Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

How do I apply to your graduate program?

The College of Environmental Design's application cycle opens in early September, for fall-semester admission the following year. You must submit the UC Berkeley Graduate Application and all supplemental materials required by your program, as described under Required Application Materials, by your program's application deadline. The majority of your supplemental application materials is submitted electronically via the online application. 

What is the application deadline?

See Programs + Deadlines for your program's application deadline.

Do I need a degree in a specific field to apply?

While you do not need an undergraduate degree in a specific field to apply to our professional master's degree programs, you must have earned your bachelor's degree at an accredited university.

For the Ph.D. programs, it is strongly preferred that applicants have a master's degree in a related field.

Can I apply for spring admission?

No, the graduate programs at CED offer fall admission only.

What should I include in my Statement of Purpose?

At a minimum, the Statement of Purpose should indicate, with clarity and focus, your purpose for entering the graduate program, your proposed emphasis of study, and any special interest(s) in the field. It should highlight your intellectual and practical background for graduate school, and your perspective on how the college's resources and those of the UC Berkeley campus would enable you to find an intellectual home here. You should give us a sense of who you are and why you feel that a Berkeley degree will help you reach your goals. Also, what you have done, written, experienced or learned that makes you an interesting candidate.

I am a Ph.D. applicant. What additional information do I need to include in my Statement of Purpose?

The Ph.D. is a research-oriented degree, and the dissertation — an in-depth research study — is the centerpiece of doctoral study. The Ph.D. admissions committee will therefore read your Statement of Purpose seeking an account of your proposed research topic and prior research experience, and looking for evidence that you are prepared to undertake a significant, sophisticated, independent and in-depth project related to it. You should remember that your competence and intellectual potential to undertake dissertation research is among the most important criteria considered by the doctoral admissions committee.

What should I include in my 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, as well as how any teaching, research, and professional or public service contributions you have made have promoted diversity and equal opportunity.

For tips on writing a PHS, please see the Personal Statement Guide on the UC Berkeley Graduate Division website.

Do you allow hard-copy letters of recommendation?

We only accept letters of recommendation that are submitted electronically via the online application.The recommender should provide their personal impression of your intellectual ability, aptitude in research or professional skills, character, and the quality of previous work and potential for future productive scholarship. Please have at least one letter of recommendation come from someone in academia.

Do you accept letters of recommendation from university letter services? Are recommenders required to use the forms in the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application?

We will accept letters sent from a university letter service.

I am currently enrolled in another graduate program. Does the College of Environmental Design accept transfer students, or are my earned units transferable?

The College of Environmental Design does NOT accept transfer students at the graduate level, and applicants are reviewed based upon their prior degree(s) obtained. While the college has no formal process for transferring coursework, admitted students may request to waive certain required courses if previously completed coursework fulfills those requirements. It is important to note that the waiver process does NOT decrease the number of units required to complete the degree program.

I already have a master's degree from another institution. Can I apply to this same degree program at UC Berkeley?

We do NOT accept applicants who have completed the same degree program at another institution, whether in the U.S. or abroad, unless they can show that the curriculum of the completed program DIFFERS SUBSTANTIALLY from UC Berkeley's. If this is the case in your situation, contact your graduate program adviser to discuss the issue further.

Can I apply to more than one program at a time?

UC Berkeley graduate admissions policy allows an applicant to apply for only one single-degree program or concurrent-degree program during a given admission cycle.

Is there a different application for international students?

No, every applicant, regardless of citizenship, is required to submit the UC Berkeley Graduate Application and supplemental admissions materials. The same deadlines apply for both domestic and international students.

I will not graduate from my undergraduate institution until the end of this spring. Am I still eligible to apply for the upcoming fall?

Yes, applicants may apply for admission as long as completion of the undergraduate degree occurs prior to the beginning of the fall program at UC Berkeley. If you are admitted, a final transcript showing the conferred degree must be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office by mail (in sealed envelopes) to: 318 Sproul Hall #5900 Berkeley, CA 94720-5900 or sent directly from the college/university by email.

If I have applied to a graduate program in the College of Environmental Design before and want to apply to that same program again, do I need to submit a new application?

If you are reapplying to a graduate program, you must submit a new UC Berkeley Graduate Application and pay the nonrefundable application fee. If you would like to reuse some portion of your previous application, please email your the department Graduate Advisor, providing your name, year of previous application, and list of application items you would like reused. If you are reusing transcripts and letters of recommendation, please include the names of the institutions and recommenders. The College of Environmental Design keeps past applications for three years.

Can I apply for coursework only?

No, admission to the College of Environmental Design is for a degree program only. However, UC Berkeley Extension offers a concurrent enrollment program that allows individuals to take classes (space permitting) in degree-offering departments. Full class participation is allowed, and grading is based on the same standards as those for students in the UC Berkeley degree programs.

Are interviews required?

No, we do not conduct interviews as part of the graduate admissions process. However, if you are interested in visiting the college or speaking with a graduate adviser, please contact us IN ADVANCE of your visit. Visitors in general are always welcome on the UC Berkeley campus, and regularly scheduled campus tours are available through campus Visitor Services.

Examination Questions

Who is required to take the GRE? What are the codes?

If your degree program requires that you take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (see Required Application Materials — Examinations), you must have your official score reported to the UC Berkeley Graduate Division by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). There is no GRE minimum score requirement. Note: Register for the GRE early, and choose a date that will allow your score report to arrive on time for admissions review.

  • GRE Institution Code for UC Berkeley: 4833 
  • You do not need to list a department code.
I've taken the LSAT/GMAT/MCAT. May I submit these scores instead of taking the GRE?

No. Examination substitutions are not permitted for programs that require the GRE.

Do you require the TOEFL or the IELTS for international students? What are the codes?

All applicants from countries/regions in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English Language Proficiency by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. Minimum required scores for TOEFL are 90 for the internet-based test (iBT) or 570 for the paper-based test. Minimum required IELTS score is a 7 on a 9-point scale. Note: Register for the TOEFL/IELTS early, and choose a date that will allow your score report to arrive on time for admissions review.

  • TOEFL Institution Code for UC Berkeley: 4833 
  • You do not need to list a department code.

International applicants who have baccalaureate degrees from educational institutions at which instruction was in English must take the GRE rather than the TOEFL. Contact the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions Office with any questions.

Is there a minimum required grade-point average?

The University requires a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0, B, or equivalent. You may use our GPA calculator to determine your GPA. For students who attended a U.S. institution, GPA calculations are based on coursework taken after the first two years of undergraduate study. 

For those applicants whose undergraduate university or college does NOT use a 4-point scale, the calculation of an advanced GPA is NOT required. If this applies to you, please enter “N/A” in GPA section of the application. 

How much weight do you give to the GRE scores and undergraduate GPA?

Your GRE scores and undergraduate GPA constitute only a part of your application. These measures alone do not give the admissions committee a clear picture of you as an applicant. We evaluate applicants holistically when making admissions decisions, weighing the undergraduate record, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

General Questions

How do I confirm submittal of my application?

Once you have submitted your application, you may confirm the status of any application components (test scores, letters of recommendation) by logging back into the UC Berkeley Graduate Application and viewing the application checklist.. Please plan ahead and schedule any needed examinations (GRE, TOEFL) at least one month prior to your application deadline so that we may have timely receipt of your scores.

Note: Due to the quantity of applications the College of Environmental Design receives, it is difficult for our graduate advisers to answer individual inquiries regarding application status. In the event we need to contact you, please ensure that emails from your program Graduate Advisors are not processed as SPAM. Please add our department email addresses to your contacts list.

When will I receive notification of acceptance?

Unofficial notifications of acceptance are emailed to applicants by mid-March, and applicants who have been recommended for admission are notified by the UC Berkeley Graduate Division soon thereafter. Only the written notice of the Dean of the Graduate Division of UC Berkeley constitutes approval of admission. Correspondence with faculty or staff of the College of Environmental Design, no matter what the content, will not commit the University to an approval of admission.

How do you decide who to admit?

The Required Application Materials form the foundation for a comprehensive admissions review by our faculty. Applications are reviewed thoroughly. Along with your letters of recommendation, great emphasis is placed on your Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement. Luckily, these are the two things that you can really work on! We also take into account an applicant's work or volunteer experience. It's not required, but can play a positive role in the application review.

When do I need to notify the Department about whether or not I will be attending UC Berkeley? 

The national deadline to inform all graduate schools of your decision is April 15th.

If I am accepted, can I defer my admission?

No, the graduate programs do not have a deferral option.

What are the California residency requirements?

The University of California resident classification policy for tuition purposes can be found on the Office of the Registrar's Establishing Legal Residence webpage.

How do I apply for departmental fellowships?

There is no separate application for departmental merit-based fellowships. In addition to completion of the appropriate fellowships section of the UC Berkeley Graduate Division online application, submission of the required application components will automatically qualify you for fellowship eligibility. If awarded a departmental fellowship, you will be notified in your departmental admission offer.

What type of financial aid is available to continuing students?

Continuing graduate students can apply for merit- and need-based fellowships, as well as for Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions. We do our best to allocate fellowship funds equitably, with both student need and merit in mind. Some fellowships are by faculty nomination only. GSI and GSR positions are announced each semester, and incoming students are eligible to apply for these positions as well.

Ph.D. funding is made on a case-by-case basis and involves multi-year funding packages, which may include a combination of teaching appointments and research and departmental fellowships.

It is beneficial for applicants to seek financial support that is independent of University sources. If you are an international student, look for fellowships from your home country or through international agencies.

NOTE: In order to receive fellowship support through the University, applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must apply for need-based financial aid, which requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), .

Why Berkeley?

First, we have the smartest and most interesting and dedicated graduate students of any university in the country. You will make friends for life here. Second, we have the most diverse programs in the country, with the widest set of course choices. Third, our faculty teach and conduct cutting-edge research in many different areas. The product of this year's research is in next year's classes. We have opportunities for graduate students to work on research projects. This includes work in Bay Area communities as well. Fourth, Berkeley is the greatest public graduate university in the world, with more interesting courses, students, faculty and research projects than anywhere else. Fifth, best food and coffee, period. The San Francisco Bay Area is the nation’s capital of gourmet food and freshly roasted coffee, and Berkeley offers everything from the best cafes and ethnic eateries to world-renowned restaurants. If you can’t find it here, it does not exist. Sixth, we have the best and friendliest staff in our departments. You will never go hungry at Berkeley — for food, friends or knowledge.