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

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

Applicants may apply for the Master's in Demography, PhD in Demography or the PhD in Sociology and Demography. 

The Department of Demography requires all applicants for our graduate programs to take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). GRE scores are 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, 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.

Dissertation Prospectus

The dissertation prospectus is developed in the context of a research seminar, Demography 296. Doctoral students are expected to enroll in 296 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 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.



Contact Information

Department of Demography

310 Social Sciences Building

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Department Chair

Mara Loveman

Graduate Advisor

Dennis Feehan, PhD

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Monique Verrier

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