How To Get Into UC Berkeley: The Ultimate Guide

Picture of the Sphere Within Sphere at the entrance of Berkeley library
January 9, 2023
About UC BerkeleyUC Berkeley Admissions RequirementsUC Berkeley Class ProfileUC Berkeley EssaysUC Berkeley InterviewHow to Apply to UC BerkeleyUC Berkeley Application DeadlinesTips to Get into UC BerkeleyShould I Apply to UC Berkeley?UC Berkeley FAQs


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/12/22

Wondering how to get into UC Berkeley? Look no further than this comprehensive guide! Read on to learn more about Berkeley’s admissions requirements, tips to get in, and more.

The University of California, Berkeley is among the most prestigious public universities in the U.S. The school is located in the vibrant urban city of Berkeley and is one of the country’s most beautiful campuses.

To get into UC Berkeley, you’ll need to ensure your application sets you apart from the thousands of candidates who apply annually. To help you understand the application process, we’ve put together this guide to help you get into UC Berkeley. 

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About UC Berkeley

When the University of California was established in 1868, there were just 38 students and ten faculty members. It was created to "contribute even more than California's gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations." 

picture of UC Berkeley campus
Source: UC Berkeley 

UC Berkeley's primary goals are to serve society as a center of higher learning, provide exceptional education, and inspire a diverse workforce that is dedicated, knowledgeable, and service-oriented. 

UC Berkeley is well known for its innovative contributions and discoveries, rigorous academic standards, and world-renowned faculty. Berkeley prides itself on having a strong sense of community and encourages its students to become leaders to positively impact the world.

The school now has ten campuses across the state, including the well-known UCLA. There are more than 130 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units offered at UC Berkeley. 

UC Berkeley Admissions Requirements

The best way to improve your chances of getting into UC Berkeley is to understand what it takes to apply. To apply, you must meet all UC Berkeley admissions requirements, including submitting your GPA and standardized test scores. 

UC Berkeley GPA Requirements 

Berkeley expects California residents to complete 15 college-preparatory courses with a letter grade of C or better. The full list of A-G courses includes:

Table of Uc Berkeley's course requirements
Source: UC Berkeley 

Unlike most other colleges, the University of California, Berkeley has a GPA requirement. Freshmen must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the 10th and 11th grades; for non-residents, this minimum GPA requirement is 3.4

Despite this minimum requirement, competitive candidates typically have academic profiles far exceeding UC Berkeley’s GPA requirement. The average unweighted GPA for admitted students is between 3.86 and 4.0, while the weighted GPA is between 4.27 and 4.62

UC Berkeley SAT Requirements  

Many colleges have moved to test-optional policies; SAT scores at UC Berkeley aren’t considered for admission or scholarships. If you do choose to submit your SAT score to UC Berkeley, it may be used as an “alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.” 

UC Berkeley ACT Requirements

UC Berkeley no longer requires the ACT or SAT for admission or scholarship consideration. 

UC Berkeley Class Profile

Students at UC Berkeley are some of the country's brightest; they are ambitious, intelligent, and creative. To help you get a greater sense of what Berkeley students have brought to the table, let's look at UC Berkeley's class profile. Remember, these statistics should only be used as a guide.

UC Berkeley received an all-time record high of 128,230 applications in a recent admissions cycle, accepting 14,568 students. 

UC Berkeley Demographics 

Admissions data shows that there has been an increase in offers made to African American, Chicanax/Latinx, and Native American students. Expanding diversity within UC Berkeley and the University of California's eight other campuses has been one of the most important goals. 

In a recent cycle alone, there was an increase of 38% in underrepresented students applying to UC Berkeley. Data released by the University of California shows the self-reported races/ethnicities of UC Berkeley first-year students: 

UC Berkeley demographics
Source: University of California

Students come from 53 of the 58 counties in California, 54 states and territories, and 102 countries worldwide. There were also 131 students (compared to 76 last year) who identified as genderqueer or gender non-conforming. 

UC Berkeley Student-to-Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio at UC Berkeley is 18 to 1; approximately 70% of classes have fewer than 30 students. 

UC Berkeley Acceptance Rate

Of the 128,230 students who applied, 14,568 were offered admission, making UC Berkeley’s acceptance rate 11.4%. The acceptance rate at UC Berkeley has decreased over the last few years, making the school increasingly competitive with each enrollment cycle.

UC Berkeley Yield Rate

When it comes to college admissions, the yield rate is the percentage of students who decide to attend the school once they are accepted. With 14,568 students accepted and 6,791 enrolled, UC Berkeley's yield rate is 46.1%. 

UC Berkeley Essays

The essays, or the personal insight questions, are arguably the most vital part of the UC Berkeley application process. Your responses to these questions help the admissions committee learn more about you and determine whether you’re a good fit for Berkeley. 

The personal insight questions are your chance to tell your story and share who you hope to become by attending UC Berkeley. The admissions committee is looking for responses that demonstrate that candidates are well-rounded, creative, passionate, and personable. 

Candidates must submit four short essays, no more than 350 words each. There are eight UC Berkeley essay questions to choose from. All questions are weighted equally, so it doesn't matter which questions you choose to answer. 

UC Berkeley Essay Prompts 

Let's take a look at the different questions you will be able to choose from when applying to UC Berkeley. 

1. “Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.” 
2. “Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.” 
3. “What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?” 
4. “Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.”
5. “Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?”
6. “Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.”
7. “What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?” 
8. “Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?”

UC Berkeley Interview

Unlike other schools, UC Berkeley, unfortunately, doesn’t conduct college interviews. 

Your application and the strength of your essay responses are the only opportunities you’ll have to demonstrate who you are as a student, learner, and community member.

How to Apply to UC Berkeley

Knowing how to get into UC Berkeley starts with learning how to apply. You can apply by completing the UC application, which you can start as early as August 1 and must submit between November 1 and November 30. You can apply to as many of the ten UC campuses as you like through this application. 

Here’s a complete list of everything you will need to fill out the different sections of your application.

Academic History

You’ll enter the courses and grades from all the schools you attended while in high school. When filling out this section, you'll want to have your transcripts, or unofficial academic records, close by. 

Don't try to enter this information from memory; all your grades and courses should appear as they do on your transcripts. Your transcripts must reflect 15 complete A-G courses with a letter grade equivalent or higher than a C and a GPA of 3.0 or better. 

Test Scores 

If you still want to submit your SAT/ACT scores, you can. After you enroll, they’ll serve as another method of fulfilling the minimum eligibility requirements for course placement.

If you took AP or IB exams, TOEFL or IELTS, or other international exams, you need to report your scores on separate pages within the test score section of the application.

Activities & Awards

Like any other college application, the University of California requires you to list extracurricular activities and achievements. UC Berkeley has categorized all activities as either:

Quality is better than quantity here, so add activities and awards you feel the most passionately about.

Scholarships & Programs

You can select any scholarship categories that apply to you. If you’re interested, you can also select the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) that offers students support (in the form of mentorship, academic programs, financial assistance, counseling, etc.) while they're at UC. 

Personal Insight Questions 

This is where you answer the personal insight questions mentioned above. You can also discuss anything you didn't have the opportunity to address anywhere else in the application in the additional information section.

Proof of Residency or Citizenship

Nearly 90% of all UC Berkeley students are California residents. If you’re a resident of California, you’ll need to provide proof of residency for tuition purposes. 

On the last page of the application, you can review your information. After applying, you’ll come to a confirmation page with important reminders and information, including your UC Application ID. Make a note of this ID number to access your admissions decision and allow you to access various student portals. 

UC Berkeley Application Deadlines

It's best to start working on your applications as early as possible; UC Berkeley allows you to start as early as August 1. All applications must be completed and submitted no earlier than November 1; the UC Berkeley application deadline is November 30. 

To make sure you stay on track, here are the important dates and UC Berkeley application deadlines: 

UC Berkeley application deadlines
Source: UC Berkeley

Tips to Get into UC Berkeley

You can increase your chances of getting into UC Berkeley by having a good grasp of what the admissions committee looks for when they review applications. 

Aside from participating in extracurricular activities that show your commitment to your community and academic excellence, here are some other tips you can use to help you get into UC Berkeley. 

UC Berkeley's Expectations 

When the admissions committee reviews your application, there are several qualities they look for to make sure you would make a good fit for their community. These qualities include, but aren’t limited to: 

While possessing these qualities is great, you still need to demonstrate them throughout your application. When answering essay questions and describing different extracurricular activities and achievements, mention how you embody some of these qualities. 

By the time the admissions committee has finished reviewing your application, you want how you’ll fit into the Berkeley community to be clear. 

Apply to More Than One UC Campus

Even if UC Berkeley is your first-choice school, applying to more than one school

in the UC system boosts your chances of acceptance. The best part? You can transfer between schools in the UC system.

Start Your Application Early

When trying to get into UC Berkeley, one of the most important things you can do is give yourself enough (or more than enough) time to complete your application. Remember, you won’t apply to UC Berkeley using the Common or Coalition Applications; give yourself more time to complete an entirely separate application.

Since there is no early decision pathway at UC Berkeley, the best way to show your eagerness to attend is by applying at the beginning of November without sacrificing your application’s quality. 

Should I Apply to UC Berkeley?

If you’re second-guessing whether you should apply to UC Berkeley, you aren't alone. It’s normal to have doubts when you’re narrowing down the list of colleges you’ll apply to. 

Before you can answer this question yourself, take another look at Berkeley:

Taking the time to answer questions like these can help you determine if UC Berkeley is right for you. It can't hurt to apply (even if you’re still unsure), especially when you've done all the necessary research to give yourself the best shot at success.

If you still have doubts even after exploring the different opportunities available at UC Berkeley, our advice is to go for it. It can't hurt to apply, especially when you've done all the necessary research to give yourself the best shot at success. 

UC Berkeley FAQs

Still have questions about getting into UC Berkeley? Then check out these FAQs! 

1. What Does UC Berkeley Look for in Applicants?

UC Berkeley wants students who are intelligent, passionate, and capable. The admissions committee looks for candidates who are also involved outside the classroom, have diverse extracurricular activities, and have great leadership potential. 

Candidates who perform the best in the application process also come across as more than their academic or extracurricular achievements; they are personable and dynamic. 

2. Does UC Berkeley accept transfer credit?

Yes, UC Berkeley does accept transfer credits. 

3. Is UC Berkeley an Ivy League school?

Though UC Berkeley is a highly renowned university with stellar academics, it’s not an Ivy League school. The Ivy League contains eight Northeast private colleges: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale. 

4. Can I Get Into UC Berkeley With a 3.5 GPA?

Students who get accepted into UC Berkeley typically have a higher GPA coming out of high school; however, it is not impossible to get into UC Berkeley with a 3.5 GPA. Even though grades and test scores are important, the admissions committee takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications. 

5. How Do I Stand Out in the UC Berkeley Application Process?

You must demonstrate that you make a perfect fit for UC Berkeley and that you are the candidate they are looking for. Your extracurricular activities should be diverse and show you’re committed to your community. Choose your essays carefully to highlight your most meaningful experiences and best traits.

6. When Should I Start Preparing for UC Berkeley? 

Candidates will have access to the application portal as early as August 1, even though the final deadline isn't until November 30. Remember these dates when trying to gauge when you should start your application. 

7. What Should I Do if I Get Rejected from UC Berkeley?

When you get rejected from UC Berkeley, there are a few options in front of you. You can take a gap year, accept an offer at another college, or try appealing the rejection, which is done on a case-by-case basis.

8. How Hard is It to Get Into UC Berkeley? 

UC Berkeley’s acceptance rate has trended downward in recent years, but it’s still in the double digits at 11.4%. Based purely on acceptance rate data alone, it’s easier to get into UC Berkeley than other top schools such as Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford (all with single-digit acceptance rates). However, a stellar application boosts your chances!

9. What GPA is Required for UC Berkeley? 

If you’re a California resident, you must achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 in your 10th and 11th-grade classes. If you’re a non-resident, the GPA requirement is higher at 3.4. However, you should aim for a higher GPA (closer to 3.8 to 4.0, unweighted) for a better chance of acceptance. 

Final Thoughts 

UC Berkeley is a prestigious university that can set you on a path toward success. With this prestige comes a highly competitive applicant pool, so you need to ensure you have a strong application. 

An exceptional academic history, a high GPA, and a diverse range of extracurricular activities you're passionate about are essential to building a compelling application. 

Now that you know how to get into UC Berkeley, you should understand what the admissions committee is looking for. Each part of your application should work together to convince the admissions committee you would make a great addition to the UC Berkeley community. Good luck! 

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