Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

Programs / Graduate


  1. Application Materials and Deadline

  2. Criteria for Admission

  3. Program Requirements

  4. Financial Aid and Tuition

  5. STEP by Step

  6. Questions?

Application Materials and Deadline

The University no longer utilizes a paper-based application system. Follow the link below for accessing the Graduate Division’s web site and online application for admissions:

The deadline to submit ALL application materials for Fall 2018 is Friday, December 1, 2017; we accept applications for the Fall Semester only. In addition to the university-wide application (there is no departmental application), the department requires a 20-page writing sample, original transcripts for all academic work completed, and a minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation from faculty members. We do not require the GRE examination for consideration for admissions. All applicants will automatically be considered for fellowship nomination.

Applications may be accessed on-line beginning September 1st. Please visit the Graduate Division website.

International students, please see the Student Information page for more details.

Criteria for Admission

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. Academic Achievements:
    These include but are not limited to undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) GPA, instructors' written evaluations on performance in coursework, academic honors received, publications, etc. GRE scores are not required. The typical minimum GPA is 3.0. If your GPA falls below 3.0, please provide an explanation in your statement of purpose.                                                                                                                     

  2. Statement of Purpose:                                                                                                                                          The statement of purpose should give a clear description of the applicant's academic preparation and intellectual development, research interests, motivation for and commitment to graduate study in this program, professional goals, and other matters that would help the Admissions Committee evaluate his/her aptitude for advanced academic work and research. Preference is given to applicants who express clear plans and an understanding of the field of Ethnic Studies. Applicants whose undergraduate majors may not be directly relevant to Ethnic Studies should give an account of their decision to pursue the field. This statement should be no longer than two pages.  

  3. Personal Statement:                                                                                                                                              The personal statement should reveal aspects of the applicant's individual self and experiences that motivates  their academic potential, and attests to their ability to thrive as a scholar and member of the UC Berkeley community. This statement should be no longer than two pages.  For more information, visit                                                                                     .                                                           
  4. Writing Sample:                                                                                                                                                         The writing sample should be an expository piece about 20 pages in length that can showcase the applicant's ability to conduct research, sustain an intellectual analysis, and make a persuasive argument using the conventions of academic discourse. The sample can be a complete paper, such as a term paper from a course; an excerpt from a longer piece, such as a chapter from a thesis; or an essay written specifically for the purpose of application. No more than two shorter pieces may be substituted for one 20-page piece, but the latter is preferred. Non-expository work, such as creative writing, journalistic writing, co-written pieces, etc., may be submitted in addition to, but not in place of, the expository writing sample.                                                                                                  .
  5. Letters of Recommendation:                                                                                                                            Please provide three letters from people familiar with your academic performance, ideally from tenure-track professors. Letters from graduate student instructors (teaching assistants), non-academic supervisors or employers will also be considered but don't carry as much weight as those from professors. Recent letters are preferred. If you are a re-entry student without recent letters from professors, please explain your situation in your statement of purpose.                                                                                                                                                   .
  6. Match of research interest to faculty expertise and research interests:
    Applicants who are academically superior but whose research interests are a poor match with the expertise and research interests of the faculty will not necessarily be selected.

  7. Promise of extending Ethnic Studies scholarship:
    Preference is given to applicants whose proposed research promises to move Ethnic Studies scholarship in new directions.

  8. Disadvantages overcome:
    The Admissions Committee takes into consideration significant socioeconomic and educational disadvantages overcome by an applicant, with a view to enhancing graduate student diversity.

  9. Record of community service:
    The Admissions Committee takes into consideration an applicant's track record of serving various communities, such as student populations, disadvantaged groups, ethnic communities, etc., with a view to enhancing graduate student diversity.

Program Requirements

See full information on degree requirements on the Graduate Courses page or consult the Graduate Handbook.

Financial Aid and Tuition:

See information on Financial Aid page.

STEP by Step

To learn how best to prepare oneself for study at the graduate level in the humanities and the social sciences, current undergraduates may find useful STEP by Step, a planning tool developed by Josephine Moreno and Gloria Chun, the Graduate Diversity Coordinators in the Arts and Humanities and the Social Sciences.


See FAQ or contact the Ethnic Studies Admissions Office,