Thank you for your interest in Berkeley History
Welcome Prospective Students
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The online application for Fall 2024 admission is now open. Applications will be accepted through the final deadline of December 1, 2023.
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. Our program is highly selective, as we only admit students we can afford to provide with a full fellowship. Review criteria and admissions data may be found on our Admissions FAQ page.
Both domestic and international applicants are advised to carefully review the Graduate Division's minimum degree requirements and required records of academic work. The department strongly encourages applicants of diverse backgrounds to apply; for information on support for these applicants and students, please see the Office for Graduate Diversity and our department's Pipeline Program for prospective students.
We admit new students into the History program in a particular field and not into the direct sponsorship of individual faculty. Nevertheless, we ask applicants to indicate (in the pertinent section of the application) the faculty with whom they anticipate collaborating. Students will typically begin to identify their dissertation advisor after their first year (though in small fields it may be fairly obvious from the start who will be the dissertation advisor). When considering the faculty with whom prospective applicants might collaborate, we also suggest that they survey our clusters of research expertise to gain a sense of themes and topics they might like to pursue further. These clusters of research expertise include but are not limited to African and African American history, the American West, the Atlantic world, borderlands, cities and city-states, colonialism, cultural history, economic history, histories of empire, gender, immigration, intellectual history, international history, histories of knowledge, law, medicine, the Mediterranean world, politics and public policy, religion, the sea in human history, slavery, and war and society
The typical applicant to our program has:
A background in history roughly equivalent to the department's undergraduate program. 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, a number of others come to us with an area or period studies major. Our History of Science students often majored or minored in a science.
A strong academic record. The minimum undergraduate GPA for admission is 3.0 but successful applicants typically have GPAs much higher than that.
Language preparation sufficient to ensure that the admitted 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 the field).
Sufficient focus within the field of history to enable one to select a "first field" from among the department’s fifteen established fields of history: Africa; Ancient Greece and Rome; Byzantine; Early Modern Europe; East Asia: China; East Asia: Japan; Jewish; Late Modern Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; Medieval Europe; Middle East; North America; Science; South Asia; and Southeast Asia. Applicants must indicate their first field under “Primary Research Interest/Study Emphasis” on the Program Information page of the application. Applicants who are unsure which field to select should confer with the faculty with whom they anticipate collaborating. Applicants are asked to list a likely second field under “Secondary Research Interest/Study Emphasis” and to include a 2 to 5 word general description of their research interests (for example, “German intellectual;” “Colonial US;” “Social, cultural, family” etcetera) in the “Research Focus” blank on the History Program page of the application.
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.
Applications are accepted online beginning in mid-September. Applications are read by faculty in the applicant’s selected first field during the first round of application review, and then by our admission committee members. Please make sure that you check your email frequently during the application process and that your spam filters are set to receive mail from @berkeley.edu addresses.
How to Apply:
1. Start your online Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowship
2. Letters of recommendation. From within the online application, request three letters of recommendation from faculty members who can speak to your scholarly potential as a historian. On the application you will type the names, titles, and email addresses of your recommenders. When you click the "Send to Recommender" button, Berkeley will send each of them an email request for your letter to be uploaded directly to your application. Letter writers should upload their letter no later than one week beyond the application deadline. It is a good idea to personally contact your recommenders as well to let them know that they will be receiving a letter request from Berkeley Graduate Admissions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Statement of Purpose. Describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you. We do not recommend exceeding three pages. Please see our Admissions FAQ for formatting guidelines.
4. Personal Statement. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups. We do not recommend exceeding three pages. Please see our Admissions FAQ for formatting guidelines.
5. A scholarly writing sample. A topic of a historical nature is strongly preferred. No more than ten pages. Please see our Admissions FAQ page for formatting guidelines.
6. Transcripts in PDF format. Please upload a copy of your transcripts for each educational institution attended. Official transcripts will be required only if admitted. If you are applying with a bachelor’s degree in progress, please upload a copy of your student schedule showing courses in progress.
International applicants should review the additional requirements for international transcripts.
7. GPA Calculation Worksheet. Calculate up to five grade point averages depending on your 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:
Cumulative undergraduate GPA (all applicants)
Cumulative graduate GPA (courses taken in a graduate program)
History course GPA (all applicants) - the GPA of all courses taken from a history department
GPA excluding the first two years (all applicants; if you completed your bachelor’s degree in three years, exclude just the first year and a half)
GPA for only non-history majors (include only courses taken in your major discipline or department)
8. Current Resume/CV which describes your academic and/or professional history.
9. International Students: English language exam scores. International applicants who have completed a basic degree in a country/region in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. See Evidence of Language Proficiency requirements for more information on required exams.
You may log in to your application before or after you submit in order to check the status of your file. The status page will tell you:
Have you submitted your application fee payment?
Have you requested recommendations and have the letters arrived?
Have your official TOEFL scores arrived? Note that the scores may have arrived from ETS but have not yet been matched to your file.
After admission decisions are made (usually in early to mid-February), the decision will be posted on the status page and you will receive an email notification alerting you that a decision is available.