FAQ

How many students apply and how many are admitted?

Recent years have seen approximately 60-80 students apply, with between 5-10 students being admitted each year.

Yes, it is possible to be a part time student however, due to the extremely demanding requirements of the program we discourage part time study. Only students with outstanding academic records, and very specific reasons for part time study, will be accepted for admission.

Admitted students will get a phone call in mid-February when the Department has made their recommendation to the Graduate Division. In addition, we want to ensure that admits will attend the University’s Spring Diversity Day. This invitation-only event is typically held during the second Sunday/Monday of March. The Spring Diversity Day is a day for admitted students to come to Berkeley to get acquainted with the campus and its resources, meet faculty, graduate students and other admits.

The foreign language requirement can be satisfied in two ways. Students who have already completed 2 years of foreign language study before they begin the program can satisfy the Department’s language requirement without further study. The relevant paperwork must be completed as soon as possible after starting the program. The foreign language requirements can also be completed while studying for the degree in the Department itself. Usually this can be done by completing the necessary minimum coursework in the relevant language, or by petitioning for a written examination administered by a faculty member. All students must complete these requirements before they take their Qualifying Examinations – that is, usually before completing the third year of the program. Details will be provided by the Graduate Advisor.

We do not admit students for the MA degree only, though the MA degree is awarded on the way to completion of coursework towards the Ph.D. Students who already have an MA in African American Studies, Africana Studies are prohibited by the Graduate Division from receiving a second degree from the Department. However all students must complete all the necessary coursework for the Degree (unless granted specific exceptions by the Graduate Advisor to a maximum of 6 units) but are not required to take the MA Oral exam. Students with degrees in related topics – for example, Ethnic Studies, African Studies, American Studies, must normally earn the MA degree in African American Studies on the way to earning the Ph.D.

The Normative time for the program is six years.

GRE scores are not required by the Graduate Division, nor by the Department. However, students should note that some outside funding agencies may require GRE scores, for example, in nationally competitive funding agencies. Applicants should consult all the relevant sources of funding before deciding whether to do the GRE or not.

All students applying for admission must indicate on the application form if they want to be considered for funding, and must submit the application by the relevant due date – currently December 15th of each year. The applicant pool is evaluated and applicants who are admitted are also evaluated for funding. The admissions committee will make ranked nominations for funding. The Department offers funding packages ranging from one to five years, with fellowships including a combination of tuition, fees, and living expenses. Such funding is normally for nine-month periods and students usually need to seek additional summer funding. Funding will almost always require some teaching, usually as a Graduate Student Instructor on courses taught within the Department. The Department has very limited funds for graduate research, although there are options for such funding in other departments, and research units on campus, depending on the student’s focus. For example, see the relevant web sites for the following units: The Townsend Center, The Center for Race and Gender, The Center for Latin American Studies, The Institute for the Study of Social Change.

We employ a range of criteria for evaluating applicants for admission to the program. Our goal is to examine a range of indicators of student potential for academic success in the program, taking account of current faculty areas of expertise and interests. No individual criterion has superior weight on its own. We consider GPA, personal statement, letters of reference and sample of writing. We also look at individual statements of obstacles overcome on the path to academic success at the BA level. Finally, we ensure that there is a match between student areas, and faculty availability to advise and work with students. In other words, we seek to ensure that particular faculty members do not have too many demands on their time in such a way that student needs are not met.

Note that it is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree in African American Studies, though students must demonstrate that they have completed coursework that has a significant focus on African American Studies or African Diaspora Studies. Students applying from other countries may demonstrate substantial study of African Diaspora populations elsewhere, for example, Race and Ethnic Relations courses at universities in Britain; or Literature, History, Sociology or Anthropology courses in nations in Africa, the Caribbean or South America. In these instances the burden is upon the student to demonstrate that (s)he has covered the conceptual, theoretical and empirical work within the broad area of African Diaspora studies in such a way that would lead to the necessary levels of excellence in courses in the Department that focus on African Americans.

The Graduate Division of the University of California at Berkeley requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission to any graduate program on the campus. All students must satisfy this minimum. The Department of African American Studies does not require a minimum GPA for admission of students aside from that required by the Graduate Division.