UC Berkeley Freshman Class of 2026 Discussion

Welcome prospective Cal Bears. It’s that time of year again as the UC application has now opened and submission starts November 1. I am @Gumbymom one of the two UC Forum Champions/Moderators. My Co-Forum Champion is @lkg4answers and we are knowledgeable on the increasingly complicated UC admissions process and hopefully we can help any prospective UC applicants with their questions.

UC Berkeley like all the UC’s are test blind this admission cycle and will use 13 areas of criteria to review Freshman applicants. Each campus will weight the various areas of criteria differently so one size does not fit all. The UC application website has plenty of information that can help determine if UC Berkeley is a good option when applying. Below is some admit information specific to the school. Best of Luck.

2020 Capped Weighted UC GPA Middle 25-75 percentile for admitted students: 4.13-4.30

Application review:

  • Very important : Academic GPA, Personal Insight questions, Rigor of secondary school record
  • Important : Extracurricular activities, Volunteer work, Work experience
  • Considered : Character/personal qualities, First generation college student, State residency, AP/IBLH exam scores
  • Note : Thorough review of academic performance; likely contribution to intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus; diversity in personal background and experience; demonstrated qualities in leadership, motivation, concern for others and community; non-academic achievement in the performing arts, athletics or employment; demonstrated interest in major.
  • LOR’s by invitation only as of 2017

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 are not considered.


Nice to see campus coming back to life.


Do you have an opinion on applying to the College of Natural Resources vs. L&S as an advantage?

Neither College admits by major so what major do you plan to apply since that will determine which College you will be admitted into?

CNR has a higher admit rate than L&S due to the # of applicants and # of majors available, it however does not make an easier admit than the L&S.

Environmental Economics, can apply in either school

CNR had an admit rate of 28% vs 18% for L&S for 2020 so if the major is offered in both Colleges then I would lean towards CNR.

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CNR is smaller and things like advising are much easier. If you want to change, it is easier to move from CNR to L&S than it is to move from L&S into CNR. If you like a major in CNR, I would choose that over L&S.

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<<*** Very important : Academic GPA, Application essay, Rigor of secondary school record**>>

When you say “Application essay” is that referring to the Personal Insight Questions?

Yes, the personal insight questions = application essays

Thank you for that information.

My son, a senior at a public high school in the Bay Area, received a letter today from the UC Office of the President saying that he has been “indentified as a top student in your high school’s senior class.” And it goes on to say that UC “takes great pleasure in inviting you to apply for admission to the freshman class of 2022.”

Apart from it being a nice invitation to apply to the UCs, which he is going to do, does this letter signify anything else? Does it have anything to do with the “Eligibility in the Local Context” program for students in the top 9% of their class? Any thoughts you have on this letter are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Yes, he has been identified as ELC eligible (top 9% from his HS). He is guaranteed admission at the default campus UC Merced if there is room available, but ELC is one of the 13 areas of criteria that the UC’s use for their application review.


He should be proud of his achievements and will be a competitive applicant but beyond this, nothing can be inferred of his chances of getting into his choice UC.

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Thank you very much for that detailed answer. I really appreciate the useful information.

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If I may ask another question. On the UC application under the “Your household” section, it asks this question: “What was the total income earned for year 2020 by the parents or legal guardians listed above?”

Is the figure we put here the “Adjusted Gross Income” from the Federal tax return?

Yes, report the AGI but this is optional and only important if you are looking to get an application fee waiver. The information you submit on the FASFA, is what will determine your financial aid.


First off, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! This is of immense help to parents.

My son wants to apply to the L&S at Berkeley and we have couple of questions.

  1. Do L&S admit rates vary by the intended major (e.g. Economics vs Computer Science)? Or do they admit to L&S without any consideration to the major?

  2. We heard that students who apply to different majors at different UCs will be looked upon negatively. Is that true? My son wants to apply to Economics at UCLA and CS at UC Berkeley.

Thanks again for your time.

  1. UCB does not admit by major into the College of L&S. 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.

  2. Applying to different majors to each UC campus will be not reviewed negatively. Each UC campus is their own entity and will review the applicant individually on their merits.


Thank you for that information. I really appreciate your excellent information.

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Thanks so much for your responses, @Gumbymom.