Application Requirements

Application Tips

Inform Yourself

Please read all pertinent information on the program and application requirements before you start the application process. Most questions are answered in these online materials.

Start Early

Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the application. Faculty recommenders are usually busy and have requests from many students. It is imperative to ask for recommendation letters early and to clearly communicate the application deadline.

Be Concise

Convey all you want the committee to know about you in a compelling, concise application. We review several hundred applications, so avoid sending excess materials that are not required.

Be Specific

You must choose a primary and secondary area of emphasis of neuroscience from the dropdown menu in the online application. While your choice does not obligate you to follow any specific path once enrolled, failure to do so delays the review process.

Application Components

All applications are submitted electronically through the UC Berkeley Graduate Application portal. Below are required components of the application you must submit in order to be considered for admission into the Neuroscience PhD program. We accept applications beginning mid September through the end of Novemeber for the following year's fall start cohort. 

  • Completed online UC Berkeley Graduate Application, including the Neuroscience Program page
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended (scanned copies)
  • Resume/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS scores) if applicable 
  • Paid Application Fee of $135 if you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, and $155 otherwise

Please review UC Berkeley's Graduate Admissions information and Graduate Admissions Requirements(link is external) for futher information and requirements for all graduate program applicants. 

Additional Information

Undergraduate Preparation

Strong undergraduate preparation for neuroscience includes at least one year of college level coursework in one of the following disciplines: biology, physics, chemistry, calculus, or engineering. Additional coursework in cognitive science, psychology, biophysics, or neurobiology is advisable. Applicants should describe their research experience in the Statement of Purpose.

A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for admissions. In addition, the Neuroscience PhD Program requires applicants to have at least one year of laboratory research experience.

Transcripts: Upload unofficial transcripts (ie, scanned copies) to your application. International applicants sould also upload scanned copies of their degree certificate(s). If admitted to the program, you will be required to send official documents to UC Berkeley after accepting your admission offer.

GPA: If your GPA is on a 4.0 scale, please complete fields in the "Grade Point Averages (GPA)" section of the application: cumulative, advanced, major, intended field of study (if differnt from major), and cumulative graduate GPA (if applicable.

If your GPA is not based on a 4-point scale, please do not convert to this scale. Instead, complete the “Other Scale GPA” field on the application  using the scale used at your institution and be sure to include documentation of their grading system (usually this is part of your transcript).

Application Essays

You will prepare and submit two essays as part of your application: the Statement of Purpose (SOP) and the Personal History Statement (PHS). Please see general information about the Statement of Purpose(link is external) and the Personal Statement(link is external) provided by the Graduate Division. Below is more specific information petaining to the Neuroscience PhD Program.

Statement of Purpose: In the SOP, you should describe your motivation, preparation, and aptitude for PhD study in neuroscience. Please include a description of your prior research experience and accomplishments, with enough detail (for at least one project) to illustrate how you think scientifically. You should also discuss your future research interests and career goals and why you think Berkeley is a good fit for your PhD training. The SOP should be 2-3 double-spaced pages.

Personal History Statement: In the Personal History Statement (PHS), you should describe how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. The PHS should not duplicate the SOP but should provide broader context on your personal story and goals. This may include how you overcame barriers to access higher education, how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, your service to advance equitable access to education for under-represented groups, research you may have done that focuses on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, your leadership roles in such groups, and/or your plans in graduate school and your future career to address societal issues. The PHS should be 1-3 double-spaced pages.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

The employment history section of the online application is optional. However, you are required to upload your Resume/CV in the Supporting Materials section of the application. In addition to your work history, you may like to list any awards, fellowships, summer research opportunities, traineeships, prizes, participation in student organizations etc.

Letters of Recommendation

You are required to submit three letters of recommendation. Letters should be from individuals who have supervised work in a laboratory, research, or academic setting and can comment on intellectual ability, creativity, scientific leadership skills, and scholarly potential.  

You will be asked to submit the names and email addresses of your three recommenders as part of the online application. Doing so will inititate a request to your recommender for a letter and they will submit their letters online directly to your application using a unique link sent to them. You do not have to wait until letters of recommendation are submitted in order to submit your online application. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that recommenders submit their letters by the deadline. 

More information about Letters of Recommendation can be found on Graduate Division's Admission FAQs page(link is external).

Exam Scores

You will be asked to enter your test scores into the online application and to submit official test scores directly to UC Berkeley for verification. Send your test score directly from ETS to the institution code for UC Berkeley: 4833 for Graduate Organizations. 

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): GRE scores are optional. 

Evidence of English language Proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree in a country/region in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Additional information including allowable exemptions can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

Application Fee

The application fee must be paid in order for your application to be reviewed. The application fee is $135 if you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident, and $155 otherwise. 

U.S. citizen and permanent residents may qualify for application fee waivers. Please visit the the fee waiver website(link is external)(link is external) for more information. Fee waivers are administered by UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions and not by the Neuroscience PhD Program. Please direct all fee waiver questions to

You will submit the application fee through your status page after you have submitted your application. If you applied for a fee waiver, fee waiver decisions will be posted on your status page after submission of the application. Do not submit your application late.

The application payment system requires that you enter the exact billing address information on the credit card statement (no abbreviations, extra spaces etc.) including the name, address, and security code. Please see below if your payment status is "pending" and/or your credit card is being declined:

  1. Check with your bank to make sure that the address information you are entering is exact.

  2. Try a different credit card.

  3. The charges you are seeing for the payments that did not go through are authorization holds from the bank. They will disappear in a few days once the charges are declined. If they do not disappear, you will need to contact your bank to have them removed.


For general questions about graduate admissions or technical problems with the online application, contact Graduate Admissions:

For questions about program specific requirements and Neuroscience admissions, contact the Neuroscience PhD Program: