Letters of recommendation are another important component of your application materials. They provide a professional opinion of your intellectual abilities and preparation for graduate school, and are usually written by a professor who not only addresses your specific strengths, but compares you to the many students with whom the professor has worked during his or her career. In other words, the admission committee wants to know how you "stack up" against all the students the recommender has ever had! In general, most programs/universities require three letters of support.
In the humanities, the writing sample is just as crucial, if not more crucial, than the statement of purpose. Therefore, an applicant should place considerable importance and a great amount of effort into producing a writing sample. In general, admission committees evaluate an applicant's ability to synthesize ideas, concepts, or theories, and logically take a stand and argue them. Faculty would like to admit potential graduate students whose intellectual abilities and curiosity are highly advanced and are evident in the writing sample.
Did you know that more undergraduates go on to earn a Ph.D. here at Berkeley than at any other college or university in the country? The stellar quality of Berkeley’s graduate students and programs, combined with the dynamic partnership between the faculty and graduate students on this campus, are the foundation upon which Berkeley's world-celebrated excellence in research and teaching is achieved and sustained. Few if any universities in the world can equal the excellence of our graduate programs.