Admissions FAQs

Admissions FAQs

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Writing Sample




General FAQs

When is the final application deadline?

December 1, 2023 at 8:59 p.m. (Pacific)

Is it possible to submit a late application?

We do not accept applications after the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

When does the review of files begin?

Department staff begin reviewing files for missing documents shortly after the deadline.  Faculty reviewers begin reviewing files in early December.

On what criteria will my history application be reviewed, and by whom?

The department considers all components of an applicant file and in general no single metric will make or break a person’s chance of admission. Each history application is first reviewed by at least two history faculty members (usually in the stated field of interest). By the end of the review process, applications of those admitted will have been evaluated by at least seven faculty members.

When will an admission decision be made?

The department, via the Graduate Division, will typically contact applicants by mid-February.

If I'm admitted, by what date do I need to make a decision to accept or decline the offer?

April 15 at 2pm (Pacific).

Can I study part time or take night classes?

Please note Berkeley History does not offer night and correspondence courses or part-time study.

Do you accept applications for terminal master’s degrees in history?

No, we only accept applications for the PhD degree in history.

What is the typical acceptance rate?

Due to the high volume of qualified applications received, we are unable to accept many applicants who would be well-qualified to pursue a History PhD. We receive approximately 300 applications each year and we typically offer admission to approximately 5-10% of applicants.

Does the history department offer deferrals?

Individuals should apply for the academic year of intended enrollment as the department does not grant deferrals to those offered admission.

Do all applicants use the same application?

Yes. New applicants, re-applicants, Berkeley change-of-majors, re-admits after five years, and Education Abroad Program exchange applicants all use the same online application.

What is the application fee? Can I request a waiver?

Find fees and guidelines for applying for waivers here. Unfortunately international applicants are not eligible for application fee waivers at this time.

Must I list faculty whose research is of interest to me?

Yes. List them in order of interest. The faculty you list will be the first reviewers of your file and will be your best advocates for admission.

Do I have to introduce myself to faculty before my file is reviewed?

No, you are not required to contact faculty before the review, but you are welcome to do so. Please note not all faculty are able to respond to inquiries from prospective students. 

What is the minimum academic degree required to apply to the Berkeley History Department?

We require a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) to apply to our program. In the recent admissions cycles, approximately 50% of all admits had earned an advanced degree in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

Transcript FAQs

When should I mail Berkeley my actual official transcripts?

If you are admitted and decide to matriculate, we will request official copies of transcripts at that time. Please do not send physical copies to our office during the initial review stage.

What academic records and certificates are required of domestic or international students?

See Minimum Degree Requirements and Required Records (and translations) of Academic Work

What should I do if I'm in a BA or MA program and I won't have my fall grades by the application deadline?

Fall semester grades won’t arrive in time for review. Instead, please enter your courses-in-progress for fall and anticipated for spring, if known and/or applicable. Upload an unofficial transcript or copy of your student schedule to the online application.

How can I ensure that my scanned transcript is oriented properly so that the admissions committee is able to read it?

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. Alternatively, you can try an app like Genius Scan that converts documents to PDF format from your phone.

Recommendation FAQs

Can I ask for more than three recommendations?

We require three recommendations and we strongly prefer you to stay within this requirement.

What if my recommender cannot submit the letter online?

Please make sure that your recommenders check their spam folders for reference requests. If they are unable to submit the letter via the emailed request form, print a paper copy of the recommendation form, sign the waiver section, and give it to the recommender. They may then send the form and their letter directly to and we can upload it on their behalf.

Statement Essay FAQs

What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement?

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. You should 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.

What are the formatting requirements for the essays?

Please use a standard 12 point font, double space, and maintain 1" margins. Please keep your essays to 1000 words maximum with no cover page. If possible, please paginate and include your last name in the header or footer.

Writing Sample FAQs

How long should the writing sample be and what are the formatting requirements?

You are limited to ten pages, double-spaced with 1" margins using a standard 12 point font. If your sample is an excerpt from a longer paper you may add to the ten pages a one page cover abstract of the longer paper. You may cite references in the body of the ten page sample or include references at the end – whichever works best for you, as long as the sample is no more than ten pages total. Please note any additional pages will be deleted from the application prior to faculty review.

What is the purpose of the writing sample?

The purpose of the writing sample is for reviewers to get a sense of how well the candidate writes as well as the level of sophistication of their 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. 

Grade Point Average FAQs

Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

Yes. Students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA to be considered for admission. Most admitted students have GPAs much higher than this.

What is the average undergraduate GPA of those offered admission?

The class admitted to start in Fall 2023 has an average undergraduate GPA of 3.78.

How do I calculate my GPAs?

Use the GPA calculation sheet 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- and enter it next to A- and so on down the scale.  (Be sure to count the number of credits, not the 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 GPAs will automatically appear at the bottom of the worksheet. Remember to save the worksheet as a PDF and upload it to your application file.

Must I calculate GPAs if I went to school abroad or if we had a grading system that doesn’t use a 4.0 scale?

Calculate GPAs if your school uses an A through F (4.0) grading scale.  If your school uses written evaluations or a very different grading system please do not use the GPA calculator. Instead, enter “0” in the applicable section of the application. Please upload the GPA worksheet, noting where applicable that you have a non-calculable GPA. Also, please ensure that the explanation of the grading scale that appears with your transcript is legible.

If I finished my bachelor's degree in only three years how do I calculate the GPA for "excluding the first two years”?

Please calculate your GPA excluding your first year and a half of studies. 

Exam FAQs

Should I take the GRE or an English Language Exam?

The Department of History no longer requires the GRE exam and does not accept submitted 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. We accept both TOEFL and IELTS scores. Please review the Evidence of English Language Proficiency for exemption requirements.

How old can my exam scores be?

For Fall 2024, tests taken before June 1, 2022 will not be accepted even if your score was reported to UC Berkeley. We consider only the most recent score.

Do you have a minimum TOEFL score requirement?  What is the institution code for UC Berkeley?

TOEFL test takers must obtain a minimum score of 570 for the paper test, 233 for the Computer Based Test (CBT) or 90 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). The institution code for UC Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations.

Do you have a minimum IELTS score requirement? What is the institution code for UC Berkeley?

Your most recent overall Band score must be at least 7 on a 9-point scale. No institution code is required.

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 TOEFL.

Fellowship FAQs

How do I apply for University or departmental fellowships?

There is no separate application for University fellowships; applicants should make sure that they complete the  appropriate domestic or international fellowship section of the online application. All admits are offered a standard departmental fellowship. The department will nominate students for University awards based on the answers provided in the fellowship section of the application, as well as a student’s research interests, academic record, and background.

What is a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS)?

FLAS fellowships provide funding to encourage study of critical and less commonly taught modern foreign languages. FLAS is open only to US citizens or permanent residents (holders of a green card).  Find out more information including the list of world area centers and eligibility requirements here.

How do I apply for a FLAS?

In the online application for graduate admission, indicate that you are applying for a FLAS in the “Languages” section of the application. You will be prompted to upload an essay explaining the need to acquire a high level of competency in your target language for your field and for your career (please limit to two pages). 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 (third year of college-level study and beyond). In some cases, training at the intermediate level and by exception beginner level may be considered.