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FAQs

POME AREA & PROGRAMS

Q: Is the Policy and Organizations Research program under the umbrella of POME?

A: Yes. POME is an area of academic concentration in the Graduate School of Education. It encompasses the following programs: Policy & Organizations Research, Quantitative Methods, Program Evaluation & Assessment, and the Principal Leadership Institute.

Q: How do I find out which of your programs is the best match for my interests?

A: Spend time on the POME website to familiarize yourself with our programs, faculty interests, and research projects. Another major consideration is whether the program will give you the tools and research experience you seek.

Q: How do I find out if my interests/background are a good fit for your programs?

A: Students come to POME with a wide range of interests and experience. We recommend that you discuss your academic interests and career goals with a faculty member in your area of interest before applying. After reviewing their online profiles, feel free to contact faculty members personally with your questions.

Q: Is it possible to combine degree programs, or do I have to work within a specific program?

A: You will need to affiliate with one main program, but POME students are encouraged to integrate policy/organization and measurement/evaluation in designing their individual course of study. Students can also specialize across GSE areas--combining, for example, studies in education policy with literacy or second language acquisition. Students are also encouraged to combine outside disciplines like economics, public policy, sociology, and history with methodology (statistics, measurement, evaluation).

Q: Does the program focus on education in school settings, or are there opportunities to explore education non-school settings?

A: Within each of POME's programs you have the opportunity to explore your own research interests and design a unique course of study.

Q: Are there evening classes for working students?

A: Right now, only the professional programs (PLI and LEEP) are suitable for full-time working students. Policy, QME, and Program Evaluation are mainly weekday, on-site programs.

Q: What is the name of the degree conferred?

A: All POME students receive either a Doctor of Philosophy degree or a Master of Arts degree in Education.

ADMISSIONS

Q: What qualities do you look for in prospective students?

A: Strong writing skills, a strong academic background, relevant undergraduate work, and prior experience in the field of education as either a researcher or teacher. When reviewing applications, faculty focus on the fit between your interests and our programs, your academic preparation, and your professional experience.

Q: How do I apply for your programs?

A: From September through early December, you can apply online for Fall of the next academic year.

Q: How many students apply to POME programs and how many are accepted?

A: POME reviews about 150 applications per year, and makes up to 20 offers of admission across all 3 programs.

Q: What are the admissions requirements?

A: For general UCB/School of Education requirements, please visit the GSE Admissions web page.

Q: Which tests are required for international applicants to your programs?

A: If you have completed at least one year of full-time academic course work at a U.S. university, with a 3.0/B average or higher, you can get a waiver for the TOEFL or IELTS. The same is true if you earned a degree from a foreign university where the sole language of instruction is English. (Note: This must be clearly documented in your official academic records.) Please visit the GSE Admissions web page for international students for more information.

Q: Is the GRE required for admission into your programs?

A: Yes. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by all students for admission to the School of Education. If your scores are older than five years, you'll need to retake the exam.

Q: What are the minimum GRE scores required for acceptance into our programs?

A: The POME faculty consider many factors in reviewing applications. Scores from mid-range and above are acceptable, and lower scores require a special letter of support from faculty to the Graduate Division.

Q: What are the average GRE scores for students entering your program?

A: We don't compile this data, because there are many factors in the admissions decisions. The POME faculty consider your academic background, GPA, GRE scores, professional training and experience, statement of purpose, personal history statement, letters of recommendation, fit within the program, and match with faculty interests.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA for acceptance?

A: The UCB Graduate Division sets a 3.0 minimum requirement, but exceptions can be made. If the faculty feel you're an otherwise strong candidate, they can write a letter requesting the Grad Division to waive the minimum requirement. (NOTE: a low GPA will affect your eligibility for merit-based fellowships.)

Q: Does the program admit students on the basis of applications alone? Or does a faculty member need to agree to be my advisor first?

A: All new applicants are evaluated on the basis of the materials submitted in their online application. Faculty advisers are assigned when the decision is made to admit a candidate.

Q: What should my Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement say about me?

A: The Statement of Purpose should cover your academic background, goals, areas of interest, and why our program is what you need. It should indicate your career prospects and "positioning" in the field of education. A major consideration is whether the program will give you the type of preparation and research experience you seek. So the more specific you are, the better we can determine whether you are a good fit with the POME program and faculty. The Personal History Statement is an "educational biography" that shows your personal background and character, connecting them with your goals for graduate study.

FINANCIAL AID

Q: What is the cost of the program?

A: You can find UC Berkeley's current Graduate Academic tuition, fees, and charges (per semester) at http://registrar.berkeley.edu/Registration/feesched.html. Please note that room and board are not included. Financial aid provides a stipend and/or fees + tuition, to support the living and educational expenses of graduate study.

Q: What types of financial aid are available for doctoral students?

A: POME students finance their studies with a combination of GSE fellowships, UCB Fellowships, student employment (see below), and/or federal student loans. The POME faculty also help to facilitate funding for PhD students who are making steady progress through the program. Current students in good standing can apply every year for modest GSE fellowships. Students who advance to candidacy on the normative timetable are eligible to receive the Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF), which offers a stipend and fee remission for one full year during your dissertation writing stage. Students can also look outside the University for extramural fellowships in their areas of research interest.

Q: What types of financial aid are available for international students?

A: Financial aid is available for international students from UC Berkeley, the Graduate School of Education and from individual faculty in the form of employment (see below).

Q: What employment opportunities are available for students?

A: Most POME students pursue work as graduate student researchers (GSR), graduate student instructors (GSI), teaching assistants, or a combination. Student academic appointments provide partial or full tuition/fee remission (based on the percentage of time hired) plus a modest salary. Students also find research projects and fieldwork opportunities during their course work or in consultations with advisors. For more information, see http://grad.berkeley.edu/policies/guides/category/appointments-guide/

PHD PROGRAM

Q: Do applicants need to have a master's degree in order to apply to the PhD program?

A: No, an MA in Education can be earned in conjunction with the PhD program, within the same time frame.

Q: What is the average number of years it takes to earn a PhD?

A: Four to six years.

Q: What is the aim of writing a dissertation?

A: At the GSE, a Ph.D. dissertation must make a theoretical contribution to a discipline related to Education. This is achieved by 1) using an empirical example/inquiry to illustrate the theory OR 2) "proving" something about the theoretical point.

MA PROGRAM

Q: What academic and professional backgrounds do faculty look for in MA candidates?

A: We encourage applicants who see themselves as innovators, analysts, entrepreneurs, and/or advocates, and those who are working on the cutting-edge with progressive teacher organizations, burgeoning networks, and education nonprofits. A strong undergraduate record combined with some professional experience as an education researcher or teacher is an asset.

Q: How many students enter your master's program?

A: The Policy program admits 6 - 7 MA applicants, depending on the availability of faculty for advising.

Q: Does the MA coursework differ from PhD coursework?

A: All students select from the same course offerings regardless of degree goals. As with doctoral students, your individual course of study is crafted in consultation with your advisor.

Q: How long is the MA program expected to take?

A: This is a one-year course of study that requires 24 units of coursework (required and electives), along with an oral exam and a final paper, developed out of one of your classes.

PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS

Q: I would like to pursue a practice-oriented degree. Is this the right program for me?

A: Our Policy program is academic and research oriented, with a focus on issues of policy-practice relations. If you're a practitioner who wants to become a principal  or school-site leader, the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) is the program for you. If you want to advance your career within districts and  similar organizations, you can apply to the Leadership in Educational Equity Program (LEEP).

Q: Does POME have research-oriented programs for education practitioners and working professionals?

A: POME programs are suitable for practitioners who want to transfer their skills into research or to carry out research on educational leadership.

COURSEWORK

Q: How are your programs structured? Is there a core curriculum and a choice of electives?

The QME PhD program has a core curriculum and a list of electives, while the Policy PhD program is more flexible. (Please download the POME Handbook from our website for details.) The bulk of coursework is completed in the first two years of graduate study. Courses introduce students to the key concepts and ways of thinking that historians, sociologists, and economists employ to understand and investigate problems of school improvement and equity. All POME students are required to develop competence and confidence in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Q: What are the general course requirements for Policy students?

A: The current guidelines for Policy coursework are below. Students fulfill the course requirements by taking all courses necessary to achieve their individual goals, in consultation with their advisors.

    2 foundational courses that bridge thematic areas

    2 advanced courses that bridge thematic areas

    1 special topics seminar in area of concentration

    2 qualitative and 2 quantitative/evaluation courses (see above)

    1 course in research design

    (15 courses total in 2.5 - 3 years of study)

Q: What is the typical course load for POME students?

Most POME students take 3-4 courses each semester, plus the required POME Seminar in their first year. This  includes a combination of required and elective courses, methods courses, and research groups.

Q: How many units are students expected to take per semester/year?

A: All full-time graduate students are expected to enroll in a total of 12 units of course work or independent study per semester. [NOTE: All fellowship recipients must maintain full-time registration.] MA students must complete 24 units of coursework in one year. However, there is no total number of credits/units required for the doctoral degree.

Q: Can POME students take courses in other disciplines and at different departments on campus?

A: Yes, you are encouraged to take classes in other program areas at the School of Education and in other UC Berkeley departments, provided they do not restrict the course to their own students.

Q: Is it better to be specific about what I want to do as a POME student, or remain open to whatever projects the faculty are working on?

A: It's a good idea to begin with a general idea of the research area you want to focus on and open yourself to all the options and faculty expertise available to you at the Graduate School of Education. Faculty research groups and projects also present structured opportunities to gain research experience.

Q: What type of research/fieldwork opportunities are available at the GSE?

A: We encourage students to work on research projects after the first year of coursework. A variety of projects and fieldwork opportunities can arise out of coursework or in consultation with your academic advisors. Others are posted on the GSE listserve and area bulletin boards.

Q: Can I audit or take classes for credit before applying to the program?

A: Yes. Prospective applicants can either enroll in courses for credit through U.C. Extension or audit a class with permission of the instructor. (Extension credits cannot be applied to GSE degree programs, however.) This is a great way to get a taste of our program culture, demands and expectations, and to talk with students and faculty.

Q: Can visiting students take courses and/or carry out research in your programs?

A: If you're currently enrolled in another institution, you can register as a "Visiting Student Researcher" and audit courses with instructor permission. Visiting post docs can register as a "Visiting Scholar" and audit courses with instructor permission. This works best for extended visits of one semester or more. You'll receive a library card, an @berkeley email address, and electronic communications from the GSE listserves.

GRADUATES

Q: What are the professional prospects for POME PhD graduates?

A: Policy PhD graduates find employment in universities and colleges, research and consulting organizations, government agencies, and district or county offices of education.

Q: What are the professional prospects for POME MA graduates?

A: The program offers resume-enhancing tools to connect education research with administration. MA graduates are prepared for positions as analysts and activists in research and consulting organizations, community organizations, government agencies, and district/county offices of education.

NEXT STEPS

Q: How can I find out more about your programs?

A: The best way is to visit campus during the semester. You can contact faculty in advance to arrange a meeting, sit in on one of their classes, and talk with current students about the program. You can also contact the Policy and QME student reps, who will refer you to current students working in your area(s) of interest.

For more information and/or questions not addressed in the FAQs, please contact the POME Area Assistant at pomeinfo@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-0709.

ADDITIONAL QME FAQs

Q: Is QME similar to a statistics major?

A: In addition to applied statistics, QME includes the study of measurement and evaluation. All three of these areas are not usually emphasized in a statistics major. Students are also required to take advanced courses in one disciplinary area involving substantive educational issues.

Q: What's the difference between QME and the quantitative psychology program?

A: Our methods are focused on issues within the field of education.

Q: How many students are admitted into QME each year?

A: 6-7 students are admitted into the QME program each year.

Q. How competitive is admission to the QME program?

A: About 1 out of every 6 applicants is admitted.

Q: What are the requirements for acceptance into your programs?

A: Successful QME applicants should have some preparation in quantitative methods, but this is not required. Math and statistics experience for entering QME students ranges from none to master's level in quantitative disciplines. Their academic backgrounds include math, biology, computer science, statistics, business, economics, psychology, and other social science disciplines.

ProgEval applicants should have 1)  strong quantitative skills, 2) a broad range of methodological skills, 3) some professional experience, 4) good interpersonal skills, and 5) substantive interests to develop adequate  literacy in the areas you plan to do evaluation work.

Undergraduates are not usually qualified because of the requirements for both academic and professional experience. However, exceptions can be made at the faculty's discretion. Alternatively, undergraduate applicants with a strong math/statistics background can apply to the QME program and take evaluation courses.

Q: Do I need an academic background in statistics?

A:  Some QME students want to pursue more complex areas of statistics and mathematics as part of their research. To understand all statistics in the procedures, and to create such procedures, you'll need a strong preparation in mathematics, statistics, and programming. If your goals are less technical, you won't need as much. All QME students are required to take courses in applied statistics. If you enter with a strong background in statistics, you can waive the introductory statistics course requirement or audit the course.

Q: Can I apply to the doctoral program without a master's degree?

A: Yes. If you are accepted into a PhD program without a master’s degree in an education-related field, you’ll need to complete the MA requirements along the way to your doctorate.

Q: I already have a master's degree. Can I transfer units toward the doctoral degree?

A: There's no need to transfer units, as the PhD is not based on unit numbers. Students with quantitative methods backgrounds simply waive out of the introductory statistics course and take more advanced courses in education, statistics, or other social sciences.

Q: Does your program accommodate working students?

A: Since these are demanding, weekday programs, it would be impossible to maintain a F/T job and earn a doctoral degree. Many of our students take leave from professional positions or combine their studies with research-related employment.

Q: Can I work at a consulting firm while completing my doctorate?

A: Most QME students work in some evaluation, research, or measurement capacity, either with a GSE faculty member or in an R&D/evaluation organization. We encourage students to take positions that complement their course work and contribute to fulfilling program requirements.

Q: How long does it take to complete the doctoral program?

A: This varies depending on the student. It usually takes 4-6 years of full-time study to earn the PhD or MA/PhD.

Q: How many courses does a doctoral student take each semester?

A: Three to five courses (12-18 units), depending on course intensity and student preference. Keep in mind that the fewer courses you take per semester, the longer it will take to complete your degree.

Q: How long does it take to complete the coursework for a doctoral degree?

A: Students spend approximately two years doing formal coursework. The minimum requirement is that you pass our courses in applied statistics, measurement, and evaluation. Students must be physically present during this time to focus on coursework.

Q: Can I take related courses in the department of statistics, while in your program?

A: Yes, in fact, this is recommended. Most QME students take courses in other UC Berkeley departments such as Statistics, Economics, Political Science, Public Policy, Sociology, and Public Health.

Q: What are the professional prospects for QME graduates?

A: QME graduates are employed in a variety of positions, including R & D groups, testing organizations, consulting firms, academic positions, and research positions in the public and private sectors. Our QME and Program Evaluation PhD programs prepare students to teach university-level courses in evaluation and research methods, to direct research and evaluation projects for R & D organizations at all levels, and to serve as methodological consultants. Some also become assessment/evaluation specialists at State and regional education offices.

 

For more information and/or questions not addressed in the FAQs, please contact the POME Area Assistant at pomeinfo@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-0709.