University of California, Berkeley Requirements and Campus Guide

School Name: University of California, Berkeley

School Location: Berkeley, CA

School Type: Public Research University

Class of 2024

  • Applications: 88,066
  • Admitted: 15,461
  • Acceptance Rate: 17.6%

General Info

SAT / ACT (Test Blind for 2021 Applicants)


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  • Application Deadline: November 30
  • Results: End of March

School Info

  • Schedule: Semester
  • Curriculum Type: General Education
  • Greek Life: Yes
  • Athletics: D1: Pac-12

UC Berkeley Requirements 
Here’s everything you should know before you apply to UC Berkeley:

UC Berkeley, or “Cal” to most sports fans, is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Just north of Oakland, BART will conveniently shuttle you downtown or across the bay to one of the many iconic locations in San Francisco. As part of the 9-school UC system, Berkeley is consistently ranked as one of the top public schools and research universities in the country with 8 current faculty members who have been awarded Nobel Prizes. While Berkeley students are known for their political engagement and liberal activism, the more than 30,000 undergraduates represent a wide range of interests, beliefs, and backgrounds and it is not a UC Berkeley requirement to be involved in just one group either. With more than 1200 student groups on campus, finding your many communities is a breeze for all students.

How hard is it to get into Berkeley?

UC Berkeley is an incredibly competitive school, considered a reach for all applicants. In 2019 they admitted 16.8% of applicants, but some of the five Berkeley colleges, such as the College of Engineering, have acceptance rates below 10%. A vast majority of attendees (85%) come from public schools, but that’s simply because they apply in much higher numbers—the school shows no bias against private school students. The middle 50% of accepted students have ACT scores between 30-35 or SAT scores between 1350-1540. Unweighted GPA’s for this same group fall between 3.89-4.00, so it is a UC Berkeley admissions requirement to excel in the classroom.

Berekely’s Application:

  • Berkeley’s application is part of the UC application system which is its own unique portal separate from the Common App or Coalition App.
  • You will fill out one application that can be used for all 9 of the UC campuses, but each UC will be unaware of the other UCs you apply to.
  • For Berkeley, you are required to apply with the one colleges that offers the major or majors you’re interested in (transferring once admitted is possible).
  • There are 8 personal insight questions of which you will respond to 4.
  • For the high school class of 2021, the university is test-optional.
  • There is only one application date—it opens on August 1st and must be submitted by November 30th.


How diverse is the student body at Berkeley?

UC Berkeley is an incredibly diverse campus with a welcome place for everyone. Based on reports from the university’s Office of Planning and Analysis about the class of 2022, the two largest demographics were White students who accounted for 21% of the class and Chinese students who made up 17%. However, over 10% of students identified as Mexican American/Chicano, and 13% are international students. One thing that makes UC Berkeley unique is that around 21% of its student body is made up of transfer students and 23% of attendees are first-generation college students. The student body is comprised of 54% women, 45% men, and 1% who declined to state. No matter which way you look at it, Berkeley is a welcoming place where you’ll experience foreign culture and familiar traditions all in the same day.

What is Berkeley known for?

Berkeley is known for being one of the top public universities in the world. In the mainstream media, it is coined as a “hippie haven” with an incredibly politically active and engaged community. A quick Google search will surface over a century’s worth of images of students hosting protests, gatherings, and demonstrations on campus. Compared to it’s more buttoned-up rival, Stanford, Berekely has a more casual culture known for students looking to make a social impact. And Berkeley students don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk— Berkeley has sent more students to the Peace Corp than any other university. However, this is only one part of the school’s identity, which has changed over the years. Berkeley has a tremendous engineering program and the Haas School of Business is currently ranked #7 in the country. Additionally, Cal has an elite athletic department that has produced athletes such as Olympian swimmer Missy Franklin, NBA star Jason Kidd, and 2-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. UC Berkeley is a melting pot with a recognizable Californian flavor. Don’t be misled by images of long hair and skateboards, these are dedicated students excelling in every area.

Can I afford Berkeley?

Despite being a public university, Berkeley can be quite expensive. The UC system was designed to give California students affordable access to an elite education. While the elite education is intact, even in-state students should budget $39,550 to cover costs for one year of school. Unfortunately, out-of-state students pay a heavy price and are asked to budget $69,304 to cover the increased tuition. The good news is that all applicants are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships and that over 65% receive aid of some kind. You can use this net price calculator to learn more about your personal financial expectations.

What are the academic requirements at Berkeley?

The first thing to know is that Berkeley and Merced are the only UCs on the semester system, the rest follow the quarter system. When you apply to Berkeley you will select one of the five colleges on the application but you can apply as “undeclared” to the College of Letters and Sciences. Once accepted to a specific college, you will be required to complete that individual college’s requirement as well as your specific degree requirements. Additionally, all Berkeley students must satisfy Entry Level Writing, American History and American Institution, and American Cultures requisites. The good news is that many courses fulfill multiple requirements and that students have a large number of options when choosing how to fulfill them.

What else should I know about Berkeley’s academics?

Berkeley has amazing abroad offerings because of its partnerships with the other UCs—there are over 100 programs in 40 different countries and you can always petition to complete another accredited abroad program as well! Berkeley offers another amazing program called DeCal which allows students to submit course proposals for classes that they receive credits for teaching to other students—some examples are parkour, knife skills, and sustainable gardening. 71% of classes have less than 30 students and there are a vast number of opportunities for undergraduate research (available even to freshmen), making Berkeley a great place to connect with professors. In addition, Berkeley offers a junior-start business major at Haas and it is common to study in the College of Letters and Sciences and then apply to business sophomore year. Furthermore, there are a few paths that get you guaranteed admission to the MBA program at Hass such as Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology, Biology & Business, and Global Management.