Start early! It is important that you start preparing sooner rather than later once you’ve made the decision to apply to graduate school. The key is to make sure you have enough time to put together a great application and resolve any unforeseen issues (e.g., a lost transcript, retaking the GRE, potential technical difficulties, etc.) before you submit your application. Here is a sample schedule that may be helpful for you as you prepare to apply:
January - March
- Begin researching the degree programs that you want to apply to. Make a checklist of general School of Public Health admissions requirements as well as the program-specific requirements (e.g. work experience, statement of purpose prompts, etc.). Figure out what program is best for you.
- Contact us with any questions you have about the program and/or admissions requirements.
- Start preparing for the GRE examination. Look at the admit statistics of the each of the program(s) you are interested in to see the target range of scores that you’ll want to aim for. With that said, please remember that your GRE score is not the sole deciding factor so do not get discouraged if you are not scoring in the same range as listed! Those statistics are there to give you an idea of what to aim for—scoring above or below the average does not guarantee admissions or automatically deny you.
April - July
- Start drafting/outlining what you want to write for your personal history statement and statement of purpose.
- Initiate conversations with your potential letter writers. Let them know what schools and programs you are applying to and see if they will be able to submit a strong letter of recommendation that will attest to your academic and/or professional ability to succeed in a graduate program. More isn’t always better. It makes a much stronger statement to have a total of 3 stellar letters than to have a total of 4 letters that include 3 that are stellar and 1 that is only OK. Focus on quality, not quantity.
- Start researching funding opportunities (e.g. external scholarships) since many of their deadlines for funding for the upcoming academic year will coincide with and/or are before our admissions application deadline.
- Make sure you have access to your unofficial transcripts from all institutions you’ve attended post-secondary education for application course-data entry purposes.
- The SOPHAS application period opens in mid-August of every year; check this website for the exact date. Check to see if you are required to submit a SOPHAS application. Create an account to begin your SOPHAS application. It takes some time to enter all of your coursework and complete your application so starting early will be very beneficial. You will also need to submit a UC Berkeley Graduate Division application (see September – November below).
- Generate the SOPHAS transcript request forms to be sent to all institutions that you’ve attended post-secondary education. For any coursework completed outside of the United States, please submit your credentials to World Education Services for evaluation. SOPHAS will not accept any foreign transcripts or translated foreign transcripts; only evaluation for U.S. equivalency by WES will be accepted by SOPHAS.
- Plan to take your GRE by this month. This will allow you time to retake your GRE test if you did not score what you had hoped for. The latest you can take your GRE to be considered for admissions is December 1. (Note: It's not recommended to wait this long.) Once you’ve gotten the GRE exam out of the way, it will provide you the opportunity to focus on strengthening other aspects of your application, like your statement of purpose.
- Have trusted friends and/or colleagues who are strong writers review both your statement of purpose and personal history statement and ask for constructive feedback.
- Follow up with your letter writers and send them an updated resume and a draft of your statement of purpose if you have it. Make sure they understand that they will be submitting their letters directly to SOPHAS and confirm that they have been receiving the emails from SOPHAS once you’ve designated them in your application.
September – November
- The UC Berkeley Graduate Division application period opens in September. This application is required from all applicants. The deadline for both the SOPHAS and the UC Berkeley Graduate Division applications is December 2, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
- Finalize all of your application materials (e.g. final drafts of your statements), send all of your test scores to the appropriate institution codes, make sure all letters of recommendations are being uploaded by your recommenders on SOPHAS, ensure that you’re meeting all admissions requirements, and submit both your SOPHAS and UC Berkeley Graduate Division application by mid-November in order to avoid any potential technical errors that would cause you to miss the application deadline.
- Keep an eye out for events hosted by schools. These events are helpful to attend because they give you the best sense of what the school values and looks for in applicants. Check out UC Berkeley events!
- Congrats on submitting your application by the December 2 deadline! Please keep in mind that we will not be able to accept any late applications under any circumstances.
- Continue to monitor your SOPHAS portal to make sure that all of your required documents have been received and uploaded to your application.
- Your application will not be considered for admissions review until it is “mailed” by SOPHAS to UC Berkeley SPH and until it is fully complete. SOPHAS will let you know when your application is “mailed”, but it will not tell you if it is fully complete. In addition to making sure your application is “mailed,” please be sure to log in your SOPHAS portal to see ensure that all the application requirements have been received by SOPHAS (e.g. test scores, 3 letters of recommendations, transcripts, and etc.).
- Switch your focus to finding external scholarship opportunities and filling out your FAFSA. UC Berkeley School of Public Health merit-based fellowships/funding will be assessed during admissions review and does not require a supplemental application. (Please note: you will need to make sure you select that you are interested in funding and fill out that section on your application if you want to be considered.)
- Continue to monitor your SOPHAS portal and emails to see if any administrators contact you about potential errors and/or issues that may arise.
February - April
- You’ll hear from us via email regarding your admissions decisions!