gloved hands in the lab

Applications are reviewed on a holistic basis by an admissions committee composed of faculty, graduate students, and staff. We value the strengths that applicants bring to our graduate programs from their diverse academic and research backgrounds, employment experiences, and life journeys. Candidates are evaluated using rubrics meant to minimize bias, and committee members receive training in recognizing implicit bias.

What We Look For

Applications for admission to the Plant Biology and Microbiology PhD programs undergo review by committees composed of faculty members and graduate students. The committees evaluate applications based on several criteria:

  • Academic potential, taking into consideration any barriers that may have impacted the applicant’s prior achievements
  • Depth of research experience and other work experience
  • Motivation for graduate work, intellectual curiosity, persistence, and leadership experiences
  • Contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as outreach activities, multicultural experiences, and lived experiences

The committee bases admissions recommendations on the statement of purpose and personal history statement written by the candidate, research experiences, prior coursework and grades, and letters of recommendation. 

Applicants whose trajectories have been affected by restrictions or hardships experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic should indicate those impacts in their application materials.

For Plant Biology:  A basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology, roughly equivalent to the Department's undergraduate program in Genetics and Plant Biology.

For Microbiology:  A basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology, roughly equivalent to the Department's undergraduate program in Microbial Biology.

Application Requirements

  • Completed online Graduate Application for Admissions and Fellowships
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should be written by science faculty. All reviewers should be familiar with the student's scholarly abilities.
  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score for applicants who have received undergraduate degrees from institutions where English is not the language of instruction. With few exceptions, UC Berkeley requires a TOEFL score of at least 570 on the paper and pencil test, or 230 on the computer-based test and 90 on the Internet-based TOEFL. Take the TOEFL by November. Note on the TOEFL order form the institution code 4833 (UC Berkeley) and the department code 37 (botany). Please read the Graduate Division's Evidence of English Language Proficiency for more information.
  • Paid Application Fee of $120 if you are a US citizen or US permanent resident, and $140 otherwise.
    Fee Waiver: U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can demonstrate financial need are eligible to apply for a waiver of the application fee

* Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required and will not be reviewed for the graduate application.

Please also review UC Berkeley's Graduate Admissions Requirements for futher information on the application requirements. 

The application submission deadline is December 1st, 2021 by 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET).

How to Apply

The department of Plant and Microbial Biology uses an entirely electronic application process. All materials are to be submitted through the online application. Students may only apply to one program at UC Berkeley per admission term. The department of Plant and Microbial Biology offers two Ph.D. degree programs:

Plant Biology

*If your research interests are in microbial ecology and evolution, fungal diversity or mycology, please apply to the Microbiology Ph.D. program.

UC Berkeley Graduate Application

FEE WAIVER APPLICATION (for eligible students)

The application submission deadline is December 1st, 2021 by 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET).

Please review and complete all relevant parts of the UC Berkeley Graduate Application. The following lists instructions and detail for specific sections of the online graduate application:

You should also review UC Berkeley's Graduate Admissions Requirements for additional information on admissions requirements.

The minimum graduate admissions requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and
  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

Academic History 

  • Enter each educational institution attended after high school, including UC Berkeley or any other campus of the University of California, regardless of the length of attendance.
  • Please upload a scanned copy or digital facsimile of your transcript for each institution. Make sure to redact your social security number, student ID number, address and any other sensitive personal information that may appear on your transcript before you upload it.
  • Applicants who attended a university in a non-English speaking country should upload a copy of both the English translation of their transcript and the one in their native language as one PDF.


The primary (native) language selection is required. The secondary areas are optional and/or not applicable.


The employment history section is optional. You are required to upload your Resume/CV in the Supporting Materials section of the application.


You are required to submit three letters of recommendation. You will be asked to submit the names and email addresses of your three recommenders as part of the online application. The request for the letter of recommendation will be initiated in the application itself. They will also be directly submitted once your recommender sends the letter online. 

Science faculty should write at least two of your three letters. All reviewers should be familiar with your scholarly abilities. If you have had research experience in a lab setting, we also recommend that you submit letters from your faculty research supervisor.

You do not have to wait until letters of recommendation are submitted in order to submit your online application.

Test Scores 

 Graduate Record Exam (GRE) – The GRE exam scores are not required for the graduate application. They will not be reviewed or considered even if submitt


  • All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. 
  • If you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a recognized U.S. institution, you do not need to take a standardized test. Instead, you must upload an unofficial transcript from the recognized U.S. institution.
  • Please review the Graduate Division’s requirements for Evidence of English Language Proficiency. Indicate institution code 4833 (UC Berkeley) to have scores sent.


Statement of Purpose (required)

The statement of purpose should convince readers – the faculty on the selection committee – that you have solid achievements behind you that show promise for your success in graduate study. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you. Generally, these are 1 to 2 pages in length.

We strongly recommend you review the Graduate Division's tips for Writing the Statement of Purpose.

Personal Statement  (required)

The personal statement should give concrete evidence of your promise as a member of the academic community, giving the committee an image of you as a person. This is also where you represent your potential to bring to your academic career a critical perspective rooted in a non-traditional educational background, or your understanding of the experiences of groups historically under-represented in higher education and your commitment to increase participation by a diverse population in higher education. Generally, these are 1 to 2 pages in length.

We strongly recommend you review the Graduate Division's tips for Writing the Personal Statement.

Supporting Materials 

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae – This is required. In addition to your work history, you may like to list any awards, fellowships, summer research opportunities, traineeships, prizes, participation in student organizations etc.
  • Sampling of Relevant Work – This section is not applicable. Please do not submit written work.
  • Publications and Presentations – Applicants have the option of uploading additional documents they believe will help strengthen their application. Although not required, you may choose to upload publications, papers, and/or posters related to your academic and/or professional background.
  • Honors and Awards – This section is optional
  • Website – This section is optional
  • Survey – This section is optional

The application submission deadline is December 1st, 2021 by 11:59pm Eastern Time (ET).

After You Apply

Application Subsmission

After submitting the application, applicants will continue to have access to the application to manage the following items:

  1. Remind a recommender to submit a letter of recommendation through the system
  2. Pay the application fee 
  3. View their status page

Admissions Timeline and Important Dates

December 2 through late December 2021

  • Admissions committees review applicant files. At  the end of this process, applicants who have been selected for the next stage will be invited to attend  the prospective student interview weekend.  Applicants who are not selected for an interview will also be notified at this time in early January.

January 20, 2022 – January 23, 2022  

  • PMB Virtual Interview Week - Applicants who have been selected for an interview and are interested in coming to UC Berkeley are  required to attend these interview week of events.  Although we cannot guarantee an alternate interview  date, PMB will look into making alternate arrangements for students that have significant prior commitments that cannot be moved. If there is a conflict with another program’s visit date, please  make sure to check with the other school on whether they have multiple visit options prior to  committing to your visit date.  An Interview Prep Workshop will also be held to provide applicants who are invited for interviews with questions, tips, and general structure of interview day. The workshop is held in mid-January before interview week. Details are provided in the invitation sent in December.

Mid February

  • ​Shortly after the interview weekend, the admissions committee will reconvene and  make final admissions decisions. All interviewees will be notified of their admissions status as soon as  possible.

April 15th, 2022

  • ​ Deadline for admitted students to accept or decline their offers of admission. This  deadline is a national deadline for all schools that are a part of the Council of Graduate Schools.

Should you have any questions or concerns about the graduate admissions application or graduate admissions process, please contact the Graduate Advisor at