IMPORTANT: The GRE is optional for the FA21 admissions cycle. Not submitting GRE scores will not be counted against an applicant. Please disregard any information that states that the GRE is required for Psychology graduate admission.
The application for Fall 2021 admission opens September 15, 2020. Our application deadline is December 1, 2020, 8:59pm Pacific Standard Time.
GRE and TOEFL
For Fall 2020 admission, applicants should take the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and, if applicable, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) so that we receive the scores by our application deadline. Scores from the GRE Psychology subject test are not requested or considered in the application process. Clinical Science graduate applicants, though, are encouraged to take the Psychology subject test, because high scores from the test can help cover the APA breadth requirements if the test was taken before the start of graduate training.
Check with Educational Testing Service to be sure your scores will be submitted on time.
Which faculty are admitting students for Fall 2021?
Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience: Matthew Walker
Clinical Science: Allison Harvey, Qing Zhou, Stephen Hinshaw, Aaron Fisher
Cognition: Matthew Walker, Steven Piantadosi, Anne Collins, Mahesh Srinivasan, Alison Gopnik
Cognitive Neuroscience: Matthew Walker, Anne Collins, Fei Xu, David Whitney, Rich Ivry, Sonia Bishop, Silvia Bunge
Developmental: Mahesh Srinivasan, Alison Gopnik, Fei Xu, Silvia Bunge, Jan Engelmann, Celeste Kidd, Arianne Eason
Social-Personality: Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Dacher Keltner, Arianne Eason
Is it okay if I contact faculty regarding admission?
Applicants may contact faculty with whom they wish to do research before they apply, via e-mail. Addresses are on our website.
How can I determine which faculty member’s research matches my interests?
Can I upload materials after the application deadline?
No. Applications must be complete by the deadline. You may continue updating materials in your application up to the point of submission. Once you have submitted the application, you may no longer make changes, so be sure your application is 100% complete before submitting.
May I apply for the Spring semester?
No. Our department offers admission for the Fall semester only.
Do you offer a master’s degree program?
Our department does not offer a terminal master’s degree program. We only admit students who intend to earn the Ph.D. degree. Students admitted to our graduate program do, however, have the option of earning the M.A. degree while working toward the Ph.D. degree.
Do you offer a Psy.D. degree program?
We do not. Our Clinical Science area offers only the Ph.D. degree and is highly focused on research.
Do I need a bachelor’s degree in psychology before I may apply to the graduate program?
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is not required for admission to our graduate program, though most of our admitted students have an undergraduate degree in psychology. Whatever your major, it is important to have a strong background related to the area of psychology to which you will apply. Degrees in a biological, cognitive, or social science are often closely related to areas of psychology in our graduate program.
Do I need a master’s degree in psychology before I may apply to the graduate program?
A master’s degree in psychology is not required for admission to our graduate program; most of our admitted students do not enter with a master’s degree. Students who enter with a master’s degree in psychology start at Year One of our program, just like students with a bachelor’s degree.
What steps should I take to become a competitive candidate?
First, regarding courses, there are not any specific classes that you need to complete for admission to our program, but we strongly recommend that you take an introductory psychology course, several advanced courses in psychology, research methods and statistics. Second, the admissions committee seeks students who have laboratory or field research experience, a general knowledge of psychology (and their particular subfield), and the ability to conduct high-level research in that subfield. Third, writing a strong personal statement and having extremely good letters of recommendation are both essential. Also, it is beneficial for applicants to our Clinical Science program to have volunteer or paid clinical experience (e.g., hospital internships, suicide/crisis hotlines, educational work with children, etc.).
How many Psychology courses should applicants have completed to be considered for admission?
There is no set number of courses that are required. In general, a broad-based education in psychology is preferred in addition to introductory psychology, research methods and statistics. Advanced courses in the area to which you will apply are helpful but not required.
Where can I take psychology courses if I have already received my undergraduate degree in a different field?
The courses should be advanced courses, so taking courses at a 4-year institution is appropriate. Enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program is an option (Berkeley Psychology Postbac program). You may take courses through a continuing education program or during the summer. Online courses may not be the best option.
Do I need research experience in psychology?
Yes! It is essential to have laboratory or field research experience in psychology before you apply. Successful candidates have a minimum of one year of research experience, either as undergraduates or following a bachelor’s degree (e.g., postbac program, research assistant position); most have substantially more experience.
How may I get research experience?
If you do not have laboratory or field research experience in the area (of psychology) of interest to you, then you must attain such experience before applying. To find research opportunities, review the research interests of professors in psychology departments at universities or colleges (4-year institutions) near you and then contact the specific faculty members whose research interests you, asking if have research positions (volunteer or paid) to which you may apply. Postbac programs are another option for obtaining this research experience.
To what extent is applied experience, such as jobs and internships, taken into consideration?
Academic research experience is highly valued, particularly in the context of a psychology or neuroscience laboratory, but also in other academic settings. Other work experience is also valuable, particularly if it has helped you to 1) hone one or more of the following essential skills: critical thinking, teaching, writing, leadership and/or teamwork, and time management and 2) develop into a mature young adult with a strong work ethic.
Which schools have admitted students come from?
Students entering the program in 2019 received undergraduate degrees from the following institutions: Brown University, California State University East Bay, Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, Duke University, Emmanuel College, Emory University, Grinnell College, McGill University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pomona College, Swarthmore College, Tsinghua University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Davis, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Pennsylvania, University of Vermont, University of Washington (2).
How competitive is the program?
The admission rate to our graduate program for the 2019 entering class is 5%. 616 people applied and 29 were offered admission. Clinical Science is our most competitive area, with an admission rate of 2.25%.
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Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation? How many letters are required?
Letters of recommendation should be from individuals with whom you have worked closely in an academic, clinical, research or professional setting so they can comment positively on your accomplishments, and your potential to succeed in a graduate program. We require three letters of recommendation; a fourth is acceptable. At least two should be from professors and/or research supervisors.
What is the difference between the statement of purpose and the personal history statement? What should each include?
In your 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. Some questions to consider are:
- What sparked your interest in psychology?
- What are your academic achievements?
- What are your general and specific areas of research interest?
- Why would UC Berkeley be a good intellectual fit for you? You also should discuss why you are interested in your emphasis and the specific faculty members you selected.
The personal history statement should discuss how your personal background influences your decision to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. For example, please include information on how you have overcome barriers; 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 under represented in higher education; evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups. Some questions to consider are:
- What hardships have you overcome?
- What have been your successes?
- What obstacles came up? Show how you persevered.
- How did you become interested in psychology?
- Were you in some way different from the majority of students in your class?
- Was your family supportive in your decision to choose psychology as a career field?
- Were you influenced by your parents’ education and career?
- Were you in a single parent family?
- Was much of your time spent taking care of your siblings?
- Did you work while going to school?
- Is psychology a common career field for people of your cultural background?
I studied abroad. Do I need to submit transcripts from the host university?
In some cases, the transcript of the home university only contains credits/units from the host university. In these cases, you do need to submit the transcript from the host university. You do not need to submit the transcript from the host university in cases where the credits/units, grades, course names and course numbers appear on your home university’s transcript.