L&S Impacted Majors

Hi guys! I’m new here and I’m a junior in high school. I did a lot of research about impacted majors but I’m still confused.

When applying to UCLA as L&S, I’ve seen people say that they don’t consider your major as part of acceptance. If this is true, what about impacted majors? I’m confused if it matters what I apply under, even though I definitely want to apply for L&S, but I’m not sure the specific major.

Thank you!

True, that if you apply to major in the College of L&S, your major is not a consideration in the admission process.

You are placed into a “pre-major” status until you complete the pre-req courses and declare the major. Impacted/selective majors will have higher GPA requirements to declare the major.

You need to look up the specific requirements to declare each major including impacted/selective majors so select a major you think you would like to pursue. You can always change your major once you are enrolled.

Thank you so much! I was so confused!

Thank you so much for all the info on this thread and throughout the forum! Sorry to revive an old thread, I’m still trying to get my head around the concept of impacted majors.

So if I understand it, if a student applies as a Neuroscience major and is admitted to the College, she then enrolls as a Neuroscience “pre-major” until she finishes all prerequisites. Once she does all that, is she guaranteed to be able to declare that major even if it’s impacted? Or is it possible there are too many pre-Neuroscience majors and she might not be selected over other students?

Thanks for your help!

Unless it specifically states that even if you meet the pre-req requirements for the major, you are not guaranteed a spot then you assume it will not be an issue.

UCLA has no such statement.

** Preparation for the Major

​The courses underlined must be completed before beginning the Neuroscience core series or declaring the major.

Math Courses

Choose one (1) Math series from the following:

Life Sciences 30A and 30B ORMathematics 3A, 3B, 3C ORMathematics 31A, 31B, 32A

Note: MATH 31AL is approved for the Neuroscience major and may be taken in place of MATH 3A or 31A.


Choose one (1) Chemistry series from the following:

Chemistry and Biochemistry 14A, 14B, 14BL, 14C, 14CL, 14D OR 20A, 20B, 20L, 30A, 30AL, 30B, 30BL

Note: The “enhanced” sections of Chemistry (i.e., CHEM 14AE, CHEM 14BE, etc.) have been approved for the Neuroscience major and may be taken in place of the regular sections.

Life Sciences

Life Sciences 7A, 7B, 7C, 23L


Choose one (1) Physics series from the following:

Physics 5A, 5B, 5C OR 1A, 1B, 1C, 4AL, 4BL


Choose one (1) Statistics course from the following:

Statistics 10 OR Statistics 13** OR Life Sciences 40**

**Students who take Life Sciences 30A and 30B, must take Stats 13 or Life Sciences 40.

Note: For students who take Math 3ABC or Math 31AB, 32A series, you may substitute Stats 10 or 13 with Psychology 100A or Biostats 100A/110A. These classes will be automatically approved substitutions. Students must notify a Neuroscience Academic Advisor to have this substitution applied.


  • Any honors section of a course listed above is also acceptable.
  • All core curriculum courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Each course must be passed with a grade of C- or above.
  • The preparation coursework must be completed with an overall 2.0 grade point average or higher.
  • Students receiving grades below C- in more than two preparation courses (listed above), either in separate courses or repetitions of the same course, are subject to dismissal from the major.
  • Also, as stated in UCLA Letters and Science regulations (UCLA General Catalog Repetition of Courses), you are limited to repeating the same course once.
  • You are encouraged to fulfill the preparation requirements prior to enrollment in upper division courses for the major.**
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Ah okay, I’m starting to get it (I think! :0). I’ll have her check every major she’s interested in at each UC she’s applying to.

Thank you so much for helping so many families on this forum!

If the student is admitted into a “pre-major” status, unless they do not meet the GPA/Course grade requirements for their intended major, they are guaranteed a spot in their major.

If their is a change of major into an impacted/selective major after admission, then their may not be a guarantee if the requirements are met. An example is CS at UCSD. If the student does not get a direct admit into the major, then they take the pre-req courses and meet a specific GPA and then they are placed into a lottery for available spots. This is an extreme example.

Many of the Cal states also place students into a “pre-major” status upon admission and they must meet the requirements to declare the major.

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So, if in my example, student applies as Neuroscience major and is admitted into College (without regard to her major). Once admitted, does she get the pre-major in Neuroscience automatically? Does everyone who is admitted to the College get the pre-major for the intended major they listed when they applied? Or is there a limit on the number of pre-majors for impacted majors?


For the UC’s, the College of Letters and Sciences does not admit by major even though the student lists an intended major on the UC application but they are not locked into this major upon admission.

The student will then take foundational or pre-req courses for the major of interest. If the major has a “pre-major” status or is impacted/selective, then the course and grade requirements will have to be fulfilled before declaring the major.

If the L&S major does not have these restrictions, then the student can declare the major immediately.

Since you mentioned Neuroscience, this major at the majority of UC campuses can be found in the College of Letters and Sciences. At UC Davis for example, it is housed in the College of Biological Sciences which admits into the College directly and the student is free to select any majors within the College to pursue regardless of the proposed major listed on the application.

There are also variations in UC admissions for Freshman. UC Irvine and San Diego admit into the University first and then into the major. This means an applicant could qualify for admission but not into their first choice or alternate major listed on the UC application. If this happens, the student is usually admitted as Undeclared and then has to try to change majors after enrolling and completing the pre-req courses for major change.

To sum up:

  1. Not all majors will be selective/impacted or have a pre-major status.
  2. Not all UC’s admit Freshman the same and not all majors will be in the same colleges for all the UC’s.
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For UCSD, Neurobiology is under the Biological Sciences Division which is Capped/Impacted. If selecting a Capped major for UCSD, an alternate major which is not Capped should be selected.

For Cognitive Science at UCSD, this is not a Capped major.

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Are there benefits to declaring a major sooner rather than later? For example, when registering for classes majors often have priority over non-majors? Other benefits?

Ah, ok, I think I’m getting it. Yeah, she’s interested in not just Neuroscience but many other areas too, including some in the Engineering Schools, so she has a lot to sort through.

We will keep reading the other threads on impacted majors in the general UC forum too so she can figure out the different processes at the different schools within the different campuses! Thanks!

I will list how the UC’s admit regarding intended major. For class enrollment, students that are admitted into the major or have declared the major will get priority for specific courses so there is a benefit for a direct admit or declaring the major sooner than later.

If a student knows exactly what they want to study from day 1, then the best benefit would be the student either completes the degree on time or earlier which can save money.

UC admission by major:
Division (L&S, CNR, CoC, CED, CoE) matters for admission selectivity.
Within CoE (but not the other divisions), major matters for admission selectivity. Changing majors within the CoE after enrolling is not guaranteed, unless one is CoE undeclared.

Note that L&S admits students as undeclared; admission to capped majors (e.g. CS, economics, psychology, ORMS, statistics, art practice, and a few others) is by college GPA in prerequisite courses (and portfolio for art practice) after attending for a few semesters.

The business major is in a separate division and admits students in a competitive holistic process. Frosh intending business majors begin in another division (usually L&S), take the business major prerequisites, and apply (usually in their second years). They also need to take prerequisites for a backup major in case they are not admitted to the business major.

All students who apply to UC Berkeley and select a major within the College of Natural Resources are evaluated based on their application, not on the particular major they select.

Alternate majors not considered.

Admission decisions are made based upon the qualifications of the applicant pool and the number of available spaces within each academic area:
• College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences admits by college
• College of Biological Sciences admits by college
• College of Letters and Science admits by College but within specific divisions of the College ie. (Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; Mathematics and Physical Sciences; Social Sciences)
• College of Engineering admits by academic department

Students applying as “undeclared” or “undeclared/exploratory” are considered within the college/division to which they applied.

Applicants are encouraged to list an alternate major, but not in the
same area as the primary major (e.g., Computer Science Engineering with alternate Computer Science in the College of L&S). Occasionally, we admit to the alternate major.

UCI admits into the University first and then into the major. In the case that UCI is unable to accommodate all qualified applicants in their first-choice major, those students who indicate a valid alternate major may be offered admission in that major or Undeclared.

For the College of Letters and Science, the applicant’s major is not considered during the review process.

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science admits students by declared major, with more emphasis on science and math programs.

The School of Nursing also places more emphasis on science and math programs and requires the submission of an additional supplemental application.

The School of the Arts and Architecture; Herb Alpert School of Music; and the School of Theater, Film and Television admit students by declared major (within the school), and put more emphasis on special talents through a review of portfolios and/or auditions, which are the most significant admission factors for these schools.

UCLA only guarantees review of an applicant’s first-choice major.
We typically do not admit to the alternate major

The campus does not admit students on the basis of academic major or choice of UC San Diego undergraduate college. Alternate majors are considered and capped majors are highly competitive. Also note: Capped majors require additional pre-req courses and specific GPA to be able to qualify if changing majors. Also if applying to a capped major, select an non-capped major as an alternate.

College of Letters and Sciences: Choice of major is not considered in selection to the College of Letters and Science. The exceptions to this rule are dance and music performance majors. Both majors require applicants to complete an audition in late January or early February.

College of Engineering: Students are selected by major for all engineering and computer science majors. Only applicants with a solid background in advanced high school mathematics will be considered for admission to engineering. This includes high grades in all math courses through grade 11 and enrollment in pre-calculus or higher in grade 12. A student not selected for their first choice major will be reviewed for admission to an alternate major outside of the College of Engineering if one was selected.

College of Creative Studies:
Applicants to the College of Creative Studies submit a supplementary application in addition to the general UC Application, which is reviewed by Creative Studies faculty. Students are selected within Creative Studies majors only. Applicants not selected for Creative Studies will automatically be considered for admission to the College of Letters and Science.

Important Note for Prospective Engineering Students: Choice of major does not influence the selection of first-year students, except for those applicants interested in a major offered by the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE). Freshmen who are interested in a BSOE program should be sure to indicate a BSOE proposed major. Students who do not indicate a BSOE program or who apply as undeclared might not be able to pursue a BSOE program.

Admission by major but alternate/2nd choice major will be considered if applicant does not meet their first choice admission standards.

For Business: Freshmen students must apply to Pre-Business under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS). The College breadth requirements and the prerequisites for a Business major are completed during the freshman and sophomore years. An application is submitted at the end of the sophomore year. Upon acceptance, students become Business majors and are then advised in the Business Department. Students from any academic major may also complete a Business minor.


FYI: Not all UC’s and all majors require that a student formally “declares” a major. Again, it varies by campus and major.

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So helpful! Thank you!!

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If so then she needs to apply as an engineering major. Her best chance to get into engineering is to apply to a specific engineering major as an entering frosh. Technically a student in Letters & Science can apply to change majors into engineering but it is quite difficult. At UCLA you must have a 3.5 gpa just to even be eligible to apply. See https://www.seasoasa.ucla.edu/change-of-major/ It is easy to switch out of engineering into a L&S major. The catch, of course, is that she may have been admitted as a L&S applicant but end up being denied as an engineering applicant, and they don’t consider alternate majors for frosh (at least not at the UCs I’m familiar with).

Thank you, yes, we’re starting to understand being truly undecided and having interests in many fields in both Engineering and L&S is not a good thing when applying to UCLA and Cal since they don’t consider alternate majors. I’ve encouraged her to narrow down to a few majors that most interest her, then apply to the most selective in Engineering and hope she doesn’t get denied outright. And do the same for each UC campus.

Thank you everyone for your help. I’m sorry to have hijacked the thread and hope this discussion is helping others too. :slight_smile:

It is common for the registration system to allow departments to designate classes to give declared majors priority or reserved seating in them. For example: Getting into CS Classes | EECS at UC Berkeley (note also that undeclared first and second year students are given priority for lower level courses)

Other benefits would be having a major advisor instead of general undeclared student advisors who may be less knowledgeable about the (especially upper level) course sequences any specific major requires.

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While choosing majors for UCLA we noticed Applied Math and Applied Math for Computation both are considered as “Pre”. Does that mean when we apply for those major, my daughter will be put into a Pre-major and have a choice to declare her major once requirement is fulfilled? I see many UCs are capping Applied Math majors now.

You have it pretty much correct except for a few details I want to point out about applying to UCLA. The major listed on the application is not taken into account in frosh admission decisions for majors in UCLA’s College of Letters and Science. She could list any major in L&S or even undeclared L&S, it doesn’t matter for admission. And changing to any pre-major in L&S for students who entered UCLA as frosh just requires filling out a form, you don’t need to be admitted to UCLA as that pre-major.

But you have the part right about needing to apply for the major from the pre-major. At UCLA the current sheet at https://www.math.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/ugrad/Majors,%20Minors%20&%20Spec/pdf/Applied%20Math%20Page.pdf doesn’t list capping enrollees, it just requires a 2.5 gpa in the 10 pre-major classes. It appears anyone meeting this is admitted to the major. Some UCLA majors such as Comm Studies have a selection process to limit enrollment. Your D might want to contact the math undergrad advisor before accepting an offer of admission to see if UCLA plans to become more selective for her majors and if she would be affected. Typically, though, students are grandfathered when requirements change meaning the requirements that applied when they entered the pre-major are the ones they still need to meet even if they become stricter for future students.