Ph.D. Admission and Application Instructions

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Applications for this term will be available in September 2018 at

The online application is due: December 2, 2019, at 8:59:59 pm, Pacific Standard Time. Applications submitted after this time will not be accepted. You will not be informed if your application is submitted late–it simply will not be processed.

Supporting data, such as transcripts, recommendation letters, and GRE and TOEFL scores, should arrive no later than December 2, 2019.

Though we do not have a rolling application process, it is always best to apply as early as you can. That way, if there are errors, we can let you know in advance.

Required Materials

  1. The Online Application
  2. Emphasis of Specialty Area of Study (First and Second Choice)
  3. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  4. A Completed Recommendation Waiver Form (to be completed online)
  5. Unofficial Transcripts (submitted online)
  6. Conversion of GPA (for International Students Only)
  7. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Official Scores
  8. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Official Scores (for international students only)
  9. Application Fee

Applications that are incomplete by the time of review will not be competitive for admission.  Making sure an application is complete is solely the responsibility of the applicant and should be done in a timely manner.

The application process is ENTIRELY ONLINE. Please DO NOT mail copies of the Statement of Purpose, GRE AND TOEFL scores, publications, resumes, recommendation letters or transcripts. Directions for submitting the recommendation letters online are included below. Any supplemental data, such as publications, resumes, and homepages, should be uploaded with your application.  All applications must be submitted through the Berkeley campus’ online application site for graduate admissions. Please take care to ensure all email addresses, as well as your own email address, are entered correctly.

Online Application


The Online Application has several sections, including two essays, the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement. Please note that these essays are very important to the application process and should be taken seriously. They should also be two separate essays.

The Statement of Purpose asks:
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 about why UC Berkeley/UCSF would be a good intellectual fit for you. Brevity is appreciated – no more than two pages.

The Personal History Statement asks:
In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree. Brevity is appreciated – no more than two pages.

Faculty Contact
Please complete the section “Faculty Interest” under ACADEMIC INTERESTS.

GPA Conversion
If you attended an international university, you need to convert your grades to our system. To assist you in the conversion off your GPA please visit the gpa conversion page.

Ethnic Survey
Though this section is not required, the provided data may be used by the department for various purposes, one of which is granting financial support. (U.S. citizens/permanent residents only)

California Residency
In order to determine if you are a California Resident, please use the UC Berkeley’s Residency Office’s criteria.

Parents’ Educational Level
Though this section is not required, the provided data may be used by the department for various purposes, one of which is granting financial support.

Emphasis of Specialty Area of Study (First and Second Choice)

Select your first and second choice of research areas of Bioengineering Areas. The main purpose of this section is to guide us in determining which faculty members are best suited to review your application.

Letters of Recommendation


Letters of recommendation will be gathered electronically as part of the Online Application.

Having more than 3 letters, though we allow it, is not recommended. Due to the volume of applications we receive every year, there is no guarantee that more than 3 letters will be read.


  • Having more letters is not necessarily better. Three strong letters is much better than 3 strong letters and one mediocre or bad letter.
  • It can be a good idea to ask your recommenders if they can write you a good, detailed letter. The best letters gauge your ability and potential for research and graduate study, often citing examples from the recommenders own experiences with you.

Official and Unofficial Transcripts


You are required to upload unofficial transcripts for schools that you have attended. Applicants who studied outside the United States in non-English speaking institutions must upload the English translated transcripts. Uploaded files must be in PDF format and no larger than 8 MB. Please make sure that your social security number (SSN) does not appear on your transcript (if it does, black it out before uploading the document).

(Please note that even if you have not yet finished your coursework when you apply, we still require a current transcript from you. If you are admitted, at that time, we will ask you submit a final official transcript showing the degree awarded to complete our records.)

For more information about transcripts, please see the Graduate Division Admissions Information.

GPA Conversion


If you attended an international university, you need to convert your grades to our system.  To assist you in the conversion off your GPA please visit the GPA conversion page.



Oldest acceptable exam date: June 2015

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants. It is composed of three sections (we do NOT require a subject test):
Analytical Writing
Verbal Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning

For more information about the test, as well as locations, test dates, and the time it will take for score reports to reach Berkeley, please consult the Educational Testing Service (ETS). They can be reached at (609) 771-7670. Inquiries can also be made to and

The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 and the Department code is 1603. We encourage you to take the November administration to ensure that your scores arrive by the deadline, but we will also accept scores from the early December administration. GRE Scores should arrive no later than December 15, 2018.



Oldest acceptable exam date: June 2018

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, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countries in Africa.

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 submit an official transcript from the U.S. University.

Applicants must receive a score of at least 570 on the written test. The computer-based TOEFL must have a minimum score of 230. The minimum score for Next Generation TOEFL (iBT) is 90. Our Graduate Division will not accept tests taken before the date above. It is advised to take the TOEFL at least 60 days prior to the deadline. Inquiries about the TOEFL can be made at or at The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. There is no Department code for the TOEFL.

Please note that if you send the tests with the wrong code, we will still receive the scores electronically from ETS. Even with the wrong code, if all of the other information is correct, we will be able to match up your scores to your application.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also acceptable. The minimum acceptable score is 7 on your most recent exam. More information about IELTS can be found at

Also, please keep in mind that ETS sends us test scores (GRE and TOEFL) twice a month electronically, so even if you’ve received them, it does not mean that we have. Because this is the case, it’s a good idea to take the tests as early as possible in advance.

Application Fee

You must submit an application fee when you apply. The application fee is not refundable. If you are a U.S. citizen or current permanent resident, the application fee is $90; for all others, the fee is $110. Fees are subject to change.

When you apply online, you may pay the fee by credit card. If you submit a check or money order, it must be drawn on a United States bank. Checks should be made payable to “UC Regents.” Do not submit UNESCO coupons, traveler’s checks, international postal money orders, Eurocheques, or cash. We do not accept electronic funds transfers.

Application Decisions

Applicants offered admission and who have also been awarded a university fellowship will be sent a letter of admission and award by March 1. Applicants offered admission will be notified after the required visit dates, usually by the end of March for the fall semester.

Applicants who are not offered admission will be notified by the Program as they make their decisions.

Recruitment/Interview Visits

The Program requires all finalists to attend a hosted visit to Berkeley/UCSF (international travelers excepted). For the Fall admissions cycle the visits will be February. The Program provides travel reimbursement, 2 nights of hotel accommodation and meals for this purpose. Information on the visits will be sent only to finalists in late January 2020.

Application Tips and Advice/Application Status

Applying Early

Although we do not have a rolling admissions cycle, applying early is always a good idea. The earlier you apply, the earlier you and we can spot problems such as missing transcripts, test scores, etc. As the application deadline approaches we receive numerous email inquiries.  This results in you having more difficulty contacting us as well as checking your application status.  Your patience during this time is appreciated.  We received over 700 applications for 2018 with the bulk of them arriving in December.

Also, it’s a good idea to take the GRE and, if applicable, the TOEFL as early as possible. ETS can take several weeks to get the scores to us.

Online Application Advice

  • Check all email addresses twice before you submit the application, including your own. Any mistyped addresses make it difficult to contact you and/or your recommenders.
  • Do not transpose your name when entering this information. Transposed information will slow processing.

Regarding Your Application Package
It is always best submit only information requested.  Non requested materials will not be included with your application for review. Please do not send the following:

  • Transcripts
  • Financial documents of any kind
  • Notebooks or diaries
  • Publications
  • Your Statement of Purpose (we will have received this online)
  • Your Personal History Statement (we will have received this online)
  • DVDs, CDs other information storage devices

Once You Apply
Please keep in mind the following advice: We ask that you be patient and you should receive update emails as materials are received to your application.

Application review begins in mid-December. If your application is incomplete at that time, review may be delayed.  It is your responsibility to have your materials submitted by the deadline.  You can check your application status yourself at the application website.

*** More Information ***

Please see our Career Center’s web pages on applying to graduate school.

The Graduate Division provides information on writing your statement of purpose.

Competition for Admission

If Berkeley-UCSF is your preferred program choice for graduate study, we encourage you to apply. However, you should be aware that admissions are very competitive. Successful applicants last year had average GPAs of 3.85 and average quantitative GRE scores of 91%. For Fall 2018 we had over 700 applicants for about 50 slots.

Distance Learning

We do not offer part-time, evening or distance learning Ph.D. programs. Our Ph.D. degree programs are full-time day programs.

Online courses are offered through UC Extension.