Product Development Program - General FAQ for Admissions

Last updated July 2021

PDP Basics & Academics

How does the PDP’s professional Master of Science in Chemical Engineering degree differ from a traditional academic Master’s degree?

The learning objective of a traditional academic Master’s degree is the development of a command of technical knowledge through theory and research. Graduates with this type of degree typically go into industry as technical workers or choose to pursue doctoral studies for a career in academia. On the other hand, the PDP’s Master’s is a terminal professional degree – its primary learning objective is the acquisition of skills and practical methods for application in the professional practice of product development, while still allowing its students to gain exposure to the current state of technical knowledge in a variety of disciplines. Graduates of the PDP almost exclusively choose to enter industry and embark on a professional or managerial career related to bringing new products and technologies into commercial reality. The PDP Master’s also offers our students a number of benefits such as access to our unique PDP alumni network, a private student center which includes lockers, a kitchen area, conference rooms, a study lounge, a classroom, team building activities, end of the semester celebrations, and much more. Please note that the department’s traditional Master's program only admits 3-5 students each year, while in the PDP you will find a family within our small cohort of no more than 50 students.

What percentage of PDP program students have professional experience versus those who are straight out of undergrad?

Around 10% of each class has students with 4+ years of professional experience, while the rest of the class is made up of recently graduated students or students with 1-3+ years’ experience.

How many semester units do I need to graduate? How long will it take to graduate?

Our Master of Science in Chemical Engineering degree requires a minimum of 24 semester units of specified courses. The PDP’s expectation is that you will take a minimum of 14 units each semester, of which no more than one-third will be non-graded (S/U). Graduate courses (numbered 200 and above) and upper-division undergraduate courses (numbered 100 and above) are chosen to help each student achieve their personal academic objectives. We take an individualized approach in working with students to identify elective courses that speak to the interests and passions of each student. We typically recommend that PDP students take 14-16 units each semester. PDP students arrive on campus in mid-August and graduate in May of the following year (9 months). This program cannot be taken part-time, which is why we do not accept applications in the Spring.

Can I apply to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s PhD program after I graduate?

The PDP and PhD program in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley are completely separate, and graduating from the PDP means that you will not be allowed to apply to our Department’s PhD program afterwards. Some of our graduates have gone on to do a PhD at other institutions, but most go into industry. If you really want to pursue a doctorate, you should apply directly to doctorate programs that meet your learning objectives.

What are the PDP Field Projects?

Mandatory for all students, PDP field projects provide a “real world”, practical capstone learning experience in product development for our Master’s degree candidates. A product-related issue is analyzed by a small team of PDP students on behalf of an industrial client during the spring semester. PDP students choose a desired project from a list of opportunities developed by PDP faculty and staff. A typical PDP field project team will have three graduate students focused on team performance results, collective work products, and personal growth. Understanding effective team dynamics is an important learning objective in all PDP field projects. We have used a standardized project delivery approach (taught in the first semester) to create results for clients in a range of industries in over 90 PDP field projects. Some of our past clients include:

  • Amyris
  • Applied Materials
  • Baxter
  • Bayer
  • Bio-Rad
  • Bolt Threads
  • Chevron
  • Clif Bar
  • Clorox
  • Corning
  • Dow Chemical
  • Genentech
  • Givaudan
  • Illumina
  • Lam Research
  • LanzaTech
  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Siluria Technologies

Cost & Financial Aid

What are the total costs of attending UC Berkeley as a PDP graduate student?

The most current information on fees may be found here on the Registrar’s website: Please note that these total fee quotes are estimates, and do not include living expenses.

What can incoming students expect in terms of financial aid?

Financial aid from the PDP itself will be contingent on available resources - we will provide more information at the start of the fall semester. For limited additional financial aid, the primary award criteria will be based on individual academic achievement and financial need. For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents University fellowships, need-based aid (e.g. loans, grants, etc.), and federal financial aid is available primarily for U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents. To apply, file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at The FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for need-based fellowships and departmental funding. UC Berkeley’s institution code for the FAFSA is 001312, and you can apply for aid before you are admitted to Berkeley. For International Students Most international students will be responsible for paying the majority of the entire cost of attendance for the one-year program, and should plan carefully to ensure adequate financial resources.

Are there Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) positions that partially offset some of the tuition and fees? How can I apply?

We have PDP students that act as GSIs every year, but unfortunately it will not be possible for you to secure a GSI position for next year before you are a registered student. The GSI and Reader jobs typically support instruction in high-volume undergraduate courses (e.g. calculus, physics, etc.) and applications should be made directly to the hiring departments. Our program will supply incoming students who have accepted admission to the PDP with a directory of campus contacts to inquire about GSI and Reader opportunities.


What job search and career support does the PDP offer its students?

While we provide as much help as we can (e.g., career workshops, one-on-one resume help, networking events, etc.), students are responsible for conducting their own job search. Some students begin a job search as soon as they arrive in Berkeley and some prefer to wait until mid-year or even after graduation. In addition to the College’s career counselors and the university's Career Center, the strong PDP alumni network provides job leads and career advice. In addition, many corporate employers contact the program directly asking to post jobs with the PDP class.

What kinds of jobs have PDP graduates taken and how long were their job searches?

Our graduates have been quite successful in securing a variety of career opportunities upon graduating from the PDP. Most of our students seek roles that have a blend of both technical/engineering/R&D and business/management roles. Below is a partial list of some of the companies that have hired PDP graduates:

  • AbbVie
  • Accenture
  • Apple
  • Applied Materials
  • Bloomberg
  • Chevron
  • Deloitte
  • DuPont
  • Dow
  • ExxonMobil
  • Genentech
  • Gilead Sciences
  • Google
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Intel
  • Merck
  • Micron Technology
  • Navigant
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Rakuten

Where are PDP graduates getting hired geographically?

Our alumni can be found working all over the world! Examples include Southern California (LA, San Diego), Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Seattle), the Midwest (Chicago), the East Coast (Boston, New York, Toronto), and abroad (Austria, China, Finland, France, Hong Kong,India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc).

Other questions?

Please send an email to the PDP’s Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO), Alethea Stoltzfus, at