Introduction to the College
The College of Letters & Science sets undergraduate students on the intellectual adventure of their lives with a vibrant, broad-based liberal arts education at the highest level of excellence. Here, students can engage in dialogue with the unparalleled teachers and acclaimed researchers. Students discover courses of study they never knew existed. They participate in projects at the forefront of science, solve pressing social problems, create art, explore diverse cultures, and seek answers to the biggest questions of our times — all on one of the most vibrant and beautiful campuses in the world.
Explore majors and minors available through the College of Letters & Science.
UC and Campus Requirements
University of California Requirements
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing Requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a U.S. resident graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
American Cultures (AC) is the one requirement that all undergraduate students at UC Berkeley need to take and pass in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture in the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course. Learn more.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work. Learn more.
Reading and Composition
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking, the College requires two semesters in sequence of lower division work in composition. Students must complete the reading and composition requirement by the end of their fourth semester. Learn more and review courses.
- 120 total units, including at least 60 L&S units
- Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside the student's major department
To be in good academic standing, students must maintain at least a C average (2.0 GPA) in all courses undertaken at UC, including those from UC Summer Sessions, UC Education Abroad Program, and UC Berkeley Washington Program, as well as XB courses from University Extension; and a C average in all lower and upper division courses in the major.
For graduation, students must earn at least a C average (2.0 GPA) in all courses undertaken at UC (including those from UC Summer Sessions, UC Education Abroad Program, and UC Berkeley Washington Program, as well as XB courses from University Extension); and a C average in all upper division courses required for the major.
For units to be considered in "residence," students must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters and Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless students go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through University Extension during their senior year. In these cases, students should make an appointment to meet a College Adviser to determine how they can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After becoming a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward the B.A. degree), students must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
Students may use a Berkeley summer session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence Requirement, provided that they successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that they have been enrolled previously in the College.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) or the UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence Requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after the completion of 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
Students must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding EAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for their major.
Residence in the Major Requirement
Of the 18 upper division units required for College Residence, 12 must be earned in courses that satisfy requirements for the major.
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and provides context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
Guidelines for Seven-Course Breadth
- No course may be used to fulfill more than one breadth category.
- Breadth courses may be taken for a letter grade (C- or better required) or on a Passed/Not Passed basis.
- Beginning fall 2015, 2 unit courses will not be accepted for breadth.
- No more than two courses from any one academic department may be used to satisfy breadth requirements (L&S Discovery Courses exempt). Cross-listed courses are counted under every sponsoring department.
- Courses fulfilling American History & Institutions, American Cultures, or requirements in the major program may also be applied to the Seven-Course Breadth requirement.
- The following cannot be applied to the Seven-Course Breadth:
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.
- Courses numbered 84*, 97, 98, 99, and those 190 and above
- Courses fulfilling the Reading and Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, or Foreign Language requirements
- Courses numbered 84 offered prior to spring 2012 may be eligible for breadth credit. Visit http://fss.berkeley.edu/breadth84note.html for a list of these courses.
- Current students may only select from Courses Approved to Meet the Seven-Course Breadth Requirement list to satisfy breadth
Satisfying the Seven Course Breadth Requirement with Transfer Work
- For courses from California community colleges, read ASSIST. *Note: IGETC certification from a California community college or a letter of reciprocity from a UC campus satisfies the Seven-Course Breadth requirement (and all other L&S breadth requirements).*
- Successful completion (with a letter grade of C- or better or a Passed grade) of equivalent transferable courses at an accredited college will satisfy the requirement.
- For courses from other institutions, check with the L&S Evaluation Unit at 510-642-7391. (Course descriptions and syllabi may be required to make a breadth determination.)
Courses Approved to Meet the Seven-Course Breadth Requirement
The College of Letters and Science (L&S) is looking for students who are likely to succeed within the College and at UC Berkeley. Grades matter but that is not all. Students should be entrepreneurial, adventurous, and engaged in life as well as self-motivated, self-aware, and self-possessed—without being self-centered. And, yes, they are smart. To find out more about undergraduate admissions, please review the Admissions website.
Already a student and want to change colleges to L&S?
Students in other UC Berkeley colleges who feel their educational goals are best met with a degree in L&S are welcome to petition for a Change of College. Please attend a Change of College Workshop for information about the petition process.
Visit the Change of College page for workshop dates.
The application period for the spring semester is the first day of fall instruction through November 1. The application period for the fall semester is the first day of spring instruction through June 1.
Welcome to L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising!
The Office of Undergraduate Advising, with a staff of highly skilled and experienced College Advisers, is here to help students make the best choices for their academic career and get the most out of their time at Berkeley.
Declaring a Major
Students in L&S must declare a major before the first semester of their junior year (for transfer students, before the beginning of the second semester at Berkeley). Those who do not declare by that time will be subject to a registration block, so it is imperative to declare on time. There are other good reasons to declare as soon as students are ready. As a declared student, students will be given higher priority to enroll in courses in their major department, and they will have greater access to departmental advising and other departmental resources.
Students receive approval for admission to the major from the adviser in the department. Each department has its own procedures for reviewing requests for admission to the major. Some require an application an essay, a certain grade point average or a personal interview with a Major Adviser. There are competitive majors that demand special attention because they have declaration procedures that are tied to unit completion. Students must start preparing for these majors early in their academic careers. For details about declaration procedures as well as an overview of units and requirements in each major, refer to the Requirements tab of each program page of the Academic Guide.
Checking Individual Progress Toward Degree
For any questions (or inaccuracies) or for help planning the remaining time at Berkeley, visit The Office of Undergraduate Advising.
Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Wednesdays 1 to 4 p.m.)
Front Desk Hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Wednesdays 1 to 4 p.m.) Same-day 15-minute appointments may be scheduled beginning at 9 a.m. on the same day.
Main Phone Hours: Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed during noon hour)
Main Office: 206 Evans Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2924
Satellite Office: 156 Dwinelle Hall
Big Ideas Courses, launched in 2012, bring together two or more faculty members from different disciplines to co-teach innovative breadth courses. Big Ideas Courses take up key intellectual and societal challenges that cannot be adequately addressed by the perspective or methodology of one discipline alone. For more information, call 510-642-8378 or visit the Big Ideas website.
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars arose from the conviction that early intellectual contact with faculty members would greatly enhance the undergraduate experience at Berkeley. Professors from nearly every campus department join together each semester to offer an impressive array of seminars. The courses numbered 24 bear one unit of credit; they are limited to 15 students, and freshmen are given priority for enrollment. The courses numbered 84 bear one or two units of credit; they are limited to 15 sophomores. The courses numbered 39A-39Z are limited to 25 freshmen and sophomores. Seminars, which emphasize interaction and discussion, provide a counterpoint to the learning experience in Berkeley's large lecture halls. These seminars also offer lower-division students an unprecedented opportunity to explore a wide range of majors and even fields of study usually reserved for graduate students. Browsing through this Guide, students will find lower division seminars sponsored by Letters and Science departments as well as by the professional schools and colleges. Descriptions of all the seminars scheduled for the upcoming semester can be found in time for course enrollment on the Freshman and Sophomore program's website that also contains other useful information and features for undergraduates. For additional information regarding the Freshman and Sophomore Seminars, contact the program office at 231 Evans Hall, 510-642-8378.
Organized in conjunction with the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, L & S 5 Introduction to Entrepreneurship is designed for freshmen and sophomores who wish to learn about entrepreneurship and its role in bringing new ideas to market. At the upper division, the College offers L & S 105 Arts Entrepreneurship, for students in arts-related majors and others interested in careers in this arena.
Letters & Science Discovery Courses are exemplary breadth courses, designed to engage and broaden the minds of non-experts. Taught by some of the most distinguished faculty members on campus, the L&S Discovery Courses are guaranteed to deliver a high-quality educational experience.
On the Same Page is a campus-wide book-in-common program, designed to welcome new freshmen and transfer students into the intellectual dialogue that characterizes the Berkeley campus. Each year, all the faculty and all new students receive a book (or film or other study object) that provides the focus for discussions, courses, events, and activities in the fall term. For more information, call 510-642-8378 or visit the On the Same Page website.
Cal Teach is a program for undergraduate science, math, and engineering majors interested in exploring a career in education. Through these courses students learn conceptual teaching skills and practice these methods in local K-12 classrooms. Cal Teach offers the minor in Science and Math Education as well as a unique opportunity for students to complete both a degree and a California teaching credential as an undergraduate.
The Office of Undergraduate Research helps students map out their strategy, connect with faculty and mentors, and obtain funding opportunities to support their research pursuits. Opportunities administered directly by the Office of Undergraduate Research include the following:
- Faculty-initiated research: coordinated through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The program provides opportunities for students to receive course credit to work with faculty on cutting-edge research projects during the academic year. Nearly 1400 students and 300 faculty members participate each semester.
- Independent research: The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF L&S and SURF Rose Hills) fund 80-90 students/year, with stipends from $4,250-$6,000, to carry out research projects. In addition, the Haas Scholars Program funds 20 students a year, with stipends up to $12,600 for independent research.
- Public Service: The Stronach Baccalaureate Prize funds 4-6 recent UC Berkeley grads for up to $25,000 to carry out a public service project of their own design.
In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Research provides services to promote undergraduate research campus-wide:
- Campus-wide research programs listing: The number of undergraduate research programs on campus has grown to about 50; find the ones that are right by searching on the undergraduate research opportunities page.
- Workshops: Attend a workshop -- "Getting Started", "Professional Communication", "Finding a faculty mentor" or "Writing a Research Proposal" -- to hit the ground running. Check the calendar for times and dates.
- Other resources: Check out the resources page to join the listserv and find helpful links and documents.
The Prestigious Scholarships and Scholarship Connection Office administers the application process for several prestigious external scholarships (such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, and Gates scholarships) and offers a clearinghouse for information on 500+ other external scholarships. For more information, visit the Prestigious Scholarships and Scholarship Connection Office website or contact Scholarship Connection at 5 Durant Hall, OURscholarships@berkeley.edu, or 510-643-6929.
The University of California extends its mission of service, teaching and research to the nation's capital. The UC Washington Center is a multi-campus residential, instructional and research center that provides students and faculty from the University of California with opportunities to study, research, work, and live within Washington's rich cultural, political and international heritage. Berkeley's UCDC Program provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates from all majors to spend a semester (Fall or Spring) in Washington, D.C. pursuing full-time course work and an internship in their selected field. Participants are full-time registered Berkeley students and remain eligible for financial aid. Students reside in the UC Washington Center.
College of Letters & Science
231 Evans Hall