UC Berkeley Admissions – Everything you need to know
For most students, gathering information UC Berkeley admissions requirements can be challenging. In this article, we’ll break down UC Berkeley requirements and discuss how to get into UC Berkeley. We’ll also explore UC Berkeley admissions rates, how they’ve changed over time, and what this means for your UC Berkeley application. Of course, CollegeAdvisor is here to help demystify the UC Berkeley requirements and ensure you have all the resources necessary to ace UC Berkeley admissions.
UC Berkeley Background
The University of California–Berkeley is a large public university located in the Bay Area of California, about 15 miles from San Francisco. Generally, the school is referred to as UC Berkeley, Berkeley, or Cal. Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is one of the best colleges in California.
Academically, UC Berkeley offers a world-class education in a wide variety of majors. In fact, undergrads have access to six different schools and 150 different majors. Some of the most popular majors are social sciences, computer science, engineering, and biology.
UC Berkeley is a massive institution. Indeed, UC Berkeley enrollment is currently around 30,000 undergraduate students. Still, UC Berkeley admissions are some of the most competitive, even internationally. UC Berkeley is ranked #4 in global universities by U.S. News. In addition, the school is ranked #20 nationally by U.S. News.
UC Berkeley Admissions Requirements
The UC Berkeley requirements for admission are similar to other schools in many ways. However, they differ in one key manner. Unlike many schools in the US, UC Berkeley does not allow students to apply using the CommonApp. Instead, students must apply through the University of California application. UC Apply is one central application that allows students from all over the world to apply to all nine of the University of California colleges, which includes UC Berkeley.
The following is a breakdown of key parts of the UC Berkeley admissions requirements:
Main UC Berkeley Admissions Requirements
About You and Academic Interests
UC Apply starts by asking for basic identifying information. Then, the UC application asks you to list which UC campuses you are interested in, and the majors you would pursue at each. Don’t worry about selecting a major that you are confident in. In fact, it’s perfectly fine to change your major once you start college or even partway through your college journey! Even more, you can also list your major as “undecided” if you have no idea what you want to major in.
Reporting Your Grades
Next, you must self-report your grades. You do not need to submit a transcript for UC Berkeley admissions, but you must ensure that the grades you report on your UC Apply exactly match your transcript. For more guidance on how to report your grades, check the UC Berkeley admissions application tips page. Finally, use the “Additional Comments” box to explain any unique circumstances that impacted your course choice or academic performance.
Currently, UC Berkeley admissions requirements do not include SAT or ACT scores. You are allowed to report SAT and ACT scores on your UC Apply to assist with course placement if you are accepted. But, they do not impact your admissions decisions. You may also report SAT subject scores only to help prove that you meet academic eligibility requirements. Finally, you can report AP, IB, TOEFL, IELTS, or other international test scores for placement and eligibility requirements as well.
Activities and Awards
An important part of UC Berkeley admissions requirements is demonstrating your passions and interests. In this section, you are allowed to report activities you have been involved in and awards you have received. For success here, curate your list of activities and awards so that they link to your personal brand and demonstrate commitment and leadership.
Scholarships and Programs
UC Berkeley has a number of scholarships and special programs for which you might be eligible. In this section, review the options available and indicate your interest in any that may apply to you. You will be notified if you are able to receive a scholarship or are admitted to a special program as part of your UC Berkeley admissions decisions.
Personal Insight Questions
UC Berkeley admissions is a holistic process, which means that UC Berkeley admissions staff are looking at your personal experiences as much as your grades or activities. As such, the personal insight questions are a critical way to make sure your application for UC Berkeley admissions is strong. There are eight personal insight questions available. However, you must respond to any four of them. The word limit is 350 words, meaning that you must be concise and clear about your experiences. To learn more about the personal insight questions, watch this CollegeAdvisor webinar on applying to UC schools.
Notably, UC Berkeley admissions does not include an interview. This means that your application must be strong throughout since you won’t have another opportunity to provide more information in an interview. To read more about how to get into UC Berkeley, check out our UC Berkeley admissions specialist’s guide.
Now that we’ve learned about the UC Berkeley requirements, we’ll explore the UC Berkeley acceptance rate.
What is the UC Berkeley Admissions Rate?
As we mentioned above, the UC Berkeley admissions process is incredibly selective. In 2022, 128,000 students applied for freshman admission and 14,600 were offered seats. As such, the UC Berkeley admissions rate is low at 11.4% for freshmen applicants. The UC Berkeley acceptance rate for 2021 was 14.6%. In 2020, it was 17.5%. As you can see, UC Berkeley admissions is becoming more selective with time.
However, don’t let this one number about UC Berkeley admissions stop you from applying. Since the admissions process is holistic and the university wants to attract a wide array of students, it is possible that your admissions odds are higher than this number.
You might be wondering if other schools in the UC system, like UCLA, are just as competitive. We’ll compare UCLA and UC Berkeley admissions in the next section.
Is It Harder to Get into UCLA Or Berkeley?
The University of California–Los Angeles is another high-ranking public university that is part of the UC system. UCLA is located in the city of Los Angeles in southern California. With nearly 30,000 undergrads, UCLA’s enrollment is similar to UC Berkeley enrollment. UCLA’s most popular majors are social sciences, engineering, and psychology. UCLA is tied with UC Berkeley in the U.S. News national rankings at #20. Compare UCLA and UC Berkeley further with the U.S. News school comparison tool.
At this point, you might be wondering whether UCLA admissions are as competitive as UC Berkeley admissions. In 2022, nearly 150,000 students applied for freshman admission to UCLA and only 12,844 were admitted. This means that UCLA’s acceptance rate is 9%. As such, it is slightly more competitive than UC Berkeley.
However, acceptance rates should not be a deciding factor as you build your college list. Instead, they can give a sense of whether a school is a target, reach, or safety school for you as you build your college list.
Another helpful way to understand your UC Berkeley admissions odds is to learn about the average GPA of Berkeley students. Keep reading to understand how GPA is an indicator of UC Berkeley admissions.
What GPA do you need to get into Berkeley?
By now, we’ve mentioned several times that UC Berkeley’s admissions decisions are made in a holistic manner. As such, GPA is only one factor in UC Berkeley requirements. However, understanding the average GPA of recent freshmen admits to UC Berkeley can also help you identify where UC Berkeley fits on your college list.
The middle range of GPAs for freshmen admits to UC Berkeley is 4.17-4.31. This means that 50% of admitted students had a GPA in this range. However, it is important to note that this does not mean a GPA below 4.17 won’t work for UC Berkeley admissions decisions. In fact, 25% of admitted students have GPAs lower than 4.17.
Additionally, keep in mind that the UC Berkeley admissions process is not only impacted by applicants. Indeed, many political and historical factors have influenced UC Berkeley requirements and UC Berkeley enrollment in the past 70 years. Learn more about these trends in the next section.
UC Berkeley Admissions Review Process & Trends
Now that we’ve explored the UC Berkeley application requirements, let’s learn about how UC Berkeley admissions decisions are made.
Admissions Process Historical Trends
The UC Berkeley admissions process has changed significantly since the school’s founding. For one, UC Berkeley admissions has become more selective over time. Notably, the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, created in response to population growth, almost exclusively allowed the UC schools to grant PhDs. As a result, UC schools became more popular and more competitive.
Importantly, UC Berkeley admissions has been immensely impacted by legislation around affirmative action. In 1995, the California Board of Regents banned affirmative action. This meant that UC Berkeley admissions decisions could not explicitly consider race as a factor. As a result, the percentage of Black and Latinx students at UC Berkeley and other UC schools declined. Though Latinx students make up 55% of the California public school population, they make up 19% of UC Berkeley’s campus.
The UC system has worked to make the admissions process more accessible to Black, Latinx, and American Indian students through a number of measures. For example, the UCs have shifted some of their focus to supporting first-generation college students. 49% of first-gen students in the UC system identify as Black and Latinx. UC Berkeley also has geographic-specific programs that provide additional outreach and financial aid to students who are in the top 9% of their graduating class at any California public high school. Additionally, UC Berkeley admissions officers pay close attention to essays that mention experiences related to race, culture, and socioeconomic background.
UC Berkeley admissions decisions and acceptance rates are complex topics. However, one fact is that crafting a clear and compelling application will greatly increase your odds of admission!
When is my UC Berkeley application due?
The UC Berkeley application deadline is November 30th. This is also the deadline for other UC schools. There are no Early Action or Early Decision application deadlines for UC schools.
However, UC Apply will become available on August 1st. So, don’t wait until the last minute to work on your UC Berkeley requirements. The earlier you start, the more time you have to refine your answers to present a clear picture of what makes you unique to UC Berkeley admissions staff.
Next, we’ll share some steps you can take to learn more about the university before the UC Berkeley application deadline arrives.
Contacting UC Berkeley Admissions Office & Planning your Visit
If you wish to learn more about UC Berkeley admissions requirements, contact the UC Berkeley admissions office through this form. You can also reach out and express your interest in the school directly to UC Berkeley admissions staff.
UC Berkeley Admissions contact info:
- Call 510-642-3175 to speak to a UC Berkeley admissions representative.
- Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm Pacific Time (Closed Wednesdays)
- Virtual Front Desk: Speak with UC Berkeley admissions staff on Zoom.
- Hours: Wednesdays 9am-11am and 1pm-4pm Pacific Time
- (Join Here – Zoom Account required)
- Social Media: Find UC Berkeley Admissions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Medium, and ZeeMee.
You can find additional UC Berkeley contact info here.
One of the best ways to learn more about a college is by visiting campus. You can visit campus in-person any weekday except Wednesday. Talk to students so you can hear about their experiences with campus culture, academics, and even UC Berkeley admissions. If you don’t live in California, you might wish to complete a virtual visit. During a virtual visit, you are able to speak with a UC Berkeley admissions staff member to learn more about opportunities and requirements.
Lastly, we recommend reading this FAQ on admissions from the UC Berkeley admissions office. In it, you can learn more about UC Berkeley requirements for admitted students.
UC Berkeley Admissions Requirements – Key Takeaways
The UC Berkeley admissions process is selective and becoming more selective each year. However, UC Berkeley admissions decisions are made holistically. This means that putting together an application with strong personal insights and a well-crafted activity list can bump your application to the top of the pile!
The UC Berkeley requirements are daunting. Luckily, you’re not alone. CollegeAdvisor is able to support you in your college search, college list development, putting together your materials, and submitting essays that reflect your personal brand. We’re here to help you have the strongest application possible for UC Berkeley admissions.
This article was written by Courtney Ng. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile. We will help you increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.