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Prospective Freshman FAQ

Applying to the College

1. When can I apply for admission to Berkeley Engineering?

The annual UC system application period is November 1-30 each year for admission for the following fall semester. Learn more about the application process at

2. Will I be admitted?

The answer depends on the quality of the applicant pool and the number of spaces available in the major to which you apply. Both of these items vary from year to year, which makes it impossible to predict admission.

3. How does Berkeley decide whom to admit?

The campus selects its freshman class through a comprehensive review of your academic performance as measured primarily by the 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 which reflect extraordinary, sustained intellectual or creative achievement; sustained participation in rigorous academic enrichment and outreach programs; and the planned 12th grade courses. In addition, the review includes an examination of the likely 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; and non-academic achievements in the performing arts or athletics, employment or leadership. Applicants to Berkeley Engineering are also expected to demonstrate interest in the major to which they are applying since we receive far more applications than we can admit. Consequently, to gain admission to Berkeley, you need to present an academic profile much stronger than that represented by the minimum admission requirements below. It is important to note that no single attribute or characteristic guarantees the admission of any applicant to Berkeley. For more information on applying, refer to the Freshmen Flyer

4. 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 and a SAT Subject Test in science (Biology E.M., Chemistry or Physics) in order to be as competitive as possible.

5. 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 university work, especially in engineering.

6. 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 your engineering major. A high school physics background prepares you for university-level physics.

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

No. Berkeley Engineering does not consider the alternate major. However, other UCs may.

8. Can I change my major?

Applicants may change their college and/or major during the November application filing period only by contacting the Office of Undergraduate Admission and Relations with Schools no later than November 30. Once you’re admitted to Cal, 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.

9. What is the difference between the EECS Computer Science option in the College of Engineering and Computer Science major in Letters and Science?

The lower division requirements for the EECS Computer Science option offered in the College of Engineering emphasize science and math and lead to a Bachelor of Science degree. Computer Science in the College of Letters and Science does not emphasize science and math and leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

10. What AP tests should I take (or will I get credit for)?

Berkeley Engineering gives AP credit for most AP tests. Depending on the test and score, students will get UC credit and/or engineering subject credit. More information can be found by visiting this section of our website

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

12. 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.

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

It is extremely difficult for an out of state or international student to establish residency. Due to this all out of state and international students should budget to pay non-resident tuition for each of their undergraduate years at Cal. You may learn about residency here:


General Undergraduate Program

1. How many students are admitted into engineering?

For the 2012-13 academic year, the College of Engineering had more than 12,000 freshman applicants and 13.2% were admitted. The previous year, there were more than 9,500 freshman applicants and 17.3% were admitted.

2. What is the graduation rate in the College of Engineering?

Approximately 85 percent of incoming COE freshmen graduate from the College of Engineering and 91 percent from UC Berkeley overall.

3. When will I enroll in classes if admitted to Cal?

New students should plan to attend one of the two-day sessions of the Cal Summer Orientation (CalSO) program held in June. At CalSO students will meet with their assigned academic adviser to learn about requirements and to enroll in courses for their first semester. New students who do not attend CalSO will enroll in courses after the CalSO sessions are complete. Admitted students receive information about CalSO after they submit their Statement of Intent to Register.

4. Can an engineering student pursue a minor?

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

5. How much studying is expected in this competitive environment?

A student can expect to study at least three hours per week for every class unit they take. Example:  15 class units = 45 hours of study time per week.

6. How long does it take to complete an engineering degree?

Our majors are designed to be completed in four years (eight semesters). Academic advising and our structured four-year plans assist students in graduating on time. Although the College has a four-year graduation policy, there are times when an additional semester may be warranted. See the four-year plans for all engineering majors in the College of Engineering Announcement: A Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Study.

7. 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 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 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 (ESS) adviser.

8. Is it difficult to switch out of engineering?

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

9. 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 the minimum, two technical courses which includes math, science or engineering core courses for a total of 12 units and one course chosen from the Humanities and Social Sciences list. 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 courses they need, 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 (equates to 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 Registrar’s link to Tele-BEARS:

10. Can engineering students participate in the Education 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 a study abroad program will be granted one additional semester to complete their degree requirements, if needed. Visit the Education Abroad Program for more information.

11. When can engineering students apply for internships or research?

Faculty and companies typically search for students who have completed their first and second year of Engineering foundation courses. This means that securing an internship or research is most likely to occur in the junior and senior year or summer. The UCB campus Career Center offers job and internship fairs throughout the academic year and all students are encouraged to attend. For more information about internships and research opportunities, go to the following websites:

12. What is the job placement rate for engineering students after graduation?

Job prospects are very good for our graduates. Many students who are chosen for internships or coops are hired by those same companies after they graduate. Others find great prospects with the help of job fairs and the campus Career Center: To view specific job placement statistics please refer to the following website:

13. Do I have to major in Bioengineering or a biological science in L&S to get into medical school?

There is no preferred major for medical school. While any undergraduate major is acceptable, the pre-medical requirements including chemistry, physics, general biology and sometimes calculus must be fulfilled. For more information, review the Career Center pre-med information at: 

Student life

1. Will there be time for co-curricular activities?

Yes, in fact, the College advisers encourage students to join student organizations and participate in recreational sports and outside interests. The College of Engineering offers over 50 different organizations which students can join. A list of COE groups and organizations may be found at:
For the list of all UC Berkeley groups and organizations:

2. Which residence halls (dorms) are closest to engineering?

The closest residence hall is Foothill, located at 2700 Hearst Avenue. Although Foothill is the nearest residence hall in proximity to the College of Engineering, first-year engineering students will be enrolling in classes located throughout the main campus. You can find more residence hall information at:

3. Is the campus safe?

UC Berkeley has its own police station. Campus police patrol the perimeter by car and the interior by bicycle. There are also emergency beacons situated all around campus to help alert students, faculty and staff to any campus wide emergencies that may arise. The police also offer a night time “BearWALK” service to the campus community by request. UC Berkeley Police Dept programs and services:

4. What kind of computer should students buy?

In general, students should buy what is affordable and convenient. There isn’t a particular brand or model that is preferred. The University has several on-campus microcomputer facilities available to students. More information can be found on this link: Residence Halls may also have computer facilities available for students to use. More information can be found at:

5. What is the parking situation on campus/residence halls?

Parking is limited on campus in general, and all faculty, staff and students who commute must have a campus parking permit displayed in their vehicle at all times while parked in a parking structure or residence hall. Students can purchase daily or annual parking permits from the Parking and Transportation office:

6. What kind of advising services are available to engineering students?

All College of Engineering students are assigned a faculty adviser, an Engineering Student Services (ESS) adviser and a departmental adviser. Faculty advisers are mentors and they help students select the appropriate courses to complete their major. Students are expected to meet with their assigned faculty adviser at least twice a year to discuss course selection and to obtain an adviser code that is used to access the Tele-BEARS enrollment system. ESS advisers help students navigate UCB and College of Engineering policies and procedures, and they are a lifeline for other questions and concerns that students may have during their academic career at Cal. Departmental advisers guide students toward opportunities within their field of study. They provide referrals to student groups relative to the student’s major and handle all aspects of faculty advising and research opportunities.

Other helpful FAQs

  • CalParents FAQ:
  • UC Berkeley Health Center Info for parents:
  • Counseling and Psychological Services:
  • Health insurance:
  • UC Housing and Dining Services (Dorms):

    Still have a question?

    Visit the UC Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions website for more information on eligibility and the application process. If you have questions specific to the College of Engineering’s application requirements, curriculum, or student life, feel free to email Engineering Student Services.