Notes to Prospective Applicants

Dear friends --

Many faculty members at UC Berkeley receive a large number of letters and e-mail from prospective graduate students or postdocs.  Because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to answer your inquiries individually.  If you have sent me an email, you will be directed to this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Q:  What are my chances of being admitted?
A:  Admission at Berkeley is highly competitive.   We are eager to accept the best, most intellectually exciting students.  If this is you, I highly encourage you to apply.

Q:  What does Berkeley look for in deciding admissions?
A:  We look at a range of factors, including grades, test scores, and recommendations.  One particularly important point is evidence of ability to do research -- if you have done research, your chances at Berkeley are far better.  I highly recommend stressing this in your application.

Q:  Will sending e-mail to professors help my chance of admissions?
A:  No.  Most faculty receive a large amount of e-mail regarding admissions.   An e-mail contact will not persuade a faculty member to pursue an application.   There is a place on the application to mention contacts with Berkeley faculty, but that refers to extended contacts -- not just e-mail contacts.

Q:  Can I be your student?
A:  That's a misleading question -- in my department, professors do not admit students.  Departments and Schools accept students; once the students are here, they hook up with advisors.  Applications are handled by an admissions committee that evaluates all applications.  Normally, I only try to recruit students once they have already been admitted by Berkeley.

Q:  Can I be your postdoc?
A:  Postdoc requests must also be approved by the department.  Because of the level of committment involved, I will only consider someone for a postdoc if I know him/her or if he/she is recommended by someone I know well.

Q:  What about financial aid?
A:  We often provide financial support for Ph.D. students -- if you are accepted, we will contact you about this shortly.  For masters students, the situation depends on the circumstances of the student, and Berkeley will discuss this with you after you have been accepted.

Q: Where can I find additional information?
A: You should visit the department page for prospective students at