Admission and Application Process FAQs

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Program and Testing Requirements

What are the minimum requirements for admission?

The requirements vary among programs. All candidates must submit an online application form and application fee. The online application requires the candidate to include a statement of purpose, a curriculum vitae/resume, and uploaded transcripts of all past academic work completed to date. Additionally, the online application form will prompt the candidate to submit the names and contact information for recommenders (typically two or three), who will be sent a link to upload their letters of recommendation. Your program may also require standardized test score results, a writing sample, a portfolio, an audition, and/or an interview. Please visit your department to see specific requirements by program.

If I tell you my test scores and grade-point average, can you tell me my chances for admission?

No, the faculty cannot assess your chances for admission without reviewing your entire file. Your statement of purpose and your letters of recommendation play a significant role in the application process.

Do I have to have an undergraduate major in the same area as the graduate program in which I wish to study?

In most cases, previous work as an undergraduate major or as a formal minor (18 credits or more) is desirable. However, a student should always check with the departmental chair or director of graduate studies concerning the suitability of her/his previous academic work as it pertains to the degree program in question.

Must I have already earned a master's degree before applying to the Ph.D. program?

Students may apply directly to a Ph.D. program after completion of their baccalaureate degree. Matriculated students who have a master's degree may apply for transfer credit (of up to one year's worth of credit). The decision to accept any credit will be made after the first semester of enrollment in the Graduate School.  Please note that the Ph.D. Program in Anthropology only accepts applicants directly from their M.A. program.

May I apply to more than one program in an academic year?

No, you may only apply to one program per academic year.

What are the minimum standardized test scores required for admission? What is the minimum GPA required for admission?

There are no GPA or standardized test score cutoffs. Applicants are considered holistically on the basis of a number of factors.

International students, however, must meet certain English-language requirements to be eligible for admission. 

Must I submit official standardized score reports?

You must submit official scores from the testing agencies in order to be eligible to receive an unconditional offer of admission.

You will enter your unofficial scores directly into the Test Score section of the application. You should not upload, email, or mail any copies of the score reports. The department will be able to review the scores that you have entered, until your official scores arrive. Please keep in mind that there is a delay from when you order your official scores to when the testing agency sends us these scores. Your scores then need to be uploaded into our application system and then matched with your application. Overall, this process can take up to three weeks.

What if I have not taken the required test yet?

In the test score section of the application, there is a link to add new test scores. Simply click on the link, select the appropriate test, and then enter a future test date. This will allow you to submit the application without scores for that specific test.

When you take the test, enter the appropriate Brandeis institution code (see below) at the testing center. When the official scores arrive, we will be able to associate them with your application.

What are the institutional codes for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?

3261 for official TOEFL scores; no department code is necessary.
3092 for official GRE scores; no department code is necessary.
1197 for official Miller Analogy Test scores.
IELTS, MCAT, and PTE Academic do not have an institutional code

Is there a revised version of the GRE?

Yes, ETS released a revised version of the GRE exam on August 1, 2011. To learn more about the changes to the GRE please visit the ETS website. Please note the following scoring changes: the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning score scale has changed from 200-800 to 130-170. The Analytical Writing has remained the same, scored on a 0-6 scale.

Will Brandeis accept score reports for the older version of the GRE?

Yes, scores will continue to be valid for five years.

General Application Questions

Am I required to use an electronic application for admission?

We strongly prefer that you apply electronically. This method allows us to process your application immediately upon submission. Paper applications arrive in the mail and then must be data-entered into our system. Processing time for paper applications is significantly longer than the time needed for the processing of electronic applications.

How may I check on the status of my application submission?

Once you have submitted your complete application and have paid the application fee, you can check on the status of your application materials by logging into your account using the same credentials you used while applying.  Your account will provide you with a self-service portal, which will include a materials checklist.  The checklist will be updated as we receive documents necessary to complete your application process.  In addition, you are able to upload additional documentation through the self-service portal.

I may be traveling. May I have a family member call to ask questions about my application?

If you wish to authorize another person to inquire on your behalf about the status of your application, you must write, sign and submit a statement to this effect. The Graduate School will not release information about your application to anyone without your written consent.

If I get supporting documents in late, will it negatively impact my application?

Be sure that you review the deadline submission date for your program of interest.  It is your responsibility to apply and submit all of the required documents by the program’s deadline, particularly if you wish to be considered for any relevant financial aid.  If your program of interest has a rolling deadline, it is in your best interest to submit materials as early as possible, as the admission committees review until the cohort is full.

When will I receive an admission decision?

Typically, applicants receive a decision approximately six to eight weeks after the program's deadline.  We strive to notify applicants as soon as possible, but please note that the timeframe may vary by program. While individual programs may inform applicants that they have been recommended for admission, only decisions administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are considered to be official.  Admission letters are sent via e-mail. We are unable to release admission decisions via phone.

What if I am unable to apply online?

Though we strongly suggest that you apply online because our electronic applications are processed more rapidly, you may apply via a paper application.  The fee to apply via a paper application is $100.

Mailing Address (USPS):
Brandeis University
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
P.O. Box 9110, MS 031
Waltham, MA 02454

DHL, FedEx, UPS Address:
Brandeis University
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
415 South Street, Kutz 219
Waltham, MA 02454

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation do I need?

The required number of letters of recommendation varies among programs. Please visit your department to see specific requirements by program.

How do my recommenders submit their letters to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?

The electronic application will ask you to list the names and email addresses of your recommenders.  Once you enter their contact information on your application and press “send to recommender,” your recommender will be notified via email and directed to a secure website to upload a document to your application. Once a letter has been submitted, it will be added to your application materials and marked as received on your application checklist.  You will receive a confirmation email each time your recommender submits a letter online.

In most cases, you will also have the ability to request that a reminder email be sent to any of your recommenders who have not yet submitted their letters.  You may request this yourself through your self-service portal.

My recommender misplaced the email with the information on submitting his/her letter of recommendation

In most cases, you are able to send a reminder email to your recommender through your self-service portal. Click on the “recommendations page” link and then “edit” and you have the option to send a reminder to your recommender.  

Note:  Please be aware that if your recommender does not see the email in their inbox, it could be due to spam-blocking software being used to filter messages.  If any of your recommenders report that they have not received the email, they may try disabling the software or looking in their spam folders.

Will you still accept hard-copy letters of recommendations?

Yes, although electronic submission is strongly preferred and the submission of hard-copy letters may delay the processing of your application. All hard-copies of letters of recommendation should be submitted in signed, sealed envelopes, and submitted directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
MS 031 Brandeis University
P.O. Box 9110
Waltham, MA 02454

If you are sending your documents via a carrier who does not ship to P.O. Box addresses (many international carriers) you may use the following address:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Brandeis University
415 South Street, Kutz 219
Waltham, MA 02454


Do I upload my transcripts with my application?

Yes, you are required to upload copies of all of your transcripts with your application on the Educational Record page in order for your application to be reviewed for admission. Please follow these guidelines when uploading your transcripts:

  1. Upload each transcript individually if you have attended more than one institution.
  2. If your transcript is double sided, please include both sides and be sure to include the transcript legend.
  3. Make sure that your upload is legible and clearly identifies the school from which the transcript originated.
  4. If the scanned file is too large, first make a photocopy (experiment with different settings until you find one that results in the smallest file size), then scan the photocopy.
  5. Make certain that its size is less then 2000kb (2 MB). For best results, scan at the lowest DPI in black and white or grayscale that results in a legible document.

You may upload a copy of your institution’s web version of your transcript in place of a copy of your official transcript.  Many institutions in the United States allow students and alumni to access their grade report online; these reports are sufficient for application file review.

I uploaded my transcripts to my application; do I still need to mail copies to your office?

No, official copies of your transcripts are only required if you are admitted and decide to enroll in our program. Do not mail transcripts to our office with your application, as we do not accept transcripts sent to our office during the application review period. Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission has been extended to you and you accept that offer.

Transcripts mailed to our office prior to an acceptance of an offer of admission will be destroyed.

I am having difficulty uploading my transcripts, what should I do?

Please follow these suggestions if you are having trouble uploading your transcript(s):

  1. Make sure that you are scanning your transcripts one school at a time and not all of your transcripts as one large document. The document size must be less than 2000kb (2MB).
  2. Scan at a lower DPI (try using under 300 DPI) only if the transcript is still legible.
  3. If the scanned file is still too large, try making a photocopy to adjust the size and then scan the photocopy.

Where and when do I send my official transcript(s)?

Only if you are admitted and decide to enroll should you mail official copies of all your transcripts to GSAS.  Do not mail copies of your transcripts BEFORE you are admitted and choose to enroll. All transcripts should be sent directly from the university or college in the original, unopened instituional envelope.  Upon confirming your intention to enroll, transcript(s) should be mailed to:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
MS 031 Brandeis University
P.O. Box 9110
Waltham, MA 02454

If you are sending your documents via a carrier who does not ship to P.O. Box addresses (many international carriers) you may use the following address:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Brandeis University
415 South Street, Kutz 219
Waltham, MA 02454

If you prefer to have your institution(s) deliver your transcript(s) electronically, then please have them sent to

Do I need to submit transcripts for all courses taken? What about a summer course or study-abroad programs?

You should upload transcripts for all institutions you attended, with the exception of institutions at which you took one or two courses over the summer and they were not integral to your major or minor course of study. If your study-abroad program is notated on your transcript with a list of the courses taken and the grades earned, then we do not need the study-abroad transcript. If the study-abroad grades are not notated on your undergraduate transcript, then you must submit the official study-abroad transcript. Remember, you only need to submit official copies of your transcripts after you are admitted and decide to enroll.

All degree candidates must submit a final transcript indicating successful completion of an undergraduate degree before registering for their first semester.

Does my transcript have to be in English?

Yes. All transcripts must be in English, or if you are submitting an official transcript from an international school, you must include a certified English translation of the transcript. This includes the unofficial copies that you upload with your application.

My admission letter states that I must submit my final official transcripts, but I already submitted them.

Your final official transcript must include the degree that you earned and the date the degree was conferred. Many students will submit official transcripts from their school that are not considered final because they do not list the degree information. Please ensure that you submit the final official transcript before you arrive on campus to avoid delays in your registration process.


Application Fee

What is the application fee?

Click here for information about the application fee.

May I pay the application fee by credit card?

We can only accept credit card payments via online applications; we cannot accept credit cards with paper applications. Paper applications require cash, check, or money order.

Is it possible to obtain a waiver for the application fee?

If you feel your current circumstances warrant a fee waiver, please send a paragraph explaining your extenuating circumstances to Amy Reardon, Admission Coordinator.  Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  This process should be completed before you apply online, as applications submitted online without payment will be placed in a pending file until a payment is received or a fee waiver is granted.

Application fee waivers are given to U.S. Military; Fulbright scholars; Institute for the Recruitment of Teacher scholars; Ronald McNair scholars; Science without Borders scholars; DAAD Exchange scholars;  AmeriCorps volunteers; Peace Corps volunteers; City Year volunteers; Teach for America volunteers; Wheaton College Literary and Cultural Studies participants; SACNAS members; ABRCMS members; Boston Area Graduate Consortium students/alumni (Boston College, Boston University, Tufts University, Wellesley College), and employees, current students, and graduates of Brandeis University.

What happens if I don't pay my application fee or get approved for a fee waiver?

Your application will be placed in a pending file until the fee is received. There will be an alert on your self-service portal if your application fee payment is outstanding.

May a colleague pay the fee on my behalf?

Have your colleague send a check in the full amount to the Graduate School, made payable to Brandeis University. He/she must write your name and birth date on the check. If your name is not written on the check, we may not be able to match the fee with your application. We will place your application in a pending file until the check is received.

Additional Supporting Documents

How long should my statement of purpose be?

The statement of purpose should be one to three pages, unless otherwise directed by your program of interest. It should clearly state your reasons for applying to graduate school and your specific interests in the graduate program at Brandeis.  You should consult your program of interest for specific details on its contents. Please remember to include your name and proposed program on all pages of the statement. The statement must be submitted electronically when you complete the application for admission online.  Documents should be uploaded in PDF format. If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types may be unreadable. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

How long should my writing sample be?

Writing sample requirements vary by department. Please visit your program of interest to see specific requirements by program. In all cases, please make sure your name is on the first page of the sample. Documents should be uploaded in PDF format. If you are unable to upload documents in PDF format, you may also use .doc, .docx, and .rtf. Other file types may be unreadable.  You may upload a writing sample during the application process (if your program requires it) or after submission via the self-service portal. Please do not email us or mail to us a copy of your uploaded documents. Doing so will delay the processing of your application.

I'm applying to the Music: Composition and Theory program. Can I send you a URL/link to my score file or audio file?

You may specify a URL where your score file or audio file is located (i.e. on youtube or vimeo), but you must make sure that the link is active and as specific as possible so that your work may be easily reviewed without searching a website.