Academic Preparation

As you consider graduate school programs, note the requirements and the backgrounds of competitive students. Keeping this information in mind, review your courses and experiences. Please consider the following as your evaluate your academic preparation:

  • Identify steps you can take to be more competitive. Have you met the minimum requirements for admission to your graduate programs of choice? Now, what can you do to be more competitive?
  • Strive for a high GPA. Seek to increase or maintain the highest GPA possible. A 3.6 GPA and above is recommended for the most competitive schools.
  • Review the Step by Step(link is external)(link is external) advising tool. Step by Step is for students interested in graduate study in the Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences. Although it is designed for Berkeley students, all students interested in graduate school can benefit from the advice.
  • Strengthen your language skills. Many Arts & Humanities graduate programs have considerable language requirements. You should start additional languages or significantly develop your language skills prior to applying to graduate school. Although many students take language courses during their first few terms in graduate school, language requirements can delay your progress, not to mention that you will want to draw on those skills in your graduate classes.
  • Get research experience. Some disciplines will look favorably on research experience prior to your graduate program. In your junior year, consider getting involved in courses that will help you produce undergraduate research or plan to participate in a senior thesis program.
  • Continue to improve your writing skills. In the humanities, your ability to write well is crucial not only for admission, but also for conveying ideas, concepts, and theories that are so much a part of humanities disciplines.
  • Prepare for very specific application requirements. For example, depending upon the program, you may need to develop a portfolio of art work or recordings of musical compositions to submit as a part of the graduate school application.
  • Take more coursework. Some students who do not have enough preparation to be competitive take actions like staying a fifth year to take extra courses, enroll in postgraduate courses or complete a master's degree in an academically strong program prior to applying to a doctoral program.