Skip to content

Uc Berkeley Graduate Application Essay

The Admissions Process

Q: How can I apply to graduate school?

At Berkeley, you may apply to only one graduate or concurrent degree program. Berkeley does not offer ad hoc joint degree programs or cotutelle agreements with other universities.

To get started, visit the Applying for Graduate Admission page, contact the department for information about the program in which you are interested, or review the information on the Department’s website. You can find contact information including links to the websites for each program at the Graduate Programs & Application Deadlines page.

Q. What are the requirements for admission to graduate programs at Berkeley?

The minimum graduate admission requirements are: (1) a bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution; (2) a satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale, and (3) sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

Many departments have additional or higher requirements than those mentioned above, and satisfying minimal standards does not guarantee your admission. Contact information for individual departments can be found at the Graduate Programs & Application Deadlines page.

International students requiring determination of their degree equivalency, should contact the Graduate Admissions office for more details at

Q. How does the admissions process work at Berkeley?

Submit an application on or before the deadline for the program you are applying to. Deadlines for programs vary. You may apply online (The online application is available each year in September). Spring applications are only accepted by a few departments. Check the Graduate Programs & Application Deadlines page for more information.

Please follow departmental instructions on how to submit transcripts, supplementary information, department-specific material, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. The department reviews applications and recommends admission to the Graduate Division. Graduate Division issues the official notification of admission.

Q: I’m not sure which graduate program at Berkeley is best for me.

Berkeley offers a wide range of graduate programs. Go to the Career Center and see a Career Counselor to help map out which type of graduate education is best for you. Alternatively, review the different programs Berkeley offers and identify the ones of greatest interest to you. Visit the website of each program to research their requirements and expectations. Compare this to your academic background, professional experience, interests and goals.

You can get additional information by visiting Berkeley’s Career Center website.

Q: I just want to take graduate level courses. How can I do this?

You may apply to a non-degree option called “Course Work Only” (CWO). You will need to meet all of the normal criteria for admission, and the department must be willing to accept CWO students. There is a limit of two semesters of study and admission to this status precludes future admission or change of major into a degree program at Berkeley.

Some Berkeley faculty will grant permission to students to audit courses; this is an unofficial status and completely at the discretion of the individual faculty member. No record of attendance is provided by the Registrar’s Office.

Many courses are offered through University Extension. Details are available from their office located at 1995 University Avenue, or by calling (510) 642-4111.

Application Questions

Q: How much is the application fee?

For applicants that use the Graduate Division’s online application for admission, the application fee for U.S. Citizens and current Permanent Residents is $105. The application fee for all other applicants is $125.

Q: Can I request a waiver of the application fee?

Only United States citizens or Permanent Residents may request a fee waiver by following the instructions and completing the waiver form in the payment section of the application. International applicants are not eligible and must pay the application fee.

Q: Can I send my application fee electronically or pay it with a credit card?

Payments should be submitted by credit card only.

Q: Did you get my application?

Once you submit your online application, you will receive an email confirming your submission. You may log back into your application to monitor the status of the materials received or processed, such as: fee waivers, test scores, letters of recommendation, and admission decision. Please contact your department if you need to make any changes or need to provide additional application materials.

Q: When will a decision be made on my application?

Every department has different timelines. Contact the department for more information.

Q: My department told me I was admitted but I haven’t received anything from the Graduate Division.

It can take up to two weeks for the department to forward the recommendation and for the paperwork to be processed. If it has been more than three weeks and you have not received notice of admission, please contact your department directly to inquire about your application status.

GRE & TOEFL Questions

Q: My transcripts, GRE or TOEFL scores are not ready. Should I wait until I get them to send my application?

Do not miss the application deadline waiting for your test scores. Be sure to note your test date and registration number on your application.

Q: Did you receive my GRE or TOEFL scores?

Once your application is submitted, you may check the status of your scores on your online application status page.

Q: What is the Berkeley institution code for reporting the GRE or TOEFL?

4833 for Graduate Programs

Q: Is the department code required for the GRE or TOEFL?

No, the department code is not required for your GRE or TOEFL scores to match up with your application.

Q: How long are GRE scores valid for?

The GRE is a departmental requirement so check with your department to see if the GRE is required, and if so, what their requirements are. Scores are reported for 5 years after taking the test. Specific information can be found at the GRE website.

International Student Questions

Q: I have a question about my visa.

For questions about your visa documents, contact the Berkeley International Office at or visit their website.

Q: Are International Students required to submit a financial certificate or affidavits when applying for admission?

No. Financial certification is not required to apply for admission. Once an international student accepts Berkeley’s offer of admission, the Berkeley International Office will work with the student to collect financial certifications and all other documents required for the student visa.

Registration Questions

Please log into the UC Berkeley’s online student portal CalCentral using your CalNet ID and passphrase to accept or decline our offer of admission. If you don’t remember your CalNet ID or passphrase, please contact the Cal 1 Card Office.

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Questions

Q: What do I do in order to become a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)?

To learn about academic appointments, you should read the GSI, GSR, Reader, and Tutor Guide. Hiring of GSIs is done directly by the departments. A list of GSI appointments posted by departments is available at the Graduate Programs & Application Deadlines page.


Below are materials required for application to the graduate programs at the College of Environmental Design. Please note: Examination requirements vary by program, and some programs may require a portfolio of creative work or writing sample. If applying to a concurrent degree program, see Concurrent Programs for application procedures and admission prerequisites.

All application materials must be submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application by your program's deadline. Read our frequently asked questions, and contact our graduate program advisers if you have any questions.

Application Materials
  1. Graduate Division Application
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Personal History Statement
  4. Letters of Recommendation
  5. Examination(s): GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS
  6. Transcript(s)
  7. Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  8. Portfolio/Exhibit of Creative Work (If Required)
  9. Recent Publication, Report or Writing Sample (If Required)

1. Graduate Division Application

2. Statement of Purpose

  • This is your academic statement. It should include a description of why you want to study your proposed subject field, why you want to study at UC Berkeley, and how our program can help you achieve your professional goals. For additional information, see our frequently asked questions page.
  • Note to Ph.D. applicants and applicants to the academic master's degree programs: The admissions committee will read your Statement of Purpose seeking an account of your prior research experience and looking for evidence that you are prepared to undertake a significant, sophisticated, independent and in-depth research project. Your competence and intellectual potential to undertake research is among the most important criteria considered by the admissions committee.
Architecture Ph.D. and M.S. Applicants Only

Architecture Ph.D. and Master of Science applicants should structure their Statement of Purpose as follows:

  • Part 1: Goals (500 words). A statement describing your general academic and career goals, the field(s) in which you would like to study, and why you wish to attend UC Berkeley in particular (you may want to refer to specific classes, faculty, or research projects that interest you). Your ideas should be clear, specific and persuasive.
  • Part 2: Research Proposal (500 words). An example of a specific research proposal that you may wish to undertake while at UC Berkeley. You may present a single proposal, or perhaps two alternates, about your dissertation Although you are not committed to do precisely what you propose (and, if fact, it is expected that your ideas will evolve during your studies), the committee will use this proposal to assess your ability to conceptualize a research plan. Your research proposal should succinctly frame a research question, articulate why it is important, demonstrate an understanding of the relevant literature and gaps in current knowledge, and identify what types of research methods one might apply to address the problem. If possible, identify faculty in architecture and/or other departments with whom you would like to work.

3. Personal History Statement

  • The Personal History Statement should convey how a combination of life experiences, idealism, role models, education and work experiences have influenced your decision to apply. You may also include any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences, challenges or opportunities relevant to your academic journey. For tips on writing the Personal History Statement, see UC Berkeley's Personal Statement Guide.
Architecture Ph.D. and M.S. Applicants Only

Architecture Ph.D. and Master of Science applicants should structure their Personal History Statement as follows:

  • This essay (500 words, maximum) is a narrative description of your life background in terms of how it has prepared you for this next stage of your studies. It should describe relevant aspects of your life story and achievements, as well as educational and cultural opportunities or circumstances that supported or deprived you of such achievements; family background; economic circumstances; special interests and abilities; and community or social service involvement. Throughout, be selective in describing things that specifically relate to your academic goals and intellectual pursuits. In particular, please be sure to focus on details of your research experience, and how your background has prepared you for the next stage of your studies.

4. Three Letters of Recommendation

  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation must be submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application by the application deadline. Applicants may submit additional letters if desired. Only letters that are submitted online will be considered. If your recommender is having trouble with the submittal system, please contact your graduate program adviser.

5. Examination(s)

Applicants to the College of Environmental Design's graduate programs may be required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)/International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. See the table below for the examination(s) required by your program. Please plan ahead and schedule your examinations at least one month prior to the application deadline so that we may have timely receipt of your scores.

ProgramDomestic ApplicantsInternational Applicants
Master of ArchitectureRequired*Not Required*Required*
M.S. ArchitectureOptionalOptionalRequired
Ph.D. ArchitectureOptionalOptionalRequired
Master of City PlanningRequiredRequiredRequired
Ph.D. City and Regional PlanningRequiredRequiredRequired
Master of Landscape ArchitectureRequiredNot RequiredRequired
Ph.D. Landscape ArchitectureRequiredRequiredRequired
Master of Urban DesignRequiredNot RequiredRequired

*M.Arch applicants must submit scores from one type of exam. Those who must meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement should submit TOEFL scores(IELTS scores can be submitted in place of TOEFL scores), and all others should submit GRE scores.

  • Applicants taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) must have their official scores reported to the UC Berkeley Graduate Division by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Only GRE scores taken after June 2013 are valid. There is no minimum score requirement.
GRE School and Department Codes
  • GRE School Code: 4833
  • GRE Architecture Department Code: 4401
  • GRE City and Regional Planning Department Code: 4402
  • GRE Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department Code: 4405
  • GRE Urban Design Program Code: 4406
TOEFL School and Department Codes
  • TOEFL School Code: 4833
  • TOEFL Architecture Department Code: 12
  • TOEFL City and Regional Planning Department Code: 97
  • TOEFL Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department Code: 99
  • TOEFL Urban Design Department Code: 99

6. Transcript(s)

  • Submit an electronic or scanned copy of your official transcript(s) in PDF format from every post-secondary school that you have attended, including community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. Please make sure that transcript images are properly rotated, and not sideways or upside-down, and remove your Social Security number and birth date before submittal.

7. Resume or Curriculum Vitae

  • Submit an electronic copy of your resume or curriculum vitae that includes any publications, awards, or community/volunteer experiences you may have.

8. Portfolio/Exhibit of Creative Work

  • A digital portfolio is required for applicants to the following degree programs:
    • Master of Architecture
    • Master of City Planning — Urban Design Concentration
    • Master of Landscape Architecture — First and Second Professional Degrees
    • Master of Urban Design
  • The portfolio may contain up to 12 pages (8-1/2"x11"-format) of design content. Please note that beyond 12 pages, your portfolio may not be reviewed. Title page and/or table of contents may be submitted, and will not count toward the 12 pages of content. The digital portfolio should showcase recent, high-quality work, and will be judged on both content and overall design. Applicants without professional training may submit work that shows other evidence of creativity (studio art, construction/renovation, furniture design, etc.) and clearly demonstrates interest in the proposed subject field. Any material that is not entirely the applicant's own work must be clearly identified.
  • Portfolio must be saved as a single file in PDF format, and submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application. The filesize must be no larger than 10MB. If your portfolio PDF file exceeds 10MB, try compressing it in Adobe Acrobat.
  • Note to M.Arch applicants: The portfolio may be in a two-page spread format, and any dimensions may be used. Please keep in mind the review will take place on monitors of varying size.

9. Recent Publication, Report or Writing Sample

  • A recent publication, report or writing sample must be submitted by applicants to the following degree programs:
    • Master of Landscape Architecture — Environmental Planning Emphasis
    • Master of Science in Architecture
    • Ph.D. in Architecture
    • Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning
    • Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (recent publication required, whether published or pending publishing)
  • The publication, report or writing sample should support the applicant's Statement of Purpose and clearly demonstrate research and writing abilities and/or analytical skills.
  • Publication, report or writing sample must be saved as a single file in PDF format, 50 pages maximum (no minimum page requirement), and submitted via the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application. Filesize must be no larger than 10MB.