Get Into UC Berkeley
About UC Berkeley
Berkeley is the #1 public university worldwide, according to U.S. News & World Report, and #4 among all global universities. Although there are 350+ degree programs and 30,000 undergraduates, the university remains committed to small classes: 71 percent of undergraduate classes have fewer than 30 students. Beyond the undergraduate community, there are 11,666 graduate students, which add to the vibrant research focus on campus.
UC Berkeley has been recognized by its particular strengths in chemistry, environment/ecology, economics and business, space science, and physics. The undergraduate academic life, however, offers programs in a great variety of disciplines, organized into 5 colleges:
College of Letters and Science: The College of Letters and Science is the liberal arts foundation of Berkeley and includes a wide range of majors in Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences.
College of Chemistry: The College of Chemistry offers majors in Chemistry, Chemical Biology, or Chemical Engineering.
College of Engineering: The College of Engineering includes courses taught by internationally recognized faculty and emphasizes research. Housed within the college are the departments of Bioengineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering; Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences; Industrial Engineering & Operations Research; Materials Science & Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Nuclear Engineering. A new program, the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) Program combines Engineering courses with classes at the Haas School of Business.
College of Environmental Design: The College of Environmental Design includes programs in architecture, landscape architecture, sustainable environmental design, and urban studies.
College of Natural Resources: The College of Natural Resources includes majors that range from Conservation and Resource Studies to Microbial Biology and Molecular Toxicology. These academic programs focus on economic and ecological sustainability.
College of Haas School of Business: Undergraduates in the College of Haas School of Business can pursue a BS in Business Administration, the Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology Program, The Global Managements Program, or the Biology+Business Program.
Berkeley Campus Life
From the Cal athletic program, which has won 87 team national championships, to outdoor adventures, famous speakers, and Bay Area resources, there are no shortage of activities at Berkeley. As a major research university, Berkeley offers a number of opportunities for undergraduates to take part in cutting-edge research and to take advantage of the main libraries (Doe, Moffitt, and the Bancroft), 18 subject-specialty libraries, and 11 affiliated libraries, along with special collections. The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) is one such opportunity for undergraduates to work with faculty on specific projects. Other programs, like Berkeley Connect, pair undergraduate students with graduate student mentors as they undertake collaborative research.
Interested in studying abroad? Berkeley’s Summer Abroad offerings feature intensive summer programs led by Berkeley faculty. Likewise, Berkley Global Internships place students in competitive internships in the Bay Area and around the world. For juniors and seniors interested in public policy or government, there are opportunities to travel to Washington, D.C. to intern, do research, and take classes for a semester where they live and take classes at the UC Washington Center.
Applying to the University of Berkeley
UC Berkeley is part of the larger “UC system” and adheres to the University of California application system and guidelines. As with all the UCs, there are no early action or early decision programs offered and freshman decisions are posted at the end of March.
Close to 90% of UC undergraduates are California residents. If you are in the top 9 percent of California high school graduates, you will be offered a spot at a UC campus if space is available. Whether or not you fall into the top 9 percent is determined by the admission index—a calculation that takes into account your grades and honors-level courses.
The minimum GPA requirements for admission to Berkeley as a freshman are a 3.0 (CA residents) and 3.4 (non-residents). Applicants must also submit either the SAT or the ACT. SAT Subject Tests are no longer required for admission to Berkeley. However, they are recommended for the College of Engineering and College of Chemistry. Specifically, you must submit a Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) related to your intended major.
The “personal insight questions” are a series of short-answer questions reviewed by both the Admissions and Scholarship offices. These questions are the same for every school in the UC system.
Students can choose four out of the following eight questions to answer:
- Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
- Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
- What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
- Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
- Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
- Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
- Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
Berkeley Admissions Wrap Up
Every year, Berkeley releasees a Freshmen Student Profile. This year’s profile notes that the middle 50% of freshmen had an unweighted GPA of 3.89-4.0 and a weighted GPA of 4.0-4.29. The average ACT score was 30-35, and the SAT score was 1350-1540. In 2019, out of 87,389 applicants, 14,661 were admitted for an acceptance rate of 16.8 percent. In 2018, admission was slightly more competitive with an acceptance rate of 15.1 percent.