Application Process

The English Department typically receives between 300-400 applications each year and seeks an incoming cohort of 12-14 students. We make our admissions decisions on the basis of the whole application. No one factor necessarily carries more weight than the others.

The Graduate Division requires an overall GPA of at least 3.0; however, the average GPA of successful applicants is considerably higher. We consider the kinds and number of the courses the applicant has taken and how well he or she has done, especially in the junior and senior years. The Bachelor's Degree need not be in English.


The Statement of Purpose should provide a clear sense of the applicant's interests and intentions in pursuing graduate study in English.  The Personal Statement should give the committee a sense of what particular qualities and experiences you would bring to the department and the university.  “This is,” as the Graduate Division’s website says, “also a good place to display your communication skills and discuss your ability to maximize effective collaboration with a diverse cross-section of the academic community.”  (For general guidance about both the Statement of Purpose and the Personal Statement, please see here.)

Letters of recommendation should come from professors who can attest to the quality and strength of the applicant's academic work.

The writing sample is an important element in our evaluation. Applicants should submit only one paper of no more than 20 pages, and it should be an example of scholarly or critical writing (not creative writing). The 20-page limit does not include the bibliography.  Applicants should not send a longer paper with instructions to read an excerpt, but should edit it themselves.

The Department keeps all applications on file for two years. If you have filed an application within the past two years but have not registered, you may reactivate your previous application (see the online application for instructions). The Department recommends that applicants submit new materials such as the Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and writing sample if the previous application was denied.

International applicants should consult the Graduate Division's web site,, for admissions requirements and estimated costs of graduate study for international students.

Dr. Alberto Ledesma is the Graduate Diversity Coordinator for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Letters & Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He works with both prospective and continuing graduate students, discussing graduate school preparation, admission criteria, the admissions process, university and extramural funding, academic issues, student life, and more.

The Office for Graduate Diversity (OGD) provides support services for prospective and continuing students on the Berkeley campus in an effort to maintain a more diverse graduate student community.