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.

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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 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. 

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE): is required for our Ph.D program. GRE scores are only valid for 5 years. There are no minimum required scores.

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. Demography courses 110, 210 and C175 must be passed at a B or above. 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 additional course work, 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
Electives (graduate-level courses selected from any subject, with advisor approval)7

Coursework and Preliminary Examination

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

Additional Course Work

Those working for a doctoral degree are expected to complete course work in a different but related subject (e.g., sociology, economics, anthropology, statistics, public policy, public health, biostatistics, regional planning, geography). This additional coursework must be completed before the dissertation stage. Each student will consult with the advisor to create a second-year coursework plan that best compliments their academic goals, research and interests and will be determined on an individual basis. PhD students may choose to pursue an ancillary MA degree during this time. Students apply to the ancillary degree department directly. 

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. 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. Demography courses 110, 210 and C175 must be passed at a B or above. 


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
Electives (graduate-level courses selected from any subject, with advisor approval)7

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.



Faculty and Instructors


William Dow, Professor. Health economics, global health, economic demography.
Research Profile

Dennis Feehan, Assistant Professor. Demography, social networks, sociology, statistics, sampling, mortality, computational social science, migration, Facebook.
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Joshua R. Goldstein, Professor. Fertility, marriage, social demography, historical demography, population aging, formal demography.
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Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Professor. Culture, population, social action, intentions, Africa, gender, fertility, marriage.
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Mara Loveman, Professor. Comparative and historical sociology, political sociology, ethnoracial politics, development, demography, Latin America.
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Ayesha Mahmud, Assistant Professor. Infectious disease dynamics, disease ecology, mathematical models, Asia, Africa, Central America.
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Ryan Edwards, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Eugene A. Hammel, Professor Emeritus. Kinship, social anthropology, stratification, statistical and formal analysis, computer applications, peasant society and culture, demography, Balkans.
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Leora Lawton, Lecturer Emeritus. Comparative and historical sociology, political sociology, ethnoracial politics, development, demography, Latin America.
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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.
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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

310 Social Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-9800

Fax: 510-643-8558

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Department Chair

Mara Loveman

Graduate Advisor

Dennis Feehan, PhD

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Monique Verrier

Phone: 510-642-9800

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