Advanced Degrees

A full-time course load for graduate students at Berkeley is 12 units per semester. Although it is possible to register for fewer units, the Graduate School of Education does not offer part-time graduate programs. To meet the intense intellectual challenge of doctoral study, students are expected to enroll for at least one year free from responsibilities of outside employment.

Doctoral Degrees

The Graduate School of Education offers two doctoral degrees -- the Ph.D. and the Ed.D. -- that differ in emphases, purposes, and the careers for which they prepare students. The path appropriate for each student depends upon degree and career goals. Each student, in partnership with a faculty counselor, will largely define an individualized course of study.

The School of Education will consider accepting doctoral-level course work completed before admission on a case-by-case basis during the first year of study. All research for the doctoral dissertation must be relevant to education.

The Graduate School of Education expects students pursuing a Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree in education to complete their degrees within 12 semesters of continuous registration, with no more than two semesters of withdrawal status The Graduate Division refers to this 12-semester period as the "normative time" for a doctorate in education. Normative time begins the semester a student enrolls in any graduate program at Berkeley and includes time spent completing a master's degree. Once students complete required course work, pass an oral qualifying examination, and advance to doctoral candidacy, they may apply for significantly reduced fees to complete their dissertation.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Ph.D. degree is designed for individuals interested in pursuing research and academic careers in the field of education. It signifies competence in independent research and scholarship. Applicants should demonstrate prior formal study in a relevant discipline. This intensive program aims to establish competence in the substance and method(s) of the intended field of scholarship, and acquisition of an informed perspective on educational issues sufficient to formulate significant questions for research.

The Ph.D. program, as distinguished from the Ed.D. program, requires mastery of an academic discipline that the student intends to apply to the study of educational problems. Students may meet this requirement by presenting before the oral qualifying examination or completing courses that represent a cohesive body of knowledge relevant to the student's area of specialization, including both theory and methods. Program offices can provide information and guidance regarding areas of specialization appropriate to the program.

The Doctor of Education Degree

The Ed.D. degree is a professional degree designed for individuals seeking advanced professional preparation as school or college administrators, curriculum developers, and other educational leaders. Ed.D. specializations include educational leadership, human development, language and literacy, and program evaluation and assessment. Within an area of specialization, students focus on the applications of theory and research to problems of educational practice and policy.

An Ed.D. program usually includes two years of course work that incorporate a field-based practicum. Using rigorous scientific research methodologies, the field practicum provides students with opportunities to apply theoretical foundations to actual field situations. The statement of purpose in the application for study should highlight the areas of individual interest and clearly reflect an aspiration to assume roles of leadership in educational institutions or related organizations.

Master's Degrees

M.A. degree programs enable students to acquire a broad understanding of the field of education. Work for an M.A. usually involves three or four semesters of study. There are two ways to meet the M.A. requirements:

Plan I requires:

  • 20 semester units of upper division and graduate level courses, at least 8 units of which must be in graduate courses (200 series) in education
  • Completion of a master's thesis reporting the results of an original investigation, to be approved by a three-member thesis committee. Committee membership is based on recommendations by the school and head graduate adviser and reviewed and approved by the Graduate Division.

Plan II requires:

  • 24 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, at least 12 units of which must be in graduate courses in education.

Successful completion of a written examination; a combination of a written and an oral examination, or a written seminar study.

No more than one-third of the units required for an M.A. may be taken on a Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory basis. Courses taken to fulfill schoolwide requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

Transfer of Credit from Other Institutions

You may transfer up to four semester units of credit from other institutions towards a master's degree if 1) the work was taken in graduate status at an institution of high standing, 2) it did not form part of a master's degree previously awarded at Berkeley or elsewhere, and 3) the entire record indicates superior scholarship. Acceptance is subject to the approval of the Graduate Division upon recommendation of the department concerned. Transfer of credit will not reduce your academic residence requirements nor the required minimum of 200-series courses. Please note that there is no provision for transferring credit into a doctoral degree program.

Application Deadlines

Apply Online

Visit the Graduate Division Application

  • December 1st, 2021, 8:59pm (PST): MA/PhD; PhD/Cred (School Psych); Jt. PhD; Science & Mathematics Education (SESAME); LEAD (EdD)
  • December 15th, 2021, 8:59pm (PST): MA/Admin Cred (PLI); MA/Teacher Cred (BE3)  

BSE Student Services

email: sends e-mail)