Mechanical Engineering
Graduate Admissions F.A.Q.

Pre-Admissions Questions

Aspects of the Program

Application Information

Additional Information

What can I do to prepare for applying to UC Berkeley?

We encourage you to begin early and prepare all documents needed to support your application. Register and prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Contact three of your professors regarding letters of recommendation. International applicants should request official transcripts early and have official translations prepared. Applicants from countries where English is not the official language must also register for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Please read the information for prospective applicants on the Graduate Division web page.

What are my chances of being admitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering?

Because of the large volume of applications and inquiries we receive during each admissions cycle, we cannot evaluate the potential success of each applicant. Admissions decisions can only be made by the admissions committee after an application is complete (including all supporting documents). The admissions committee considers many factors in its decision, including but not limited to: academic record, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, research experience, and test scores.

Does Mechanical Engineering admit applicants for the Spring semester?

The department's enrollment allocation is met during the Fall admissions cycle.  Therefore, we do not hold a Spring admission cycle.

Does the Department have a supplemental application?

You must complete and submit a Graduate Study Questionnaire after you submit your online application to the Graduate Division.

What are the minimum requirements to be considered for admission to a graduate program in Mechanical Engineering?

The minimum graduate admission requirements are: (1) a bachelor's degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution; (2) enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field; (3) a satisfactory scholastic average, with a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) and (4) the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations. Please read the Graduate Division webpage on Admission Requirements. If you received or are a candidate to receive a degree from an institution outside the United States , please read the section on International Applicants in Admission Requirements.

Can I study towards a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering part time?

All students are required to maintain a full-time load of 15 units. There are no evening courses. The Department does not allow part-time graduate study.

Do you offer online courses in Mechanical Engineering?

The Mechanical Engineering Department currently does not offer online courses.

How long does it take to complete an M.S. degree? M. Eng. degree? Ph.D. degree?

The Master of Science program usually requires between two to three semesters (24 units of course work) and a report and presentation. A thesis plan (20 units of course work) for the Master of Science degree is also possible.

The Master of Engineering program consists of 40-44 units of course work, including an independent study report. An M. Eng. degree is usually obtained in 4 semesters.

The Ph.D. program is generally completed 4-5 years after completion of the M.S. degree.

How do I apply for graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering?

Complete instructions are located here.

What is the Department’s code to have official GRE scores sent?

To ensure that your official GRE scores are forwarded to the Department of Mechanical Engineering you must give ETS our department code 1500 when requesting official score reports to be sent to UC Berkeley.

Does the Department require a GRE subject test?

The General GRE Test consisting of the verbal, analytical and quantitative sections is required. No subject test is needed to apply for graduate study in Mechanical Engineering.

Does the Department of Mechanical Engineering require that I calculate and list my grade-point average (GPA) on the application?

For applicants who received their undergraduate degree at a U.S. university or college, calculate the GPA using all course work after the first two years. Applicants who received their undergraduate degree outside the U.S. should convert their grades to the U.S. scale using all course work.

Where do I send supporting documents?

Please do not send extra items or documents that are not required, including: printouts of forms you have already submitted online, theses, dissertations, papers, or diskettes. Do not send plastic covers, cases, sleeves, or bindings on documents. ALL LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION NEED TO BE SUBMITTED ON LINE, only the official transcripts need to be sent in sealed envelopes to:

Student Services Office
Mechanical Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
6189 Etcheverry Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1742

Where do I send the application fee?

You must submit an application fee when you apply. The application fee is not refundable. If you are a U.S. citizen or current permanent resident, the application fee is $60; for all others, the fee is $80. Fees are subject to change.

If you apply online, you may pay the fee by credit card. If you submit a check or money order, it must be drawn on a United States bank. Checks should be made payable to “UC Regents.” Do not submit UNESCO coupons, traveler’s checks, international postal money orders, Eurocheques, or cash. Do not transfer funds electronically.

Can I have the application fee waived?

U.S. citizens or permanent residents who can demonstrate financial need are eligible to apply for a waiver of the application fee. To apply, please submit the Request for Waiver of the Graduate Application Fee.

International applicants are not eligible to have the application fee waived.

Mail the Request for Waiver of the Graduate Application Fee with the supporting materials to the Waiver Officer, Graduate Admissions, 309 Sproul Hall #5900, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-5900. Please check the Graduate Division website regarding deadline to request waiver. An incomplete waiver application does not prevent review of application materials. If you apply for a fee waiver, please do not pay the application fee until a decision has been reached on the waiver request. If we deny your request for a waiver, we will instruct you to pay the fee.

If you received a waiver last year, that fee waiver will not carry over to this year. You must pay the application fee or submit a new Fee Waiver Request form.

Please note that funds for waivers are limited, and there is no guarantee that all those eligible will receive waivers.

Note: The application fee and policy are subject to change without notice.

What happens if you receive my GRE score report or transcripts before or after my application is submitted?

All documents sent to the Student Services Office in the Department are kept for two years. Documents that arrive separately are matched against our database. Please note that your application will not be reviewed until all application materials are received.

I have a B.S. in engineering. Can I apply to the Ph.D. program directly?

You may apply directly to the Ph.D. program, or you can apply to the M.S./Ph.D program. Applicants who already hold an M.S. degree from another institution should apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

Who needs to submit TOEFL scores?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language is required of all international applicants who received their undergraduate degree at a university or college in a country where English is not the official language. However, if at the time of application, you have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a U.S. university, you do not need to take the TOEFL. Instead, you must submit an official transcript from the U.S. university. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement: 1) courses in English as a Second Language, 2) courses conducted in a language other than English, 3) courses that will be completed after you apply,  4) courses of a non-academic nature. For more information about TOEFL requirements, please see "Evidence of English Language Proficiency" on the Graduate Division Admissions Requirements webpage.

What TOEFL score do I need to be considered for admission?

The minimum TOEFL score required by U.C. Berkeley for graduate admission is 570 on the paper and pencil test, 230 on the computer based test and 68 on the Next Generation TOEFL (iBT). Applicants with a score below this will not be admitted.

What code do I use to have an official TOEFL score report sent to UC Berkeley?

The institution code for UC Berkeley is 4833.

Will I be notified when my application has been submitted or is complete?

The Graduate Division will send you a confirmation email after your online application is submitted. Once the Graduate Division electronically forwards your application to our department you will receive an email message from us notifying you that we have received your application. At that time, we will request that you complete our web-form. After you have completed the web-form which you will receive approximately a week after you apply, you can log onto the same site at any time to check the status of your application.  Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is submitted and all supporting documents are received by the Student Services Office in the Department of Mechanical Engineering by the appropriate deadline.

How can I check on the status of my application and/or supporting documents?

After you have completed our REQUIRED department web-form which you will receive approximately a week after you apply, you can log onto the same site at any time to check the status of your application. You will get periodic e-mails notifying you of any received supporting documents. Your application will not be reviewed until all materials have been received. Please do not contact our office to check on the status of your application. Due to the large volume of applications processed by our department, and tight admission deadlines, we are unable to check on individual applications.

What do I need to do to reactivate my previous application?

If you filed an application for graduate admission at Berkeley within the last two years but did not register, submit a new online application and indicate the most recent semester for which you previously applied. You should also submit the application fee and any additional or updated information or records. If you are applied to a different program and want to use academic records or letters of recommendation previously submitted within the last two years, you must arrange for their transfer from the prior program directly to the Mechanical Engineering department.

You must meet all current deadlines and requirements; make sure that your GRE and TOEFL tests meet the current test date cutoffs.

If you applied for admission more than two years ago, you must submit a new application, pay the application fee, and provide all required materials

How do I apply for a Teaching or Research Assistantship?

Graduate Student Instructors (GSI) and Graduate Student Researchers (GSR) are selected by the admissions committee for the program to which they have applied. Applicants are notified in their admission letters if they have been selected for an assistantship.

Graduate students who enroll at UC Berkeley for the first time and do not speak English as a native language are required to pass either the Test of Spoken English (TSE), administered through the Educational Testing Service, or the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK), administered on the Berkeley campus by the GSI Teaching and Resource Center before being able to teach as a GSI at Berkeley. A passing score on the TSE or SPEAK is valid for two years prior to your first appointment. Beginning Fall 2006, applicants that took the Next Generation TOEFL (iBT) and receive a 26 or higher on the speaking section do not have to take the SPEAK test. For acceptable scores and additional information please review the Teaching and Resource website .

Information regarding GSI and Reader appointments can be located at:

How do I apply for a merit-based fellowship?

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must complete the fellowship section of the application and personal history statement to be considered for multi-year University Graduate Fellowships, Departmental Block Grant Fellowships, Diversity Fellowships, and Graduate Opportunity Program (GOP) Awards. To be considered for GOP Awards, you also must complete the FAFSA. When completing the section on resources for the coming academic year, provide your best estimate of your summer gross earnings. In the "other income" section, only list fellowships that have already been awarded to you. For additional living expenses, give your best estimate for the coming academic year. Please be sure to complete the personal history statement that describes your personal history and intellectual development. All admitted applicants are automatically considered and no special application is needed.

What is the cost of graduate study at UC Berkeley?

For an estimate of living expenses while attending Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division webpage for Costs and Fees.

Who qualifies for need-based financial aid?

Graduate students may apply for need-based loans and work-study through the Financial Aid Office (FAO). The programs are based on demonstrated financial need and require a separate application, independent of the fellowship application. Low-income students with dependent children will be considered for need-based grant awards if funding permits.

The Financial Aid Office will use the Student Budget for the initial calculation of your eligibility for various programs. If, after reviewing your official offer of financial aid, you decide that your actual expenses are higher, you may then document those expenses, such as medical bills, child care, or research expenses. These extra costs will then be taken into account to increase your loan eligibility. Your eligibility for any federal financial aid program is determined by comparing your resources to your budget.

Questions about the programs described in this section should be directed to the Financial Aid Office, Graduate Unit, 211 Sproul Hall #1960, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1960, (510) 642-6442. Only U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens (those holding permanent resident cards) may apply for funds administered by the Financial Aid Office.

What type of financial assistance is available to international students?

If you are an international applicant, you must complete the fellowship section of the online application to be considered for multi-year University Graduate Fellowships, Departmental Block Grant Fellowships, and Restricted Fellowship Endowments.

Please be advised that University resources for international students are very limited. As you may be aware, U.S. Federal regulations require that international students be able to demonstrate sufficient financial support for their studies in the U.S. before a student visa (F or J) may be issued for entry into the U.S. The purpose of this budget is not to create obstacles, but to meet the requirement of the regulations and to ensure that international students coming to Berkeley are adequately prepared for the expenses they will face as a student here. The University estimates that international students entering U.C. Berkeley for the academic year 2008-2009 would need a minimum of $43,337. This figure includes non-resident tuition and fees and living expenses for 12 months. It does not include professional school fees or additional living expenses for a spouse or child. This estimate includes fees for two semesters and for basic living expenses, books, and other school supplies. Married students should bring an additional $7,000 if accompanied by a spouse and $4,000 for each accompanying child. Opportunities for employment are severely limited, and students holding a student visa (F-1) should not expect to be employed in nonacademic positions during the first two semesters. Spouses and children on dependents' visas (F-2) are not permitted to accept employment.

The University will not issue a visa to you unless you provide the international student adviser with clear evidence of your ability to pay all required fees and expenses for the first year. You should also indicate the sources of funding you are likely to have available for the remainder of your program. American embassies and consulates will not grant you a student visa unless you can provide proof of adequate funding for the first year and probable support for subsequent years. Spouses on F-2 visas are not permitted to accept employment. Further information can be obtained from Services for International Students and Scholars, International House, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-2321, or by e-mail (

When will I be notified whether I have been admitted?

We will begin sending notification letters to applicants beginning in mid-February and continue to do so until the admissions committee has made all of their decisions. All applicants are notified by e-mail. If your application is successful, the Department will notify you that you have been recommended for admission. However, only the Dean of the Graduate Division can offer admission and will send the “official” admission letter. Admission to graduate study is limited by the number of places available in the various colleges, schools, and departments at Berkeley. If you have applied for admission and fellowship consideration, you should be notified of the results by the end of March. If you have applied for admission only, you will be advised as soon as possible after a decision has been reached.

How do I accept or decline your offer of admission?

Applicants receiving an offer of admission will also receive from the Graduate Division a copy of Taking the Next Step (PDF). This document details the steps necessary to complete three required forms online: the Statement of Intention to Register Form, Statement of Legal Residence Form, and the Non-Immigrant Information Form (for non-U.S. citizens). Please note that applicants who have mislaid their SID and PIN numbers should contact User and Account Services at (510) 642-7355.  

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Updated: 6/6/08