Admission to Graduate Program

Students are admitted to the University by the Graduate Division, on the recommendation of the Department. To aid the department in making its recommendation, the prospective graduate students must provide the following:

  • Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowship, available online in September at:
  • Please note that we do not admit students for a Master's degree. If applicants are admitted without one, they proceed straight to the Ph.D. degree.
  • The Geography Department does not offer admission in the Spring (January).
  • Applicants are required to list the faculty they have contacted or expect to contact concerning their application, as well as the faculty in the department whose research is of particular interest. Students should also self-report their GRE and TOEFL scores, and calculate and report their undergraduate grade point average for all coursework after the first two years.
  • Statement of purpose outlining the applicant's intellectual objectives in her or his graduate career.
  • Personal history statement. Make sure you indicate any challenges, hardships or obstacles you may have overcome. (We look at this as a sign of perseverance.) Let us know if you’ve supported yourself through school, if you’re a first generation college student, took on a leadership position, tutored or mentored underrepresented students, or took advantage of unique opportunities. You can refer to the Graduate Division Personal Statement Guide here:
  • Transcripts: Applicants will upload unofficial transcripts of all previous academic work via the Graduate Admissions Online Application. Official transcripts will be required once admitted by the Graduate Division.
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. Department Code: 2203, Institution Code: 4833.
  • Scores from an official TOEFL report (required of international applicants from countries whose official language is not English). If you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a U. S. university, you do not need to take a standardized test. Instead you must submit an official transcript from the U. S. university that you attended. Please see the Graduate Division website for additional ways to demonstrate English proficiency.
  • Three letters of academic appraisal, preferably from former instructors. Recommenders will submit these letters electronically via the graduate admissions website
  • A writing sample is not required.


Applicants will upload unofficial transcripts of all previous academic work via the Graduate Admissions Online Application. Official transcripts will be required once admitted by the Graduate Division.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is required of all applicants. Current scores are preferred and reports older than 5 years old will not be accepted. For Fall 2015 applications, it is recommended that the GRE exam be taken before the end of October 2014. Test reporting can take 6 to 8 weeks processing and mailing. Later results may not be received in time to be included in the admission review process.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to take the TOEFL, and have the results sent directly to the Graduate Admission Office. This requirements applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, Israel, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countires in Africa. The TOEFL should be taken early enough for scores to arrive at Berkeley by mid-December. You must achieve a minimum score of 570 on the paper-and-pencil test or 230 on the computer-based test or at least 68 on the Internet-based test (iBT). Scores older than two years will not be accepted.


Applications for admission are accepted for the Fall Semester only. The deadline for Fall Semester applications is December 1, 2014, for admissions only and admission/fellowship applicants. The number of new graduate students that can be accepted in any given year is limited and early applications are advised.

Successful applicants will be contacted by the Department in late February, but must await official notification of acceptance by the Graduate Division (around March 1). Offers of acceptance should be answered by April 15th. The Department does not maintain a waiting list or make subsequent offers beyond the Department's annual quota.

Graduate Division

For information about graduate student housing, financial information, employment, and fellowships, visit the University's Graduate Division web site.

Graduate Diversity

For information about graduate diversity, visit the Social Sciences Graduate Diversity page.

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