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 5–8 Ph.D. students each year from more than 100 applications. Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty.

Applicants are judged on a number of factors. Good scores and a high GPA are necessary, but not sufficient. The deciding 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

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

The Statement of Purpose should succinctly explain your reasons for applying to the I School, briefly review your relevant academic preparation and work experience, and describe your future academic or professional goals once the degree is acquired. The focus should be on your preparation, experience, and aims rather than a discussion of the trends or the importance of information in general. The most successful statements are 1–2 pages in length and focus on the strengths and experiences of the applicant, providing the reviewers with evidence and justification for admitting those applicants who are qualified and well-suited for the I School.

Ph.D. applicants should make clear their research interests and agenda. Applicants should also identify the I School faculty member with whom they are interested in working.

The Personal History should include any relevant information not already included in the Statement of Purpose. Additional suggestions may be found in the Graduate Division's Personal Statement Guide. There is no minimum length for the Personal History.

The 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.

We encourage your recommenders to submit their letters online; please follow the instructions in the online application. If this is not possible, recommenders should mail their hard-copy letters along with the letter of recommendation cover sheet directly to the School of Information, at:

School of Information Admissions
University of California, Berkeley
102 South Hall # 4600
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600

If your letters of recommendation are being submitted online, please do not send duplicate hard copies of the letters.

(3) Application Fee

(submitted with the online application)

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

(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.

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. Please note that it may take 10-15 days for official score reports to transfer to our system. 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.

For the TOEFL exam, the school code for UC Berkeley is 4833, and the department code for the I School is 99. For the IELTS exam, please request your official physical score reports to be sent to the School of Information:

School of Information Admissions
University of California, Berkeley
102 South Hall # 4600
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600

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

All application materials must be received by the application deadline, including transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation.

If you have any questions, please email

Test Codes

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



60 months

after October 2015



18 months

after June 2019



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.

Last updated:

July 28, 2020