Ph.D. Admissions

Next start date:
August 2021

Application Deadline:
December 1, 2020, 8:59 pm PST

We welcome students from a diverse set of backgrounds; some will be technically educated, some educated in the humanities and social sciences.

All application materials must be received by the deadline. We encourage you to apply early. The I School’s Ph.D. program does not accept applications for spring term admissions.

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Admission Requirements


Selection Criteria

The I School accepts 3–7 Ph.D. students each year from more than 100 applications. Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty.

Applicants are evaluated holistically on a number of factors. A strong academic record is important, but not sufficient. A critical factor is the ability to demonstrate a research record and agenda that fit well with specific I School faculty. In a small, interdisciplinary program, it is important that applicants clearly indicate in their Statement of Purpose which faculty member(s) they are interested in researching with, and why.


Application Requirements & Instructions

(1) Statement of Purpose & Personal History Essay

The Statement of Purpose and Personal History are two separate essays.

The Statement of Purpose should describe your aptitude and motivation for doctoral study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans and research interests, and your future goals. Please be sure to identify in your Statement of Purpose which faculty member(s) you are interested in researching with, and why. We expect that candidates are able to demonstrate a research record and agenda that fit well with specific I School faculty.

For additional guidance, please review the Graduate Division's Statement of Purpose Guide.

In addition to explaining how your personal experiences have influenced your decision to pursue graduate studies, your Personal History Essay may include any relevant information describing barriers to accessing higher education that you have overcome, efforts you have made to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and other groups historically underrepresented in higher education, or research that you have undertaken that focuses on underserved populations or related issues of inequality.

For additional guidance, please review the Graduate Division’s Personal Statement Guide. There is no minimum length for the Personal History Essay.

These two essays are used in part to evaluate the candidate’s writing skills. Pursuant to UC Berkeley policy, the statements must be written by the candidate her or himself. For admitted students, application materials must comply with the Code of Student Conduct.

Both essays should be uploaded as PDF documents, as part of the online application.

(2) Three Letters of Recommendation

Ph.D. applicants should provide letters which speak directly to their ability and potential to perform academic research at the doctoral level. Recommenders must submit their letters online; please follow the instructions in the online application.

(3) Application Fee

(submitted with the online application)

  • Fee for domestic applicants: $120.
  • Fee for international applicants: $140.

Application Fee Waiver: The I School is pleased to offer application fee waivers to eligible Ph.D. applicants. Prior to submitting your application, please complete our Application Fee Waiver request form, and we will contact you within two business days with further instructions.

(4) TOEFL or IELTS Scores

Applicants who received their degrees in countries other than the U.S., U.K., Australia, or English-speaking Canada are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). This includes applicants with degrees from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and most European countries. Only applicants who have completed a full year of U.S. university-level coursework with a grade of B or better are exempt from this requirement.

For students taking the TOEFL, your most recent score must be at least 90 on the Internet-based version of the TOEFL.

For students taking the IELTS, your most recent score must be at least 7.0 out of 9.0 on the IELTS Academic test.

Submitting Scores

To be valid, the TOEFL or IELTS must have been taken within the past 18 months: for applicants for Fall 2021 admission, test scores taken before June 2019 will not be accepted. Due to recent test center closures as a result of COVID-19, we will accept TOEFL IBT home edition scores. Please have your test scores sent directly to UC Berkeley by the testing authorities prior to application submission, and at the latest, by the application deadline. It may take 10-15 days for official score reports to transfer to our system. For the TOEFL exam, the school code for UC Berkeley is 4833, and the department code for the I School is 99.

Starting in Fall 2021, the UC Berkeley Graduate Division will no longer be accepting paper IELTS Test Report Forms. All IELTS scores must be sent electronically from the testing center; no institution code is required. Here is the Graduate Division’s office address for identification purposes: University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall Rm 318, MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720.

More information: TOEFL website; IELTS website

(5) Current Curriculum Vitae

Please upload a current curriculum vitae (C.V.) as a PDF document as part of the online application.

(6) College Transcripts

As part of the online application, upload copies of the official transcripts or academic records for all university-level studies you have completed abroad and at U.S. institutions. Be sure to include a current transcript from every post-secondary school that you have attended, including community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs.

Each transcript should be uploaded as a separate PDF document; please refer to the instructions on the online application.

Applicants who completed their undergraduate degree in a recognized academic institution outside the United States are required to upload a copy of their degree conferral certificate. If a degree conferral certificate has not yet been obtained, please upload a provisional certificate. Applicants who have not yet graduated from undergrad are not required to submit a provisional certificate at this time. For specific questions, please contact the School of Information at admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu.


All application materials must be received by the application deadline. Applications will be reviewed throughout December and January, and admissions decisions will be released by early February.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for additional guidance: admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu or (510) 664-4742.


Test Codes

Test Code/Dept Valid for Acceptable test dates
(for Fall 2021 admission)

GRE

4833/0404

60 months

after October 2015

TOEFL

4833/99

18 months

after June 2019

IELTS

TRF*

18 months

after June 2019

*Test Report Form must be sent directly from IELTS


Computer Ownership Requirement

We require that students own a computer. No particular configuration or operating system is required. However, students will be expected to complete assignments using office productivity software (e.g., Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, etc.), web browsers, etc., and should own a computer capable of running such software. More specific guidance will be provided upon acceptance to the program.

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Contact Us

Contact the admissions team with questions about the Ph.D. program or application.

Email: admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu

Telephone: (510) 664-4742

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Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Pacific Time

Ph.D. Applicant Feedback Program

The I School Ph.D. Applicant Feedback Program is a student-run initiative that aims to assist underrepresented students with their application essays and C.V. as they apply to the UC Berkeley School of Information Ph.D. program.

More Information

Last updated:

November 17, 2020