Overview of the admission process

The Department of Demography offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Demography, a Ph.D. degree in Sociology and Demography, training with no degree goal under “coursework only" status, as well as training for postdoctoral students and professionals (before completing an application please review the details of our Demography M.A./Ph.D. and Sociology and Demography Ph.D. academic programs). After reading the instructions below, further information can be found in our Admissions FAQ.


Please Note: The GRE Exam is required for the Fall 2023 admission cycle. Home GRE scores are accepted.

Page Contents

All applicants must submit the following:

  • Online application form, which includes Domestic, International and FLAS fellowship applications, and the FAFSA application for federal student aid (for US citizens and permanent residents only).

  • Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement [included in the online application].

  • Transcripts, diplomas and degree certificates: The University is no longer accepting hard copy transcripts at the time that the application is submitted. When you submit your application, please provide a complete set of official transcripts for all post-high school education (whether or not you received a degree). You will need to obtain an official transcript from your institution(s), create an electronic copy (please black out your Social Security Number) and upload it as a .PDF file. Please ensure that your electronic transcript is less than 2.5 MB in size. Official, sealed copies of your transcripts will be requested by Graduate Division only after you have been admitted; please do not send them until requested.

  • Official report of the general (not subject) portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) [electronic copy sent directly by ETS]. Home GRE scores are accepted. 

  • Three letters of recommendation (preferably from faculty familiar with the applicant's academic work and intellectual abilities). [Submitted electronically through the online application].

  • Pay the application fee. Please contact the department with questions. 

  • International students must also submit the official record of their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) [official scores sent directly by ETS].

If you are a returning UC Berkeley graduate student (i.e., a student who has graduated from a degree program beyond the BA/BS from UC Berkeley) or you are currently enrolled in another graduate program on campus you must fill out the online application.

The deadline for Fall 2023 admissions to both the Demography program and the Graduate Group in Sociology and Demography is December 15, 2022. It is the applicant's responsibility to ascertain that all the materials for application to the program and for any fellowships have been received by the department by this date and that you have submitted your application online.

If you need further information, please contact us by e-mail at applications@demog.berkeley.edu or by mail at Department of Demography, UC Berkeley, 2232 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley, CA 94720-2120.


We do not offer spring admissions, night courses or online classes. It is possible for people who live nearby to take individual Demography courses, offered at the times given in our course descriptions, by taking them as "Concurrent Enrollment" courses through the U.C. Extension program. You will receive an official Extension transcript, which can be used while applying to all graduate programs, but you cannot retroactively receive credit for these courses if you are subsequently accepted to our graduate program. You would not have to repeat the courses, however, but could use other courses to fulfill unit requirements for the degree.

Letters of Recommendation

The Department of Demography looks seriously at letters of recommendation. The admissions committee usually considers letters from faculty most desirable, since it is thought that faculty can best ascertain your intellectual and graduate student potential. You need three letters of recommendation. Try to get these letters from faculty who know you well through courses or other work. Recommenders are required to use the online recommendation system that is a part of the application process.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Please Note: The GRE Exam is required for the Fall 2022 admission cycle.

Applicants may take the GRE exam at ETS testing facility or may take the exam remotely the official ETS Home GRE program. 

All applicants to the Demography graduate programs must take the general aptitude (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical) component of the GRE test, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The admissions committee for the Department of Demography weighs all three components of the GRE tests. The UC Berkeley institution code is 4833. You do not need to specify a department code as your scores will become available to us once you apply to our department online.

It is recommended that you take the test in October-November in order to get the scores to the admissions committee on time. For more information regarding GRE or TOEFL testing, please go to the ETS website.

College GPA

The college GPA, as well as the rigor and variety of courses undertaken, is an important component of the admission process. The Graduate Division requires a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Upward trends in grades are looked upon positively by the admissions committee.


Research & Work Experience

If you have time during the academic year or summer vacation, try to gain research experience with professors or in summer research programs. This helps you in the admission process, provides you with some insight about your own research interests, and augments your skills. Professors regard applicants who have undergraduate research experience as highly motivated students.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is a crucial component of your application package. It is from this statement that the admissions committee comes to know you as an individual. 

General Instructions for the Statement of Purpose:

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. Be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.

Some things to keep in mind while writing the statement of purpose: (a) think about what is read between the lines: motivation, competence, potential, creativity; (b) write in an active, not passive, and positive voice; (c) demonstrate things by example; (d) do not make excuses, but rather talk about mistakes as learning experiences; (e) if there is an important factor, such as illness, poverty, excessive work, etc., that affected your grades, mention this in an affirmative way that shows your perseverance; (f) make sure everything is coherent and linked with continuity and focus; (g) the statement should be typed, 1000 words (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pages single-spaced). If this is different than the online application instructions, please abide by the online applications guidelines. Please see the guide to writing the Statement of Purpose.

Personal History Statement

The Demography Department does not impose length restrictions for the Personal History Statement; however, if the online application instructions impose a word limit, please abide by the online application guidelines.

General Instructions:

Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)


*The TOEFL is required for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle. 

International applicants from non-English speaking countries are required to pass the TOEFL with a minimum score of 570 on the paper-based test or at least 90 for the Internet-based test (iBT). For applicants applying for Fall 2022, tests taken before June 1, 2020 will not be accepted.

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.

General Suggestions

Although calculus is not required for admission to the Demography programs, the Department recommends that all prospective graduate students take calculus during their undergraduate studies or the summer before matriculation. Firm quantitative and verbal skills will greatly facilitate your future success in the programs.

Pay close attention to deadlines - they are crucial - and make sure your application is well organized, well prepared, and thorough. No application will be processed and considered unless it contains all required materials. Keep in mind that each component of the application package (application form, statement of purpose, GRE scores, TOEFL score, GPA, letters of recommendation) is very important and will be taken into full consideration.

You may find many of your questions answered by our new Demography-specific Admissions Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of this page.

Additional advice on the admissions process at the university level can be found at the Graduate Admissions Prospective Student Webpage.

Application Submission Instructions

Your letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically by your recommenders. Though it is important that you indicate your most recent GRE and TOEFL scores on the application form, it is also essential that you request that official scores be sent to Berkeley by ETS. If we do not have the official scores on file by early January you may miss the opportunity to be nominated for multi-year university fellowships. If you have taken one of these exams subsequent to applying, please email the Demography Department the unofficial results so we can better evaluate your file before the official scores arrive.

It is essential that you provide scanned copies of unofficial transcripts from all of the institutions that you have attended where your grades counted toward your BA or basic college level degrees, and towards any higher degrees that contribute toward your application to our program. International applicants must scan all transcripts and degree certificates, accompanied by official English translations, as detailed in the application instructions. If we do not have scanned copies of all transcripts on file by the application deadline you may miss the opportunity to be nominated for multi-year university fellowships.

We do require that you compute your grade point average on the main application. Please be sure to indicate the grading scale for courses undertaken outside of the United States. Please do not send your application fees to the department; pay them online at the time you submit your application or send them to the address indicated on the application.

Fellowship Support

All admitted students who have completed the sections for Domestic Fellowships or International Student Fellowships in the graduate application will be automatically considered for fellowship support.

Notification of Completeness and the Review Process

The department will direct all correspondence to the email address indicated on the application form. Within a few weeks after the application deadline we will notify you if your application is incomplete and list any materials that are not yet in your file. Further information regarding support packages will become available throughout the admissions process; we will inform you of developments at the earliest possible time. Most admissions decisions will not be made until mid-to-late February or possibly later.

Departmental Visits for Admitted Students


We encourage all admitted students to visit us during the spring if at all possible. Shortly after we announce admissions decisions we will be sending out invitations to a specific time when we will have activities arranged for visitors, though if your schedule does not permit a visit during that time frame we can also arrange less formal, individual visits. In addition, we will provide a listing of email addresses and phone numbers for some of our continuing students who have expressed a willingness to have potential students contact them. Students who have questions about graduate student diversity on the UC Berkeley campus should also visit the website for the Social Sciences Graduate Diversity Office.