How to Apply

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 Admissions Online Application for Admission and Fellowship is 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. You can refer to the Graduate Division Statement of Purpose Guide here:
  • 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 and are due on December 1st.
  • A writing sample is OPTIONAL and is not required.
  • A C.V. is OPTIONAL and is not required.

Helpful TIPS:


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.


There is no required length for either the Personal Statement Essay nor the Statement of Purpose. The online system will allow for a quite large pdf to be uploaded. But, keep in mind that quantity (i.e. length of essay) does not trump quality. Please refer to the Graduate Division Personal Statement Guide ( ) and Statement of Purpose Guide ( for more helpful tips.

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 2018 applications, it is recommended that the GRE exam be taken before the end of October 2017. 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 countries in Africa. The TOEFL should be taken early enough for scores to arrive at Berkeley by mid-December.

TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service. You can obtain detailed information from the TOEFL website, or contact TOEFL Services, Educational Testing Service, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, (609) 771-7100. Copies of the TOEFL Bulletin are also available at U.S. educational commissions and foundations, binational centers, and private organizations such as the Institute of International Education (IIE).

We will only accept TOEFL tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and sent to us directly by the TOEFL office. For Fall 2018, tests taken before June 1, 2016 will not be accepted even if your score was reported to Berkeley. The institution code for Berkeley is 4833.

For purposes of admission, your most recent score must be at least 90 for the Internet-based test (IBT), and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT).

The IBT emphasizes integrated skills so its format and scoring are different from the PBT version of the TOEFL. Please plan to take the TOEFL as soon as possible, regardless of the test’s format, to avoid delays in the review of your application.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

As an exception, you can submit scores from the Academic Modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP:IELTS Australia, and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

You are responsible for providing us with an official Test Report Form (TRF) of your IELTS. Remember to order the TRF when you register to take the test.

For Fall 2018, tests taken before June 1, 2016 will not be accepted. Your most recent overall Band score must be at least 7 on a 9-point scale.

To register for the IELTS, consult the IELTS website to locate the office of the test center where you plan to take the test.


Applications for admission are accepted for the Fall Semester only. The deadline for Fall Semester applications is December 1, 2017 at 8:59pm (PST), for admissions only and admission/fellowship applicants. The number of new graduate students that can be accepted in any given year is limited. We advise that prospective students start their application process early in order to ensure timely submission of necessary materials. All supplemental application materials (including letters of recommendation, exam scores…) are due on December 1, 2017 at 8:59pm (PST).

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.

Graduate Division

For information about graduate student housing, financial information, employment, and fellowships, visit the University’s Graduate Division website.

Graduate Diversity

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