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.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

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 297, 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
Students can choose between Plan 1 or Plan 2. Plan 1 (Outside Minor) - a total of at least six units; at least one graduate level course from a field outside EECS; minimum 3.0 grade point average; Plan 2 (Electives) - two courses consisting of one free elective course from any department, any area except for the major, and one outside EECS course that is not in the major and not listed as EECS; at least 3+ units each; minimum 3.0 grade point average. Note: students who began the Ph.D. program in Fall 2021 onwards must follow Plan 2.6

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 273Course Not Available3
COMPSCI 274Course Not Available3
COMPSCI 276Cryptography3
COMPSCI C280Computer Vision3
COMPSCI C281AStatistical Learning Theory3
COMPSCI C281BAdvanced Topics in Learning and Decision Making3
COMPSCI 285Deep Reinforcement Learning, Decision Making, and Control3
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 286BCourse Not Available3
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 252AGraduate Computer Architecture4

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. In addition, students must earn a Satisfactory grade in the mandatory pedagogy course to complete the GSI teaching requirement.

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. Students who choose Plan I will also need to complete the Graduate Division's online Advancement to Candidacy form through Calcentral no later than the end of the second week of classes in their final semester. 

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." A copy of the signature page and abstract should be submitted to the Department's Master's Degree Advisor.  In addition, a copy should be uploaded to the EECS website.

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 the Department's Master's Degree Advisor. In addition, a copy should be uploaded to the EECS website.

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.


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Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Computer Science

Electrical Engineering

Contact Information

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

231 Cory 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)

Alvin Cheung, PhD

785 Soda Hall

EECS Department Chair

Claire Tomlin, PhD

231 Cory Hall

EECS Associate Chair/CS Division Chair

Jelani Nelson, PhD

633 Soda Hall

Executive Director, EECS Student Affairs

Susanne Kauer, Ed.M

221 Cory Hall

Director of Grad Matters, EE Grad Advisor

Judy I. Smithson, M.Ed.

217 Cory Hall

Phone: 510-643-8347

CS Graduate Student Advisor


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, PhD

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 Sun

253 Cory Hall

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