Overview of the Graduate 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 2024 admission cycle. Home GRE scores are accepted.

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All applicants must submit the following on the online application:

  • 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.
  • 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 2024 admissions to both the Demography program and the Graduate Group in Sociology and Demography is December 11, 2023. 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, 310 Social Sciences Building, 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 2024 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 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 2024, tests taken before June 1, 2022 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. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

On average, the department receives between 35 and 55 applications for all three of our programs combined. The number that is admitted can change significantly from year to year depending on the applicant pool, but on average, between six and twelve are admitted.

No. Applicants may only apply to one graduate program.

It is not necessary or encouraged to contact the faculty with whom you are interested to work, 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.

The admissions committee does not pre-assess the chances of admission. A complete application must be submitted before an application can be evaluated.

If a student does not have a Master’s degree in a related field upon entering the program a Demography Ph.D. student can expect to finish all requirements within five years. A Sociology and Demography Ph.D. student will usually complete the program in six years. The Demography Master’s is a one-year program.

The purpose of the ancillary M.A. is to compliment your demography degree, so it is important that the M.A. degree serve this purpose. If the M.A. or equivalent degree that you currently have does not fulfill this purpose it would be necessary to pursue an Master’s in a more suitable field. If your prior Master’s degree is in Mathematics and you plan to focus on Mathematical Demography, then that is a suitable ancillary M.A. If your prior degree is in creative writing, it is not. This should be discussed with the faculty advisor upon admission.

If you plan to get a Ph.D., select “Ph.D.” on the application. You may get the M.A., if you wish, on your way to getting the Ph.D. There is no need to apply for the M.A./Ph.D. option. If you know that you want the M.A. but think you might want to continue on to the Ph.D. you may select the “M.A. 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 M.A. you will need to discuss continuing into the Ph.D. program with the faculty. Acceptance into the Ph.D. program is not guaranteed and is decided by the faculty admissions committee.

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: http://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/requirements/

Our applicants come from various backgrounds, some with lots of math experience and some with minimal experience, but all need to have some basic skills in order to be successful and not to be at a disadvantage when learning demographic quantitative methods. This is one of the reasons that the GRE is an important part of the application. If you do not have math courses on your transcripts that would indicate your quantitative abilities it is 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 mathematics to handle the work required of a demography student. For some, this is challenging and for others it is 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 probability 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 and you feel that you are otherwise well prepared, you are encouraged to apply. In the past we have had successful students from a wide variety of math backgrounds.

Successful demographers come from many backgrounds including social science, mathematics, 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.

It is not required that you receive the M.A. degree in Demography before continuing on to either program. However, all first-year students take all the required courses for the M.A. degree and must pass the M.A. preliminary exam before continuing on in the doctorate program. With this in mind, students almost always opt to receive the M.A. degree at the end of the first year. Students in the “Sociology and Demography” program are not required to receive the M.A. in Sociology unless they want to. They take most of the required courses and write a Master’s thesis and would only need to take a couple more classes in order to receive the M.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.

The GRE needs to have been taken in the previous five years from the time in which you are applying. For the Fall 2024 cycle the exam must have been taken on or after July 1, 2018.

Please see the ETS Site here: How long are GRE scores valid?

TOEFL scores taken before June 2022 will not be accepted for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle.

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 http://www.ets.org/gre or TOEFL website at http://www.ets.org/toefl.

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.

Paper and pencil test: 570; Internet-based Test (iBT): 90.

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 160, rank: 86%; Quantitative 158, rank 69%; Analytical 5.15
Foreign: Verbal 159, rank 83%; Quantitative 160, rank 76%; Analytical 5.38
Domestic: Verbal 160, 86%; Quantitative 157, 66%; Analytical 5.07

Many courses (including our regular demography courses, if space allows) are offered through University Extension (http://extension.berkeley.edu/info/concurrent.html). Details are available from their office located at 1995 University Avenue, or by calling (510) 642-4111.

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.

Please fill out the online application that can be accessed by clicking on “Apply Now” link directly under the main menu banner at the top of the page.

Hard copies 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.

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.

It is not necessary to apply to the ancillary M.A. 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.

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.

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.

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 does not have all three of these (the names of the courses, grades, and units associated with these courses) then you will need to get those transcripts from the institution abroad, scan and upload them onto your application (and submit original hard copies upon admission).

Only transcripts for courses that contributed to your degree are required.

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.

You can log in to the application website at any time to check that you have uploaded all required materials.

Please plan to take your exams well in advance of the deadline. If this is not possible, please contact the department for further instructions.

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 at: admissions@demog.berkeley.edu for further instructions.

International students with a different grading system should please consult the admissions instructions for guidance on reporting the GPA score or contact the department for more information.

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 US 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 US 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 US university.

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 US 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.

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, 2022 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.

Berkeley Demography