Admissions Requirements and Process

gloved hands in the lab

The committee bases admissions recommendations on:

  • Grades and coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Written statements of academic and professional goals
  • Other documentation of research
  • Academic potential and accomplishment

Requirements at a Glance

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.

For Both Plant and Microbiology Programs:

  • Completed online Graduate Application for Admissions and Fellowships
  • 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.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required for the graduate application. 
  • If you have additional questions, please contact Graduate Student Advisor Lyn Rivera at
  • Tips on Writing the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement are found on the Graduate Division website.

Applying to Berkeley for grad school requires an application fee of $120 if you are a US citizen or US permanent resident, and $140 otherwise. US citizens, US permanent residents, and AB540 students can apply to waive this application fee if (i) they demonstrate financial need or (ii) they have taken part in specific programs that qualify for a fee waiver. Financial need is determined by either (i) Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) on your Student Aid Report; or (ii) by the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on your tax return. For full details, please see  the Graduate Division website. 

How to Apply

Please refer to our 2021 Graduate Application Instructions when completing the online graduate application for admission.


The department of Plant and Microbial Biology uses an entirely electronic application process. Please read through these instructions carefully and email Lyn Rivera at should you have any questions. All materials are to be submitted through the online application.

It may also be useful to take the time to review UC Berkeley’s tips for preparing your application.

Complete and Submit UC Berkeley’s Online Graduate Application. Visit this website to access the instructions and 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:
  1. Microbiology*
  2. Plant Biology

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

Complete all parts of the graduate application. The following lists instructions for specific sections of the online graduate application.

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.

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

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

Recommendations - You are required to submit three letters of recommendation. You will be asked to submit the names of your three recommenders as part of the online application. 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.

We strongly recommend that you use UC Berkeley’s online letter of recommendation system instead of having your recommenders send their letters through the mail. You are able to log into the application and manage your letters of recommendation after you submit your online application.

Test Scores

  •  Graduate Record Exam (GRE) – The GRE exam scores are not required for the graduate application.
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores – All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit         official evidence of Englishlanguage proficiency.

Please review the Graduate Division’s requirements for demonstrating proficiency in English online. Indicate institution code 4833 (UC Berkeley) to have scores sent.

Statement of Purpose – This is required. Refer to Writing the Statement of Purpose for general guidance. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you. General accepted lengths are 1 to 2 pages.

Personal Statement - This is required. Refer to Writing the Personal Statement for general guidance. General accepted lengths are 1 to 2 pages

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

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

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, 2) Pay the application fee and 3) View their status page.

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