Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate FAQ answers

If I am admitted, can I defer my admissions?
A petition to defer may be considered by the departmental admissions/fellowships committee only in the case of truly exceptional or emergency circumstances. Deferral, if granted, may have significant implications for a student’s funding (e.g., loss of a year of support) and the student’s funding letter may be revised to reflect this change. The graduate admissions/fellowships committee in consultation with the department chair reserves the right to grant or deny such petitions to meet the needs of the graduate program and department. 
Are scholarships available?
Most admitted students will be nominated for one of the University of California’s multi-year fellowships. These fellowships allow for two years of fee remissions and stipends supplied by the University, which is matched for two years of support from the History of Art department in the form of Graduate Student Instructor appointments or fellowships. Students who advance through the program in a timely manner will also earn the University’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship, which provides a stipend and fee remission for an additional year to be used while finishing the PhD dissertation. For more information, click here. In other years, the department assists in identifying external fellowships and supporting student applications for them. Our students have been very successful in obtaining outside funding for their projects.
Does History of Art accept applications for both fall and spring?
No, we only admit students for the fall semester. 
When will I be notified?
Decisions are made in early February and notifications will follow shortly. Students accepted to the program will be invited out for a visit to attend the University-wide Diversity Day symposium, as well as a departmental orientation and dinner in mid-March.
Do I have to complete the entire application again if I applied last year?
We encourage anyone who has applied and was not admitted to apply again. You will have to fill out a new online application and re-upload your materials. The university will have your GRE and TOEFL scores on file if you originally submitted them and they are still valid.
Can I have more than three Letters of Recommendation?
If you have more than 3 letters, there is not a guarantee that more than 3 will be read; more is not better. Three letters are preferred. 
Is the GRE required? How important is it?
The GRE is optional; the admissions committee considers the entire application as it makes its evaluation. If the applicant does however decide to submit a score, it must be a score that is received after June 2016. 
Is the TOEFL required? What is the minimum score?
The University of California sets a minimum score of 90 on the TOEFL IBT version. Any TOEFL taken before June 1, 2018 will not be valid for the 2020 admissions intake cycle. For more information on English language proficiency, see the Graduate Division website.
What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History Statement?
The descriptions are listed on the online application and are as follows:
Statement of Purpose:
Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.
Personal History Statement:
In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree. 
How long should my Statement of Purpose and/or my Personal History Statement be?
Two or three pages is a good general guideline, though there is no set limit.
How long should my paper be?
There is no minimum or maximum length. The average length is 15-30 pages. 
What are the specifics regarding the writing sample?
One of the components of the application is an approximately 20-page piece of scholarly work for your writing sample. The 20 pages include images and footnotes. If you do not have a paper that is this long, you may submit two smaller papers or re-work an older, shorter, paper to reach the 20-page mark. If you have an MA you may submit your thesis in its entirety as the writing sample. If you wish to submit a newer piece of scholarly work that you feel is a more accurate reflection of your abilities and research interest, you may submit that piece in place of the thesis. However, we still ask that you submit your thesis in the additional .pdf section of the online application.
Are there any prerequisites? Do I need to have majored in art history?

No. Students come from a variety of academic backgrounds.

Does Berkeley offer application fee waivers?
Yes. See the Graduate Division guidelines to see whether you are eligible for an Application Fee waiver. If you are eligible, follow the instructions for a waiver on the online application. Please note that the department does not offer fee waivers, only the Graduate Division.
Can I visit the campus before applying?

Students are welcome to set up an appointment to meet with the Graduate Student Affairs Officer. The university offers walking tours of the campus daily

Can I contact a faculty member before applying?
Each faculty member has their own policy in speaking to potential students. You can certainly attempt to contact any faculty member by email, but given the high volume of emails they receive, you may not receive a response. Faculty members will be in touch with every student who receives an offer of admission.