To search within this page for a word or phrase, use CTRL+F or Command+F.



The University of California, Berkeley, is committed to encouraging diversity in graduate education. The Graduate Diversity Program, reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, provides primary guidance in efforts to maintain and increase diversity.

C1. Graduate Council Statement: “Diversity in Graduate Student Recruitment and Selection” — Reissued February 1998

The University has moved into the post-affirmative action era as defined by Proposition 209. There is no doubt that the recruitment, selection, and support of graduate students has been and will continue to be affected by these new realities. However, the policies of the Graduate Council relating to student recruitment and selection, as formulated in 1985 and reaffirmed most recently in January 1996, remain unaltered, as do the assumptions upon which they are based. In particular, we believe that the educational experience is enhanced by a graduate student body that is heterogeneous with respect to economic circumstances, gender, and ethnicity, as three of many markers of diversity. A diverse student body also serves California’s future needs for a diverse body of academics and practitioners. To this end we reaffirm the following policies governing admission to graduate study at Berkeley.

  1. The Graduate Council encourages graduate programs on the Berkeley campus to maintain and enhance an active outreach program to recruit talented, qualified applicants with diverse characteristics from diverse backgrounds.
  2. The Graduate Council supports the use of multi-year fellowships and other sources of student support (GSIships and GSRships) to maintain and increase the diversity of the student body.
  3. The Graduate Council urges graduate program selection committees to weigh carefully a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative criteria in their selection of graduate students.
  4. Programs with less experience and success in recruiting and attracting a diversity of students should draw on the experience of other programs that have been successful in this area. A list of these programs should be obtained from the Dean of the Graduate Division or from the Chair of the Graduate Council.

C1.1 University of California Statement on Diversity

Adopted by the Assembly of the Academic Senate May 10, 2006
Endorsed by the President of the University of California June 30, 2006

Adopted by the Regents of the University of California, September 19, 2007

The diversity of the people of California has been the source of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments throughout the state’s history into the present. Diversity — a defining feature of California’s past, present, and future — refers to the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and geographic region, and more.

Because the core mission of the University of California is to serve the interests of the State of California, it must seek to achieve diversity among its student bodies and among its employees. The State of California has a compelling interest in making sure that people from all backgrounds perceive that access to the University is possible for talented students, staff, and faculty from all groups. The knowledge that the University of California is open to qualified students from all groups, and thus serves all parts of the community equitably, helps sustain the social fabric of the State.

Diversity should also be integral to the University’s achievement of excellence. Diversity can enhance the ability of the University to accomplish its academic mission. Diversity aims to broaden and deepen both the educational experience and the scholarly environment, as students and faculty learn to interact effectively with each other, preparing them to participate in an increasingly complex and pluralistic society. Ideas, and practices based on those ideas, can be made richer by the process of being born and nurtured in a diverse community. The pluralistic university can model a process of proposing and testing ideas through respectful, civil communication. Educational excellence that truly incorporates diversity thus can promote mutual respect and make possible the full, effective use of the talents and abilities of all to foster innovation and train future leadership.

Therefore, the University of California renews its commitment to the full realization of its historic promise to recognize and nurture merit, talent, and achievement by supporting diversity and equal opportunity in its education, services, and administration, as well as research and creative activity. The University particularly acknowledges the acute need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented students, faculty, and staff from historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.

C1.2 Resources for Increasing Graduate Diversity

Every department has a designated Faculty Equity Adviser. The Graduate Division considers the Faculty Equity Adviser to be the departmental liaison in all matters related to recruitment, selection, and retention of graduate students in order to promote diversity in graduate programs. To enhance their efforts, the Graduate Division and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion encourage cooperation with Divisional Diversity Coordinators and with the Graduate Diversity Program.

All faculty Graduate Advisers and Graduate Student Affairs Officers should be aware of the importance of diversity and the ways in which they can assist their departments in implementing the goals of the university:

  1. To increase the enrollment and graduation of students in fields where they have been historically underrepresented or denied equal educational opportunity.
  2. To ensure equal educational opportunity for all students who have experienced economic, social, or educational disadvantages that may have interfered with their ability to demonstrate their academic potential.
  3. To promote a student body that is diverse with respect to points of view, culture, life experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, and educational preparation.

Faculty Equity Advisers

The Faculty Equity Adviser must be a member of the departmental admission committee (and also the fellowships committee, if it is separate from the admission committee) by decision of the Graduate Council in 1986. Since 1999, the Graduate Council has required the signature endorsement of Faculty Equity Advisers when graduate students are being recommended for admission and fellowship support.


All admission recommendations and fellowship recommendations for diversity applicants must be signed by the Faculty Equity Adviser as well as by the Head Graduate Adviser in each department.

C1.3 Admissions Procedures to Enhance Diversity

The Graduate Division and the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion encourage the use of comprehensive assessment of graduate applicants. Comprehensive approaches infer an applicant’s potential for success from those indicators shown by research to be reliable predictors of success, such as the general academic record and record of special achievement, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and writing samples, research experience and drive to succeed, and their personal circumstances and goals. This approach avoids over-reliance on GRE scores, especially in the preliminary stages of assessment, in determining a candidate’s worthiness for admission.

The Graduate Council discontinued requiring the use of GRE scores in assessing applications for graduate admission, allowing individual programs to determine whether and how to use GRE scores. The Graduate Division encourages programs in which GRE scores still figure prominently as a criterion in graduate admissions, especially in the preliminary selection and de-selection of applicants, to move toward comprehensive approaches to evaluation. It encourages programs to consider de-emphasizing GRE scores in favor of a relatively comprehensive review in those cases in which the applicant’s scores clearly contrast with other aspects of the academic profile considered for preliminary review.

Consideration may be given to applicants’ backgrounds and life experiences that contribute significantly to an educationally beneficial mix of students and enhance educational diversity. This may include applicants who have had limited access to educational resources, or who are physically disabled, or who are in the first generation of their family to achieve a college degree, or who come from families headed by a single parent, or who enhance geographic diversity (such as growing up in a severely depressed area), or who have persevered over economic disadvantage, or who have shown exceptional fortitude by working many hours to support themselves during their education, or whose experiences have brought about a perspective not widely represented within the discipline. Race, religion, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin may not be used as categorical criteria for admission under California state law. The University of California is governed by Federal legislation that requires tracking and reporting of data on access to higher education using recognized categories and requests self-identification by applicants on a voluntary basis in compliance with Federal law and policy. Reports on program performance in maintaining equity and inclusion and increasing access over time are provided to programs by the Graduate Division.


Programs may request additional admissions allocations to expand admission to include well qualified applicants not selected within the original admissions allocation, whose addition to the admitted cohort would increase diversity in the ways described above. 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 form.

C1.4 Graduate Student Retention

The Graduate Division, in cooperation with the Graduate Diversity Program (GDP) and Divisional Diversity Directors, provides a number of programs to ensure the success and retention of a diverse student body.

Student Advising

The GDP produces a student list-serve and hosts receptions and professional development workshops throughout the year. The Graduate Division sponsors and/or provides funding for dissertation workshops, grant proposal writing, and networking receptions and seminars, including some conducted by the Graduate Assembly.

Financial Support

The Graduate Division administers fellowships intended to support diversity (such as the Mentored Research Fellowship and Chancellor’s Dissertation Fellowship). The Graduate Diversity Program and Divisional Diversity Directors support efforts by programs to seek federal and private funding sources on behalf of underrepresented students, and research grants that require a diversity outreach and retention component.

Review of Program Outcomes

The Graduate Division collects data on student benchmarks that can be used by programs to analyze their own success, particularly in preparation for academic program reviews.

C1.5 Graduate Diversity Program: Best Practices for Retention

The GDP provides resources and recommends best practices for programs to promote creation of a diverse graduate student community. Many of these are also practices required or suggested by the Graduate Council and Graduate Division.

Establish a Procedure to Monitor All Students’ Progress Each Semester or on an Annual Basis

The Graduate Council requires review of first year students each semester; recommends written review of all graduate students at least annually thereafter prior to advancement to candidacy; and requires an Doctoral Candidate Review for each student after advancement to candidacy for the doctorate, involving a meeting with at least two dissertation committee members.

Establish an Effective Mentoring Program Within Your Program

Identify faculty and senior graduate students who understand and appreciate the unique difficulties that students from diverse backgrounds might face; ask them to serve as mentors to incoming students.

Establish an effective communications network to disseminate program and University information (for example, fellowship deadlines) to all students

Head Graduate Advisors should ensure information about the program, as well as about university-wide opportunities, reaches all students.

Provide Research Opportunities

The Mentored Research Fellowship administered by the Graduate Division provides support for graduate students whose backgrounds, life experiences, and/or work contribute to diversity to conduct pre-doctoral research while developing and strengthening relationships with faculty advisers.

Provide events where all students and faculty in your program can engage socially.

Seek and obtain federal and private funding to provide fellowships and research assistantships to support a diverse student population through each stage of students’ academic careers.

C1.6 Financial Assistance

The Graduate Division provides fellowship support to students whose backgrounds, life experiences, and/or work contribute to diversity within their discipline or in the graduate community at large. Programs nominate incoming students in doctoral programs at the time of admission who are eligible for the Chancellor’s and Eugene Cota Robles multi-year fellowships. Terminal masters and professional degree programs can nominate new students students for one year GOP awards. Continuing students who have shown strong academic achievement in the face of economic, social, and/or educational disadvantages can be nominated by departments for the Mentored Research and Dissertation Year Fellowships.

The Graduate Diversity Program Director can assist programs with fellowship questions regarding nominations and general assistance to enhance the procurement of student fellowships.