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How Berkeley Selects Students

Selection is based on holistic review for Freshman applicants, and comprehensive review for Transfers, of all information—both academic and personal—presented in the application.

UC Berkeley pioneered the holistic review process at UC (now adapted by most of the UC campuses), enabling us to admit a diverse undergraduate class representing 53 states/commonwealths and 74 countries, with 17% who are first-generation college-going and 65% who receive financial aid. “Holistic review” refers to the process of evaluating Freshman applications where no one piece of information is weighted more heavily over another. “Comprehensive review” refers to the process of evaluating Transfer applications where all academic and personal attributes are considered, but more emphasis is put on academic preparedness for the major.

Selection

UC Berkeley is among the more selective universities in the country, becoming more competitive each year. Due to student demand, selectivity varies among Colleges, and—in the College of Engineering—among majors; for example, it is more difficult to gain admission to the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences major than to the Mechanical Engineering major.

For applications to the College of Letters and Science and Natural Resources no consideration is given to the indicated major in the review process. However, for the professional colleges of Chemistry, Environmental Design, and Engineering demonstrated interest in the major is also taken into consideration. Furthermore, in the colleges of Chemistry and Engineering, Berkeley faculty in these disciplines have asked that readers place added emphasis on sustained achievement in mathematics and science, and have indicated a preference that these applicants take the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test and a science test (Biology, Chemistry or Physics) that is closely related to the applicant's intended major.

The goal of our selection process is to identify applicants who are most likely to contribute to Berkeley’s intellectual and cultural community and, ultimately, to the State of California, the nation, and the world.

About Transcripts and Portfolios

As part of the UC application process, UC Berkeley and other UC campuses do not ask applicants for transcripts, portfolios, or other supporting documents. Applicants are expected to self-report their grades from their own transcripts, honestly and accurately. If a student is admitted and enrolled, the official transcripts are checked against what the student reported in the application. Any discrepancies can result in cancellation of enrollment.

When it comes to other supporting materials - such as art portfolios, resumes, etc. - UC Berkeley does not consider these during the application review. We expect the reported grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, personal insight questions, and additional comments to give us the full picture of a student's experience and aspirations. This is why it is so important to answer each section of the application thoughtfully and thoroughly.

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