ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP
The Arcus Social Justice Corps (ASJC) Fellowship offers significant tuition support to master’s students in the College of Environmental Design (CED) who intend to focus on social justice work after graduation. The fellowship experience includes mentoring from social justice practitioners; internship opportunities; career planning support; opportunities to incubate new ideas; and community-building events.
The fellowship was established with the goal that Arcus Fellows will graduate with little or no debt, giving them the freedom to pursue careers that can make a big difference in society. The fellowship is open to students applying into any of CED’s master’s-level degree programs, including concurrent degree programs; support is offered each year for the duration of the degree program. Fellows pledge to work in the area of social justice for at least three years after earning their degrees.
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN
In the context of environmental design, social justice work is wide ranging: it can focus on housing policy, food accessibility, environmental justice, transportation planning, and more. Overall, it works to mitigate the impacts of social and racial inequities.
Arcus alums are active across a wide range of social impact fields. An alum of the MRED+D program works for Equity Community Builders managing real estate deals on behalf of nonprofit clients. An alum with a Master of City Planning degree is working to integrate DEIB frameworks into projects at Bennett Midland, a management consulting firm that works exclusively in the civic sector; he has worked with the New York City Mayor's Office for Child Care and Early Childhood Education to increase the city's support of small, home-based childcare providers.
A landscape architecture alum works for BASE Landscape Architects, where her projects include a social and racial equity plan for the City of San Francisco and a central kitchen, urban farm, and community garden for the Oakland Unified School District. An alum of the MDes program works for MacArthur Fellow Dr. Joshua Miele, a blind local inventor, on accessible, open-source projects such as making electronics kits like Arduino more accessible to blind users.
By working in nonprofits, NGOs, higher education, or government agencies, or by creating their very own forms of new radical practice, Arcus Fellows move the needle on essential social change.
The ASJC COMMUNITY
Arcus Fellows form a community within the CED community, linked by their shared commitment to social justice. While enrolled in different degree programs, Arcus fellows come together for special opportunities and events throughout the year. Talks from social justice practitioners who provide insight into what social impact work looks like in action are a highlight of the program every semester. Past speakers have included Fred Blackwell, San Francisco Foundation; Alvaro S. Sanchez and Molly Tafoya, Greenlining Institute; Candice Elder, East Oakland Collective; Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, Cafe Ohlone; Chelina Odbert, Kounkuey Design Initiative; Danielle Rivera, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at CED; and André Jones, Bay Area Mural Program.
Arcus Fellows also play a role in shifting the culture at CED by integrating social justice concepts across the college — weaving these themes into undergraduate and graduate courses, across all of CED’s disciplines, and among students who are planning more traditional career paths. We invite ASJC alums to return to CED to mentor future cohorts of students who want to pursue social impact work in the real world.
We seek to attract students with the most potential to make direct and transformational social change in the world through planning, research, and design.
The application for the 2023–2024 Arcus Fellowship is now open. The deadline to complete this application and fill out your FAFSA is Tuesday, January 16, 2024, by 5 p.m. PDT.
Arcus Fellows are a selected by a CED committee that includes faculty, staff, and alums who are practitioners in social justice fields.
- You must apply to a UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design master’s program by the fall 2023 deadline
- You must be a U.S. citizen, have permanent residence, or have DACA or refugee status
- You must fill out the FAFSA by your intended program’s deadline so that the UC Berkeley Financial Aid Office has your information on file
- You must upload a current resume to the application
Varies per student, ranging from $20,500 to $45,000 per year. Funding is provided for each year of your program.
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the primary goal of the ASJC?
The ASJC seeks to support graduate students in the College of Environmental Design who are interested in pursuing careers that make a social impact. For more information and to answer specific questions, email CEDArcusFellows@berkeley.edu
How does this program evaluate potential ASJC candidates?
We assess two primary features of each candidate’s application: financial need and the depth and clarity of the applicant’s stated commitment to social impact work and their responses to questions in the application.
How does this program calculate “financial need”?
We assess “financial need” in partnership with the UC Berkeley Financial Aid Office. When a prospective applicant submits their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), we extract the “Estimated Family Contribution” (EFC). We then subtract this EFC from the tuition and fees of the applicant’s intended master’s degree program, subtract any other financial support that the applicant is receiving from their specific graduate program, and the result is a calculation of the applicant’s “financial need.”
Who evaluates ASJC candidates?
Arcus Fellows are selected each year based on application reviews by faculty, staff, and alum practitioners in social justice fields.
What occurs with my ASJC funding if I need to drop out of my master’s program?
If a student drops out of their master’s program for any reason, the money for that semester will be the final disbursement. The funding will not, however, extend beyond any future semesters and we do not increase funding for students once they are enrolled.
What does a “pledge” to pursue social justice work mean?
Fellows are expected to make a serious pledge to devote at least three years of their career to social justice work in the public, private, and/or non-profit/non-governmental organization sectors. Making a pledge means agreeing to work at a job that pertains to social impact and reporting on the status of employment via surveys from ASJC program staff.
When does the post-graduate ASJC “pledge” to social justice work begin?
The commitment to perform at least three years of social impact work begins immediately upon graduating from UC Berkeley.
How does the ASJC program track the three year “pledge” to social justice work after graduation?
Each fall and spring, ASJC program administrators send out a survey to recently graduated fellows asking them to report on their current work and accomplishments. Arcus alums are required to fill out these employment surveys to build our network of resources, mentors, and support structures for current and future fellows.
What qualifies as a social justice career?
This fellowship is based on an open-ended definition of a career in social justice, public service, and environmental justice, that might benefit a wide range of communities. Unlike the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) administered by the federal government which has a finite definition of what qualifies as a public service career (i.e. work for an NGO, a 502(c)3 non-profit organization, or a government organization), we leave this definition up to applicants. We ask applicants to clearly define what social justice work means to them and how they hope to perform this work in their future career.
Can a fellow plan to work in the private sector and still qualify for the ASJC?
Yes. Because we ask applicants to explain their perspectives on social impact work, we are open to receiving submissions about how an applicant may want to change an organization or a company from the inside out, including within the private sector. Our requirement is that applicants clearly state how their intended future work will advance social and environmental justice, especially on behalf of and in partnership with marginalized communities.
Who is eligible to apply for the ASJC fellowship?
Arcus Fellowships are open to domestic applicants who are applying to any CED master’s program by that program’s fall 2023 deadline. You may apply to the Arcus Social Justice Corps if you are a U.S. Citizen, a student with a permanent residence, and a student with DACA or refugee status. We do not accept applications from international candidates at this time.
When and how is the fellowship aid disbursed?
Award money is distributed at the start of each semester; first, it is applied directly to cover the cost of tuition and fees. If there is additional funding left over for a fellow after tuition and fees have been paid, the remaining money is offered to the fellow as a stipend. Stipends are considered taxable income.
When is the application due for the 2023-2024 awards cycle?
The application deadline for the next cohort (who will begin their studies at UC Berkeley in the fall of 2024) is January 16, 2024, at 5 p.m. PDT.
When is the FAFSA due for the 2023-2024 awards cycle?
The FAFSA deadline for the next cohort (who will begin their studies at UC Berkeley in the fall of 2024) is in December 2023. Please check back for the exact date.
When will I be notified of ASJC decisions?
ASJC decisions are closely coordinated with each department at the College of Environmental Design. If awarded a fellowship, an applicant will be notified within a week or two of receiving an admissions decision into UC Berkeley. If the applicant is placed on the waitlist, they will be notified of their waitlist status, and will be informed of a final decision before the Student Intent to Register (SIR) date, which is May 1, 2024.
What support and programming does the ASJC offer during the school year?
The ASJC program offers various opportunities to build a community of social-minded students. It is expected that fellows attend and prioritize all programming activities during the school year. Programming includes team building activities, community engagement opportunities in partnership with local Bay Area organizations, career development trainings, lectures, and beyond.
Arcus Fellows are welcome to pursue reader positions, GSI-ships, and GSR-ships. Taking on a position will not affect the amount of aid offered from the ASJC program. It may, however, impact the way that ASJC funding gets disbursed while a fellow is in school. Please contact an ASJC program administrator and your home department Graduate Student Advisor right away if you are considering taking on a GSR/GSI or reader position. Every individual circumstance highly varies, so administrators will work with campus loan officers to navigate the best way for a funding package to be allocated and find the best solution for each fellow.
I am a current Arcus Fellow and have decided to pursue a second degree. Can I get additional funding for that degree?
Yes; Arcus Fellows are the only current CED students who are eligible to apply for a second round of funding if they are pursuing a second Master’s degree within the College of Environmental Design (this includes the MDes program run jointly with the College of Engineering). Graduate certificate programs are not eligible for additional funding.
Can I receive funding to complete a certificate program from the ASJC?
No; certificate programs do not count as second degrees and are not funded by the ASJC.
How is the ASJC funded?
The ASJC at CED is funded through a generous gift from the Arcus Foundation.