How To Apply
Preparing your application to the School of Journalism takes time. We urge you to line up the people who will write your letters of recommendation at least a few months in advance. Personal essays and work samples also require careful preparation. The entirety of your application should reflect your earnest desire, capacity and aptitude to succeed in a career in journalism.
Our application system is online and is accessible from early September through December 1. To begin an application, you will need to set up a login and password-protected account on the Berkeley Graduate Division Admissions website. Once you've started your account, you can upload your materials (including transcripts, resume, work samples and essays) at any time before December 1st at 8:59 pm PST.
Applicants must have obtained an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution by the time they enroll at UC Berkeley. No specific major is required for admission to Berkeley Journalism. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for all college-level coursework after the first two years, for US Citizens. For international students, a 3.0 GPA is required for all college-level coursework.
The most important thing is that applicants demonstrate both a passion for reporting and a basic reporting skill set. Most of our students have between two and five years of professional work experience in journalism. Most of our students coming in straight from undergraduate programs have a combination of reporting experiences, including internships, jobs and school papers.
- Bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or equivalent
- Demonstrated aptitude for news reporting and/or nonfiction narrative writing
- Completed online application submitted by December 1st at 8:59 pm PST
Overview and Timeline
September - November:
- Applications are available in early September. Check the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions website for the exact date.
- Begin drafting your Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement.
- Request letters of recommendation.
- Select/publish your three best journalistic work samples.
- Obtain an official copy of your transcripts.
- Polish your resume.
- Take necessary language proficiency exams (international students only)
- Deadline: December 1:
All components of the online application need to be submitted by December 1st at 8:59 pm PST.The online application system will log out automatically at 9:00 pm PST on December 1. Late applications will not be accepted. Urge recommenders to submit their letters of recommendation by this time.
December - February:
Interviews and writing tests may be conducted.
All applicants are notified of their admission status and financial aid package.
Spring Welcome Visit for all newly admitted students. Spring Welcome Visit is an all-school event designed to give newly admitted candidates a foretaste of life as a Berkeley J-School student.
All admitted applicants must accept or reject their admission offer by May 1, 2018.
Classes begin in late August.
Key Components of the Application
- Statement of Purpose (no more than 500 words)
- Personal History Statement (no more than 500 words)
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Journalistic Work Samples (3)
- Required Tests
- Interviews and Writing Test
Begin your online application by creating a user account and password. Review the entire application so you know what is needed for each component. You can add and edit sections at any time before the deadline, so you’ll want to save the link to your application for easy access to the Berkeley Graduate Division website.
Parts of the Application:
Statement of Purpose (no more than 500 words):
Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in journalism, including your journalistic preparation, what specific skills you hope to learn through the Berkeley Journalism curriculum, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you. You may also want to include the reasons you would like to attend the Graduate School of Journalism at this point in your career. The Statement of Purpose is required for all applicants. Please note that the Statement of Purpose should not duplicate the Personal History Statement.
Personal History Statement (no more than 500 words):
Please describe how your personal background and experiences shaped your decision to pursue a journalism graduate degree, and how they have motivated you to become a reporter. In this section, you may also include any relevant information on how you overcame barriers to access higher education, or to achieve your journalistic goals. The Personal History Statement is required for all applicants. Please note that the Personal History Statement should not duplicate the Statement of Purpose.
Letters of Recommendation (3):
We prefer recommendations from professional journalists who know your work and can comment on your work ethic, reporting proficiency, and commitment to journalism. Requests for letters of recommendation are sent automatically through the online application. Recommenders will respond to this request and submit their letters directly to your online file. You will be able to view the status of the receipt of your recommendations through your online account, but you will not be able to see the content of the letters.
Journalistic Work Samples (3):
Your three work samples as a whole should highlight your ability as a reporter and storyteller. Please keep in mind that the Admissions Committee is looking for evidence that you have basic reporting skills, which include story identification, thorough background research, fact checking, cultivating appropriate sources and quoting them directly, and storytelling abilities. Work samples can be written pieces, multimedia pieces, online projects like data-driven stories, in-depth interactive graphics or interactive documentaries; or other abstract new media forms, such as VR, apps, or similar projects.
Work samples can be unpublished. Work samples can be uploaded as PDF, image or audio files, or submitted as a URL. If submitting a URL, be sure to include any additional information needed to access the materials online (e.g. if password-protected). It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure a working link and full accessibility to materials during the review period of the application. Be sure it’s clear that you are either the sole author/producer of each work sample, or specify exactly what your role was in creating the piece using the provided text box on the application.
Applicants should have a BA or BS from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit transcripts for ALL college-level course work. Transcripts can be unofficial but must show degree conferred (if any), the institution’s name, and the applicant’s full name. Transcripts must be loaded into the online application as PDFs and must be legible. Hard copies will be required if admission is offered.
The University requires a minimum 3.0 GPA or its equivalent for all coursework after the first two years, (typically the first 60 semester units or 90 quarter units) of undergraduate study, for US citizens. For international students, the University requires a minimum 3.0 GPA or its equivalent for all undergraduate coursework.
Upload a one-page PDF of your current resume. Include links in your resume to highlight additional work.
We do not require the GRE. All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. If you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a recognized U.S. institution, you do not need to take a standardized test. Instead, you must upload an unofficial transcript from the recognized U.S. institution. Click here for more information on language proficiency requirements.
Interviews and Writing Test:
You may be required to complete an interview and/or writing test. Interviews are usually done in person with an alumnus in your area. If an in-person interview is not possible, a video or phone interview can be scheduled.
The writing test is timed. The purpose of the test is to assess your current events knowledge and your ability to write under a tight deadline.
If you need to complete an interview or writing test, you will be contacted with more information in December or January.
Visit the Cost and Financial Aid page for more information about federal grants, loans, and work-study qualification. We strongly recommend that applicants start applying to outside funding as early as possible, as some deadlines are early.
Re-applicants must submit new online applications and fees.
If you were admitted in a past year, you will be able to indicate this on the application. It is highly recommended that all components of the new application are fresh, however transcripts from your previous application can be used upon request. We can also upload two of your three letters of recommendation upon request, but require one of the letters to be new. Please contact the admissions department early in the application process to request the upload of past application documents, so that if there is any problem you will have time to request and upload the documents yourself.
If you were not admitted when you applied before, we cannot upload past application documents. It is best to submit fresh documents because the admissions committee will be looking for evidence that your candidacy is stronger this time.
Concurrent Degree Applicants
For students who are interested in the flourishing field of health-related journalism and communications, the J-School offers a joint degree with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. It enables students to satisfy the requirements of the Master of Journalism and the Master of Public Health concurrently, completing both two-year programs in three years instead of the four that would be required if the degrees were pursued separately. Candidates should be sure they are ready to undertake both demanding programs in a condensed time period before they select this option. Concurrent degree applicants are reviewed by the admissions committees from each of the two schools, and must be sure they are following all the application requirements for both programs.
Visit our Concurrent Degree page for more information.
We welcome applications from international students. Admission is competitive. Candidates who have demonstrated professional journalism experience and fluency in English are favored. All work samples should be in English or translations/captions need to be submitted along with non-English work samples.
Resources for International Students
Berkeley Graduate Division
Please review Berkeley Graduate Division's information for international applicants.
Berkeley International Office
BIO can help international applicants with questions about visas, travel, and housing in the U.S.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Berkeley offers both need- and merit-based aid, but funding is limited. Some financial aid options are available from the Berkeley International Office (BIO). Additionally, internship information is available at the Career Center. Establishing California Residency to receive the lower tuition available for in-state students is unfortunately not an option for international students. However, students who qualify under the provisions of the Dream Act are eligible for in-state residency tuition.
TOEFL and Transcripts
International students must demonstrate language proficiency through either the TOEFL or IELTS test. All classes at the school are conducted in English. Please review the Graduate Division website for more details about the TOEFL / IELTS tests.
Frequently Asked Questions
The J‑School admits applicants with a wide variety of Bachelor's degrees, from Anthropology to Zoology. An applicant with a technical or science background can approach reporting from a unique perspective. Your performance as an undergraduate is important, just as your commitment to reporting is important.
No specific prerequisite coursework is required beyond the successful completion of your bachelor's degree.
The admissions committee looks for your dedication to becoming the best reporter you can be. Applicants who demonstrate solid reporting skills and a strong work ethic are favored. The most impressive applicants report stories that have not been previously reported, provide significant value to the community, lack personal bias, show meticulous research, sharp interviewing skills, integrity, and good judgment. Many do this while having an unrelated day job. Research and expertise in technologies and specific topics (eg biochemistry, data visualization) are also impressive to the admissions committee.
If you have not done any reporting, then it is more difficult to be a successful applicant. However, the admissions committee looks closely at other qualifications and achievements that indicate you are a strong candidate. Also, those who produce journalistic work during the months before the deadline are impressive, and sometimes unpublished research papers or journalistic work can be as strong as published work. Finally, if you need more samples of work, one of the best ways to learn and improve your reporting techniques is to ask a journalist to mentor you. A good mentor will allow you to pitch him/her story ideas, show you storytelling techniques, and help you with the editing and connections you need to get your work published.
Berkeley Graduate Division requires a 3.0 GPA for admission. Occasionally an exception can be made if professional experience outweighs the significance of an applicant's performance in college. There is a text box on the application that you can use to provide an explanation about your grades. You can use this to explain why your grades do not reflect of your merit for a Master of Journalism.
An electronic copy of your transcript that shows the official completion of your Bachelor's degree is required. Most international applicants will be required to upload an electronic copy of an official diploma in addition to transcripts.
The GRE is important if you are applying for the FLAS fellowship or if you are applying for a concurrent program that requires it. Otherwise, you do not need to take or report a GRE score.
We expect journalists to be sensitive to language and to organize their thoughts clearly and coherently. We ask that the three work samples demonstrate these qualities. Two of the three submissions must be text-based samples, but the third can be audio, video, multimedia, or a photo essay/portfolio. A video sample must be solely produced and directed by the application. Audio samples should be accompanied by a script. International applicants can send work samples in another language, so long as an English translation, by the applicant, is provided. Academic writing samples and research papers are acceptable.
Undergraduates may enroll in the Summer Minor Program. However, we do not offer graduate-level courses during the summer.
The program is a two-year, full-time Master of Journalism program. We only admit students each fall semester. For workshops and short courses, please visit Berkeley AMI which offers workshops and custom training programs for mid-career journalists.
All applicants will be evaluated equally by the admissions committee. You must be a student in our journalism program before being considered for advanced documentary coursework. Enrolled students can begin taking Introductory TV Production courses in their first semester. At the end of the second semester, the students who show the most dedication and merit have the opportunity to enroll in advanced documentary classes.