Online application available early September 2012
Application deadline December ONE at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time
The application should be completed by new applicants, re-applicants, Berkeley change-of-majors, Re-admits after 5 years and Education Abroad Program exchange applicants for fall 2013 entry
(If you have ever been a graduate student at Berkeley and are now applying to our program please contact the history admissions office and self-identify.)
The next opportunity to apply is for fall 2013 enrollment. We do not admit for spring term.
We welcome applications from individuals with a record of strong academic performance who intend to devote full-time study to attain the doctoral degree (PhD) in history. We do not offer night and correspondence courses or part-time study, and we do not accept applications for a terminal master's. However, students who enter without an MA in history may earn the MA en route to the PhD. Our program is selective. We receive 350-400 applications and offer admission to around 10 to 12% of applicants. Review criteria and admissions data may be found on our separate Program FAQ page.
Domestic and International applicants are advised to review carefully the Graduate Division's minimum degree requirements and required records for academic work. The Department strongly encourages applicants of diverse backgrounds to apply. For information on support please see the Social Sciences Graduate Diversity Office.
Individuals should apply for the academic year of intended enrollment, because we do not grant deferrals to those offered admission. Previous applicants must complete a new online application (including essays and uploads of other supporting documents) and pay the application fee. Late applications will not be accepted, and incomplete applications will not be considered.
We admit new students directly into the history program and not into the direct sponsorship of individual faculty. Nevertheless, we ask applicants to indicate on the application, the faculty with whom they anticipate collaborating. Typically, after a year in the program, students will start thinking about whom to ask to be their dissertation advisor.
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A background in history roughly equivalent to the Department's undergraduate program in History. We welcome applications from history and non-history majors who have attained a measure of competence with historical subject matter through their academic program. While the majority of our graduate students were history majors, others come to us with an area or period studies major or other major. Among our students in the history of science field several majored or minored in a science. Individuals must hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent at the time they enter our program. The minimum grade point average requirement is 3.0, but most applicants have much higher.
Language preparation sufficient to ensure that if admitted the student will be able to fulfill all language requirements for their first field by the time they are expected to advance to PhD candidacy (i.e., by the end of the 3rd or 4th year of the program depending on field). (See language requirements by field and the options for fulfilling language requirements.)
Sufficient focus within the field of history to enable one to select a "first field" from among the department’s 16 established fields of history: Africa * America since 1607 * Ancient Greece/Rome * Britain since 1509 * Byzantine * East Asia (China) * East Asia (Japan) * European History: Early Modern Europe * Late Modern Europe * Medieval Europe * Jewish History * Latin America * History of Science * Middle East * South Asia * Southeast Asia. Applicants must indicate their "first field" under "Emphasis 1" on the application. Applicants who are unsure which emphasis to select should confer with faculty with whom they anticipate collaborating. Applicants will type a 3 to 4 word general description of research interest in the Emphasis 3 blank, for example: "German Intellectual;" or "Colonial US," or "Social, Cultural, Family," etc.) Applications are read first by faculty in the applicant’s selected "first field."
An interest in collaborating with one or more specific Berkeley history faculty members. Applicants should list faculty of interest on their application so that the Department may anticipate future collaborations and eventual supervisory relationships. After about a year of taking classes and interacting with faculty the student will settle on whom they will ask to serve as their dissertation advisor. In small fields it may be fairly obvious from the start who will be dissertation advisor.
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Applicants and recommenders are asked to submit the application and supporting documents electronically via the Internet. Application items will be gathered into individual e-files and upon completion will be read online by our admissions committee members. This means that anything you upload to the application should be easily readable on a computer. It is important for applicants to establish a reliable email address and adjust filters to receive all messages from berkeley(dot)edu We may need to contact you with important information by email and we don't want our messages to end up in your SPAM box. Periodically check your spam box to be sure. Also make sure you haven’t reached your email limit on your server of choice. Here is how to apply:
Items 4 through 8 are the supporting documents that you will convert to individual pdf files and then upload to the online application. You will not be able to submit the application without having uploaded these materials. Faculty reviewers will view your application online, so it is important that you create legible pdfs. You may have to experiment with creating clear and readable pdf files that remain within a size limit that will allow reviewers to open the file quickly. (Our experience is that a two or three page transcript can be scanned to a pdf file well within one to three megabytes and still be quite readable.) If necessary, ask your techie friends for help scanning to pdf format.
Calculate up to five grade point averages depending on their situation, remember to transfer the numbers to the online application and save the worksheet as a pdf and upload it to the application. We ask for:
1- Cumulative undergraduate GPA (all applicants);
2- Cumulative graduate GPA (courses taken in a graduate program);
3- History Course GPA (all applicants) - the gpa of all courses taken in a history department;
4- GPA Excluding the first two years (all applicants); (if yours is a 3-year BA program exclude just the first 1 1/2 years);
5- GPA for only non-history majors. (Include only courses taken in your major discipline or department).
See GPA worksheet for more details. http://history.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/GPA%20Calculator%20Berke...
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You may return to your application before or after you submit the application in order to check the status of your file. The status page will tell you:
(1) Have you submitted your application fee payment?
(2) Have you requested recommendations and have the letters arrived?
(3) Have your official GRE or TOEFL scores arrived? Note that the scores may have arrived from ETS but have not yet been matched to your file, so don’t panic.
(4) After decisions are made (around March 1) the decision will be posted on the status page. Please be patient and wait until the decision is posted or we contact you by email.
The only items you may add or change after submitting the application are the Test Registration Number, recommender information and payment of the application fee so please double-check all application sections and items before submitting. Department staff will be unable to make any changes for you.
For all other FAQ related to our program see our separate Program FAQ page
FAQ: When is the deadline?
Answer: December ONE at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time
FAQ: When does the review of files begin?
Answer: Some reviewers start reading complete files by mid-December and during the Holidays. Most reviewers start reading the first week in January.
FAQ: When will a decision be made?
Answer: The department will contact you by email typically by mid-February and usually no later than March 1. The department is authorized only to recommend admission decisions to the Graduate Division Dean, but you will receive a final decision from the Dean's office if you are admitted shortly after you hear from the department.
FAQ: If I'm admitted when do I have to decide?
Answer: April 15 at 2 pm PST.
FAQ: Where do I find the online Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowships?
Answer: http://www.grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/index.shtml Click on the APPLY link to reach the application.
FAQ: Do all applicants use the same application?
Answer: YES! New applicants, re-applicant , Berkeley change-of-majors, Re-admits after 5 years and Education Abroad Program exchange use the same application. Everyone is considered a NEW APPLICANT except forchange-of-majors and the Re-Admits.
FAQ: What are the steps to apply to Berkeley’s History Department?
Answer: Go to the Admissions portal http://www.grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/index.shtml and click on APPLY. Set up an account with username and password. On the application you will answer all questions that pertain to you. You will request your three recommendations via the application. You will transfer GPAs to the application from the GPA calculation sheet. You will enter the Test Registration Number for your GRE or TOEFL test. And you will upload pdf files of your Statement of Purpose, Personal History Statement, a 10-page writing sample, transcripts of colleges attended, and the GPA Calculation Worksheet. You will also sit for the GRE or TOEFL (whichever applies to you) and have ETS send scores to Berkeley Institution Code 4833.
FAQ: Must I list faculty whose research is of interest to me?
Answer: YES! List them in order of interest.
FAQ: Do I have to introduce myself to faculty before my file is reviewed?
Answer: NO, you are not required to contact faculty before the review, but if you do, please list those contacted.
FAQ: What are the most serious data-entry mistakes made by applicants filling out the application?
Answer: ONE: entering your name wrong. When we say last name we mean family or surname. When we say first name we mean given name. Please enter first and last name in the correct blanks! TWO: entering your email address incorrectly. You may miss out on important messages from us if we do not have a correct email address.
FAQ: If I make a mistake on my application can the department correct my errors?
Answer. NO. Before you submit your application please carefully proofread your entries and the files you have uploaded. The Department cannot make any changes to a submitted application.
FAQ: What is the minimum academic degree required to apply to the Berkeley History Department
Answer: We require a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) to apply to our program. In the past few admissions cycles, sixty to seventy percent of applicants offered admission would have entered with just a bachelor's degree (or equivalent). Thirty to forty percent would have arrived with a master's degree.
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FAQ: When should I mail Berkeley my actual official transcripts?
Answer: If you are admitted and decide to come then we will ask you to send unopened official paper transcripts to the Graduate Division. For the review of files the faculty will use the PDFs of your transcripts to do their evaluation.
FAQ: What academic records and certificates are required of domestic or international students?
Answer: See Minimum Degree Requirements and Required Records (and translations) of Academic Work
FAQ: What should I do if I'm in a BA or MA program and I won't have my fall grades by the deadline?
Answer: Fall grades won’t arrive in time for the review. Instead enter on the application your courses-in-progress for fall (and anticipated for spring if you have it) and upload a PDF of a transcript or student report showing your course list of yet to be graded courses.
FAQ: My transcript is in landscape orientation and when I scan it comes out in portrait and appears sideways on the screen. Will the reviewers be able to rotate the transcript PDF so it is right side up on the screen or will they have to rotate their heads like an owl?
Answer: Some scanners have a feature that will automatically orient a "landscape" document so the top of the document appears at the top of the PDF instead of to the side. If your scanner cannot do this then scan the PDF so that the right edge of the transcript appears at the top. That way the reviewer only has to hit the "rotate clockwise" button one time.
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FAQ: Can I ask for more than 3 recommendations?
Answer: We require 3 recommendations and we prefer you to stay within this requirement.
FAQ: What if my recommender cannot submit the letter online?
Answer: By exception you may print a paper recommendation form, sign the waiver section and give it to the recommender. The recommender should EMAIL us the form and letter no later than one week after the deadline to firstname.lastname@example.org (preferably as a PDF attachment) with applicant name and LOR in the subject line. As last resort the letter may be mailed to the Department, or faxed to (510-643-5323) Attention: History Admissions.
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FAQ: What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement?
Answer: The Statement of Purpose is a detailed summary of your research interests and overall preparation for undertaking graduate study toward a PhD in history. Include your research interests and goals and why UC Berkeley and our department would be a good intellectual fit.
The Personal History Statement should describe how your personal background shaped your interests and decision to pursue a graduate degree. Include familial, educational, cultural, economic or social experiences that have affected your decisions to pursue a career in history. Describe your leadership skills, interests and how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity in the social sciences
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FAQ: How long should the writing sample be?
Answer: You are limited to 10 pages using double or 1 1/2 line spacing. If your sample is an excerpt from a longer paper you may add to the 10 pages a one-page cover abstract of the longer paper and one page of references.
FAQ: What is the purpose of the writing sample?
Answer: The purpose of the writing sample is for reviewers to get a sense of how well the candidate writes and the level of sophistication of his/her historical analysis. The purpose is not to determine whether the candidate can "do" research per se, but to demonstrate one's capacity for historical thinking.
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FAQ: How do I calculate the GPAs?
Answer: Use the GPA Calculator -GPA Calculator Berkeley 8-16-2011.xls provided. Count up the credit units you earned for which you got an A and enter it next to "A". Then count the credits you earned for which you got an A minus and enter it next to A minus, and on down the scale. (Count number of credits, not number of courses, unless ALL courses at your school are worth the exact same number of credits.) The calculator will add up the grade points for each grade and the Grade Point Averages will automatically appear at the bottom of the worksheet, so you don’t have to do the math! Remember to save the worksheet and scan it to a PDF.
FAQ: Must I calculate GPAs if I went to school abroad or if we had a different grading system?
Answer: Calculate GPAs if your school uses an A through F (Fail) grading scale. (e.g., Taiwan's system is similar to ours). If your school uses written evaluations or a very different grading system you don’t have to calculate GPAs, but you should remember to include an explanation of the grading scale with your uploaded transcript. And you might enter for example "Rated 17 on a scale of 20" on the blank line provided on the worksheet.
FAQ: If I finished my bachelor's degree in only three years how do I calculate the GPA for "Excluding the first two years?"
Answer: Calculate the GPA for the last one and one-half years of your grades.
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FAQ: Should I take the GRE or the TOEFL Exam? How old can the scores be? What is the minimum score required?
The GRE site is http://www.gre.org. Take the GRE scores if your bachelor's or master's degree is from an accredited university in a country in which the official language is English, (or if you are foreign and have taken at least one year of full-time academic course work (not ESL) with grades B or better in residence at such an institution). GRE scores must be from tests taken no more than five years prior to our deadline. We do not set minimum GRE scores.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language or TOEFL site is: http://www.toefl.org. Take the TOEFL if you have not completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades B or better in residence at an accredited university in a country in which the official language is English TOEFL scores must be from tests taken no more than 18 months prior to the deadline, and we consider only the most recent score. TOEFL test takers must obtain a minimum score of 570 for the paper test, 233 for the Computer Based Test (CBT) or 68 on the Internet based test (IBT) with minimum sub-scores of 18 writing, 17 speaking, 16 listening, and 17 reading. (A score of at least 26 in speaking satisfies the language proficiency requirement for student teaching positions.)
FAQ: Should I wait to take the new GRE (coming out in August 2011) or should I take the "old" GRE?
Answer: Either is acceptable.
FAQ: How will my scores be matched to my file?
ETS will send us your scores and Test Registration Number. You will enter your Test Registration Number on your application (before or after submitting the application) and your scores will be matched to your file using that number. Also, it helps if you set up your Berkeley application account using the same name you use when you register for the GRE or TOEFL.
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FAQ: How do I apply for University or departmental fellowships?
Answer: You simply fill out the appropriate section for domestic or international fellowships applicants on the online Graduate Application.
FAQ: What is a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS)?
Answer: FLAS fellowships provide funding to encourage study of critical and less commonly taught modern foreign languages. At Berkeley funding is provided in the following world areas: Africa, East Asia, Eastern Europe/Russia/Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. FLAS is open only to US citizens or permanent residents (holders of a green card). See page two of the Graduate Division's FLAS announcement for a list of languages and priorities.
FAQ: How do I apply for a FLAS?
Answer: In the application, indicate you are applying for a FLAS and upload an essay explaining the need to acquire a high level of competency in your target language for your field and for your career. Applicants must show potential for high achievement and plan to enroll in a language and an area studies course during the course of the award. For most language areas, priority for a FLAS is given to applicants seeking advanced language training (3rd years +). In some cases, training at the intermediate level and by exception beginner level may be considered. Applicant must file a FAFSA by the March deadline.
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For questions unrelated to Application Instructions see Program FAQ page
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Last Updated: October 26, 2012