Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Haas Scholars Program


Who should write my Professional Reference?

You should ask someone of appropriate standing (i.e., a non-relative who has supervised your work) who understands what type of person the Haas Scholars program is looking for as an ideal cohort member.  Note that this letter should primarily emphasize what type of contribution you make in a group setting, as opposed to just your academic qualifications. To put it another way, one scholar summarized what we are looking for in Haas Scholars as “sociable nerds”.  Your proposal, transcript, and academic sponsor recommendation will cover the “nerd” part; the professional reference covers the “sociable” part as well as your record of following through on commitments.  

Many applicants ask a current or former academic advisor who is aware of their personal attributes, such as an EOP counselor, CE3 staff, or another Student Affairs Officer on campus.  Others ask a current or former employer, while others ask senior staff in an organization they may have volunteered with. These are all sensible choices, although this is by no means an exhaustive list.  A professor or GSI could work only if  that person has a good understanding of your personal qualities (e.g. how you contribute to the group dynamic). The important point to remember is that your Professional Reference must understand what the Haas Scholars senior capstone experience is about and must be able to write authoritatively about your level of professional responsibility, follow-through, and commitment to creating a positive interdisciplinary group environment with the other Haas Scholar cohort members.

The questions your professional reference will be asked on the application form can be found here:


How are Haas Scholars selected?

There are four different selection committees:  one for arts and humanities, one for STEM disciplines, and two (or sometimes three) for social sciences.  Each committee has four selection committee members, and each application is read by each member of the committee. Each committee member ranks the entire pool from the candidates they consider strongest to those considered weakest. The scores are averaged into an overall ranking, and discussion focusses on candidates near the line of accept/don’t accept and those with big discrepancies in scores.  

There is no “quota” on disciplines, i.e., you are not at a disadvantage if you are in a major that presents many candidates in a particular year.  We choose the same proportion of candidates from each discipline, e.g. 30% of the humanities candidates, 30% of the social science, and 30% of the STEM.  With regards to the number of applicants, we don’t share this number except to say it has always been below 100, and we always choose 20 scholars.  

 The committee is looking for an original and feasible proposal, an applicant well-qualified to carry out the proposal, evidence that the student will receive strong mentoring from the faculty sponsor, and evidence that the student will be a positive contributor to the Haas Scholars cohort.  

I’m applying to be a Haas Scholar.  Where can I find information on allowed research expenses, and other policies relevant to my application?

Look in Home –> Applying –> Proposal Format and Policies / Home –> Applying –> Budget Policies

The Haas Scholars application isn’t online yet.  What can I do in the meantime?

We recommend that identify your topic and faculty mentor, and then that you gather the following items well in advance of the application deadline:

  • pdfs of the required transcripts.
  • a complete draft of your Haas Scholars project proposal
  • a complete draft of your Haas Scholars project budget
  • the name and email of your faculty mentor/recommender
  • the name and email of your professional reference

NOTE:  if your proposed project involves human subjects research, you must completed a full draft of the protocol to Leah Carroll and a protocol approved by your faculty sponsor by the mid-March dates specified on this page

How many letters are required?  How many letters are permitted? 

HSP requires two references:  one is a letter, uploaded to the mentor contract/recommendation form, from your faculty sponsor discussing your academic qualifications to carry out your project.  The other is a reference form from a professional reference discussing your personal qualities (follow-through, responsibility, ability to make a positive contribution to the group dynamic) that would make you a good member of the cohort.  You may include an additional (third) reference, either an additional academic letter, or an additional professional reference.  You will send the link and the explanatory information (found in the application document) to each of your recommenders.

HSP does NOT require letters of support, but they can be useful, especially for social science and humanities applicants.  Letters of support are non-confidential and must refer to a specific item or resource, often tangible, that the letter writer will offer you to help you bring your project to fruition, e.g. they will offer you office space, help connect you with interviewees, allow you access to a non-public archive, allow you to use film-editing equipment, etc.  You will upload all of your letters of support into the application – maximum 3 – so individuals who write you letters/emails of support should send their materials directly to you.

…so the bottom line is that two recommendations are required (from your faculty sponsor and your professional reference).  One additional recommendation is permitted, and you may have up to three letters of support, but these are optional. 

What can I do to get help with my proposal?

Attend the How to Write a Proposal workshop, look over the advice given here, and show a draft of your proposal to your mentor. It is important that your mentor be very familiar with your project because a strong recommendation letter that specifically references your project will make your application more competitive.  The Program Manager, Leah Carroll, also encourages you to get feedback from her on your proposal, as soon as you have a complete draft — even if it’s very rough.

Where can I find a sample proposal and a sample budget?

We don’t post those online to respect the privacy of current scholars, but if you meet with me, I can give you access to sample budgets.  

What if I don’t have a topic yet? Or a mentor?

There are workshops designed specifically to help you!  “Getting started” will discuss the different ways to go about finding a mentor, and the “Professional Emailing” workshop will teach you how to send a great email to a professor you’ve never met before.  “Writing a research proposal” will help guide you on how to choose a topic, and then how to narrow it down and make it into a feasible project.  Check the calendar here.

How do I know if my proposed mentor is eligible?

UC Berkeley Academic Senate members and other UC Berkeley ladder-rank faculty are eligible to serve as Haas Mentors (eligible titles: assistant professor, associate professor, professor, professor emeritus). Applicants may request an exemption to the ladder faculty rule for lecturers and adjunct faculty members with permanence of employment (they will have titles such as Continuing Lecturer, Associate Adjunct Professor, etc.). Please contact the Program Office to initiate a request for approval.

How do I make sure my proposed mentor is willing to take on the commitments entailed for Haas Scholars?

Mentor responsibilities and privileges are described here. Be sure your mentor is familiar with what Haas Scholars requires, and ask directly if he/she is willing to sponsor you.

How do I request that my mentor sponsor me?

To request your mentor’s sponsorship and letter, send your mentor a link to the Faculty Mentor Commitments along with your proposal draft, transcript, and resume. Then send your mentor the recommendation link and explanatory information from the online application so that they can fill out the commitment form online and upload their letter. (You can send this info to your recommenders before you complete the rest of the application.)