University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Demography offers an interdisciplinary training program leading to the MA and PhD in Demography. Demography is the systematic study of human populations, a topic central to many pressing policy issues such as the economic development of Third World countries; population aging; the environment; health and mortality; family and household change; immigration; and ethnicity. Demography also has strong intellectual and institutional ties to other fields such as sociology, economics, social history, anthropology, biology, public health, and statistics. The program at UC Berkeley is one of the few in the United States granting graduate degrees in demography, rather than offering demography only as a field of specialization within some other department. This training strategy permits greater concentration and depth in demography, as well as program flexibility and breadth in related subjects. The program stresses both quantitative aspects of demography and demography in the context of social science theory.

The master's degree in demography is designed both as a final degree for those who wish to pursue a professional career at that level of training and as a second degree for students earning a doctorate in demography or a related discipline. The basic coursework for the master's program is required for the doctoral degree as well.

Visit Department Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The Department of Demography requires all applicants to take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination. Applicants may apply for the Master's in Demography, PhD in Demography or the PhD in Sociology and Demography. 

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

Normative time to advancement to doctoral candidacy for the Demography PhD is six semesters from the time the student entered the program.

Demography students are to complete all required coursework for the Demography master’s degree, whether or not they choose to earn the MA degree. Required courses (i.e., 110, C126 or 200, C175, 210) must be taken on a letter-grade basis. At the end of the first year, all students must pass a comprehensive final examination on demographic methods and substance. MA candidates receive their degree upon successful completion of this examination and all necessary coursework. PhD students advance to the second and third years of study, which consists of obtaining the ancillary master’s degree (if the student doesn’t already have a master’s degree relevant to their doctoral studies), taking a foreign language exam, writing a dissertation prospectus, taking required CITI training courses and passing the oral qualifying exam.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Normative time in doctoral candidacy for the Demography PhD degree is four semesters.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is ten semesters.

Time to Advancement


Courses Required
DEMOG 110Introduction to Population Analysis3
DEMOG/ECON C175Economic Demography4
DEMOG 200Fundamentals of Population Thought4
or DEMOG C126 Sex, Death, and Data
DEMOG 210Demographic Methods: Rates and Structures4
DEMOG 213Practical Computer Applications for Demographic Analysis2
DEMOG 296Advanced Research Techniques4

Coursework and Preliminary Examination

During the first year of study students in all demography and sociology and demography degree programs complete the required coursework (24 units) and then take the preliminary examination at the end of the spring semester.

Ancillary Master's degree

Those working for a doctoral degree are expected to enter with, or obtain concurrently at Berkeley, a master's degree in a different but related subject (e.g., sociology, economics, anthropology, statistics, public policy, public health, biostatistics, regional planning, geography). This ancillary master’s degree must be earned before the dissertation stage. We recognize that some students may enter the doctoral program with a master's degree in demography, or with one in a subject not clearly related to their demographic work. The applicability of such degrees to the doctoral program is determined on an individual basis.

Language Examination

Each student is expected to demonstrate reasonable reading competence in at least one other than English language that is relevant to demographic studies. Students must pass a language exam before advancing to doctoral candidacy.

Dissertation Prospectus

The dissertation prospectus is developed in the context of a research seminar, Demography 295. Doctoral students are expected to enroll in 295 every semester until the prospectus is complete, which should occur within three years after matriculation.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying examination for admission to doctoral candidacy should be taken during the second or third year (depending on the time needed for the completion of the student's ancillary master's program).

CITI Human Subjects Training.

Students are required to take CITI Human Subjects training as specified by the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects before advancing to doctoral candidacy. For more information please see the OPHS website

Time in Candidacy


Upon successful completion of the foreign language requirement, the oral qualifying exam, and the prospectus, students enter into the final phase of the program, doctoral candidacy. During this period, students are expected to take another research seminar, DEMOG 296, every semester until the completion of the dissertation. The department does not require a formal defense of the completed dissertation. 

Required Professional Development

The department does not formally require professional development but all students are encouraged to attend the weekly Demography Brown Bag Presentation Series as well as the Demography Mini-Conferences that take place several times a year. Students are also encouraged to attend and present papers at the annual Population Association of America meeting or other demographic conferences.

Master's Degree Requirements

Unit Requirements

Plan II requires at least 24 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, followed by a comprehensive examination. At least 12 units must in the 200 series demography courses. Courses in the 300 series do not count in the unit requirements. A maximum of 6 units of 298/299 course work can be used toward the degree. The same course work cannot be used toward two different master’s degrees unless it is part of an approved concurrent master’s program. Two-thirds of all course work (not only those courses required for the master’s program) must be letter-graded and only courses graded C- or better, or Satisfactory may be counted towards degree requirements.


Courses Required
DEMOG 110Introduction to Population Analysis3
DEMOG/ECON C175Economic Demography4
DEMOG 200Fundamentals of Population Thought4
or DEMOG C126 Sex, Death, and Data
DEMOG 210Demographic Methods: Rates and Structures4
DEMOG 213Practical Computer Applications for Demographic Analysis2

Advancement to Candidacy

Students making adequate progress in the MA coursework are advanced to MA candidacy during the second semester.

Preliminary/Comprehensive Exam

Students take a comprehensive exam at the end of the second semester. No master’s thesis is required.



DEMOG 5 Fundamentals of Population Science 3 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session, Fall 2011
This course provides an accessible introduction to the social science of demography. The course is organized around cases in which population issues raise policy or ethical dilemmas (example: China's one child policy). Through these cases, students will learn how demographers use models and data to acquire knowledge about population. Throughout the course, students will also learn to read, interpret, evaluate, and produce tabular and
graphical representations of population data.
Fundamentals of Population Science: Read More [+]

DEMOG 88 Immigration: What do the data tell us? 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017
This course will cover the small but important part of the rich history human migration that deals with the population of the United
States--focusing on the 20th and 21st Centuries. We will use the tools of DS8 to answer specific questions that relate to the themes
of this course:

(1) Why do people migrate?

(2) Is immigration good or bad for receiving (and sending) countries?

(3) How do immigrants adapt and how do
societies change in response?

In addition to scientific questions, this course will also address the demographic and political history of immigration in the US --
an understanding  of which is crucial for understanding  both the broad contours of US history and the particular situation in which
we find ourselves today.

Immigration: What do the data tell us?: Read More [+]

DEMOG 98 Directed Group Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2016
Undergraduate research by small groups.

Directed Group Study: Read More [+]

DEMOG 110 Introduction to Population Analysis 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session, Fall 2017
Measures and methods of Demography. Life tables, fertility and nuptiality measures, age pyramids, population projection, measures of fertility control.

Introduction to Population Analysis: Read More [+]

DEMOG C126 Sex, Death, and Data 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
Introduction to population issues and the field of demography, with emphasis on historical patterns of population growth and change during the industrial era. Topics covered include the demographic transition, resource issues, economic development, the environment, population control, family planning, birth control, family and gender, aging, intergenerational transfers, and international migration.

Sex, Death, and Data: Read More [+]

DEMOG 145AC The American Immigrant Experience 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2015, Spring 2014, Spring 2013
The history of the United States is the history of migration. The course covers the evolution of the American population from about 20,000 BC with the goal of understanding the interdependent roles of history and demography. As an American cultures class, special attention is given to the experiences of 18th- and 19th-century African and European immigrants and 20th- and 21st-century Asian and Latin American immigrants. Two substantial laboratory
assignments; facility with a spreadsheet program is assumed.
The American Immigrant Experience: Read More [+]

DEMOG 160 Special Topics in Demography 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2009
Special topics in demography. Topics may include the demography of specific world regions, race and ethnicity, population and policy, and population and environment and similiar specialized or new topics in the field of demography will be covered.

Special Topics in Demography: Read More [+]

DEMOG 161 Population Apocalypse in Film and Science 3 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2015, Spring 2015
Despite our astonishing demographic success as a species, humans are haunted by the idea of apocalyptic demise. This course explores scientific and cultural narratives of population catastrophe particularly as presented in film. Noah's flood; nuclear annihilation; overpopulation; and climate change all raise the question: Does human nature carry within it the seeds of our inevitable destruction? In this course, we will grapple with both the science and
the art in which this question is embedded.
Population Apocalypse in Film and Science: Read More [+]

DEMOG C164 Impact of Government Policies on Poor Children and Families 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2007
Examination of the impact of policies of state intervention and public benefit programs on poor children and families. Introduction to child and family policy, and study of specific issue areas, such as income transfer programs, housing, health care, and child abuse.

Impact of Government Policies on Poor Children and Families: Read More [+]

DEMOG C165 Family and Household in Comparative Perspective 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2012, Fall 2008, Spring 2005
How are families and households organized around the world? Which aspects of household and family vary, and which are constant? What are the relationships between household and family on the one hand and the political, economic, or broad social patterns on the other? This course examines all of these questions, taking historical and contemporary examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Family and Household in Comparative Perspective: Read More [+]

DEMOG C175 Economic Demography 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
A general introduction to economic demography, addressing the following kinds of questions: What are the economic consequences of immigration to the U.S.? Will industrial nations be able to afford the health and pension costs of the aging populations? How has the size of the baby boom affected its economic well being? Why has fertility been high in Third World countries? In industrial countries, why is marriage postponed, divorce high, fertility
so low, and extramarital fertility rising? What are the economic and environmental consequences of rapid population growth?
Economic Demography: Read More [+]

DEMOG 180 Social Networks 3 Units

Terms offered: Summer 2018 Second 6 Week Session, Spring 2018, Spring 2000
The science of social networks focuses on measuring, modeling, and understanding the different ways that people are connected to one another. We will use a broad toolkit of theories and methods drawn from the social, natural, and mathematical sciences to learn what a social network is, to understand how to work with social network data, and to illustrate some of the ways that social networks can be useful in theory and
in practice. We will see that network ideas are powerful enough to be used everywhere from UNAIDS, where network models help epidemiologists prevent the spread of HIV, to Silicon Valley, where data scientists use network ideas to build products that enable people all across the globe to connect with one another.

Social Networks: Read More [+]

DEMOG 198 Directed Group Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Undergraduate research by small groups. Enrollment is restricted by regulations governing 198 courses.

Directed Group Study: Read More [+]

DEMOG 199 Supervised Independent Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Supervised independent study and research.

Supervised Independent Study: Read More [+]

DEMOG 200 Fundamentals of Population Thought 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2015, Fall 1997
This course offers an intensive introduction to the history of population thought in Europe and the United States through the close reading and contextualization of selected classic texts, including Graunt, Malthus, and Quetelet.

Required of graduate students in the M.A. or Ph.D. program in Demography.

Fundamentals of Population Thought: Read More [+]

DEMOG 210 Demographic Methods: Rates and Structures 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
Population models, multiple decrement life tables, hazard functions, stable population theory, projection matrices, projection programs, population waves, dual system estimation, computer-based exercises and simulations. Required course for Demography M.A. and Ph.D. students.

Demographic Methods: Rates and Structures: Read More [+]

DEMOG 211 Advanced Demographic Analysis 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2014, Spring 2013, Spring 2012
This course is designed to provide an overview of quantitative techniques commonly used in demography, sociology, economics, and other social sciences. Methods are described in both words and formulas, and students are encouraged to learn to move freely between verbal and mathematical representations of data.

Advanced Demographic Analysis: Read More [+]

DEMOG 213 Practical Computer Applications for Demographic Analysis 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2016, Fall 2015
An introductory course for first year Demography graduate students in the use of the Demography laboratory. Covers Unix based tools for manipulating computer programs and data files, and the R, SPlus, and SAS statistical packages. The course introduces the proportional hazard model and methods of estimating it. The final project for this course is use of the 1995 Current Population Survey (fertility supplement) to compute Total Fertility Rates
for the U.S.
Practical Computer Applications for Demographic Analysis: Read More [+]

DEMOG 215 Current Research Topics in Demography 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2010, Spring 2009, Spring 2008
The goals of this course are 1) to familiarize graduate students with active research projects in Demography and 2) to improve skills in R and Stata. Topics covered include demographic micro-simulation with SOCSIM, the Human Mortality Database, stochastic simulation/forecasting, GIS for Demographers, and mortality forecasting. Two-thirds of class time will be spent in the computer laboratory. Students will present results.

Current Research Topics in Demography: Read More [+]

DEMOG 220 Human Fertility 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2013, Fall 2011
This course offers a critical, graduate-level introduction to the social science of reproduction, drawing especially on models and theories from demography, sociology, and anthropology. Among the topics are parity specific control and the calculus of conscious choice, below-replacement fertility, and the political economy of stratified reproduction.

Human Fertility: Read More [+]

DEMOG 230 Human Mortality 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2015, Spring 2011, Spring 2009
Measurement of mortality by age and cause. Traditional, transitional, and modern mortality patterns in European and non-European areas. Current trends and differentials by age, sex, race, occupation and marital status. Consequences of mortality declines for fertility change and development.

Human Mortality: Read More [+]

DEMOG 240 Human Migration 2 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2013, Spring 2011, Spring 2000
Human populations analyzed from the stand point of their spatial distribution and movement. Special attention to rural-urban migration, metropolitan structure, inter-regional movement, and demographic aspects of land-use, the collection and analysis of emigration and immigration data and statistics, migration policies.

Human Migration: Read More [+]

DEMOG 260 Special Topics in Demography Seminar 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
Special topics in demography, such as anthropological and evolutionary approaches, kinship and family structure, race and ethnicity, and similar specialized or new topics in the field of demography will be covered. Seminar will be offered according to student demand.

Special Topics in Demography Seminar: Read More [+]

DEMOG C275A Economic Demography 3 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2015, Spring 2014, Spring 2013
Economic consequences of demographic change in developing and developed countries including capital formation, labor markets, and intergenerational transfers. Economic determinants of fertility, mortality and migration.

Economic Demography: Read More [+]

DEMOG 296 Advanced Research Techniques 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
Problems in data acquisition, analysis, and presentation of technical demographic research. Required of graduate students in the Ph.D. program in Demography.

Advanced Research Techniques: Read More [+]

DEMOG 298 Directed Reading 1 - 12 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Intended to provide directed reading in subject matter not covered in available course offerings.

Directed Reading: Read More [+]

DEMOG 299 Directed Research 1 - 12 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Summer 2018 8 Week Session, Spring 2018
Intended to provide supervision in the preparation of an original research paper or dissertation.

Directed Research: Read More [+]

DEMOG 301 GSI Training 1 - 6 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
Course credit for experience gained in academic teaching through employment as a graduate student instructor.

GSI Training: Read More [+]

DEMOG 601 Individual Study 1 - 8 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
Individual study, in consultation with the graduate adviser, intended for qualified students to do necessary work to prepare themselves for language examinations, and the comprehensive examination.

Individual Study: Read More [+]

DEMOG 602 Individual Study for Doctoral Students 1 - 8 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Individual study in consultation with the major field adviser, intended to provide an opportunity for qualified students to prepare themselves for the various examinations required of candidates for the Ph.D.

Individual Study for Doctoral Students: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors


Dennis Feehan, Assistant Professor. Demography, social networks, sociology, statistics, sampling, mortality, computational social science, migration, Facebook.

Joshua R. Goldstein, Professor. Fertility, marriage, social demography, historical demography, population aging, formal demography.
Research Profile

Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Associate Professor. Culture, population, social action, intentions, Africa, gender, fertility, marriage.
Research Profile


Leora Lawton, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Magali Barbieri, Visiting Associate Professor.

Robert Chung, Visiting Associate Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

Eugene A. Hammel, Professor Emeritus. Kinship, social anthropology, stratification, statistical and formal analysis, computer applications, peasant society and culture, demography, Balkans.
Research Profile

Ronald D. Lee, Professor Emeritus. Economics, evolutionary theory, mathematical demography, population aging, intergenerational transfers, economic demography, life history theory, population forecasting, national transfer accounts.
Research Profile

Kenneth Wachter, Professor Emeritus. Mathematical demography stochastic models, simulation, biodemography, federal statistical system.
Research Profile

John R. Wilmoth, Professor Emeritus. Demography, sociology, methodological research, longevity, life expectancy, mortality differentials, familial resemblance, mortality and life expectancy forcasting, historical population trends, world population growth, international migration forecasting.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Demography

2232 Piedmont Avenue

Phone: 510-642-9800

Fax: 510-643-8558

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Beth Berry

Phone: 510-642-9800

Head Graduate Adviser

Kenneth Wachter, PhD

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Monique Verrier

Phone: 510-642-9800

Back to Top