In addition to being the flagship in the University of California system, UC Berkeley is an activist campus. Be prepared to get involved in political issues if you come here! Berkeley is the home of the free speech movement and a frequent protest site. Ask your tour guide why there are only handles on one side of each set of doors (believe it or not it’s related to the protest culture at UC Berkeley!). It is obviously an excellent school with very driven students; the science and engineering programs are stellar.
The downside of this large campus (25,000+ undergraduates and more than 10,000 grad students) is that “you have to fight to get guidance; you have to fight to get classes,” according to one of my tour guides, a rising junior. The campus’s largest lecture hall holds 760 students. A second tour guide referred to a course he took with 800 students, where the smaller discussion section, led by a graduate student teaching assistant, was OPTIONAL.
Freshman and sophomore seminars give students an opportunity to work more closely with professors, and students can apply to teach their own classes with a professor’s supervision. Between 25-30% of each graduating class is comprised of students who transferred into UC Berkeley.
I love the T-Rex skeleton they display in the stairwell of the Life Sciences / Department of Integrative Biology Building. It’s the most complete T-Rex skeleton in existence, with only 3 tail bones missing. The Valley Life Sciences building was the largest academic building in the nation when it was built, covering three acres (but then Harvard built a bigger one).
Berkeley offers degrees in 350 programs through 14 different colleges, ranging from Business, Education, Engineering, Chemistry, Public Health, Public Policy, and others. The university’s newly opened East Asian library houses the world’s largest collection of historical Japanese maps.
Click here to see the academic colleges and here to see an alphabetical list of majors. Some majors are not open for freshmen. When you apply to these majors, you’ll be admitted as a “pre-major;” you’ll spend your first two years taking general education courses, and then you’ll apply to be admitted to your major towards the end of your sophomore year. Keep in mind that these impacted majors are very competitive, so there’s a chance you may have to choose a different major.
UC Berkeley and the entire UC system are now test-blind. They do not consider SAT or ACT scores at this point, and they do not anticipate considering them in the future. The UC system is considering developing their own entrance exam starting with the (high school) Class of 2025.
For additional admission and diversity information about UC Berkeley and other UC campuses, review this extensive blog post. You can also download Magellan College Counseling’s UC Quick Facts on our Resources page.
Magellan counselors have visited UC Berkeley so many times that we could give you the tour! You can scroll through all of our photos from multiple visits below.