ERG Admissions FAQ

How long do the ERG Master’s Degree and Ph.D. take to complete?

The Master’s pro­gram is two years.  Stu­dents who are admit­ted to the ERG/Public Pol­icy or Law Con­cur­rent Degree take three to four years. The Ph.D. depends on you, your research topic, and your fund­ing sit­u­a­tion, but nor­mal com­ple­tion is four to six years.


Is it a good idea to visit?
You are wel­come to visit ERG at any time before the admis­sions dead­line in early Decem­ber.  Please con­tact the Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Affairs Offi­cer (GSAO) at erggrad@​berkeley.​edu to make an appoint­ment.  ERG does not allow appli­cants to visit dur­ing the period of active con­sid­er­a­tion (between the first week of Decem­ber and the last week of Feb­ru­ary). It is best to wait until the fourth week of classes before plan­ning your visit; check the Berke­ley Aca­d­e­mic Cal­en­dar for hol­i­days and instruc­tion start and end dates.


May I meet with a mem­ber of the fac­ulty? Which fac­ulty are accept­ing stu­dents?
You are wel­come con­tact fac­ulty directly by email; how­ever please under­stand that due to the small num­ber of ERG core fac­ulty and the large num­ber of appli­cants, it is not pos­si­ble for fac­ulty to meet with most prospec­tive stu­dents.  The Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Affairs Offi­cer (GSAO) is avail­able to advise you on the ERG pro­grams, require­ments for admis­sion, appli­ca­tion process, and other questions.

Fac­ulty may occa­sion­ally be avail­able to dis­cuss research ques­tions on a case-by-case basis by phone, email or dur­ing their office hours. How­ever, please be advised that this will have no direct effect on admis­sions. Appli­cants are reviewed by the entire admis­sions com­mit­tee, and are admit­ted to the pro­gram, not under the aus­pices of any indi­vid­ual fac­ulty member.

ERG stu­dents are often avail­able to dis­cuss their expe­ri­ence at ERG and answer ques­tions as well. The GSAO can help you reach out to cur­rent students.


But my col­lege advi­sors tell me to con­tact fac­ulty about their research. Should I do so?
No, this is not nec­es­sary or rec­om­mended. ERG fac­ulty mem­bers gen­er­ally put cur­rent research efforts on their fac­ulty web­sites. More impor­tantly, because ERG stu­dents often change research focus while they are stu­dents and often have advi­sors who are not ERG core fac­ulty, there is no advan­tage in the appli­ca­tion process to propos­ing to do research that matches the inter­ests of ERG core fac­ulty. We encour­age you to define your own research inter­ests.  You do not need the endorse­ment or spon­sor­ship of any fac­ulty mem­ber in order to be admit­ted to ERG.


Who will be my advi­sor?
When you are admit­ted, you will be assigned an ERG core fac­ulty advi­sor based on your research inter­ests. That advi­sor will help to ensure that you nav­i­gate the process of obtain­ing a degree.

Once you are here, you will seek out a research advi­sor for your Master’s Project or Dis­ser­ta­tion as well.  The research advi­sor can be any fac­ulty mem­ber at UC Berke­ley, or in some cases researchers or fac­ulty at other insti­tu­tions. Many of our stu­dents do not have ERG core fac­ulty as research advi­sors. (But many do, of course.) There are well over 100 ERG Affil­i­ate Fac­ulty in depart­ments across UC Berke­ley, plus Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab, and other insti­tu­tions who love to work with ERG stu­dents. The com­bi­na­tion of the UC Berke­ley fac­ulty and the Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab research staff is prob­a­bly the world’s largest con­cen­tra­tion of pro­fes­sional researchers work­ing on energy and resources, and maybe the best.

Because of the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary nature of the pro­gram, you may have more than one advi­sor and you are never tied or oblig­ated to remain with a spe­cific advisor.


How can I get in touch an ERG stu­dent?
If you wish to be put in touch with a cur­rent ERG stu­dent, please send an inquiry to the fol­low­ing email address with a short sum­mary (just a cou­ple of lines please) includ­ing the degree pro­gram you are con­sid­er­ing (Mas­ters, PhD, Con­cur­rent degree), research areas of inter­est, spe­cific stu­dents whose work inter­ests you, a lit­tle bit about your rel­e­vant back­ground, and your country/language of ori­gin if you are inter­na­tional. Email:


Should I apply for the MS or MA?
Due to the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary nature of the pro­gram, there is very lit­tle dif­fer­ence between the course­work for the MS and MA and there is no strate­gic advan­tage to one or the other in terms of your appli­ca­tion.  All Master’s appli­ca­tions are con­sid­ered together with­out regard to degree cat­e­gory. Apply to the degree goal that you expect will best reflect your research inter­ests.  You may work with your advi­sor after admis­sion to revise your degree goal if appropriate.


Should I apply for the Mas­ters or for the Ph.D.?
Ph.D. appli­cants must have a two-year Master’s Degree from a fully accred­ited U.S. insti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing or for­eign equiv­a­lent.  They also must be able to demon­strate a highly inter­dis­ci­pli­nary aca­d­e­mic back­ground, either through a com­bi­na­tion of Bachelor’s and Master’s course­work, or an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Master’s pro­gram equiv­a­lent in breadth and depth to the ERG Master’s pro­gram.  Doc­toral stu­dents must also demon­strate their readi­ness for inde­pen­dent research with no addi­tional foun­da­tional work required.

Appli­ca­tions from stu­dents with one-year Master’s degrees, or with single-discipline pro­fes­sional degrees (e.g., law, pub­lic health) will usu­ally be redi­rected to the ERG Master’s pro­gram for consideration.


What is the Master’s/Ph.D. Track? How do I apply for it?
The Master’s/Ph.D. Track is both an indi­ca­tion of your intent to con­tinue to the Ph.D. pro­gram at ERG, and ERG’s expec­ta­tion that you will to be qual­i­fied to con­tinue to doc­toral work after sat­is­fy­ing  the Master’s Degree require­ments.  It does not oblig­ate you, or ERG, to your even­tual matric­u­la­tion to the Ph.D.

Of those appli­cants who apply to the Master’s/Ph.D. Track, only a small num­ber of highly qual­i­fied appli­cants will be selected. The remain­der of admit­ted appli­ca­tions will begin in the two-year Master’s pro­gram and may apply to the Ph.D. pro­gram upon suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion.  Can­di­dates admit­ted into the Master’s/Ph.D. Track will be expected to com­plete all the require­ments of the ERG Master’s Degree before continuing.

Can­di­dates for admis­sion to the Master’s pro­gram whose ulti­mate goal is to con­tinue on for a Ph.D. at ERG should select either the MA or MS degree appli­ca­tion and select the Master/s Ph.D. Track checkbox.


I want to com­plete my ERG Master’s degree require­ments and then con­tinue to a Ph.D. at ERG.  How do I apply for that?
You should select the Master’s Degree (either M.S. or M.A.) and use the check­box on the appli­ca­tion form to indi­cate your desire to be con­sid­ered for the Masters/Ph.D. Track.


Is it pos­si­ble to apply to more than one grad­u­ate pro­gram in one year?
No.  At UC Berke­ley, appli­cants must iden­tify one depart­ment to which they wish to apply.  If you change your mind, you may ask the Grad­u­ate Divi­sion Admis­sions unit to switch your appli­ca­tion to another department.


Is it pos­si­ble to apply for a Con­cur­rent Degree with ERG and another UC Berke­ley depart­ment?
ERG offers two Con­cur­rent Degree pro­grams to which you can apply:


How long should my State­ment of Pur­pose and Per­sonal His­tory State­ment be?
Please make them no longer than three pages each, dou­ble spaced (10–12 pt. font).  We can be some­what flex­i­ble on length but please keep in mind that the com­mit­tee must read hun­dreds of essays so con­cise state­ments are highly appreciated.


One of my letter-writers is unavail­able or in the field with no inter­net access before the dead­line. What should I do?
While we strongly pre­fer that let­ters are sub­mit­ted through the online sys­tem, we will in excep­tional cases accept hard copy let­ters.  Please have let­ters sent in a sealed enve­lope, with a sig­na­ture across the seal, mailed to: CONFIDENTIAL ERG Admis­sions, 310 Bar­rows #3050, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, CA 94720–3050.


What kind of jobs do ERG grad­u­ates get?
Pretty much what they want, even­tu­ally, in uni­ver­si­ties, think tanks, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and academia. Examples include Yale, UC Santa Cruz, The Pacific Insti­tute, Redefin­ing Progress, and U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Cal­i­for­nia Energy Com­mis­sion, Pacific Gas & Elec­tric, and ven­ture cap­i­tal firms, among many others.


What is the Admis­sions Com­mit­tee look­ing for?  Is there a typ­i­cal ERG stu­dent pro­file?
ERG delib­er­ately admits stu­dents with a wide vari­ety of inter­ests, perspectives/disciplines, research meth­ods, and expe­ri­ence so that each can help the oth­ers see the whole pic­ture and keep the fac­ulty in line as well. To be com­pet­i­tive at ERG, your appli­ca­tion needs to con­vince us that you are com­mit­ted to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approaches. Even bet­ter if you could demon­strate your inter­est this by actu­ally doing it–some appli­cants, for exam­ple, have prior inter­dis­ci­pli­nary work or vol­un­teer expe­ri­ence. We value cre­ativ­ity, good math­e­mat­i­cal skills, clear think­ing and writ­ing, pas­sion about the issues you think are impor­tant. Most suc­cess­ful appli­cants have at least 2 years of expe­ri­ence after their under­grad­u­ate degree, although appli­cants directly out of under­grad are some­times admit­ted. Most of our stu­dents have GPAs above 3.5 and GRE scores in the 80-90th per­centile – although we some­times admit stu­dents with lower scores who bring other inter­est­ing skills, per­spec­tives, accom­plish­ments, and expe­ri­ences to the table.


What are some sim­i­lar pro­grams else­where?
ERG was one of the first inter­dis­ci­pli­nary energy and resources pro­grams in the world, and there are a num­ber of pro­grams around the coun­try that are mod­eled after it.  Noth­ing is really like ERG, but sim­i­lar pro­grams are Engi­neer­ing and Pub­lic Pol­icy — Carnegie Mellon, Nicholas School of the Envi­ron­ment and Earth Sci­ences – Duke, Geography and Envi­ron­men­tal Engi­neer­ing — Johns Hop­kins, Tech­nol­ogy and Pub­lic Pol­icy — MIT (plus other degrees at MIT), Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Grad­u­ate Pro­gram in Envi­ron­ment and Resources — Stan­ford, Man­age­ment Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing — Stanford, Bren School of Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies – Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Santa Barbara, School of Forestry & Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies – Yale.


Is there fund­ing avail­able?
There is some fund­ing avail­able for first-year stu­dents. How­ever, because we do not require stu­dents to spec­ify their area of study before­hand, we often can­not guar­an­tee fund­ing for more than 1–2 years.

Most stu­dents find sup­port here after they arrive, either through exter­nal fel­low­ships and grants, teach­ing assist­ant­ships, or faculty-sponsored research posi­tions. Cam­pus fund­ing sources exist as well from a range of pro­grams, includ­ing inter­na­tional and area stud­ies awards. ERG fac­ulty and stu­dents will work closely with you to iden­tify fund­ing sources and write fel­low­ship appli­ca­tions. 


What about fund­ing for out-of-state or inter­na­tional can­di­dates?
As a state insti­tu­tion, tuition at UC Berke­ley is lower for Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents.  U.S. cit­i­zens and U.S. Per­ma­nent Res­i­dents can become Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents for pur­poses of tuition after one year of full-time res­i­dence. Inter­na­tional stu­dents may find the higher tuition espe­cially chal­leng­ing; ERG has lim­ited sup­port for such stu­dents but the fac­ulty work hard to help inter­na­tional stu­dents to pro­cure funding.


Do I have to define a project in my appli­ca­tion?
No. We expect that many stu­dents will explore and learn and change their minds sev­eral times. (This is part of the rea­son we can­not always guar­an­tee fund­ing.) You should explain why ERG is the right place for you and it is often help­ful to describe an inter­est­ing project as means.


Can I take classes in other aca­d­e­mic depart­ments as credit for my ERG degree?
Yes. You can take all sorts of classes while obtain­ing an ERG degree. See the Mas­ters Require­ments for fur­ther details.


Can I sit in on classes?
Yes. Check the UC Berke­ley online sched­ule for cur­rent course offer­ings, day, time and class­room, and the ERG course list­ing for more detailed course descrip­tions. For sem­i­nars and small lec­ture courses, email the instruc­tor and ask for per­mis­sion to sit in.  For large ERG lec­ture courses it is not nec­es­sary to ask per­mis­sion to sit in.


Can I meet with cur­rent ERG stu­dents?
Yes, when pos­si­ble. Con­tact the Stu­dent Affairs Offi­cer for details at erggrad@​berkeley.​edu


Can I sched­ule a meet­ing or phone con­sul­ta­tion with the Stu­dent Affairs Offi­cer?
Yes. Email erggrad@​berkeley.​edu to sched­ule a meeting.


Can I apply for spring admis­sion?
No. The Energy and Resources Group accepts appli­ca­tions for fall admis­sions only.


Do you offer part-time or dis­tance learn­ing degree pro­grams?
This is a full-time day pro­gram; we do not offer part-time or dis­tance learn­ing stud­ies. 


May I give you my cre­den­tials and be pre-assessed for admis­sion?
No. We are unable to deter­mine in advance if an appli­cant will be admit­ted to the ERG grad­u­ate program. There are too many vari­ables involved.


When are admis­sions deci­sions made?
We will send admis­sions deci­sions begin­ning in mid-February through mid-March.


Are there campus-wide min­i­mum admis­sions cri­te­ria that apply to all grad­u­ate pro­grams at Berke­ley?
Yes. Please refer to the grad­u­ate admis­sions require­ments sec­tion on the UC Berke­ley Grad­u­ate Divi­sion web­site at http://​grad​.berke​ley​.edu/admissions/requirements/.


What min­i­mum GRE scores are required?
The Energy and Resources Group does not set min­i­mum scores for the GRE. Gen­er­ally, admit­ted appli­cants score in the 80th to 90th per­centiles on all sec­tions of the Gen­eral Test.


Do appli­cants with grad­u­ate degrees need to take the GRE?


How long are GRE scores valid for admis­sion pur­poses?
Scores are valid for five years.


May I sub­mit the GMAT, LSAT, or other stan­dard­ized test in place of the GRE?
No, the Energy and Resources Group requires the GRE.


Where can I find infor­ma­tion about costs and fees for grad­u­ate stu­dents at Berke­ley?
Please refer to the Grad­u­ate Divi­sion web­site at http://​grad​.berke​ley​.edu/admissions/costs-fees/ and for a more detailed break­down of fees please go to the Office of the Reg­is­trar web­site at http://​reg​is​trar​.berke​ley​.edu/Registration/feesched.html.  ERG does not charge any Pro­fes­sional School fees.


Do inter­na­tional appli­cants need to sub­mit GRE scores?
Yes.  While we acknowl­edge that speak­ers of Eng­lish as a sec­ond lan­guage have addi­tional chal­lenges in tak­ing the GRE, we do require it for all appli­cants and use it as one of many tools in assess­ing your qualifications.


What are the Eng­lish lan­guage pro­fi­ciency require­ments for inter­na­tional appli­cants?
The UC Berke­ley Grad­u­ate Divi­sion requires an internet-based Test of Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage (ibT TOEFL) over­all score of at least 90.  Although the TOEFL test is pre­ferred, IELTS scores will also be accepted.  For more infor­ma­tion on lan­guage require­ments please go to http://​grad​.berke​ley​.edu/​a​d​m​i​s​s​i​o​n​s​/​r​e​q​u​i​r​e​m​e​n​t​s​/​#​e​v​i​d​e​n​c​e​-​o​f​-​e​n​g​l​i​s​h​-​l​a​n​g​u​a​g​e​-​p​r​o​f​i​c​i​e​ncy.


I am an inter­na­tional stu­dent. Who can advise me on tran­si­tion and visa ques­tions?
Please con­tact the Berke­ley Inter­na­tional Office. They also have a very help­ful web­site at http://​inter​na​tion​alof​fice​.berke​ley​.edu/.


I already have a pro­fes­sional posi­tion related to my research and I’d like to keep it. May I work while I am a stu­dent at ERG?
Some (domes­tic) grad­u­ate stu­dents do hold off-campus jobs, but we do not rec­om­mend this since your pro­gram will demand a great deal of focus and time. Inter­na­tional stu­dents with F-1 visas are not allowed to work off-campus. Many ERG stu­dents obtain on-campus appoint­ments as Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Researchers (GSRs) or Grad­u­ate Stu­dent Instruc­tors (GSIs) in areas related to their stud­ies. GSRs and GSIs are allowed to work no more than 50% Full-Time Equiv­a­lent (20 hours/week) when school is in session.