UC Freshman Requirements

There are both, spoken and "unspoken" requirements, that you will need to be aware of when applying to UC Berkeley.

As a freshman applicant, you are among the more competitive pool of students that are applying to the #1 public university in the world. In this guide, we'll share the minimum (along with "nice-to-have") UC freshman requirements that you'll need to meet, to qualify for admission to UC Berkeley (and the other UC schools).

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UC Freshman Requirement #1

Meet the Minimum Course Requirements

The UC system has what is called the "A-G Subject Requirements" which is effortlessly met by most students, purely as a result of their local school requirements. While your school may offer a limited number of courses, the local junior college in your town may offer a wider array of subjects to choose from. The junior college also offers you the ability to take more classes that satisfy course requirements for UC Berkeley (ie. Math 16A - Calculus).

By your high school graduation day, you must have completed 15 total "A-G" courses, satisfying a prerequisite for all of the UC Schools. All of the UC freshman requirements are broken down below, along with examples, tips to optimize, etc. 

History 2 years US History, European History, AP Euro, etc.
English 4 years Freshman and sophomore language arts, IB English, AP Lit, etc.
Mathematics 3 years Calculus, Statistics, AP Stats, IB Calculus, local JC calculus course, etc.
Science 2 years Biology, Chemistry, Physics, AP Bio, AP Physics, IB Physics, IB Bio, etc.
Foreign Language 2 years Spanish, French, Latin, AP Spanish, foreign language course at local JC, etc.
Visual Arts 1 year Art history, Photography, Web design, AP Art History, local JC European Arts course, etc.
Electives 1 year Economics, IB Econ, Computer Science, Psychology, Agriculture, etc.

AP and IB Classes

If offered by your school, the IB Program is a great way to stand out, especially to a school that garners significant interest from international students

Explore JC Courses

Your local junior college offers a diverse range of courses, that might be better suited (and is a great way to stand out from other applicants!).  

"Passion Projects"

Don't feel guilty about taking the classes you're interested in. Turn your favorite electives into passion projects, so you have something to point the admissions officer towards.

Strategy Tip: Use Your Final Courses to Stand Out to UC Berkeley

Berkeley's most popular (and well-known) undergraduate programs are within:

  • Engineering departments - EECS, MechE, CS
  • Undergraduate business school - Haas School of Business
  • Economics' departments - research focus, with numerous Nobel Laureates
  • Science departments - Pre-Medicine

The courses you take in your last semester can help support the central theme from your personal insight questions.

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UC Berkeley GPA Requirements-min
UC Berkeley Sather Gate-min
UC Freshman Requirement #2

Meet the Minimum GPA Requirement

While there are many great things about the UC system, one of its setbacks is its custom calculation of GPA (and a more stringent requirement for non-residents).

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Pluses and minuses don't count (A+ is the same as A-)
  • AP and IB classes give you additional "points"
  • Some AP and IB classes qualify for transfer credits into UC Berkeley. If you can, take these courses while they are free (parents, this means real $$$ savings).

The best way to calculate your GPA is to follow the UC GPA instructions here. If you need any help, we're here to help verify your UC application.

My IB credits helped me cross off my math and English Haas-requirements, before even starting my first semester.

Strategy Tip: Use the IB Program to Its Full Advantage

The IB Program offers a great way for Berkeley applicants to stand out among a large international student pool.

  • Extended Essay - a great talking point for your Personal Insight Questions, and demonstrating your passion
  • IB Credits - usually results in credits towards a handful of classes in your first few semester at Berkeley
  • IB Exams - high scores help to support your candidacy into UC Berkeley
*Optional UC Freshman Requirement

Letters of Recommendation

If during your application cycle, you are given the option to submit two letters of recommendation - take it.

Here are some ideas of people to ask for letters of recommendation:

  • An "advanced course" professor, who thinks highly of you
  • A supervisor or mentor from a professional internship
  • A coach that has seen you persevere through adversity
  • A doctor that you shadowed and learned from
  • Bonus points if they are a well-recognized Cal alumni

Next Letters of Recommendation Deadline: January 15, 2022

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Frequently Asked Questions about UC Freshman Requirements

There are 2 key requirements that you need to meet for admission into a UC school (including UC Berkeley): 

  1. Complete the 15 A-G course requirement (details provided in this post)
  2. Meet the minimum GPA requirement (3.0 for CA residents, 3.4 for non-CA residents)

Outside of that, there are also "unspoken" requirements, such as extracurriculars, leadership experience, etc. that will be factored into your application.

One of the best reasons to apply for Berkeley is their holistic approach. They want students who are not just excellent in academics, but also excel outside of academics as well.

While your GPA is important, they also take into consideration what you've done outside the classroom, like awards or community service projects. Include as many activities, passion projects, etc. into your application, as it helps with standing out from others!

UC Berkeley received 112,820 applications for fall 2021 admission this year. The number of applicants has increased by about 28% from the previous year (with 88,000 applications). 

No - the ACT/SAT are no longer required for any of the UC schools, and are not considered in the application process.

You can still submit your SAT and ACT scores to fulfill the English subject matter requirement.

The UC Berkeley acceptance rate for Fall 2020 was 15%.

From the 15% accepted, 70% were CA residents, and 30% were out of state (including international) residents.

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Additional Requirements Based on Applicant Type

Freshman Applicants

Students currently in high school (with or without college coursework completed), as well as students who have graduated high school without taking college courses.

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Transfer Applicants

Students who have completed coursework after high school during regular semesters at a college or university (post high-school graduation summer excluded).

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International Applicants

Students who require a visa to stay and study in the United States. A US citizen, permanent resident, refugee, or asylee currently residing outside of the US is considered a domestic applicant with foreign credentials.

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