Frequently Asked Questions – Admissions
HOW DO I APPLY TO THE MTM PROGRAM?
Refer to the MTM application page for full details.
WHAT TYPES OF STUDENTS APPLY TO THE MTM PROGRAM?
The MTM program is well-suited for anyone interested in learning about the design and development of new medical technologies. Many MTM applicants have prior degrees in engineering disciplines (often bioengineering), while others have degrees in the life sciences, physical sciences, or related fields. A smaller proportion of applicants hold advanced or professional degrees such as an MD, PhD, MBA, PharmD, JD, etc. Most MTM applicants have had prior research experience (though this is not required), and some have had industry and/or clinical experience.
WHAT ARE THE PREREQUISITES FOR APPLYING TO THE MTM PROGRAM?
Requirements for admission can be found on the MTM application page. Students of any educational background may apply, but most successful applicants have demonstrated strength in the biological and/or physical sciences. No specific courses are required for entry, but applicants should be aware that some graduate level bioengineering coursework will be required (see MTM curriculum).
MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE IS NOT IN AN ENGINEERING DISCIPLINE. CAN I STILL APPLY TO THE PROGRAM?
Yes! Although many of our applicants do have engineering backgrounds, a substantial proportion do not, and our cohorts reflect multi-disciplinary educational backgrounds. The many successful applicants from non-engineering backgrounds generally demonstrate strength in related subjects such as math and the physical sciences through their coursework or standardized test scores. Applicants to the program should have strong quantitative and analytical skills since the MTM curriculum includes graduate-level bioengineering coursework.
I ALREADY HAVE MASTERS DEGREE. AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PROGRAM?
Most likely, yes. Berkeley’s Graduate Division will not admit an applicant to a program if they believe that it will result in the “duplication” of a previously awarded degree. For example, an applicant who already holds an MS degree in electrical engineering from another university would not be allowed to pursue another MS degree in electrical engineering at Berkeley. Since the structure and content of the MTM program are essentially unique, it is unlikely that any prior graduate degree you hold would be considered a “duplicate” of the MTM degree so long as the two degrees are “distinctly different,” and there is “a professional or scholarly purpose that requires this second [MTM] degree.” The MTM admissions committee will consider this in their decision, so you should be prepared to justify your need for the MTM degree if you already hold a similar degree such as an MS in bioengineering.
DO YOU REQUIRE WORK EXPERIENCE?
Early career professionals are an important part of our student body. Nevertheless, work experience is not required for admission to the program; the MTM program is also well suited for recent college graduates.
IS THERE A MINIMUM GPA REQUIREMENT?
A 3.0 GPA is typically required for entry into the MTM program. Exceptions can sometimes be made in rare instances, but the rest of the application should be very strong. Applicants should be aware that admission to the program is very competitive; those offered admission program in recent years had average GPAs of 3.64 (4.00 scale).
AM I REQUIRED TO PROVIDE GRE OR OTHER SCORES TO APPLY TO THE PROGRAM?
No. New in 2019, we have eliminated standardized test scores as an admissions requirement. If you have already taken the GRE or MCAT, you are welcome to include the score results in your application, but should not feel any obligation to do so.
DOES THE ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR PARTICULAR TYPES OF RECOMMENDATION LETTERS?
The strongest recommendation letters typically come from people with whom you have worked closely. In general, letters from direct supervisors are often preferable because these people have had an opportunity to directly mentor, manage, and assess your work. For academic research positions, we encourage letters from the Primary Investigator (PI) and/or the grad student/postdoc/scientist who supervised you. For industry/professional positions, we encourage letters from your immediate manager. Recommendation letters from course instructors, co-workers, etc. are also acceptable.
CAN I SUBMIT MY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION ON BEHALF OF MY RECOMMENDERS?
No. Letters of recommendation must be submitted directly by the recommenders themselves using the electronic submission system as detailed in the online application for admission.
WILL I BE DISQUALIFIED IF MY RECOMMENDATION LETTERS ARE NOT RECEIVED BEFORE THE APPLICATION DEADLINE?
No. We understand that some recommenders may fail to meet the official application deadline, and this will not disqualify your application. As long as your application materials have been officially submitted prior to the deadline, your application will still be reviewed even if all of your recommendation letters have not yet been received. The online system will allow your recommenders to submit their letters even after the application deadline has passed. However, our admissions committee begins reviewing application materials immediately after the deadline, so recommendations that arrive late may not be seen by a reviewer who has already completed reading your application. Therefore, it is in your best interest to notify your recommenders as early as possible so that they have every opportunity to submit their letters in a timely fashion.
DO I NEED TO SUBMIT WRITING SAMPLES IN ADDITION TO MY ESSAYS?
No. Writing samples or other documents are not required for your application. Your Statement of Purpose and Personal History essays tell us a lot about the level of your writing, so we encourage spending ample time crafting those. If you wish to submit a piece of writing that you feel is essential to your story, you are welcome to submit. We recommend, however, that you submit concise writing samples, such as an abstract from an article you wrote. We discourage submitting lengthy reports, theses, full posters, etc., as the review committee will not have time to adequately review those.
AM I REQUIRED TO COMPLETE A FAFSA APPLICATION WHEN APPLYING TO THE MTM PROGRAM?
All applicants who are interested in receiving financial aid (scholarships, loans, etc.) must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a California Dream Act application (if applicable). When completing the form, applicants must include BOTH UC Berkeley (federal school code 001312) and UCSF (federal school code 001319) on the application. International applicants who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) are exempt from completing a FAFSA. Applicants may be asked to complete additional specialized financial questionnaires during the admissions process.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN AN “IDEAL” CANDIDATE?
While there is no such thing as an “ideal” candidate, the best candidates tend to have well-rounded applications demonstrating strong academics and a variety of relevant experiences and interests. The MTM admissions committee evaluates candidates based upon a holistic approach using multiple measures of an applicant’s qualifications, experience, and fitness for our program. These measures include, but are not limited to (and in no particular order):
- Academics (GPA / specific coursework / strength of previous academic programs / etc.)
- Extracurricular activities
- Leadership positions
- Letters of recommendation
- Research experience
- Publication record
- Work/professional experience
- Personal essays
- Overall fit with program goals
Since each application competes against the larger pool of candidates in a given admissions cycle, our decision for a particular application depends as much on the strength of the pool as it does on the individual application itself. With a limited number of available slots per cycle, even a very strong applicant may be denied if the overall applicant pool happens to be even stronger.
HOW MANY STUDENTS APPLY TO THE MTM PROGRAM, AND HOW MANY SLOTS ARE AVAILABLE?
These numbers change from year to year, and we cannot make exact predictions for future cycles. For reference, there were 150 applications for entry into the program in fall 2017; of those 150 applicants, 33 students enrolled in the 2017-18 cohort.
WHEN I APPLY TO THE MTM PROGRAM CAN I ALSO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION TO THE MENG PROGRAM AND/OR THE PHD PROGRAM?
No. The MTM application is run through UC Berkeley’s graduate application portal, and each applicant can only apply to a single Berkeley graduate program per cycle. As such, you should carefully consider all options before making your decision to apply to a given program, and you are strongly encouraged to apply to the program that you believe will best suit your long-term academic and professional goals. Similarly, since the MTM is a joint program between UCSF and Berkeley, applicants to the MTM program cannot apply to another graduate program at UCSF in the same cycle.
This rule does not preclude applicants from applying to additional graduate programs at other UC institutions.
DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A SEPARATE APPLICATION TO EACH CAMPUS?
No. There is only one application for the joint MTM program, and it is run through the UC Berkeley application portal. All applicants must select the “Translational Medicine (joint UCSF)” option (i.e., “MTM”) when selecting the program to which to apply. There is no separate UCSF-based application.
ARE ANY FELLOWSHIPS AVAILABLE TO MTM STUDENTS?
Though fellowships to study at the Masters level are very limited, some opportunities do exist. A couple of fellowships MTM students have gotten in the past are: the Fulbright Fellowship (Foreign Student Program) (only applies for international students coming to study in the U.S.), and the American Association of University Women’s Selected Professions Fellowship. Prospective students are encouraged to independently seek out potential funding sources. Note that deadlines for fellowships vary widely, so we encourage you to look into this well before the application deadline. There is also an internal Berkeley fellowship available to a member of an underrepresented group who has substantial financial need. The MTM program will nominate a student for this once admissions decisions are complete.
DOES THE PROGRAM ACCEPT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS?
Yes! International students are encouraged to apply! Continue reading this section for answers to commonly asked questions from international students.
DO INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS NEED TO PROVIDE TOEFL/IELTS SCORES IN THEIR APPLICATION?
All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This requirement applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and non-English-speaking countries in Africa. However, if you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better in residence at a U.S. university, you do not need to take a standardized test. Instead, you must submit an official transcript from the U.S. University. Note that this exception applies only to U.S. Universities, and does not apply to English-speaking Universities in other countries. Refer to the MTM Application Instructions page for additional details.
DO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS RECEIVE VISAS?
Yes. Student visas are available to international students admitted into the MTM program. Most MTM students apply for F-1 visa status, but certain students may opt for J-1 status depending on their particular situation during the MTM year. The following webpage provides a helpful comparison for applicants deciding between an F-1 or a J-1 visa: http://internationaloffice.berkeley.edu/students/new/fj_compared.
WHAT ADDITIONAL SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS?
All MTM students are assigned to a single “home campus” after being admitted to the program, and international students are provided with direct support through the International Office on their assigned home campus: UC Berkeley International Office / UCSF International Students & Scholars Office. It is strongly recommended that all international applicants read through the general information provided on the websites of the International Offices.
I ATTENDED A FOREIGN UNIVERSITY WITH A DIFFERENT GRADING SCALE. HOW DO I REPORT MY GPA?
If your university does not issue grades in a 4.0 scale, you will need to convert your grades for the application. The World Education Services provides a free online score calculator for this purpose. Although a WES score is not required as part of your application, students with a degree from a non-US university will be required to complete a professional WES credential evaluation prior to enrollment in the MTM program.