Computer Science

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) offers two graduate programs in Computer Science: the Master of Science (MS), and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Master of Science (MS)

The Master of Science (MS) emphasizes research preparation and experience and, for most students, is a chance to lay the groundwork for pursuing a PhD.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Berkeley PhD in EECS combines coursework and original research with some of the finest EECS faculty in the US, preparing for careers in academia or industry. Our alumni have gone on to hold amazing positions around the world.

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 has completed a basic degree 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 on a 9-point scale (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 the 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. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  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, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions 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.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The following items are required for admission to the Berkeley EECS MS/PhD program in addition to the University’s general graduate admissions requirements:

  1. Statement of Purpose: Why are you applying for this program? What will do you plan to accomplish during this degree program? What do you want to do afterward, and how will this degree help you reach that goal?
  2. Personal History Statement: What experiences from your past made you decide to go into this field? And how will your personal history help you succeed in this program and your future goals?
  3. GPA: If you attended a university outside the USA, please leave the GPA section blank.
  4. Resume: Please also include a full resume/CV listing your experience and education.

Complete the online UC Berkeley graduate application:

  1. Start your application through this link, and fill in each relevant page.
  2. Upload the materials above, and send the recommender links several weeks prior to the application deadline to give your recommenders time to submit their letters.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative time in the EECS department is between 5.5-6 years for the doctoral program.

Time to Advancement


The faculty of the College of Engineering recommends a minimum number of courses taken while in graduate standing. The total minimum is 24 units of coursework, taken for a letter grade and not including 397, 298, 299, 301, 375 and 602.

12 200-level units from one major field within EECS, with a 3.5 grade point average12
6 units from one minor field within EECS, with a 3.0 grade point average and at least one 200-level course6
6 100 and 200-level units from one minor field outside EECS, with a 3.0 grade point average6

Preliminary Exams

The EECS preliminary requirement consists of two components.

Oral Examination

The oral exam serves an advisory role in a student's graduate studies program, giving official feedback from the exam committee of faculty members. Students must be able to demonstrate an integrated grasp of the exam area's body of knowledge in an unstructured framework. Students must pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam within their first two attempts. A third attempt is possible with a petition of support from the student's faculty adviser and final approval by the prelim committee chair. Failure to pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam will result in the student being ineligible to complete the PhD program. The examining committee awards a score in the range of 0-10. The minimum passing score is 6.0.

Breadth Courses

The breadth courses ensure that students have exposure to areas outside of their concentration. It is expected that students will achieve high academic standards in these courses.

CS students must complete courses from three of the following areas, passing each with at least a B+. One course must be selected from the Theory, AI, or Graphics/HCI group; and one course must be selected from the Programming, Systems, or Architecture/VLSI group1.

COMPSCI 270Combinatorial Algorithms and Data Structures3
COMPSCI 271Randomness and Computation3
COMPSCI 273Foundations of Parallel Computation3
COMPSCI 274Computational Geometry3
COMPSCI 276Cryptography3
COMPSCI C280Computer Vision3
COMPSCI C281AStatistical Learning Theory3
COMPSCI C281BAdvanced Topics in Learning and Decision Making3
COMPSCI 287Advanced Robotics3
COMPSCI 288Natural Language Processing4
COMPSCI 289AIntroduction to Machine Learning4
COMPSCI 260BHuman-Computer Interaction Research3
COMPSCI 263Design of Programming Languages3
COMPSCI 264Implementation of Programming Languages4
COMPSCI 265Compiler Optimization and Code Generation3
COMPSCI C267Applications of Parallel Computers3
EECS 219CFormal Methods: Specification, Verification, and Synthesis3
COMPSCI 261Security in Computer Systems3
COMPSCI 261NInternet and Network Security4
COMPSCI 262AAdvanced Topics in Computer Systems4
COMPSCI 262BAdvanced Topics in Computer Systems3
COMPSCI 268Computer Networks3
COMPSCI 286BImplementation of Data Base Systems3
COMPSCI 250VLSI Systems Design4
EECS 251AIntroduction to Digital Design and Integrated Circuits3
EECS 251LAIntroduction to Digital Design and Integrated Circuits Lab2
EECS 251LBIntroduction to Digital Design and Integrated Circuits Lab2

COMPSCI 260BCOMPSCI 263, and EL ENG 219C cannot be used to fulfill this constraint, though they can be used to complete one of the three courses.

Qualifying Examination (QE)

The QE is an important checkpoint meant to show that a student is on a promising research track toward the PhD degree. It is a University examination, administered by the Graduate Council, with the specific purpose of demonstrating that "the student is clearly an expert in those areas of the discipline that have been specified for the examination, and that he or she can, in all likelihood, design and produce an acceptable dissertation." Despite such rigid criteria, faculty examiners recognize that the level of expertise expected is that appropriate for a third year graduate student, who may be only in the early stages of a research project.

The EECS Department offers the qualifying exam in two formats: A or B. Students may choose the exam type of their choice after consultation with their adviser.

Format A
  1. Students prepare a write-up and presentation, summarizing a specific research area, preferably the one in which they intend to do their dissertation work. Their summary surveys that area and describes open and interesting research problems.
  2. They describe why they chose these problems and indicate what direction their research may take in the future.
  3. They prepare to display expertise on both the topic presented and on any related material that the committee thinks is relevant.
  4. The student should talk (at least briefly) about any research progress they have made to date (e.g., MS project, PhD research, or class project). Some evidence of their ability to do research is expected.
  5. The committee shall evaluate students on the basis of their comprehension of the fundamental facts and principles that apply within their research area and students' ability to think incisively and critically about the theoretical and practical aspects of the chosen field.
  6.  Students must demonstrate command of the content and the ability to design and produce an acceptable dissertation.
Format B

This option includes the presentation and defense of a thesis proposal in addition to the requirements of format A. It will include a summary of research to date and plans for future work (or at least the next stage thereof). The committee shall not only evaluate the student's thesis proposal and their progress to date but shall also evaluate according to format A. As in format A, students should prepare a single document and presentation, but in this case, additional emphasis must be placed on research completed to date and plans for the remainder of the dissertation research.

Thesis Proposal Defense

Students not presenting a satisfactory thesis proposal defense, either because they took format A for the QE or because the material presented in a format B exam was not deemed a satisfactory proposal defense (although it may have sufficed to pass the QE), must write up and present a thesis proposal, which should include a summary of the student's research to date and plans for the remainder of the dissertation research. Students should be prepared to discuss background and related areas, but the focus of the proposal should be on the progress made so far, and detailed plans for completing the thesis. The standard for continuing with PhD research is that the proposal has sufficient merit to lead to a satisfactory dissertation. Another purpose of this presentation is for faculty to provide feedback on the quality of work to date. For this step, the committee should consist of at least three members from EECS familiar with the research area, preferably including those on the dissertation committee.

Normative Time in Candidacy

Advancement to Candidacy

Students must file the advancement form in the Graduate Office by no later than the end of the semester following the one in which the qualifying exam was passed. In approving this application, Graduate Division approves the dissertation committee and will send a certificate of candidacy.

Students in the EECS department are required to be advanced to candidacy at least two semesters before they are eligible to graduate.  Once a student is advanced to candidacy, candidacy is valid for five years.  For the first three years, non-resident tuition may be waived, if applicable.

Dissertation Talk

As part of the requirements for the doctoral degree, students must give a public talk on the research covered by their dissertation. The dissertation talk should be given a few months before the signing of the final submission of the dissertation. It must be given before the final submission of the dissertation.  The talk should cover all major components of the dissertation work in a substantial manner; in particular, the dissertation talk should not omit topics that will appear in the dissertation but are incomplete at the time of the talk.

The dissertation talk is to be attended by the whole dissertation committee, or, if this is not possible, by at least a majority of the members. Attendance at this talk is part of the committee's responsibility. It is, however, the responsibility of the student to schedule a time for the talk that is convenient for members of the committee. The EECS department requires that the talk be given during either the fall or spring semester.

Required Professional Development

Graduate Student Instructor Teaching Requirement

The EECS department requires all PhD candidates to serve as Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) within the EECS department. The GSI teaching requirement not only helps to develop a student's communication skills, but it also makes a great contribution to the department's academic community. Students must fulfill this requirement by working as a GSI (excluding EL ENG 375 or COMPSCI 375) for a total of 30 hours minimum prior to graduation. At least 20 of those hours must be for an EE or CS undergraduate course.

Master's Degree Requirements

Unit requirements

A minimum of 24 units is required.


All courses must be taken for a letter grade, except for courses numbered  299, which are only offered for S/U credit.

Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. No credit will be given for courses in which the student earns a grade of D+ or below.

Transfer credit may be awarded for a maximum of four semester or six quarter units of graduate coursework from another institution.

Plan I

10 units of courses, selected from the 200-series (excluding 298 and 299) in EECS
EL ENG 299Individual Research4-10
or COMPSCI 299 Individual Research
Upper division or graduate courses to reach the minimum of 24 units

Plan II

10 units of courses, selected from the 200-series (excluding 298 and 299) in EECS
EL ENG 299Individual Research3-6
or COMPSCI 299 Individual Research
Upper division or graduate courses to reach the minimum of 24 units

Advancement to Candidacy

For both Plan I and Plan II, MS students need to complete the departmental Advance to Candidacy form, have their research advisor sign the form, and submit the form to the Department's Master's Degree Advisor. Once a student has advanced to candidacy, candidacy is valid for three years.

Capstone/Thesis (Plan I)

Students planning to use Plan I for their MS Degree will need to follow the Graduate Division's “Thesis Filing Guidelines." They will also need to complete the Graduate Division's Advance to Candidacy form and submit this to the department by no later than the end of the second week of classes in their final semester.

Capstone/Master's Project (Plan II)

Students planning to use Plan II for their MS Degree will need to produce an MS Plan II Title/Signature Page. A copy of the signature page and abstract should be submitted to the EECS Graduate Student Services staff.  There is no special formatting required for the body of the Plan II MS report, unlike the Plan I MS thesis, which must follow Graduate Division guidelines.


Select a subject to view courses

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Computer Science

Electrical Engineering

Contact Information

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

387 Soda Hall

Phone: 510-642-1042

Fax: 510-642-5775

Visit Department Website

Vice Chair, Graduate Study and Prelims

Ana Claudia Arias, PhD

508 Cory Hall

Vice Chair, Graduate Study and Prelims

John Wawrzynek, PhD

631 Soda Hall

Vice Chair, Masters’ Degree Programs (MEng & MS)

Murat Arcak, PhD

569 Cory Hall

EECS Department Chair

Claire Tomlin, PhD

231 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-642-0253

EECS Associate Chair/CS Division Chair

David Wagner, PhD

389 Soda Hall

Phone: 510-642-7699

Executive Director, EECS Student Affairs

Susanne Kauer

221 Cory Hall

Director of Grad Matters, EE Grad Advisor

Shirley Salanio

217 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-643-8347

CS Graduate Student Advisor

Jean Nguyen

367 Soda Hall

Phone: 510-642-9413

Masters' Student Advisor

Michael Sun

215 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-643-8347

CS Graduate Admissions and GSI Recruitment

Glenna Anton

215 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-642-6285

Graduate Admissions and EE GSI Recruitment

Pat Hernan

215 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-642-9265

Graduate Student Advisor

Tiffany Grimsley

253 Cory Hall

Back to Top