Frequently Asked Questions

General

Who will my classmates be?
UC Berkeley seeks candidates with strong academic and professional backgrounds, and Master of Information and Cybersecurity candidates must meet the same rigorous admissions standards as students in our on-campus programs. While your classmates may come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, many will be cybersecurity professionals.

When do classes begin?
Visit our admissions overview page to see our cohort start dates and application requirements.

What are the program requirements?
The MICS program consists of 27 units. You are also required to attend at least one three- to four-day in-person immersion at a location to be determined.

How long does the program take to complete?
The program is designed for you to complete it in 20 months, taking two courses per term. All students are required to take two courses in their first term.

Will my course schedule be flexible?
The MICS program is designed with working professionals in mind. Most classes are held in the evening on Pacific Standard Time, and you are required to attend all sessions. You can expect weekly course content to be rigorous, but you also have the flexibility to complete your work at a location convenient to you.

Will my diploma denote that I earned my degree online?
When you graduate, you will receive the same diploma as students in other on-campus UC Berkeley graduate programs, with no indication that you earned your degree through an online program. You may partake in the on-campus graduation ceremony as well.

Is this degree delivered completely online?
All classes and course work are delivered entirely online. However, you are required to attend a three- to four-day in-person immersion at a location to be determined. Each immersion is crafted to deliver additional learning, networking, and community-building opportunities. During immersions, you will meet faculty and classmates while attending lectures and workshops, as well as during social and professional networking events.

Is this program accredited?
The Master of Information and Cybersecurity program is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC accreditation speaks to the quality of the program, the faculty, and the Berkeley I School. It ensures that the program will prepare you for a career in cybersecurity.

Return to top

Admissions

Is there an undergraduate GPA requirement?
You should have a superior scholastic record, normally well above a 3.0 GPA.

Does it matter where I previously attended university?
Domestic applicants must hold or expect to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. university prior to the beginning of classes.

Graduates of recognized academic institutions outside the United States should hold a degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. International evaluators in the UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions Office will determine equivalency. If you’re not sure if your degree qualifies, please e-mail admissions@cybersecurity.berkeley.edu to confirm.

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?
We prefer that letters come from your current direct supervisor. You can also select individuals with whom you have had considerable professional interaction, such as a former supervisor or a major client. The title or status of those you select is not important; what does matter is how closely your recommenders have worked with you and whether they can attest to your value as an employee, your professional accomplishments, and your personal qualities and interpersonal skills in an organizational context. Letters of recommendation from co-workers, someone you have supervised, or personal and family friends are inappropriate and can be detrimental to your application.

Is work experience required?
Although prior work experience is strongly preferred, it is not required for admission.

What educational or professional background is required for admission?
Applicants from a range of academic and professional backgrounds will be considered.

Can I request that my transcripts be sent electronically?
Many schools issue transcripts electronically, either through their own web services or through vendors. If this option is available through the institutions you attended, please specify that your transcript(s) be sent to appsvcs@cybersecurity.berkeley.edu. This will expedite the delivery of your transcript(s) and the completion of your application. If you would like your transcripts to be sent by mail, please use the following address:

UC Berkeley School of Information (I School)
Application Processing Center
cybersecurity@berkeley
PO Box 30096 018-002
College Station, TX 77842

Please note: To be considered an official transcript, the transcript must be sent directly from your institution(s) or through an electronic transcript vendor retained by that institution. Transcripts submitted by enrolled or prospective students are considered unofficial documents, even if they are in a sealed envelope provided to you by the issuing university.

What materials do I need to submit if I have previously applied to the School of Information?
We keep copies of previously submitted transcripts for two years from the date of your previous application; you will still need to submit any new or updated transcripts. We may have copies of previously submitted GRE, GMAT, or TOEFL scores submitted within the past five years; please e-mail admissions@cybersecurity.berkeley.edu to confirm. You will need to retake the exam if your exam date falls outside the acceptable time frame (five years for the GRE and GMAT, 18 months for the TOEFL or IELTS).

I’m interested in more than one UC Berkeley graduate degree. May I apply to both programs simultaneously?
No, you may only apply to one UC Berkeley graduate program per admissions cycle.

Is there an application fee?
There is an application fee of $105 for domestic applicants or $125 for international applicants. This fee is nonrefundable and must be paid when you submit your application.

Return to top

Online Learning

What is the online learning experience like?
You will attend live online classes each week, hosted via HD streaming video using the dynamic Zoom webinar platform. This face-to-face format brings students and faculty together in real time, which allows students to forge real, lasting relationships.

In addition to the live class sessions, you’ll complete self-paced course work throughout each week and have access to social groups with classmates and one-on-one interaction with faculty. You may read more about our online platform here.

How is the course work delivered and what does it entail?
UC Berkeley faculty has worked with world-class course developers to create an I School curriculum designed specifically for an online learning environment.

Before each weekly live class, you will complete course work on your own time. Course work is immersive and dynamic, and it prepares you for classroom discussions with peers and instructors. Content includes compelling videos, interactive case studies, recorded lectures, and collaborative activities that foster teamwork.

What are live class sessions like?
Our state-of-the-art online platform facilitates live, seminar-style classes driven by problem-solving, collaboration, and discussion. Classroom layouts can be adapted for the specific needs of each course and feature engaging sharing tools like live chats, breakout rooms, polling, and annotation. All tools and features are accessible on both desktop and mobile devices. After each class, you’ll have 24/7 access to class recordings.

How will I feel connected as an online student?
Our online platform facilitates collaboration and leads to real connections. You will create profiles similar to other social networking tools and can get to know your fellow students outside of class through social groups. In addition, you can meet classmates for study sessions, group project work, or even virtual happy hours using our online classrooms.

What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
Our class sizes do not exceed 20 students, and are often smaller.

Who teaches the courses?
The I School is made up of tenured and adjunct faculty, leading industry practitioners, and post-doctoral scholars. MICS classes are taught by many of the same I School faculty and cybersecurity professionals who teach on campus.

What student support and advising services are available to students?
Support begins the moment you request information and continues beyond graduation. You will be assigned an adviser who is available to meet with you one-on-one throughout the program to help you reach your academic and career goals. Our student support team will work with you to provide technical assistance and help you acclimate to our online learning community. Once you graduate, you will join the I School and UC Berkeley global alumni network, which connects you for life to other graduates around the world. You will also benefit from MICS for Life, which grants you lifetime access to UC Berkeley resources, including continuously updated course content so that you can stay current on new cybersecurity developments.

What career services are available to students?
You will have access to the UC Berkeley career services team, who will assist you in your job search, including resume-building and interviewing advice.

Return to top

Programming Preparation

What is the MICS programming admissions requirement?
The UC Berkeley School of Information’s (I School) Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS) program requires proficiency in at least one, and ideally two, programming languages, such as C, C++, Java, JavaScript, or machine/assembly language as demonstrated by prior work experience or advanced coursework.

The intent of the programming admissions requirement is for students to understand programming fundamentals and be comfortable enough with coding to pick up any language relevant to a course and learn it in the semester it is needed.

What is the recommended programming preparation for the MICS program?
Start by Learning C. If you have no coding background, we recommend you start learning C prior to the second semester. This will also expose you to important programming concepts that are absent in Python.

Once you know C, you can easily pick up Python and other programming languages, however, the reverse is not necessarily true (knowing Python may only help slightly with learning C).

What If you learn Python Before C?
If you do not have enough time before the first semester to achieve sufficient proficiency in C, you can start with Python to meet your immediate needs.

If you choose to begin by learning Python, you will start writing programs more quickly than you would with other languages, and Python will be sufficient for some of the early code writing you'll need in the MICS program.

However, you will need to start working in C at the beginning of your second semester of the program. Be aware that studying C during your first semester while also doing challenging coursework will require a very significant time commitment.

How should I assess my understanding?
We recommend giving yourself sufficient time before beginning the program to study intermediate C programming and then add on Python. You can use the following guide on the fundamental programming concepts required for MICS coursework.

What is the required programming knowledge for foundation courses?

Cryptography for Cyber and Network Security (W202)
You need to be able to read Python (with SageMath extensions) and write simple programs (in any language) to set variables, perform mathematical operations with various parameters, and return resulting values.

Software Security (W204)
In this course, you will be analyzing code, especially C, constantly. Understanding heap vs stack memory, pointers, IO, constructors/destructors, exceptions, and concurrency is important. The vast majority of code you turn in will be code samples you have modified to remove vulnerabilities rather than code you have written from scratch.

Network Security (W210)
You need to be familiar with at least one programming language. While Java or C are commonly used in production network applications, in class students are welcome to use Python in order to focus on development rather than programming language syntax.

What is the required programming knowledge for advanced courses?

Applied Machine Learning (W207)
Students need to have sufficient proficiency in Python to understand and use reference documentation and libraries (e.g., matplotlib, pandas, NumPy).

Privacy Engineering (W233)
In this course, students work in MATLAB. The required MATLAB knowledge will be covered in the course itself, but it is assumed that students have prior programming background.

Operating System Security (W211)
Students need to know the basics of UNIX programming, shell scripting, and using the command line (not GUI) to work with an OS. The class does not involve writing a lot of code but knowing how to program in C or assembly language will be useful for building, installing and debugging systems.

Return to top

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Is the GRE or GMAT exam required to apply to the MICS program?
GRE/GMAT scores are not a requirement, but may be submitted if you feel they would benefit your application. Candidates who might benefit from providing scores include those with a mediocre undergraduate performance, limited quantitative experience, and/or strong previous scores.

May I take either the GRE or the GMAT?
Yes, and one is not preferred over the other.

Can the test scores be received after the application deadline?
The I School must receive all supporting application materials (test scores and letters of recommendation) no later than the announced deadlines.

How long are test scores valid for admission purposes?
No more than five years may have passed between the GRE or GMAT test date and the application deadline.

What are the GRE school and department codes?
The GRE school code for UC Berkeley is 1634. The department code for the I School is 0404 (Information Sciences).

What is the GMAT school code?
The school code for the MICS program is N2V-Q0-40.

Even though I do not have to submit GRE/GMAT scores, may I submit a score report as additional information for my application?
Yes. We particularly encourage candidates with a limited quantitative background to submit GRE/GMAT scores to provide additional insight into their quantitative abilities. Additionally, candidates with mediocre undergraduate grades might benefit from submitting strong GRE/GMAT scores to help demonstrate their academic aptitude.

Return to top

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Are foreign national applicants who graduated from a university in the U.S. required to take the TOEFL or IELTS?
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 the TOEFL. Instead, you must submit an official transcript from the U.S. university.

How long are TOEFL or IELTS scores valid for admission purposes?
No more than 18 months may have passed between the TOEFL or IELTS test date and the application deadline.

Should I include copies of my TOEFL or IELTS scores in my packet of supplemental materials?
No. Test scores should be sent directly from the testing authorities.

What are the TOEFL or IELTS school and department codes?
The school code for UC Berkeley is 4833. The department code for the I School is 99.

Test Codes

Test Codes
TEST CODE/DEPT VALID FOR
GRE 1634/0404 5 years
GMAT N2V-Q0-40 5 years
TOEFL 4833/99 18 months
IELTS TRF 1 18 months
1 Test Report Form must be sent directly from IELTS Return to footnote reference

Return to top

Tuition & Financial Aid

What is the cost of attendance?
For the 2018–2019 academic year, tuition is $2,592 per unit plus applicable campus fees. Tuition is charged per unit, and cybersecurity@berkeley is a 27-unit program. Please note that MICS program fees are subject to change, and you should expect them to rise each year.

Tuition includes technology platform licensing and support.

In addition, students will be charged a $500 immersion fee. Students will be responsible for the cost of lodging during the immersion and travel to and from the immersion.

What types of aid are available?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for federal financial aid programs, which include student loans. We encourage you to apply for financial aid as early as possible.

To be eligible for federal financial aid, students must be registered in a minimum of six units per term. Students who choose to take a less accelerated path toward completion of the degree should be aware that this will impact their federal financial aid eligibility.

How do I apply for financial aid?
To apply for federal aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal school code for UC Berkeley is 001312.

If you have questions about financial aid, please see the Tuition and Financial Aid FAQ.

Return to top