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Applying for the PhD

GSPP offers a doctoral degree program for students who seek careers in academia and/or with governments, non-profits, or research institutes. Usually only two or three PhD applicants are admitted each year. The program emphasizes the generation of knowledge, theories, methodologies, and applications appropriate to the advancement of public policy analysis and management. Doctoral students pursue highly individualized programs of study and typically work closely with Goldman faculty members who share the student’s subject matter of interest. The doctoral program provides enormous flexibility in the topics addressed and the program of study, but is directed mainly at training academic social science researchers with an interest in policy issues.

A thorough preparation in or aptitude for rigorous policy analysis skills is a prerequisite for the doctorate. Because there is no core program of study, the PhD committee prefers applicants to have completed an MPP or equivalent, or some other indication of sustained interest in (and aptitude for) public policy.  See below for more information and specific application procedures.

Application Information

The Fall 2019 application is closed. If you have questions about your Fall 2019 application please contact Cecille Cabacungan at cecille@berkeley.edu. Applications for Fall 2020 will open sometime in September 2019.

Applications are submitted through the Online Graduate Application.

Application information is also available from the Goldman School Program Bulletin (pdf).



Before starting your online application, please review the following application checklist and instructions specific to applicants to the Goldman School Ph.D. Program.

The Fall 2019 Online Application is now closed.

The following documents listed below are required for admission to the Ph.D. Program and must be submitted with the online application:

Statement of Purpose

Please follow the instructions below for the statement of purpose. These instructions supersede those listed in the online application. 

Address these areas in 3-5 double-spaced pages:

1). The present: Why do you want to pursue a Ph.D. in public policy?;

2). The past: What experiences or activities bear on your qualifications for this program, e.g., academic research, teaching, professional experience, etc? How do these experiences relate to your decision to undertake a Ph.D. in public policy?; and

3). The future: What are your short- and long-term career objectives?

Personal History StatementPlease describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a Ph.D in Public Policy. There is no page length requirement, however this essay is generally 1-2 pages, double-spaced.
Faculty Advisor PreferencesIn the on-line application you will be asked to select 3 preferences for a faculty advisor if you are admitted to the Goldman School Ph.D. program.  Please note that the assignment of faculty advisors is not guaranteed and based on the availability of each faculty member. For a list of available Goldman School faculty, click here.
Planned Dissertation Research MemoA description of the applicant's public policy research interests, outline of proposed dissertation research topic(s), and preferences for possible faculty advisor(s). This memo should ideally be 3-5 pages, but no more than 7 pages, double-spaced.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)Upload a current C.V. reflecting your academic and professional work experience, as well as research, publications, education, and any other relevant information.
Writing SampleA research paper under 30 pages, different from a “policy analysis” paper. Its purpose is to make it evident that the student can make the transition from policy analysis to policy research. 
TranscriptsScan and upload a copy of unofficial transcripts from all universities or colleges attended to the online application. Official transcripts will only be requested if admitted.
Letters of Recommendation3 Letters of recommendation should be submitted with the online graduate application.  Letters may arrive up to 14 days after the application deadline. Please refer to the online application for further instructions on submitting letters of recommendation.
GRE Scores

GRE scores dated before August 2013 are no longer valid. To meet the application deadline, you should take the GRE no later than early November 2018. To send an official score to UC Berkeley, list the institution code assigned by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for UC Berkeley (4833) at the time of registration. Reservations for the GRE exam should be made in advance through: The Education Testing Service (ETS), P.O. Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, Phone: (609) 771-7670 or 1-800-GRE-CALL; Website: http:// www.ets.org/gre

TOEFL ScoresIn addition to GRE scores, all international applicants are required to take the TOEFL exam. Scores are valid for 2 years. To send an official score to UC Berkeley, list the institution code assigned by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for UC Berkeley (4833) at the time of registration. You may sign up for the TOEFL through an agent in your country or through: TOEFL, CN6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151, Phone: (609) 771-7500; Website: http://www.ets.org/toefl
Application Fee

The application fee must be submitted with the online application and is not refundable. If you are a U.S. Citizen or current Permanent Resident, the application fee is $105; for all others, the fee is $125. 

Application Fee Waiver: You must be a U.S. citizen or current permanent resident to request a graduate admissions application fee waiver.  Read more about the application fee waiver.


Please do not submit additional or supplemental materials.


Questions About the Online Application?

Cecille Cabacungan
Managing Director of Career & Alumni Services and
Ph.D. Admissions & Student Affairs Advisor


If a student is admitted to the Ph.D. Program, he/she is required to work with their designated faculty advisor to develop and submit a curriculum memo to the Ph.D. committee that contains the courses the student will take during the first two years of study. This curriculum memo can be updated at the end of each semester of Ph.D. residency should the student and his/her advisor decide that additional courses should be taken or substituted.

Please contact Cecille Cabacungan, Managing Director of Career & Alumni Services and Ph.D. Admissions & Student Affairs Advisor at (510) 642-1303 or cecille@berkeley.edu regarding questions about the Ph.D. Program and application process.

Financial Support


GSPP has limited funds to provide toward first-year fellowships. This is negotiated on an individual basis, and funding can vary from year to year.

Graduate Student Instructors

In addition, there are many opportunities for Ph.D. students to be graduate student instructors at GSPP and other social science departments. These appointments typically provide a fee remission and a monthly salary.

Research Opportunities

There are many opportunities on campus for GSPP Ph.D. students to engage in research (in many cases, paid research). For example, research opportunities typically exist in campus departments including the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, the Energy and Resources Group, the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center the Global Policy Lab, and the California Policy Lab.