Freshman Application Policy Changes

In April 2015, UC Berkeley adopted a new freshman admission policy. Starting in fall 2015, some applicants to UC Berkeley will be invited to submit two letters of recommendation. This will be optional and not required.

Furthering our belief in the value of holistic review, we ask that those who write letters consider the following concepts when asked to add a letter to the application process:

  • Academic performance and potential (both overall and in the context of the applicant's high school class)
  • Love of learning
  • Leadership (in school, family, or community)
  • Persistence in the face of challenges
  • Cross-cultural engagement
  • Originality/Creativity
  • Demonstrated concern for others

We will continue to update this page with details and tools. Since the policy is new, we start now with a list of the most frequently asked questions we have heard in discussions of the new policy:

Who should write the letter(s)?
If the student is invited to submit letters of recommendation, one letter must be written by a teacher or instructor. The second letter can be written by anyone the student selects, ideally someone who knows them well and can speak to one or more of the characteristics above. Letters from the applicant’s immediate family or relatives are discouraged in our process.

How will the letters be submitted?
All letters must be submitted electronically. No letters in the mail or by courier will be accepted. Invited applicants will identify letter writers via a link sent to them after their applications receive an initial review. If you are invited to submit up to two Letters of Recommendation, you will be emailed instructions to log into MAP@Berkeley. Once in the portal, below the checklist, you'll see a link that takes you to a recommendations page. Once there, you'll see a button that reads, "Add Recommender."  Click on that and follow the the instructions.

PLEASE NOTE: Requests for letters of recommendation WILL NOT be found within the UC application, which opens Aug. 1. The request will be delivered to your email as a simple supplement.

Is there a word limit?
While there is not a word limit, we ask that letters be limited to one page.

What is the deadline?
All letters will be due by 11:59 p.m. on January 15, 2016. After this date, it is not guaranteed that a letter can be read as a part of the application review.

How are students selected to submit letter(s)?
We will request letters of some students after we initially review their applications, if we feel additional information would be helpful in our selection process. Only a fraction of applicants will be selected to submit letters, and they can choose to submit letters or not to do so. Not doing so will not harm them in any way.

Will a third letter be accepted?
No. Only two letters will be accepted.

Will applications without a letter still be read? Will they be at a disadvantage?
The new policy remains committed to making sure that all freshman applications are thoroughly and thoughtfully read, with or without a letter. Students without a letter will not be at a disadvantage, but we do highly encourage students who are selected to take advantage of this opportunity.

How can Berkeley help prepare schools for this transition?
Berkeley has been talking to stakeholders both on and off campus, and the feedback for this effort has been positive. To support the effort and allow greater access and understanding, UC Berkeley will welcome the opportunity to speak to groups of teachers and counselors who may be interested in learning more about advocating for students through letters of recommendation.

Does this impact transfer students?
No. This new policy only impacts freshmen. Transfers will not submit letters of recommendation. 

Are other UC campuses also accepting letters of recommendation?
No campus of the University of California requires letters of recommendation when the admission application is submitted; however, UC campuses may later request additional information from applicants. If additional information is needed, applicants will be notified individually.


Last updated December 23, 2015