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Graduate Program

Admissions to the M.A. degree program

The application for Fall 2015 entry will become available in mid-September on the Graduate Division website at https://gradadmit.berkeley.edu/apply/start.html. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2014.

How to Apply

  1. ONLINE APPLICATION: Fill out the graduate admissions application available on the Graduate Division website at https://gradadmit.berkeley.edu/apply/start.html.

  2. TRANSCRIPTS FOR DOMESTIC APPLICANTS: Upload unofficial transcripts with the online application for the departmental initial review. You do not need to send the department paper copies. Official transcripts of all college-level work will be required only if admitted. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) you have attended. Request a current transcript from every post-secondary school that you have attended, including community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs.
    TRANSCRIPTS FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: Upload unofficial transcripts with the application for the departmental initial review. In addition to this, you must send to the department, official paper transcripts or academic records for all university-level studies you have completed, at U.S. institutions and abroad. If your academic records do not include official evidence of the award of your degree, you must also submit additional documents that verify its award. Academic records should be issued in their original languages accompanied by English translations (usually prepared by your university or governmental agency, unless the institution issues original documents in English). In general, records or transcripts must be issued by the school and include the school's stamp or embossed seal and the signature of the authorizing official. For more detailed information on acceptable documents, please contact Graduate Admissions. Send the transcripts to the department at Group in Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1995 University Avenue, Suite 510E, Berkeley, CA 94720-2318, USA.

  3. LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Send three letters of recommendation from three recommenders familiar with your work, preferably in an academic setting. We will accept online letters of recommendation only. Instructions on how to submit letters are included in the Graduate Admissions application.

  4. ACADEMIC WRITING SAMPLE: Writing samples must be 5-7 pages in length and in English. Examples include an essay or book review. You can upload the writing sample as part of the online application. Do NOT send or email writing samples to the department.

  5. GRE TEST SCORES: Submit GRE scores of the general test (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical components). Scores must be sent directly by ETS to UC Berkeley (institution code 4833). Do not send test scores directly to our department. Current scores are preferred, however, scores up to five years back will be accepted.

    For more information on when test scores are mailed out by ETS, see http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/scores/get/. Note that for the computer test, scores are sent to institutions approximately 10-15 days after the test date. For the paper-based test, October 20, 2012 is the last test date that we will accept.

  6. TOEFL (INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ONLY): All applicants from countries in which English is not the official language are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency through the TOEFL or IELTS exams. 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 the TOEFL. For Fall 2015, tests taken before June 1, 2013 will not be accepted even if your score was reported to Berkeley. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) — a score of 90 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or 550 or higher on the paper-based exam is required. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) — a score of 7 or higher on the academic module. Scores must be sent directly by ETS to UC Berkeley (institution code 4833 for TOEFL). Do not send test scores directly to our department.

Applicants are also required to read and meet the admissions requirements of the Graduate Division listed at http://grad.berkeley.edu/ admissions/ admis_require.shtml#4. Applicants will be notified of our decision in mid-February. Decisions will be sent via email at the address that you list on your application.


Tuition and fees

2013-2014 tuition and fees for new graduate students are $7,900.75 per semester for California residents, and $15,451.75 per semester for non-California residents (includes international students). Fees are subject to change. Please consult the Registrar's Office for the latest information. Non-resident students can gain California residency if they follow the residency requirements listed by the Registrar's Office. For additional information, please refer to the financial support section of the Graduate Division at http://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/index.shtml. For international students, please refer to the information listed at http://internationaloffice.berkeley.edu/aid/.


Financial Assistance

U.S citizens and permanent residents are highly encouraged to apply to the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) award. You can apply to this award as part of your admission application; you will need to indicate the type and level of language you are applying to and upload an essay commenting on the relevance of your chosen language to your future academic and professional goals. The Admissions Committee will nominate select applicants who will then be entered into a campus-wide competition. Winners will be notified directly by the Graduate Division.

All admitted students get varying amounts of departmental aid based on California residency status. Non-CA residents, including international students, typically receive in the range of $6,000-8,000 per semester; CA residents typically receive in the $3,000-4,000 range per semester.

In the second year of the program, students can apply to become Graduate Student Instructors (teaching assistants for our undergraduate survey course), and Graduate Student Researchers. These positions, which are open to international students, come with a significant tuition remission and a monthly paycheck.

In their last semester, students who have completed all degree requirements with the exception of filing the M.A. thesis can apply to go on Filing Fee. If approved, filing fee students can focus on their thesis for the entire last semester without registering in courses. They do not have to pay for fees with the exception of one-half of the Student Services Fee (around $250).

More information can also be found at the following websites:


Profile of a successful applicant

The profile of a successful applicant admitted recently would include such attributes as:

  • Two or more years of relevant Asian language preparation.
  • An upper division grade point average of 3.5 or higher (In evaluating grade point average, particular emphasis is placed on the applicant's last two years of undergraduate study and on his or her work in the area in which he or she intends to specialize.) For assistance calculating your major GPA, please consult the GPA Calculator.

GPA Calculator (Excel file)

  • A writing sample of high caliber.
  • A verbal GRE test score in the 90-99th percentile.
  • Excellent letters of recommendation from academic sources that can comment in detail on scholarly attributes.
  • A concise, mature, and directed statement of purpose that fits within the interdisciplinary Asian Studies program requirements and capabilities.
  • Some experience living, studying, or working in Asia.

We welcome your application. If you have further questions (after thoroughly reading all of the information listed above), please contact us at asianst@berkeley.edu. Admissions information for the Ph.D. and concurrent degrees is listed on the individual program's page.