including an appropriate basic degree, an acceptable GPA, and English language proficiency. If a program has a GRE requirement, it should notify the EAP applicant. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts from U.S. colleges or universities in sealed envelopes. Academic records from abroad certified by the Systemwide EAP Coordinator are acceptable in lieu of official copies normally required of international students applying for degree programs, since EAP reciprocity is not admission to a degree program.
The applications of EAP applicants should be reviewed following procedures used for all other applicants, and they must be recommended for admission or denial. Programs must report the rank for all EAP applicants recommended for admission. Since EAP applicants recommended for admission will not count in the program’s allocation, the program may rank them as a separate group, i.e., EAP-1, EAP-2, and so on.
Final decisions on EAP applicants should be made no later than June 1, particularly for those denied admission, to enable the Systemwide EAP Coordinator to place them at another UC campus. Admission of EAP applicants may not be deferred because their home institution abroad determines their selection for eligibility.
Students enrolled in this category do not pay nonresident tuition or educational fees. Although the campuses do not receive instructional support resources from the state or the Office of the President for these students, the Education Abroad Program transfers an amount equivalent to the registration fee to the receiving campus. Note that the Office of the President does not include EAP students in the census of campus FTE enrollments.
Upon completion of two semesters, the registration of admitted EAP students will automatically be blocked. If a former participant in an EAP program at the graduate level subsequently applies for a graduate degree, the program would need to request an exception to recommend admission. Payment of retroactive fees for the time spent in graduate study would then be required.
The Colleges of Chemistry, Natural Resources, and Engineering may consider admitting students in limited status, which is not a graduate status. The limited status program allows an undergraduate who has received a recognized undergraduate degree with a record of good scholarship (an overall grade-point average of at least 3.3) to pursue course work in a field unrelated to any prior degrees, for a specific and clearly defined purpose. Often this involves preparation for graduate study.
Students who complete a program in limited status are not automatically eligible for graduate study at Berkeley. To be admitted, a person who has completed limited study must submit an application for admission by the required deadline. They must be evaluated for graduate admission on the same basis as other applicants. While on limited status, students are not allowed to take graduate courses (200 series). Undergraduate courses completed while on limited status cannot be used to satisfy subject or residence requirements for an advanced degree or credential, if the applicant is admitted.
B1.9 Documentation of Admission Decisions
Admission records, including ranking procedures for each cohort, should be retained for those admitted and denied for at least two admission cycles.
These records may be needed to respond to legal complaints. Federal agencies require the University to summarize the qualifications of successful as well as unsuccessful applicants in order to demonstrate that a complainant’s qualifications were below the level of those admitted for a particular program and semester, according to the program’s criteria for evaluation. The Graduate Division can compile most of the statistical information needed to respond to legal investigations, but programs alone have information on their assessment of the particular strengths and weaknesses that contributed to decisions about individual applicants. Programs should keep records to support their response, such as letters of recommendation, the results of interviews, and computations of applicant scores or ranks.
B2. Applicant Records
Release of Applicant Information
In compliance with California’s Information Practices Act of 1977 (IPA), the Graduate Admissions Office will release information on an applicant’s status only to the applicant. Applicant records can only be released to an alternate contact listed in the section of the online graduate application for admission that grants permission to release information, or if the applicant submits a written statement giving permission to a person specifically named.
The Graduate Division’s policy, based on IPA guidelines, is to hold in confidence all information provided in application materials except the names of applicants, and the programs to which they applied, which is considered public information. An applicant can include a written request to withhold that information with the application, and must also inform the program not to release this information.
Rights of Applicants
Under this Information Practices Act, letters and statements of recommendation and admission committee appraisals are considered “personal information.” The IPA requires disclosure of personal information to the individual concerned. Applicants legally have access to letters of recommendation and admission committee evaluation material unless they have formally waived that access.
Applicants complete the waiver question on the letter of recommendation page online and submit it with their letters of recommendation. If an applicant has not waived the right of access, then the program must disclose the letters of recommendation to the individual upon request, regardless of where the letters are filed.
Programs may wish to consider adding a waiver of access rights form specifically for comments that might be recorded during review. Any such waiver would have to be voluntary and could not be required as a condition of admission or review.
B2.1 Registration of New Graduate Students
Under the CalCentral registration system, most new graduate students receive their registration information from their programs when they arrive on campus. The Graduate Admissions Office will block the registration of entering students who have not yet submitted required proof of degree and academic records. Students who received bachelor’s degrees the preceding spring or summer have until the fourth week of the fall semester to submit proof of degree. For further information on admission status, programs can contact the Graduate Admissions Office.