Introduction to the College
UC Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources provides a small-college experience at the world’s greatest public university, combining hands-on experience with a rigorous education. Rausser College gives students a solid foundation and big-picture perspective that informs and inspires them during their degree program and after they leave the campus.
Students and faculty study natural and human systems from biological, ecological, natural resource, economic, and social sciences perspectives. They learn about the complex, interconnected world of the 21st century, from sustainable food systems to forestry and conservation, from environmental policy to economics, and from the far-reaching impacts of climate change to the linkages among the human genome, plant genetics, diet, and disease. Many students take the opportunities offered to conduct research in a faculty lab, participate in an internship, study at field camp, or study abroad during their time at the College.
Rausser College's academic departments are consistently top-ranked in some of the most notable surveys, including the National Research Council, U.S. News and World Report, and several global rankings. Among the active faculty's many eminent honorees are four Nobel laureates affiliated with the 2007 Nobel Prize for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, seven MacArthur Fellows, 12 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award winners, 40 Fulbright fellows, and 16 National Academy of Science Fellows.
Our motto is "See the bigger picture. Make a better world." When it comes to the world we live in, we need to know how what we research and learn connects us to the world and the welfare of the people who inhabit it.
Explore majors and minors available through the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
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 satisfying the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). The UC Entry Level Writing Requirement website provides information on how to satisfy the requirement.
The American History and Institutions (AH&I) requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
The American Cultures requirement is a Berkeley campus requirement, one that all undergraduate students at Berkeley need to pass in order to graduate. You satisfy the requirement by passing, with a grade not lower than C- or P, an American Cultures course. You may take an American Cultures course any time during your undergraduate career at Berkeley. The requirement was instituted in 1991 to introduce students to the diverse cultures of the United States through a comparative framework. Courses are offered in more than fifty departments in many different disciplines at both the lower and upper division level.
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing and critical thinking all majors in the College require two semesters of lower division work in composition. Students must complete a first-level reading and composition course by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
Foreign Language: EEP Majors only
The Foreign Language requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. It 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.
Quantitative Reasoning: EEP Majors only
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
Undergraduate breadth provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program and many students complete their breadth courses in their first two years. Breadth courses are built into the Rausser College major requirements and each major requires a different number of breath courses and categories. The EEP major is the only college major that requires the entire 7 course breadth. Refer to the major snapshots on each Rausser College major page for additional information.
High School Exam Credit
Rausser College students may apply high school exam credit (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-Level Exam) towards many College and Major Requirements. See AP Exam Equivalency Chart and Higher Level IB Exam Equivalency Chart in the Rausser College Student Handbook for more information.
Students must complete at least 120 semester units of courses subject to certain guidelines:
- At least 36 units must be upper division courses, including a minimum of 15 units of upper division courses in the Rausser College.
- A maximum of 16 units of Special Studies coursework (courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 197, 198, or 199) is allowed towards the 120 units; a maximum of four is allowed in a given semester.
- A maximum of 4 units of Physical Education from any school attended will count towards the 120 units.
- Students may receive unit credit for courses graded P (including P/NP units taken through EAP) up to a limit of one-third of the total units taken and passed on the Berkeley campus at the time of graduation. Courses taken for P/NP in the Spring 2020 semester will not count toward this limit.
Semester Unit Minimum
All Rausser College students must enroll in at least 12 units each fall and spring semester.
Semester Unit Maximum
To request permission to take more than 20.5 units in a semester, please see the major adviser.
Students admitted as freshmen must graduate within 8 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students admitted as transfer students must graduate within 4 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students who go on EAP and UCDC can petition for additional semesters. Other UC-affiliated programs, such as the Gump Station in Moorea, may also be considered. Summer session, UC Extension and non-UC study abroad programs do not count towards this semester limit. Students approved for double majors or simultaneous degrees in two colleges may be granted an additional semester. Rausser College does not limit the number of total units a student can accrue.
Senior Residence Requirement
Once you achieve and exceed 90 units (senior status), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence at the Rausser College of Natural Resources over at least 2 semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units taken while the student is a member of Rausser. At least one of the two terms must be a fall or spring semester. Senior residence terms do not need to be completed consecutively. All courses offered on campus for the fall, spring, and summer terms by Berkeley departments and programs and all Berkeley online ('W') courses count. Inter-campus Visitor, Education Abroad Program, UC Berkeley Washington Program, and UC Berkeley Extension units do not count toward this requirement. Students may use Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence Requirement, provided that 6 units of coursework are completed.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in a fall, spring or summer UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program may meet a modified Senior Residence Requirement by completing 24 of their final 60 semester units in residence (excluding UCEAP). At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after senior status is reached. International travel study programs sponsored by Summer Sessions and education abroad programs offered outside of the UC system do not qualify for modified senior residence.
Most students automatically satisfy 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 see an adviser to determine how they can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
- A 2.0 UC GPA is required for graduation.
- A 2.0 average in all upper division courses required of the major program is required for graduation.
- A grade of at least C- is required in all courses for the major. Major and minor coursework taken in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 may be completed with P/NP grading option. See more details below.
Changes in Policies and Procedures during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Fall 2020, Spring 2021, SUMMER 2021
After much consultation across the colleges of UC Berkeley, and via our college Executive Committee, the following decisions have been made about the selection of the P/NP grade option (CPN) by undergraduate students during the Fall 2020 & Spring 2021 semesters for the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
College Course Requirements: Reading and Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language requirements normally satisfied with letter grades may be met with a passed (P) grade during the Fall 2020 semester. This does not include the system-wide Entry Level Writing requirement. College Writing R1A must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a C or better to fulfill the Entry Level Writing requirement.
Requirements to Graduate: No changes in policy.
Rausser College students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to declare a Rausser College major.
Non-Rausser College students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative UC GPA to change to or add a Rausser College major.
Students must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to graduate, both overall and in the upper-division courses required for the major.
Academic Probation: The terms for Academic Probation (AP) have been modified.
Rausser CNR students currently in good standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.
Students currently in good standing who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing letter grades for more than 50% of units will be placed on academic probation and will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for the subsequent semester.
Students on AP must take all coursework for letter grades. Students on AP may be removed from probationary status with sufficient letter graded course work to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.0.
Students on Academic Probation who do not attain sufficient letter-graded coursework to be removed from AP (ie. enough grade points to raise cumulative GPA above 2.0 cumulative GPA) will remain on AP for the subsequent semesterand must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor.
Students on Academic Probation who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing letter grades for more than 50% of units will be Subject to Dismissal and will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for the subsequent semester.
Term Probation: Students in this category are placed on academic probation if their GPA falls below 1.5 in any fall or spring semester ("Term"). To get back into good standing, you must earn a UC Berkeley term GPA of 2.0 the following regular semester (fall/spring) and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0. If you fail to meet these conditions, you will be subject to dismissal from the University. For Fall 2020 & Spring 2021, the terms for Term Probation have been modified.
Rausser CNR students currently in good standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing and will not be placed on Term Probation.
Transferring Credit: If you are taking coursework through another institution in Fall 2020 & Spring 2021, P grades earned will be accepted for all degree requirements. Note: This does not include the systemwide Entry Level Writing requirement. College Writing R1A must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a C or better to fulfill the Entry Level Writing requirement.
For additional information, please see Changes to Policies and Procedures for Fall 2020, Spring 2021, & Summer 2021.
In light of the substantial disruptions to instruction caused by the novel coronavirus emergency, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate made changes to grading options for the Spring 2020 semester. Rausser College adjusted college requirements as follows:
College Course Requirements: All passing course work taken in Spring 2020 may be used for college requirements regardless of the grading option selected.
Requirements to Graduate: To graduate, Rausser College students usually must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to graduate, both overall and in the upper-division courses required for their major. For Spring 2020, students with at least a 1.9 cumulative GPA overall and in the upper-division courses required for their major to graduate will be considered as having met the requirement.
Academic Probation: Recognizing the challenges to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rausser College of Natural Resources will not be penalizing any students’ academic progress for Spring 2020.
Students in good academic standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.
Students, who are in good standing, who earn NP grades, Incompletes, or failing grades for more than 50% of units will be required to meet with their college advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan for Fall 2020 by September 11, 2020, but will not be placed on Academic Probation.
Students on Academic Probation may be removed from probationary status with sufficient letter graded course work to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.0.
Students on Academic Probation who do not attain sufficient letter-graded coursework to be removed from AP (ie. enough grade points to raise cumulative GPA above 2.0 cumulative GPA) will remain on AP for Fall 2020 and must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor by September 11, 2020.
Term Probation: Recognizing the challenges to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rausser College of Natural Resources will not be penalizing any students’ academic progress for Spring 2020.
Students in good academic standing who earn all “P” grades will remain in good standing.
Students on Term Probation, but not AP, may be removed from probationary status with passing grades in at least 50% of units for Spring 2020.
Students on Term Probation at the start of Spring 2020 who earn NP, Incomplete, or failing grades for more than 50% of units must complete an Academic Success Plan with their college advisor by September 11, 2020 and will remain on Term Probation.
Transferring Credit: If you are taking coursework through another institution in Spring 2020 (i.e. through Concurrent Enrollment or instead of being enrolled in Spring 2020 at UC Berkeley) and that institution has moved to a P/NP-default or P/NP-only grading model, P grades earned will be accepted for all degree requirements.
For additional information, please see Changes to Policies and Procedures for Spring 2020.
See the Bigger Picture. Make a Better World.
At UC Berkeley's Rausser College of Natural Resources, we study natural and human systems from biological, ecological, economic, and social-science perspectives. We engage the issues that shape the complex, inter-connected world of the 21st century, from sustainable food systems to obesity, from water policy to energy economics, and from the far-reaching impacts of climate change to the linkages between the human genome, diet, and disease. Providing a small-college experience at the world's greatest public university, Rausser College combines hands-on experience with a rigorous education. We give students a solid foundation and big-picture perspective that informs and inspires them after they leave our campus with a Bachelor of Science.
Rausser College admits students as freshmen or as junior transfer students. The College also accepts current UC Berkeley students eligible to change into Rausser College. All students—current and prospective—interested in studying at Rausser College should consult with their intended major adviser or the Rausser College Peer Advisers.
When you apply to UC Berkeley as either a freshman or transfer student, you will be required to select a college (e.g., Rausser College of Natural Resources) in which to enroll, and you may also indicate a major at that time. Freshman applicants who want more time to decide which of our nine majors can select the Rausser College of Natural Resources' "Undeclared option." Declaring your major will not give you any special advantage in terms of admissions. All students who apply to Rausser College are evaluated based on their application and not on the particular major they selected. The benefit of applying directly to a Rausser College major is that if you are admitted and accept the offer of admission, you will work with the same adviser from your arrival to campus to graduation. Don't worry, students admitted under a particular major still have the option of changing majors if desired.
Advice for Freshman Applicants
Undergraduate admission is directed by Cal's Office of Undergraduate Admissions based on campus-wide admission criteria. The Rausser College of Natural Resources itself does not review the files for freshman admission so it is important that freshman applicants follow the guidelines provided by Admissions. For the best guidance on Berkeley Admissions, please review the following information carefully:
- Prospective Freshman FAQs
- Writing Your Personal Statement
- Information for International Freshman Applicants
- University of California: Freshman Admission Information
Advice for Transfer Applicants
The Rausser College of Natural Resources welcomes transfer applicants to each of its nine majors. Priority for admission is given to students with excellent preparation for a major, as we do not accept students transferring with undeclared status. A good first step is to review requirements for the Rausser College major to which you would like to apply and look at ASSIST to see if you will satisfy all prerequisites by the spring semester prior to your admission year. For example, applicants for Fall 2017 need to complete all prerequisites outlined in ASSIST by end of Spring 2017.
As you prepare for transfer admission, you must complete the lower division articulated courses for the particular Rausser College major in which you are interested. The ASSIST website lists all of Rausser College's prerequisites and the equivalent California Community College transferable course that satisfies them. ASSIST also includes courses from some UC and CSU schools, and a handful of out of state institutions. If you earned credit at a college or university not listed in ASSIST, those courses will be evaluated when you apply.
Students wishing to transfer to Rausser College may also contact the undergraduate adviser of the major they are interested in to help determine whether they have satisfied the appropriate prerequisite courses requirements. Out of state applicants are especially encouraged to consult with major advisers to make sure the courses they have taken will articulate to the Rausser College prerequisites. Advisers can also tell you about the kinds of opportunities offered in each major, and help you make a decision about which major is right for you.
Transfer Admissions Criteria
If you are applying to the Rausser College as a transfer student, you must apply directly to one of our undergraduate majors. Transfer applicants will be evaluated based on the strength of their academic preparation with focus on full completion of prerequisites by the spring semester prior to admission. In addition, grade point average in the required courses, cumulative GPA, and total units completed are taken into factored into decisions. Transfer students apply through Cal's Office of Undergraduate Admissions but Rausser College faculty and staff from your intended major will review your application as well. As a result, special attention is paid to applicants’ personal statements and supplementary information. Students applying to Rausser College programs should have a solid understanding of the major.
Important Information for Transfer Applicants
Students who do not complete the lower division courses for their intended major are unlikely to be offered admission. Students who need to complete key lower division courses (e.g., English, chemistry, calculus, or biology) when they begin at Berkeley are not considered for admission and should wait to apply for the following year. Admitted students who have not met minimum requirements by the end of the spring prior to their admit term are rarely considered for extensions to complete coursework in summer and may have their admission cancelled. It is imperative for transfers to fulfill lower division course requirements prior to enrolling at Berkeley.
IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum)
IGETC does not fully satisfy lower division requirements for all Rausser College majors, nor is it used as an admissions criterion. For some majors, IGETC does satisfy certain breadth requirements. You may find that you have to take fewer courses overall if you just focus on fulfilling a specific major’s lower division requirements. For information on the requirements, please see ASSIST and the list of specific major requirements.
Additional Resources for Prospective Transfer Students
The Office of Instruction and Student Affairs (OISA), located in 260 Mulford Hall, is the center for all academic related matters within the Rausser College of Natural Resources. Professional academic advisers partner with students to identify campus and community resources to support student success. Services offered by advisers range from major exploration, short-term and long-term program planning to enrichment opportunities, career exploration and personal goals and discovery. Students are highly encouraged to actively engage their academic advisers who work in 260 Mulford and are are experts in the College, major requirements, and policies.
Advisers are dedicated to meeting the needs of students and respect each student as a unique individual. Advisers also connect students to faculty to make the most of their undergraduate experience. All Rausser College students are assigned advisers based on their majors and meets with the adviser at least once a semester to plan the upcoming semester's class schedule. Meet the major advisers and find their contact information on the Rausser College Meet Your Adviser website.
Faculty advisers are Rausser College faculty who advise students about a particular major, courses, research, and other academic issues. Within each major, there is a head faculty adviser. Depending on departmental requirements, students are often assigned a faculty adviser when they declare a major. Students are encouraged to see their faculty adviser for guidance on achieving academic and career goals, questions about the content of courses and research in their respective field, and plans to pursue graduate study. Faculty advisers are not aware of all college policy and campus requirements, so students should rely on their major adviser for this sort of advising.
Peer Advising Leadership (PAL) Program
The work of the Rausser College Peer Advisers is integral to the success of their fellow Rausser College undergraduates. Peer advisers are trained in understanding Rausser College and University requirements, policies, and procedures. They help with Rausser College recruitment and enrichment programs, participate in the Rausser College Welcome Day Program, Cal Day, and CalSO, and assist Rausser College Student Affairs staff with various other outreach programs. They also design and manage their own college-wide advising projects. Most importantly, they introduce their fellow students to a wide variety of campus services and resources.
At Rausser College, the goal is for every undergraduate to get involved in some aspect of research before graduating from UC Berkeley. Through research experience, students can expect mentorship from professors and hands-on laboratory or field research skills that will complement what they learn in the classroom. Although the campus offers research opportunities through Independent Study units (99/199) and the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP), the Rausser College of Natural Resources offers numerous opportunities for students to design an independent research project or to contribute to an ongoing research project with faculty. Here are a few programs unique to Rausser College that support Undergraduate Research:
Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research (SPUR)
The Rausser College Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research Program (SPUR) encourages faculty and undergraduate students in Rausser College to collaborate on research projects by providing a grant to support their joint project. The funding for this program is generously donated by Rausser College alumni. Participating in SPUR is an excellent way to gain experience in research and build relationships with faculty. Research opportunities are available at the beginning of each semester. Visit the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs or the SPUR website for more information.
Travel grants are also available three times per year through Rausser College's Office of Instruction & Student Affairs to help cover the costs of travel and conference attendance associated with undergraduate research. Students who apply for SPUR funding often submit an accompanying travel grant application. This program is made possible through the generous donations from Rausser College alumni.
The Rausser College Honors Program
The College of Natural Resources Honors Program, which celebrated its 20th year in 2015-2016, is designed to support undergraduate students interested in developing, executing, and evaluating a year-long independent research project under the guidance of a Rausser College faculty mentor. Students who successfully complete the Rausser College Honors Program will receive a notation of honors in their major. The Rausser College Honors Symposium, held once each semester, gives all honors students the opportunity to present their research to fellow students, faculty, deans, staff, friends, and family. For more information, visit Honors Program website.
Rausser College Undergraduate Research Poster Sessions
The Office of Instruction and Student Affairs sponsors a poster session each semester where Rausser College undergraduates present their research. Poster sessions give students the opportunity to explain and showcase their independent projects to a large audience. Other benefits of participating in a poster session include gaining communication and presentation skills and learning to summarize research, which is an integral part of scholarship. Students will receive recognition for their hard work on a research project and will have the chance to discuss their project with others who share their interests. Every participant is rewarded with a Certificate of Participation, select presenters are also awarded prizes, and Rausser College covers the cost of poster printing for all students within the College. The experience which students often document on their resumes is excellent preparation for graduate school and future career.
Study Abroad and Field Programs
Rausser College encourages students to add an international dimension to their education by participating in a study abroad program. Study abroad provides an opportunity to expand academic and cultural experiences while staying on track to complete major requirements. With proper academic planning, students can have the experience of a lifetime with no loss of time in completing their degrees.
There are over 100 different program options in more than 40 different countries offered by the UC Education Abroad Program. Students may be able to count some of the courses abroad towards their major requirements. The Berkeley Study Abroad office, located in 160 Stephens Hall, has connections to programs around the world specific to the social, environmental, and biological sciences. In addition, Rausser College sponsors the following two off-campus programs designed for undergraduates:
Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands
The Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station is located on Moorea Island in French Polynesia. Students attending classes on Moorea study subjects ranging from biology to archaeology with UC Berkeley professors. Studying for a semester at Moorea adds great field experience to the undergraduate career. This program is only offered in fall semesters. Information is available online.
Forestry Summer Field Program
The UC Berkeley Forestry Summer Field Program is offered by Rausser College’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and is an eight-week summer program consisting of four courses. The camp is located in the California Sierra Nevada. The overall goal of the Summer Field Program is to provide an introduction to the scientific and professional dimensions of forest and wildland resource management. Students participating in the program learn about ecology, forest, range and wildlife management, measurements, forest operations, and products. At the end of the program, students will have a broad, working knowledge of concepts and techniques used by wildland resource managers. The experience of studying these topics in a field setting inevitably enriches students’ subsequent on-campus academic studies. Information is available online.
Rausser College Student Resource Center
The Student Resource Center, located in 260 Mulford Hall, is a physical hub designed to foster academic, educational, and social activity. It helps provide a supportive environment for daily student life. By providing a wide range of materials pertaining to major/minor and departmental program information, jobs and internships, and graduate programs, and also serving as a central location to hold various programs that support Rausser College’s standards of education, the Resource Center exists to build community for students, staff, and faculty alike.
Facilities and Amenities
- Computing: Full PC lab with internet capability and standard software: MSOffice, Adobe Acrobat Reader, standard web browsers.
- AirBears: The Resource Center is wired for AirBears.
- Printing: Printing is free. Rausser College undergraduate students are allowed 10 pages of free printing every day. Student accounts are automatically renewed at the beginning of each semester. Please see the front desk assistant in 260 Mulford Hall to set up a printing account if the account does not work.
Study Space and Lounge Area
- The lounge area: Comfy couches for everyone’s enjoyment.
- Study tables and desks: Huge study tables and chairs dominate half the center, offering a large amount of work space.
Chem P: In collaboration with the Student Learning Center (SLC), students in Rausser College are able to receive two units of credit for taking Chem P. Chem P is a course taught by the SLC in the fall semester designed to prepare students to take CHEM 1A General Chemistry the following semester. A number of incoming freshmen choose to take Chem P as a refresher course in their first semester.
Study Group for CHEM 1A and CHEM 3A : In collaboration with the SLC, specific study groups have been designed for Rausser College students through the SLC that places a special emphasis on choosing examples and problems that both illustrate the material being learned in CHEM 1A and CHEM 3A and how the topics are applicable to Rausser College majors.
Living Learning Community
The Global Environment Theme House (GETH) brings together students and faculty to explore issues around environmental change, natural resources, sustainable environments, and environmental leadership. This is one of many housing options at Berkeley and open to students from all majors. Learn about green living, give back to the environment, grow as leaders, and form friendships that can last a lifetime.
David Ackerly, PhD
Executive Associate Dean, Research and Extension
Dennis Baldocchi, PhD
Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
Allen Goldstein, PhD
Associate Dean, Instruction and Student Affairs
Kate O'Neill, PhD
Assistant Dean of Instruction & Student Affairs
Joshua Dullaghan, MS
Assistant Dean of College Relations
Kathryn Baldwin, MPA
Chair, Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) Dept
Jeremy Magruder, PhD
Chair, Energy and Resources Group (ERG)
Duncan Callaway, PhD
Chair, Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) Dept
Michael Mascarenhas, PhD
Chair, Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology (NST) Dept
David Moore, PhD
Chair, Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) Dept
Sheng Luan, PhD
Office of Instruction and Student Affairs
260 Mulford Hall