UC Berkeley has instituted supplemental tuition for at least six graduate programs over the last five years at a time when the base tuition fee throughout the UC system is frozen.
The topic, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, revolves around the additional funding secured by degree programs redesignated as professional programs, permitting the campus to tack on additional tuition in the form of professional degree supplemental tuition, or PDST fees.
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the campus has redesignated four graduate degree programs from “academic” to “professional.” Two campus programs — the master’s of journalism and the Principal Leadership Institute program — were already considered professionally oriented but did not previously charge PDST fees.
Such reclassification was part of a deliberate, thoughtful and thorough updating of these programs’ curricula, Gilmore said.
Since 2011, PDST fees at UC Berkeley for at least 15 programs — such as business, law and optometry — have seen annual fee increases ranging from as little as 7 percent to as much as nearly 23 percent.
Fiona Doyle, dean of the Graduate Division, emphasized the costs of maintaining the market value of UC Berkeley’s professional degree, which required its graduate programs to increase current PDST fees.
The PDST fees help fund staff who provide crucial career services — such as job placement and internship experiences — while also providing students with real application training, such as learning how to run a city, according to Henry Brady, dean of the campus’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Brady noted that even with PDST fees, campus graduate programs still often cost less than half of those at some private universities.
In November 2014, the UC Board of Regents approved the implementation of a semesterly supplemental fee of $3,750 for the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism program, on top of the base tuition of $5,610 per semester for the 2015-16 school year.
First-year journalism graduate student Jason Hanasik said the timing of the fee’s implementation was “messed up” for the class of 2017. Prospective journalism students set to graduate in 2017 did not know fees had increased — and so drastically — until after they had applied.
“People that had already been accepted should have been grandfathered into the existing fee structure,” Hanasik said.
Out of the 17 professional degree programs on campus that year, all except the College of Environmental Design had proposed fee increases for the following academic year.
The UC Regents approved new PDST fees for four programs at UC Berkeley in 2012, including development practice, product development, statistics and translational medicine, a joint program offered at UC Berkeley and UCSF. The development practice PDST, for instance, has hovered between $18,000 and $19,000 for the past three academic years.
A portion of revenue from PDST fees goes toward providing additional student financial aid, as required by campus policy. In addition, administrators say PDST fees have been implemented to address withdrawals of state funding integral to maintaining the costs of a quality public education.
According to Jeffrey Edleson, dean of the Graduate School of Social Welfare, state-supported funding for the university has dropped from 50 percent to 12 percent in the past 36 years.
The problem, Edleson said, is because of the fact that some people in California no longer want to support public education when people can afford to send their children to private institutions instead.
But for Hanasik, such fees have dampened the “euphoria” of getting accepted into a graduate program.
“It raises the anxiety level and stress … both while you’re in school and imagining future expectations of salary levels,” Hanasik said.
Senior staff writer Suhauna Hussain contributed to this report.