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Is it easy to switch to Computer Science in UC Berkeley or UCLA?

Art3mlsArt3mls 7 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
I've heard of people being able to switch their major to Computer Science after being admitted with a non competitive major. Is it easy to switch from a Philosophy or Literature major to Computer Science major? The web and my friend's knowledge seem to have differing opinions. Some say that as long as you complete the prerequisites you can switch while others say that it is similar to another college application, requiring ECS and good GPA. Which is the truth?
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Replies to: Is it easy to switch to Computer Science in UC Berkeley or UCLA?

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41727 replies450 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's different at each university.
    Overall "switching" has been made near impossible. CS is both selective (you need to meet specific criteria) and competitive (only the best among those who meet the criteria are selected).
    However UCB has two pathways, one with direct admission and one with admission after two years in College of Letters& Science.
    @ucbalumnus knows.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 3978 replies86 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For UCLA, you can switch to CS (only offered in a Engineering) but you need some pretty serious qualifications to do so. Admit rates for freshmen for CS is extremely low, well under 10%. There is a CS-Linguistics major offered via Letters and Sciences but I know nothing about it.

    Berkeley offers 2 pathways to CS - College of Engineering (EECS) and thru Letters and Sciences (LSCS). If you apply via EECS, you are a direct admit. Admit rates for freshmen is in the 6-7% range. If you apply via L&S (freshman admit rate is pretty close to the university average of 15%-ish) you go in as undeclared so no need to transfer into LSCS. However, in order to be declared into LSCS, regardless of whether you start off as CS or something else such as Literature, you must have a minimum of 3.30 GPA in your first 3 required CS classes (CS 61A, 61B and 70). If you don’t get in (around 50% who try get in) you’ll have to look for another major within L&S. Do note that it is impossible to transfer into EECS from L&S, many people inquire about this. You can transfer from another Engineering program within CoE, but it is fairly difficult. The 2 programs are virtually the same except for the degree specification (“BS” vs “BA”), plus there are some fairly minor differences between CoE requirements versus L&S requirements re: classwork.
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  • Art3mlsArt3mls 7 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited September 7
    So basically for UCLA it is pretty much impossible to transfer to CS and for Berkeley the only way to get into LSCS is to have a good GPA in the 3 required classes? Thanks! Also question, what is the difference between BS and BA apart from classwork? Like does it affect your future in any way?
    edited September 7
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41727 replies450 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No, it doesn't. Graduating with a degree in CS from Berkeley basically sets you up for a very good job.
    (I haven't checked for UCB specifically but typically the difference is that you must take calculus based physics and intro to engineering for an Engineering-based degree, whereas you take foreign language, economics... For L&S)
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 3978 replies86 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 8
    The differences between Berkeley EECS and L&S CS is outlined here: https://eecs.berkeley.edu/academics/undergraduate/eecs-cs-comparison-chart
    The salary difference between a EECS BS major and a LSCS BA major is virtually 0. This according to the yearly Berkeley career surveys.

    EECS requires a year of Physics, a semester of a natural science course, Multivariate Calculus, and an Ethics class, that are not required in L&S CS. However, if you are L&S CS, you could easily take those classes if you wanted to. (Highly recommend taking Multivariate Calculus if you want to go into Machine Learning). There are 2 lower division intro engineering design classes, which also double as applied linear algebra classes, that are required of all CS majors.

    Among other little differences - there are 7 breadth classes/categories that is required in L&S. 4 (out of 5 categories) required in CoE. (Since all CoE students are taking Physical and Biological science classes, this is not required for CoE.) 2 of the 4 breadths in CoE can be used up by AP classes. So that AP Psychology class that everyone told you wasn't every useful - well it can be used as a breadth in CoE with a passing score. For L&S, AP credits cannot be used to satisfy breadth requirements. However, for L&S, a 5 in AP English Literature will let you get out of both English R&C classes, whereas no matter what, at a minimum, 1 of the 2 R&C classes must be taken for CoE students. Finally, for L&S, a 5 in AP Calc BC will allow you to skip both Calc 1 and Calc 2, while "only" a 4 is needed for CoE students to skip both classes.

    There's been a lot of debate over the worthiness of the 3.30 GPA border to get into CS. This is a problem that many public schools face, especially the top ones, with the over-subscribing of the CS major. Other schools such as UCSD rely partially on lottery now which to me, I would want no part of luck to determine my future. I would say that the 3.30 border is good representation of your endgame outcome for CS - if you can't get 3.30 then it is likely that you won't do well with the remaining CS curriculum. The GPA is not especially difficult to obtain, but at the same time, it's not easy either. The 3 classes are a decathlon-like representation of being a good CS major - the first class requires you to be good with computer science concepts; the second course requires you to be a good programmer/developer; and the third course requires you to be on top of your game maturity-wise with mathematics and proofs.
    edited September 8
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