Prospective freshman FAQs

When can I apply for admission to Berkeley Engineering?

The UC system’s annual application period is November 1–30 each year for admission for the following fall semester.

How many students are admitted into engineering?

For the 2014–15 academic year, the College of Engineering received more than 15,000 freshman applications and 9.7 percent were admitted.

How does Berkeley decide whom to admit?

The campus selects its freshman class through a comprehensive review of each applicant’s academic performance, measured as follows:

  • College preparatory, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBHL), honors and transferable college courses completed beyond the UC minimum, and the level of achievement in those courses
  • Weighted, uncapped UC GPA and pattern of grades over time
  • Standardized test scores
  • Honors and awards that reflect extraordinary, sustained intellectual or creative achievement
  • Sustained participation in rigorous academic enrichment and outreach programs
  • Planned 12th grade courses

In addition, the review considers:

  • Future contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus
  • Diversity in personal background and experience
  • Qualities such as leadership, motivation, concern for others and for the community
  • Non-academic achievements in the performing arts or athletics, employment or leadership

Since we receive far more applications than we can admit, applicants to Berkeley Engineering are also expected to demonstrate interest in their intended major, and they must present an academic profile much stronger than that represented by the minimum admission requirements. Please note that no single attribute or characteristic guarantees the admission of any applicant to Berkeley. For more information on applying, refer to the freshman flyer

What standardized tests should I take?

Freshmen must take the ACT Assessment plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test. Engineering applicants are also strongly encouraged to take the SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2 as well as a SAT Subject Test in science (Biology E.M., Chemistry or Physics) in order to be as competitive as possible.

What AP tests will I get credit for?

The College of Engineering gives AP credit for most AP tests. Depending on the test and score, students will get UC credit and/or college subject credit. More information can be found in the College of Engineering Undergraduate Guide.

If I apply for the fall and plan to take the SATs in January after the application deadline, will you delay the review of my admission application until you receive the January scores?

It’s crucial that applicants complete all tests no later than the December examination dates of the year in which they apply for admission.

How much math should I take in high school?

Although a minimum of three years of college preparatory math is required, we strongly recommend completing four years. Since engineering admission is very competitive, applicants must do more than the minimum, particularly in math and science. Exceeding minimum requirements and doing well in these subjects will prepare new students for the rigors of engineering at the university level.

Do I need to complete high school physics?

A minimum of two years of laboratory science is required for admission. We strongly recommend completing physics even if the minimum has been completed. (The usual pattern is biology and chemistry.) If admitted to Berkeley, new students must complete college-level physics as part of the lower-division requirements for the particular engineering major. A high school physics background will prepare you for university-level physics.

Does Berkeley Engineering consider the alternate major on the admission application?

No. Berkeley Engineering does not consider the alternate major. However, other UC campuses might.

Can I change my major on my application?

Applicants may change their college and/or major during the November application filing period only by contacting the Office of Undergraduate Admissions no later than November 30. Once you’re admitted to Berkeley, you may only change your major by seeing your assigned academic adviser in Engineering Student Services and demonstrating how you will still be able to graduate in the same amount of time as the degree to which you were admitted.

If I am unable to attend the semester for which I am admitted, will you defer my admission?

No. Admission to Berkeley Engineering is valid only for the term in which the applicant is admitted. Applicants who wish to attend Berkeley in a future term must reapply for admission and compete with other applicants who apply for the same term.

If I'm an out-of-state or international student, can I establish residency for tuition purposes?

It’s extremely difficult for an out-of-state or international student to establish residency. Therefore, all out-of-state and international students should expect to pay non-resident tuition for each of their undergraduate years at Berkeley. Learn more at the Office of the Registrar website.

Is it difficult to switch majors within engineering?

For students admitted as freshmen, it is fairly easy for most of our majors, as all freshmen are required to complete the same core courses within the first year (i.e., math, physics and reading and composition). The earliest that freshmen can apply to change their major is after completion of their first semester. Some of our majors are more impacted than others (currently EECS and BioE), so a change of major into these programs is competitive and requires more than one semester completed before application. Students considering a change of major should meet with their Engineering Student Services adviser.

Is it difficult to switch out of engineering into another college?

Students who decide to switch out of the College of Engineering should meet with their assigned Engineering Student Services adviser for referral to advisers in their desired college.

Is it difficult to get into courses?

Being flexible is the key to getting into courses on the Berkeley campus. In the first semester, newly admitted freshmen are required to take, at minimum, two technical courses (math, science or engineering core courses for a total of 12 units) and one humanities or social sciences course. Most of these courses offer several lecture sections along with several sub-sections of discussions and/or labs.

With careful planning and some flexibility, freshmen should be able to get the courses they need. To aid students with securing a space in desired courses, the UC Berkeley enrollment process is divided into two phases and an adjustment period. During Phase I, students are allowed to enroll in up to a maximum of 10.5 units (two or three courses and one 0.5-unit PE course). Later, during Phase II, students are allowed to enroll in up to 16 units. In the adjustment period, students can add up to 22 units. Waitlisted courses are calculated in the total above (i.e., 10.5 units will include waitlisted units). For more information, please refer to the Office of the Registrar website.

Can engineering students participate in a study abroad program?

Yes, in fact we encourage our students to study abroad. With careful planning, many students can complete a study abroad program without delaying their graduation. However, students who participate in such a program will be granted one additional semester to complete their degree requirements, if needed. Visit our study abroad page for more information.

Which residence halls (dorms) are closest to engineering?

The closest residence hall is Foothill, located at 2700 Hearst Avenue. Bear in mind that first-year engineering students will be enrolling in classes located throughout the main campus. You can find more residence hall information at the Living at Cal website.