UC Berkeley has seen a record number of fall 2021 graduate applicants coming from historically underrepresented backgrounds and communities.
In comparison with the previous application season, the total number of graduates applying has increased by 19%. Contained within that sum, however, is the number of underrepresented applicants, with those looking to enter the campus doctoral program going up by 42% and those applying to the master’s programs increasing by 82%, according to a UC Berkeley Graduate Division article.
“One of my key priorities is to diversify the graduate student population,” said Lisa García Bedolla, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division. “To that end, we moved the Office of Graduate Diversity to the graduate division so we could more directly support underrepresented graduate students.”
According to Bedolla, campus hosted a number of applicant-focused workshops and a virtual Graduate Diversity Admissions Fair, which included an introduction to the event and a designated time for students to interact with different campus programs. The fair saw 52 departments participate with 1,800 students in attendance, all of whom were contacted by Bedolla and her associates in the days leading up to application deadlines.
Bedolla added that these measures, among others, were taken in order to ensure a more diverse prospect pool and make campus more welcoming and accessible to underrepresented applicants who were still considering applying to UC Berkeley.
“UC Berkeley’s core job is to provide knowledge that serves the greater good while preparing students for their professional careers,” Bedolla said. “If you only have a small subset of students in the work of providing knowledge, there will be questions you don’t ask and avenues you don’t explore. The more diverse set of people we have engaged in the work of creating knowledge and preparing the leaders of the future, the better able we will be to serve our public mission.”
As for the programs being implemented, Bedolla directed much of the credit to Denzil Streete, chief of staff and assistant dean for diversity in the graduate division and director of the Office of Graduate Diversity.
Streete organized events including the aforementioned fair and an application “hackathon” where prospective applicants could receive help from current graduate students of all departments. The workshops were meant to demystify certain aspects of the application process and provide an accessible resource to students coming from underrepresented backgrounds, according to Streete.
“It’s an exciting time to be at Berkeley,” Streete said. “If we are able to create a more diverse and healthy graduate division, we can be the leaders in thinking about what a graduate education means nationally. While a diverse applicant pool is great, I’d like to pay more attention to having a diverse cohort.”