University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Statistics offers the Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees.

Master of Arts (MA)

The Statistics MA program prepares students for careers that require statistical skills. It focuses on tackling statistical challenges encountered by industry rather than preparing for a PhD. The program is for full-time students and is designed to be completed in two semesters (fall and spring).

There is no way to transfer into the PhD program from the MA program. Students must apply to the PhD program.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Statistics PhD program is rigorous, yet welcoming to students with interdisciplinary interests and different levels of preparation. The standard PhD program in statistics provides a broad background in probability theory and applied and theoretical statistics.

There are three designated emphasis (DE) tracks available to students in the PhD program who wish to pursue interdisciplinary work formally: Computational and Data Science and EngineeringComputational and Genomic Biology and Computational Precision Health.

Visit Department Website


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

In addition to the minimum requirements listed above, the following materials are required for admission:

  1. The Online Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowships:
  2. Statement of Purpose : Why are you applying to this program? What are your expectations for this degree? Where do you want this degree to take you, professionally and personally? How will your professional and personal experiences add value to the program?
  3. Personal History Statement : What past experiences made you decide to go into this field? How will your personal history help you succeed in this program and your future goals? 
  4. Descriptive List of Upper Division/Graduate Statistics and Math Coursework: Please include a Descriptive List of Upper Division/Graduate Statistics and Math Coursework. List the department, course number and title, instructor, grade, school, texts used and subject matter covered for all upper division and graduate level statistics and math courses you have taken. You should also include courses outside statistics and math departments that have a significant quantitative component. This list should be uploaded as a PDF document via the online application.
  5. GPA Worksheet: Please upload a GPA calculation worksheet.
  6. Resume: Include a full resume/CV listing your experience and education.

The application process is entirely online. All supplemental materials such as transcripts and the descriptive list of courses must be uploaded as PDF files via the online application by the application deadline. Please do not mail copies of your transcripts, statement of purpose, letters of recommendations, GRE and TOEFL scores, resumes, or any other documents as they will not be included with your application. 

The GRE is no longer required for applicants applying to the MA or PhD program.  For the PhD program, while it is not required, if you wish to include your GRE Math Subject test you will have the option to do so.

For more information about graduate programs in statistics, including admission information, please visit our graduate programs page.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement

In the first year, students must perform satisfactorily in preliminary course work. In the summer, students are required to embark on a short-term research project, internship, graduate student instructorship, reading course, or on another research activity.

In the second and third years, students continue to take courses, serve as a graduate student instructor, find an area for the oral qualifying exam, a potential thesis adviser and pass the oral qualifying exam in the spring semester of second year or in the fall semester of third year. With the successful passing of the exam, students then advance to candidacy.

Normative Time in Candidacy

In the third and fourth years, students finalize a thesis topic, continue to conduct research and make satisfactory progress.

By the end of the fifth year, students are expected to finish their thesis and give a lecture based on their work in a department seminar.

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is five years.

Time in Advancement 


During their first year, students are normally expected to take four of the following seven core PhD courses in Probability, Theoretical Statistics, and Applied Statistics:

Courses Required
STAT 204Probability for Applications4
STAT C205AProbability Theory4
STAT C205BProbability Theory4
STAT 210ATheoretical Statistics4
STAT 210BTheoretical Statistics4
STAT 215AApplied Statistics and Machine Learning4
STAT 215BStatistical Models: Theory and Application4

A member of the PhD program committee may consent to substitute courses at a comparable level in other disciplines for some of these departmental graduate courses. These requirements can also be altered by the PhD program committee.

Students entering the program before 2022 are required to take five additional graduate courses beyond the four required in the first year, resulting in a total of nine graduate courses required for completion of their PhD. In their second year, students are required to take three graduate courses, at least two of them from the department offerings, and in their third year, they are required to take at least two graduate courses. Students are allowed to change the timing of these five courses with approval of their faculty mentor. Of the nine required graduate courses, students are required to take for credit a total of 24 semester hours of courses offered by the Statistics department numbered 204-272 inclusive. The Head Graduate Advisor (in consultation with the faculty mentor and after submission of a graduate student petition) may consent to substitute courses at a comparable level in other disciplines for some of these departmental graduate courses. In addition, the HGA may waive part of this unit requirement.

Starting with the cohort entering in the 2022-23 academic year, students are required to take at least three additional graduate courses beyond the four required in the first year, resulting in a total of seven graduate courses required for completion of their PhD. Of the seven required graduate courses, five of these courses must be from courses offered by the Statistics department and numbered 204-272, inclusive. With these reduced requirements, there is an expectation of very few waivers from the HGA. We emphasize that these are minimum requirements, and we expect that students will take additional classes of interest, for example on a S/U basis, to further their breadth of knowledge. 

For courses to count toward the coursework requirements students must receive at least a B+ in the course (courses taken S/U do not count, except for STAT 272 which is only offered S/U).  Courses that are research credits, directed study, reading groups, or departmental seminars do not satisfy coursework requirements (for courses offered by the Statistics department the course should be numbered 204-272 to satisfy the requirements). Upper-division undergraduate courses in other departments can be counted toward course requirements with the permission of the Head Graduate Advisor. This will normally only be approved if the courses provide necessary breadth in an application area relevant to the student’s thesis research.

Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying examination is meant to determine whether the student is ready to enter the research phase of graduate studies. It consists of a 50-minute lecture by the student on a topic selected jointly by the student and the thesis advisor. The examination committee consists of at least four faculty members to be approved by the department.  At least two members of the committee must consist of faculty from the Statistics and must be members of the Academic Senate. The chair must be a member of the student’s degree-granting program.

Time in Candidacy 


Advancing to candidacy means a student is ready to write a doctoral dissertation. Students must apply for advancement to candidacy once they have successfully passed the qualifying examination. 

Dissertation Presentation/Finishing Talk

The Ph.D. degree is granted upon completion of an original thesis acceptable to a committee of at least three faculty members. The majority or at least half of the committee must consist of faculty from Statistics and must be members of the Academic Senate. The thesis should be presented at an appropriate seminar in the department prior to filing with the Dean of the Graduate Division. 

Required Professional Development

Students enrolled in the graduate program before fall 2016 are required to serve as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for a minimum of 20 hours (equivalent to a 50% GSI appointment) during a regular academic semester by the end of their third year in the program.

Effective with the fall 2016 entering class, students are required to serve as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for a minimum of two regular academic semesters and complete at least 40 hours prior to graduation (20 hours is equivalent to a 50% GSI appointment for a semester) for a course numbered 150 and above.  Exceptions to this policy are routinely made by the department.

Master's Degree Requirements

Unit Requirements

In order to obtain the MA in Statistics, admitted MA students must complete a minimum of 24 units of courses and pass a comprehensive examination.

In extremely rare cases, a thesis option may be considered by the MA advisers. Typically, this will be when either the option has been offered to the student at the time of admission, or if the student arrives with substantial progress in research in an area of interest to our faculty. 


Courses Required
STAT 201AIntroduction to Probability at an Advanced Level4
STAT 201BIntroduction to Statistics at an Advanced Level4
STAT 243Introduction to Statistical Computing4
STAT 230ALinear Models4
STAT 222Masters of Statistics Capstone Project4

The capstone will consist of a team-based learning experience that will give students the opportunity to work on a real-world problem and carry out a substantial data analysis project. It will culminate with a written report and an oral presentation of findings. The elective will depend on the student’s interests and will be decided in consultation with advisers.

Capstone/Thesis (Plan I)

If approved for the thesis option, you must find three faculty to be on your thesis committee. Though not required, it is strongly encouraged that one of the faculty members is from outside the Statistics Department. Both you and the thesis committee chair must agree on the topic of your thesis. Further information on how to file a thesis is available on the MA program web page

Capstone/Comprehensive Exam (Plan II) 

On a Saturday shortly after the spring semester begins in January, students will take a comprehensive exam on the theoretical foundations of statistics. There will be a 3-hour exam on the material of STAT 201A and STAT 201B. All students taking the exam will receive copies of previous examinations. 



Contact Information

Department of Statistics

367 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-2781

Fax: 510-642-7892

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Haiyan Huang

367 Evans Hall

PhD Program Coordinator

La Shana Porlaris

373 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-5361

Master's Program Coordinator

David Apilado Jr.

375 Evans Hall

Phone: (510) 643-0589

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