5th-year Master’s Panel: Recap

If you weren’t able to make last week’s 5th-year Master’s Q&A panel, don’t fret because here are some notes of what the panelists (Neil Dave, Ella Pek, and Huan-Chin Koh) said.

Some benefits of the program are learning whether you like research and having your own project to run.

Requirements to apply: Personal statement, letter of recommendation (but no GRE!), 3.0 minimum GPA (recommended 3.3 GPA); usually spring graduation, so you start in the fall and go through 2 semesters of a research class with everyone else.

The professor in charge of the program reviews your application, and may interview you about your application if he doesn’t know you; once Professor Glaeser was in charge, but he is now turning the program over to Professor Asta. Unlike other grad schools, at Berkeley you apply for 1 program only, but you can apply for other schools or for other grad programs at Berkeley since the final decision for the 5th-year program comes before other deadlines.

What it’s like: You have monthly/biweekly meetings to pace you through your research, but it can still be rushed near the end. To pass out of the program, you must pass 3 out of 5 exam topics, finish and present a final project, and fulfill a certain number of classes and units. (For more information, talk to a professor directly.)


  • When asking for a letter of rec, if one of your reasons is “I took your class,” back it up with mentioning what you did special in that class
  • Be a GSI/reader to offset tuition costs
  • Start your 5th year research earlier in the summer of in your senior year if possible
  • Note that you can take classes in your last semester of senior year for units but they will not count towards your GPA for your 5th year.
  • Have a clear goal (your work, with what professor) since the program goes very fast

Thanks to our panelists for being extremely helpful!

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