FAQ for Admissions

Many of your application questions can be answered here. Please note that no M.A. program is available and admissions materials should not be mailed to our office.

GRE and TOEFL Requirements:

Is GRE exam required for Fall 2025? 
For Fall 2025 admissions, the GRE exam will be optional. 

How old is too old for the TOEFL scores?
The TOEFL needs to be taken within 2 years of the time you would be starting your program at UC Berkeley. For Fall 2024 admissions, TOEFL test scores are valid as far back as June 1, 2023. 

What is the institution code for the GRE and TOEFL exams?
The institution code is 4833. Departmental code is no longer required.

What are the minimum TOEFL scores?
It depends on the form of the test:

  • Paper test = 570
  • Computer test = 230
  • iBT (internet) test = 90

Competitive scores are above 100. 

Do I need to take the TOEFL? 
If you are from a country where English is not the official language you must complete at least one year full-time with at least a B average in a U.S. university to be exempt from taking the TOEFL.

Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) requirement:

What is the minimum GPA?
The minimum required is 3.0. However, our average GPA for admitted students is 3.80. 60% of admitted applicants have a GPA between 3.67 and 3.97.

Which GPA should I compute?
All courses after the first two years (or junior standing) that is, the second half of your undergraduate education. If you attended a university outside of the U.S., the GPA calculation is not necessary.

Statement of Purpose, Personal History Statement, and Writing Sample Requirements: 

How long should my paper be?
There is no minimum or maximum length. The average length is 15-20 pages.

Can I use a co-authored paper?
Yes, you may submit a co-authored paper, but we prefer a single-authored paper because then we know that you have written it all.

How long should my Statement of Purpose and/or my Personal History Statement be?
Two or three pages is a good general guideline, though there is no set limit.

What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement?
The descriptions are listed as follows:

Statement of Purpose:
Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.

Personal History Statement: 
In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

Application Materials

Can I send supplementary materials before I complete the online application?
GRE scores can be sent before you complete your application.

How many sets of transcripts do I need and where do they go?
Applicants will upload official transcripts or academic records (the name of the school must appear on the transcript) for the initial review of their application. For those that accept the offer of admission, they will be required to provide official transcripts or academic records to the department. These records must be issued directly by the institution, bearing the original stamp or raised embossed seal of the issuing institution, and the signature, stamped or signed, of the appropriate authorizing official; this will usually be the Registrar at U.S. colleges or universities. 

Can I have more than three letters?
If you have more than 3 letters, there is no guarantee that more than 3 will be read. More is not better. Three letters of recommendation from faculty are preferred.


Is there a Sociology MA program available? 
No, M.A. program is not available.

When are decisions made?
Admission decisions are usually made by the middle of February or the beginning of March.

How many students apply? How many are admitted? How many come?
For the last 2 years, we received approximately 375 applications, admitted 24, and 12-15 accepted the offer.

Are all students funded?
In the last number of years most all the entering students have received 6-year funding packages that consist of a mix of fellowship, teaching or research assistantships, or readerships. Our students are also very competitive for multi-year fellowships like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and many of them are able to fund part of their studies through outside sources such as the NSF and many others. The department has also developed an in-house database for our current graduate students where they can research over 300 different funding/fellowship opportunities specifically appropriate for sociology graduate students in various stages of doctoral study.

Does Sociology accept applications for both fall and spring?
No, we only admit students for the fall semester.

Can I contact faculty directly about my interest in working with them?
Sure. Please keep in mind that faculty are often very busy and do not always respond to email inquiries from prospective students. 

NOTE:  Students do not enter the program under a research advisor. Rather, students work independently with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and the Graduate Student Advisor to select an appropriate faculty advisor after the first year of study.

If I am applying to the program with a Sociology MA from another school, how will I know what will count from my past work?
Your past coursework would be evaluated in your first semester here at UC Berkeley. We are not able to consider your coursework until you arrive, as it is done on a case-by-case basis by the faculty advisor. Students who come in with an MA typically take 3 semesters of coursework here at Berkeley prior to taking their qualifying exams.

I will be graduating this year/semester so my transcript is not complete, can I still apply?
Yes, you can still apply. Send us a current copy of your current transcript and then a final official copy once your grades (and/or degree) are posted.

Are there any prerequisites? Do I need to have majored in Sociology? 
No. Students come from a variety of academic backgrounds.