Degree requirements and major information

Engineering students must fulfill University of California, Berkeley campus and the College of Engineering requirements to graduate.

University Requirements

Entry Level Writing Requirement

  • All students at the University of California must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry-Level Writing Requirement (formerly known as the Subject A requirement). Satisfying the Entry-Level Writing requirement is a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses. View the catalog for details on how to fulfill the University’s Entry Level Writing requirement.
  • If students have not passed the Analytical Writing Placement Examination (AWPE  formerly known as the Subject A Examination) or otherwise fulfilled the Entry-Level Writing requirement by the time they enter the University, they must complete College Writing R1A at UC Berkeley (they are not eligible to complete the requirement elsewhere). College Writing R1A is a 6-unit course that satisfies the Entry-Level Writing requirement and the first half of the Reading and Composition requirement. This course must be taken for a letter grade and must be completed by no later than the end of the freshman year. For more information visit the Entry Level Writing requirement or College Writing R1A website.

American History and Institutions

  • The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a U.S. resident graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States. Candidates for the bachelor's degree must demonstrate knowledge of United States history and governmental institutions by completing these two requirements. Most students have satisfied these requirements upon admission to the University (with coursework completed in high school or a transfer institution). Students who have not should work to satisfy these requirements as early as possible. Visit the American History and Institutions website for details on how to satisfy these requirements.

 

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures Requirement

  • All students at the University of California, Berkeley must satisfy the American Cultures requirement to graduate. This requirement introduces students to the diverse cultures of the United States through a comparative framework.  Courses are offered in more than forty departments in many different disciplines at both the upper and lower division level. Students satisfy this requirement by completing a course from the current American Cultures list with a grade not lower than a C- (or Pass).  Courses taken to satisfy American Cultures may also be used to satisfy one of the College of Engineering’s Humanities/Social Science requirements.  For the most current list of American Cultures courses, consult the Schedule of Classes or refer to the American Cultures website.

 

College of Engineering Requirements

Humanities and Social Sciences Requirement

To promote a rich and varied educational experience outside of the technical requirements for each major, the College of Engineering has established the following Humanities and Social Sciences breadth requirement, which must be completed to graduate:

  1. Complete a minimum of six courses (3 units or more) from the approved Humanities/Social Sciences (H/SS) lists
  2. Two of the six courses must fulfill the Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement. These courses must be taken for a letter grade (C- or better required), and MUST be completed by no later than the end of the sophomore year (4th semester of enrollment). The first half of R&C, the “A” course, must be completed by the end of the freshman year; the second half of R&C, the “B “course, by no later than the end of the sophomore year.
  3. The four additional courses must be chosen from the H/SS comprehensive list. These courses may be taken on a Pass/Not Passed Basis (P/NP).
  4. At least two of the six courses must be upper division (courses numbered 100-196).
  5. At least two courses must be from the same department and at least one of the two must be upper division. This is called the *Series requirement. AP tests can be combined with a course to complete the series requirement. For example, AP History (any) combined with an upper division History course would satisfy the series requirement
  6. One of the six courses must satisfy the campus American Cultures requirement. Note that any American Cultures course of 3 units or more may be used to meet H/SS requirements.
  7. No courses offered by an Engineering department (IEOR, CE, etc.) other than BIOE 100, CS C79, ENGIN 125, ENGIN 130AC, ME 191K and ME 191AC may be used to complete H/SS requirements.
  8. Courses may fulfill multiple categories. For example, if you complete City and Regional Planning 115 and 118AC that would satisfy the series requirement, the two upper division courses requirement and the American Cultures Requirement.
  9. The College of Engineering (COE) uses modified versions of five of the College of Letters and Science (L&S) breadth requirements lists to provide options to our students for completing the Humanities and Social Science requirement. Our requirement is different than that of L & S, so the guidelines posted on the top of each L & S breadth list do NOT apply to COE students.
  10. Foreign language courses MAY be used to complete H/SS requirements. L & S does not allow students to use many language courses, so their lists will not include all options open to Engineering students. Review the list of language options.

*NOTE: for the Series Requirement: The purpose of the series requirement is to provide depth of knowledge in a certain area. Therefore, a two-course sequence not in the same department may be approved by petition, in cases in which there is a clear and logical connection between the courses involved. 

College of Engineering Reading and Composition Requirement

  • To ensure that the reading and writing skills of the B.S. graduates from the College of Engineering meet an acceptable standard, a minimum graduation requirement for proficiency in English composition is required. Two courses from the College of Engineering Reading and Composition list must be taken; one course must be from the R & C “A” list and one must be from the “B” list. Courses taken to satisfy the R & C requirement must be taken for a letter grade and must be completed by the end of the sophomore year. Students who fail to complete the two-course Reading and Composition requirement by the end of the sophomore year will have a block placed on their registration.
  • Students may satisfy the first half of the College of Engineering Reading and Composition requirement before coming to Berkeley with any one of the following: 
 * Advanced Placement Exam in English Language or Literature and Composition - score of 4 or 5
 * IB Higher Level Exam English A1with a score of 5, 6 or 7
 * A-Level Exam in English Literature with a of score of 1, 2 or 3
 * A course equivalent to English 1A taken at another institution before your first semester at UC 
 Berkeley. This course must be taken on a letter-graded basis with a minimum grade of C- received.

NOTE: Only the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement can be fulfilled with an exam score. Students who have not satisfied the Entry Level Writing requirement must enroll in College Writing R1A to satisfy the “A” portion of the R&C requirement. College Writing R1A satisfies both the Entry-Level Writing Requirement and the first half of the College of Engineering Reading and Composition requirement. See page 3 for complete details on the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

 

Major Requirements

Refer to the College of Engineering Undergraduate Guide (for the calendar year student was admitted) for the requirements that must be completed for each major.

Program Preparation

  • It is the student's responsibility alone to be certain that all degree requirements are met (curriculum, scholarship, and University) within the allotted time frame (4 years for freshmen admits; 2 years for transfers). Advisers are available to guide students through the curriculum and policies, but it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all requirements are fulfilled. The Undergraduate Guide offers a planned course of study for each major. The student’s complete program toward graduation should be planned at an early date and students should consult regularly with their Advisers to review their progress toward degree completion. It is expected that graduating seniors confirm their degree progress with their Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser well before registration for the final term. Students must schedule an appointment with their ESS Adviser in 230 Bechtel Engineering Center the semester before they are scheduled to graduate.

General Requirements

  • To graduate, students must complete the College of Engineering requirements (major and breadth) and the University requirements (Entry Level Writing, American History & Institutions, and American Cultures discussed on page one and in the General Catalog (pp 41 & 42). A minimum of 120 semester units must be completed with a minimum overall grade-point average of 2.00 (C average) and a minimum 2.00 grade-point average in all upper-division technical courses required of the major. All technical courses (courses in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, statistics, biological sciences and computer science) must be taken for a letter grade.

Senior Residence Rule

  • The College requires the final 30 units and the final two semesters toward the B.S. degree be completed in residence (student must be registered at UC Berkeley) in the College of Engineering.  Students must also meet the University’s Senior Residence requirements (24 units completed in residence once a student reaches 90 units). In most instances, by completing the College of Engineering residence requirement students meet the University’s requirement. Note: Students enrolled in the Education Abroad Program may be permitted a modified senior residence requirement by completing 24 of their final 60 units in residence in the College or School in which the degree is to be taken. At least 12 of these 24 units must be taken in the student's final semester before graduation.

Scholarship and Progress Requirements

Each Semester

  • A student's semester program must contain at least 12 units of credit in any semester and must include at least two letter graded technical courses (of at least 3 units each) required for their engineering major.
  • A minimum scholarship record of a "C" average is required of each Engineering undergraduate student. A student will be Subject to Dismissal if during any fall or spring semester 1) their overall UC GPA falls below a 2.0, or 2) their semester GPA is less than 2.0, or 3) their upper division technical grade point average is below 2.0. Students who at the end of a term fail to meet these minimum scholarship requirements and are Subject to Dismissal should immediately contact their Engineering Student Services (ESS) adviser. Official dismissal notices are e-mailed four to five weeks after the end of each term.
  • All technical courses (courses in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, statistics, biological sciences and computer science) must be taken for a letter grade.
  • A student who is not making satisfactory progress should consult with his/her faculty and ESS advisers as soon as possible. (Refer to section on Normal Progress below).

B.S. Degree

  • A minimum grade-point average of 2.0 (C average) is required for all work undertaken at the University. In addition, a 2.0 grade-point average is required in upper division technical work offered in satisfaction of major requirements. All technical courses (courses in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, statistics, biological sciences and computer science) must be taken for a letter grade.

Normal Progress

  • All undergraduate students, except for reasons of health or outside employment, are expected to enroll in a full-time program and make normal progress toward the degree. There are no part-time programs in the College of Engineering. The minimum unit requirement for the bachelor's degree is 120 semester units, within which the student is expected to satisfy graduation requirements, thus normal progress requires on average 30 units of completed course work each year. The continued enrollment of a student who fails to achieve minimum progress is subject to approval. To achieve minimum progress, two criteria must be met:
  • 1) A student's semester program must contain at least 12 units of credit in any semester and must include at least two letter graded technical courses required for their engineering major.
2) A student must have successfully completed no fewer units than 15 times the semesters less one of enrollment at Berkeley (15 x N-1= units needed. N= semesters at Cal. Summer Sessions are not counted as semesters.)
  • Enforcement of the minimum 12 units and 2 technical courses per term requirement will continue until the last semester of completing the degree, during which the student may take less than the minimum units. In the final semester students are free to take fewer than 12 units. (Students receiving Federal Financial Aid may be required to enroll in 12 units; students should consult with the Financial Aid office to determine if enrolling in fewer than 12 units will impact their aid package.) If a student completes his/her major requirements earlier than their final semester, they may petition to take fewer than 2 technical courses but must continue to meet the minimum 12 unit per term requirement until their final semester.
  • Entering freshmen are allowed eight semesters to graduate and entering junior transfers are allowed four semesters to graduate. If a student has been unable to make normal progress in their major each semester due to an extenuating circumstance beyond their control and needs an extra semester to graduate, he/she must petition to do so. Note that two extra semesters are almost never approved. If an extra semester is granted, the student will be required to enroll in at least 12 units in that extra semester. Students meet with their Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser in 230 Bechtel Engineering Center to initiate an appeal for an extra semester.

Reduced Study List Requests

The College of Engineering requires that students enroll in a minimum of 12 units each semester, however, the College will consider appeals for reduced course loads below the minimum under the following circumstances: due to paid employment (minimum 15 hours worked per week); a recommendation from the Disabled Students Program; for valid medical reasons; for valid personal reasons.  Reduced study lists still must contain two letter graded technical courses unless an exemption is approved. Students meet with their Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser in 230 Bechtel Engineering Center to initiate an appeal for a reduced course load.

  • Employment: Students employed 15 or more hours per week may petition to take less than the minimum required 12 units. Students who wish to request permission to enroll in fewer than 12 units for employment reasons must submit a Work Verification Form The verification form can be obtained online (in PDF format) or from the Engineering Student Services Office, 230 Bechtel Engineering Center. A letter from the employer must accompany the verification form. Refer to the Work Verification Form for details on what must be included in the employer’s letter. Completed work verification forms and documentation of financial need must be submitted no later than the end of the fifth week of classes. Minimum units of study based on hours of employment per week are as follows:
Hours of Employment 0 10 15 20 30 40
Minimum Units 12 12 11 9 6 3
  • Health Reasons: 
Students may petition for less than 12 units for reasons of health as certified by a physician (ideally from the University Health Services/Tang Center). Students meet with their ESS Adviser in 230 Bechtel to initiate this appeal. 

 

Major Information

At admission, each student must select a major. Each major has its own requirements and technical electives that must be completed. Requirements and sample programs for all the majors are listed in the Undergraduate Guide under Academic Departments and Programs.

Change of Major

  • Students must complete a minimum of one semester at UC Berkeley before they can apply for a change of major (some majors require more than one semester completed). Applications for a change of major will be considered only when all of the following requirements have been met: At least one semester has been completed at UC Berkeley; student is in good academic standing; student has made satisfactory academic progress during their semesters of enrollment; planned program shows a realistic trajectory for completing all degree requirements within the time allotted by the college. Students who have met the above criteria and have a 3.0 or higher UC GPA are more likely to be approved. (Note: Some majors require a GPA greater than 3.0 for admission and completion of more than one semester of courses at UC Berkeley; some majors will accept students who are slightly below a 3.0. Students should consult with their Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser for specific information on their intended major.)
  • Students submit a change of major application to their ESS Adviser in 230 Bechtel. It is in a student’s best interest to submit the change of major application by no later than the end of their sophomore year.  The application must be submitted a minimum of two semesters prior to anticipated date of graduation.  The application must include an academic plan that shows the requested change will not delay graduation.
  • Transfer students are not eligible to change majors, including adding a second major.
  • Students admitted through change of college are not eligible to change majors (including adding a second major).

Joint Majors

  • Students who wish to apply for a joint major program submit a change of major application and are held to the same criteria and guidelines as those listed in the Change of Major section above.  Students must complete a minimum of two semesters at UC Berkeley before application to a joint major program. Consult with your ESS adviser for more information.

Engineering - Undeclared

  • Students enrolled in the Engineering--Undeclared program must complete one semester at UC Berkeley before they can officially declare a major.  Students admitted into the program must declare a major by the end of their fourth semester, and if in good academic standing may choose from any of the College of Engineering majors, including the joint programs. (Dual majors and joint programs offered by the College of Chemistry require an application.) Good academic standing is defined as having an overall and technical GPA of 2.0 or higher and not being on academic probation or subject to dismissal. Students should work closely with their designated Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser to explore major options.

Dual Majors

A dual major is the pursuit of two distinct majors within the College of Engineering that do not offer a combined joint major. The following are the requirements for a dual major:

  1. At least two semester have been completed at UC Berkeley
  2. Overall UC GPA is 3.0 or higher and student must be in good academic standing.
  3. No more than 3 upper division technical courses can overlap between the two programs.
  4. A minimum of 5 upper division technical courses distinct to each major must be completed (5 classes beyond any that overlap).   
  5. If a 9th semester (5th semester for transfer students) is required to complete the dual major then the request must be made at the time of application. Requests for an additional semester are generally approved; consult with your Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser for more information on the 9th (5th) semester for dual major students.

Applications for a dual major  must be submitted a minimum of two semesters prior to the anticipated date of graduation. The minimum GPA for consideration is 3.0. However, your application will be reviewed for acceptance by the department(s) to which you are applying and they may have a higher GPA requirement. Consult with your ESS Adviser for more information.

Simultaneous Degrees

A simultaneous degree is the pursuit of two majors in two different colleges or schools at UC Berkeley. Students pursuing a simultaneous degree must complete all college/schools and major requirements for both programs. Applications for a simultaneous degree will be considered only when all of the following requirements have been met:

  • At least two semesters have been completed at UC Berkeley at time of application (COE transfer students may apply during their second semester).
  • No more than two upper division courses (used to satisfy major requirements) may overlap between the two programs. Note: there is no limit on the number of courses used to satisfy breadth or humanities requirements that may overlap.
  • Planned program includes all requirements for both majors and colleges.
  • If a 9th semester is required (5th for transfer students) then the request for the additional semester must be made at the time of application.  Consult with your Engineering Student Services (ESS) Adviser for more information on the 9th (5th) semester for simultaneous degree students.
  • Applicants from a school or college other than Engineering must have an overall and technical GPA of 3.0 or higher and must apply by no later than the end of their fourth semester. (Note: The minimum GPA for consideration is 3.0. Applications are reviewed for acceptance by the department to which a student applies and some have a higher GPA requirement.)

Applications for simultaneous degree from students in the College of Engineering (requesting to add a non-Engineering major) must be submitted a minimum of two semesters prior to the anticipated date of graduation.  Deans of both colleges/schools to which you are applying must approve the application. Review the instructions on the application for information on obtaining the necessary approvals and signatures and consult with your ESS Adviser if you have question.  For a list of the other colleges and their office locations, please refer to the campus academics website.

Minors

Minor programs are areas of concentration requiring fewer courses than an undergraduate major. These programs are optional, but can provide depth and breadth to a UC Berkeley education. The College of Engineering does not offer additional time to complete a minor, but it is usually possible to finish within the allotted time with careful course planning. Students are encouraged to meet with their ESS Adviser to discuss the feasibility of completing a minor program.

All the engineering departments offer minors. Students may also consider pursuing a minor in another school or college. Students who are interested in a minor get information about the requirements and admission standards from the department offering the minor. See the list of minors in the College of Engineering and links to minors offered in other schools and colleges.