Department of Demography

Admissions: Frequently Asked Questions

General Admissions Questions

Q: When is the application deadline for fall 2017 admissions?
A: December 15, 2016.

Q: What is the code ETS code for UC Berkeley and Demography?
A: The UC Berkeley institution code is 4833 and the Demography department code is 2101. It is not necessary to include the department code if your scores are sent electronically.

Q: How many applications do you receive during the admissions cycle? How many are admitted?
A: On average, the department receives between 35 and 45 applications for all three of our programs combined. The number that are admitted can change significantly from year to year depending on the applicant pool, but on average, between six and twelve are admitted.

Q: Can I apply to more than one program?
A: No. Applicants may only apply to one graduate program.

Q: Should I contact the professor with whom I'm interested in working with?
A. It is not necessary or encouraged to contact the faculty with whom you are interested in working with, nor is it necessary to know who would be a perfect match for you and your research interests. A suitable advisor will be assigned to you as your goals and interests become evident throughout the program.

Q: Can I send you my CV/transcripts/GRE scores for you to evaluate so that I can get a better idea of my chances for admission?
A. The admissions committee does not pre-assess the chances of admission. A complete application must be submitted before an application can be evaluated.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?
A: If a student does not have a Masters degree in a related field upon entering the program a Demography PhD student can expect to finish all requirements within five years. A Sociology and Demography PhD student will usually complete the program in six years. The Demography Masters is a one-year program.

Q: I already have a Masters degree; do I still need to get an ancillary MA?
A. The purpose of the ancillary MA is to compliment your demography degree, so it is important that the MA degree serve this purpose. If the MA degree that you currently have doesn't fulfill this purpose it would be necessary to pursue an MA in a more suitable field. If your prior MA degree is in Mathematics and you plan to focus on Mathematical Demography, then that is a suitable ancillary MA. If your prior degree is in creative writing, it is not. This should be discussed with the faculty advisor upon admission.

Q: Which program should I apply for?
A. If you plan to get a PhD, select “PhD.” on the application. You may get the MA if you wish on your way to getting the PhD; there is no need to apply for the MA/PhD option. If you know that you want the MA but think you might want to continue on to the PhD you may select the “MA only” option; however, you will not be considered for the University's Multi-year Fellowships, which are only available for doctorate applicants. After you obtain the MA you will need to discuss continuing into the PhD program with the faculty. Acceptance into the PhD program is not guaranteed and is decided by the faculty admissions committee.

Q: What are the prerequisites for admission to your program?
A. In addition to the University's admission requirements, the department requires applicants to take the “General” portion of the GRE. For a description of University requirements please go to:

Q: What kind of math background is required for admission?
A: Our applicants come from various backgrounds, some with lots of math experience and some with minimal experience. This is one of the reasons that the GRE is an important part of the application. If you don't have math courses on your transcripts that would indicate your quantitative abilities it's necessary to have some other means of determining this. The admissions committee needs to know that you are coming into the program with enough understanding of math to handle the work required of a demography student. Everyone enters the program with varying levels of experience in this regard but all need to have some basic skills in order to be successful and to not be at a disadvantage when learning demographic quantitative methods. For some, this is challenging and for others it's not at all.

In terms of specific preparations, a basic knowledge of calculus and linear algebra are very helpful. If you feel that you are deficient in these subjects, it might be a good idea to take one or more math courses in preparation for the program. One or more courses in probabliity and statistics is also recommended. Some of our students have chosen to take a calculus or statistics course concurrently with their demography courses in order to give them the extra skills they may be lacking in this area. Even if you have not taken these specific courses, you are encouraged to apply if you feel that you are otherwise well prepared. In the past we have had successful students from a wide variety of math backgrounds.

Q: What if I don't have any research experience, previous education, or job experience related to demography or sociology?
A: Successful demographers come from many backgrounds including social science, math, statistics, engineering, biology, and less often, the humanities. What matters is competence with qualitative and quantitative analysis and a drive to learn. It is important to describe in your Statement of Purpose the experiences that you have had that have informed your decision to pursue this particular field of study.

Q: Do I need to get the Demography MA before continuing in the Demography PhD Program? Do I need to get the Sociology MA before continuing in the Sociology and Demography PhD. Program?
A: It is not required that you receive the MA degree in Demography before continuing on to either program; however, all first-year students take all the required courses for the MA degree and must pass the MA preliminary exam before continuing on in the doctorate program. With this in mind, students almost always opt to receive the MA degree at the end of the first year. Students in the “Sociology and Demography” program are not required to receive the MA in Sociology unless they want to. They take most of the required courses and write a Masters thesis and would only need to take a couple more classes in order to receive the MA.

Q: Can I take the TOEFL and/or GRE more than once? Which one will be used to evaluate my application?
A: Yes, you may take either exam more than once. The admissions committee will use the most recent scores to evaluate your application; however, be aware that the committee will receive the scores from all exams you have taken in the last five years.

Q: How recent do the GRE scores need to be?
A: The GRE needs to have been taken in the previous five years from the time in which you are applying. For the fall 2017 cycle the exam must have been taken in December 2011 or later. 

Q: How recent do the TOEFL scores need to be?
A. TOEFL scores taken before June 2015 will not be accepted for the fall 2017 admissions cycle.

Q: How do I sign up to take the GRE/TOEFL exam?
A: Dates and information for computer-based testing (CBT) may be obtained by contacting the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at the address below, by calling 1-800-GRE-CALL, or by consulting the GRE website at or TOEFL website at
Applications for the GRE can be obtained from the Educational Testing Service, Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, (609) 771-7670, or the GRE or TOEFL websites.

Q: What is a passing TOEFL score?
A: Paper and pencil test: 570; Internet-based Test (iBT): 90.

Q: What are the average GRE scores for admitted applicants?
A: Each cohort varies in the average GRE scores. The scores below are the average from the past five years for all admitted applicants: 

For all admitted: Verbal 605; Quantitative 735; Analytical 5.15
Foreign: Verbal 590; Quantitative 757; Analytical 5.38
Domestic: Verbal 610; Quantitative 725; Analytical 5.07

Please note that these scores are from the old GRE scoring system. To convert to the new scoring system, please consult the conversion chart:

Q: Can I take classes in your department without receiving credit or a degree?
A: You may apply to a non-degree option called "Course Work Only" (CWO). You will need to meet all of the normal criteria for admission and the department must accept your application for admission. There is a limit of two semesters of study and admission to this status precludes future admission or change of major into a degree program at Berkeley.
Many courses (including our regular demography courses, if space allows) are offered through University Extension ( Details are available from their office located at 1995 University Avenue, or by calling (510) 642-4111.

Q: When and how will I know if I've been accepted? When will decisions be made?
A: The department will notify you when the results of your application are available. The time line for results vary by year and therefore we are unable to give a specific date by which decisions will be made.


Online Admissions Process Questions

Q: How can I apply to your program?
A: Please fill out the online application that can be accessed by going to

Hardcopies of the Graduate Admissions Application will not be accepted. The application and all supporting documents, i.e. copies of official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE Scores, and TOEFL Scores (if applicable) must be submitted via the online Graduate Application. Please do not mail in your documents.

Q: How do I submit my transcripts if hardcopies are no longer accepted?
A: Please scan official copies of your transcripts into PDF format and upload onto the online application. The scanned copies are used for graduate application process and review only. All transcripts should show courses, grades, and dates the courses were taken. Official Transcripts are required ONLY if an applicant accepts an offer of admission. An applicant who is recommended for admission AND accepts the offer of admission must submit official transcripts.

Q: Do I need to apply to the department from which I would like to get my ancillary MA?
A: It isn't necessary to apply to the ancillary MA department at the time that you are applying for the doctorate program. Toward the end of the first year students should inquire about the ancillary department's requirements for admission to their program.

Q: How do I submit letters of recommendation?
A: Please have your recommenders upload the letters of recommendation directly onto the online application system. When you apply you will receive a link to give to your recommenders.

Q: I haven't been able to get in touch with my recommenders. Will you accept letters of recommendation after the deadline?
A. Please contact your recommenders far in advance of the deadline. It is still be possible for recommenders to upload letters onto the system after the deadline; however, if you know that a letter cannot be submitted by the deadline, please let us know in advance. 

Q: Should I include my study abroad transcripts in my application materials?
A: If the transcripts from the institution from which you got your degree lists the courses you took, the grades (or Pass/Fail), and the units from your study abroad program then you don't need the transcripts from the study abroad institution. If it doesn't have all three of these--the names of the courses, grades, and units--then you will need to get those transcripts from the institution abroad and scan and upload them onto your application (and submit original hard copies upon admission).

Q: I took a course/courses at a University other than the one from which I graduated and the courses did not count toward my degree requirements. Do I need to submit these transcripts?
A: Only transcripts for courses that contributed to your degree are required.

Q: When and how will I know if I've been accepted? When will decisions be made?
A: The department will notify you when the results of your application are available. The timeline for results vary by year and therefore we are unable to give a specific date by which decisions will be made.

Q: How can I check to see if I have completed the application requirements?
A: You can log in to the application website at any time to check that you have uploaded all required materials.

Q: I will be taking the GRE/TOEFL after the application deadline. Will my application still be considered?
A: Please plan to take your exams well in advance of the deadline. If this is not possible, please contact the department for further instructions.

Q: My recommender is unable to submit the letter of recommendation online. Can he/she send a hardcopy?
A: As always, if there are problems with the online system, whether with submitting letters of recommendation, issues with scanning and uploading transcripts, or other technical obstacles, please contact the department for further instructions.


International Student Questions

Q: I have graduated from a University outside of the US. How do I calculate my GPA?
A: International students with a different grading system should not try to convert their grades into US standard grades. Please leave this area blank if this applies to you.

Q: I'm an international applicant and English is not the official language of my country. I went to Undergraduate/Graduate school outside of the US but all classes were taught in English. Do I need to take the TOEFL?
A: Yes. All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, and Israel, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countries in Africa. This also includes U.S. citizens who have obtained their basic degree from an institution outside the United States. 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 provide a scan of and, if admitted, an official transcript from the U.S. university.

Q: What documentation is required for previous education:
A: International students who accept the offer of admission must provide scans of official transcripts, degree certificates, diplomas, etc. in the original language accompanied by a translation (you will need to  submit originals of these documents only upon admission). We accept translations from school officials and from government and/or official translators. Every page must be signed in ink with the translator's title and, if possible, the seal or stamp of their institution. Stamps and signatures must be originals. In English translations, degree names and grades should be transliterated, not converted into English words or the U.S. grades of A-F. If you must obtain a translation while in the United States, versions prepared by certified members of the American Translators Association are acceptable. Again, for application review purposes all these documents must be scanned and uploaded online.

Q: What is a passing TOEFL score?
A: For purposes of admission, your most recent score must be at least 570 for the paper-and-pencil test or at least 90 for the Internet-based test (iBT). If your score is below these scores you must retake the TOEFL. The Graduate Division makes no exception to this policy. The TOEFL cannot be substituted with the TSE or English courses. Scores from tests taken before June 1, 2015 are no longer valid.

We will only accept TOEFL tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and sent to us directly by the TOEFL office.