Who should write my Professional Reference?

This is a common question. You should definitely not ask friends or family, or someone who is unable to comment on your suitability for the Haas Scholars senior capstone experience.  You should ask someone of appropriate standing 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 organisation 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 three for social sciences.  Each committee has four selection committee members, and each application is read by each member of the committee. 

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 --> Apply --> Proposal Format and Policies / Home --> Apply --> Budget Policies, or simply click here and here


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

The application should go live by December 2018  Until then, we recommend 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 complete the CITI training course and  file the proper forms and protocol with the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects by March 22, 2018 (or by March 19, 2018 if your project involves greater than minimal risk to your subjects).  If you are unsure whether or not your project involves human subjects, see the CPHS website.  We strongly recommend that you complete the required CITI training before submitting your application.

 If necessary, you may also include:

  • One additional recommendation letter (either an academic or professional reference).  Identify this person by entering her email addresses on the application form, and she will submit her letter independently.
  • If you are proposing a creative project (not a research project), you should include a sample of your creative work. Depending on the medium, you can upload it as a pdf, or include links that showcase your work online.
  • Any letters of support that your project may require.


Your faculty mentor will submit via the application website, in one pdf document:
an academic recommendation letter in support of your application to become a Haas Scholar
the mentor commitment form stating that she agrees to fulfill the duties required of a Haas Scholars mentor
Your professional reference will submit (via the application website) a letter in support of your application to become a Haas Scholar that discusses your level of responsibility, degree of follow-through, and willingness to contribute to a cohesive and collaborative group environment.


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

There are two types of letters:  recommendation letters and letters of support.

HSP requires two recommendation letters:  one from your faculty sponsor discussing your academic qualifications to carry out your project, and one from a professional reference discussing your personal qualities that would make you a good member of the cohort.  You may include an additional (third) recommendation letter -from anyone who can speak to the merits of your proposed project, and/or your suitability as a Haas Scholar.  You will provide the email address of all of your recommenders on the application form, and we will contact your recommenders with instructions on how they can upload their letter directly into your application files.

HSP does NOT require letters of support, but they can be useful.  Letters of support must refer to a specific item, often tangible, that the letter writer will offer you to help you bring your project to fruition.  There is no limit to the number of letters of support an applicant may include. See this FAQ sheet for more information on letters of support.  You will upload all of your letters of support into the application, so individuals who write you letters/emails of support should send their materials directly to you.

...so the bottom line is that two letters are required (from your faculty sponsor and your professional reference).  One additional recommendation letter is permitted, and you may have unlimited 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 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 come into the office, we 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!  The "Professional Emailing" workshop will teach you how to send a great email to a professor you've never met before.  Check the calendar here and stop by--no pre-registration necessary!


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). In exceptional circumstances, applicants may request an exemption to the ladder faculty rule for lecturers and adjunct faculty members. 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 your proposal draft, transcript, and resume. Then send your mentor the recommendation link from the online application so that she can fill out the commitment form online and upload her letter. (You can fill out the recommendation request before you complete the rest of the application.)


Good luck, and we look forward to meeting you!