How Hard is It to Get Into UC Berkeley?

You must have heard that UC Berkeley has Ivy League status, which is why you are thinking about including it in your college list. But, if that is the case, it must be difficult to get admitted into it.

UC Berkeley has a low acceptance rate of 15%. Only students with the strongest applications get accepted into it. Half of the admitted students have GPAs ranging from 3.75 and 3.99. Because UC Berkeley has a holistic admissions policy, other factors are also considered in the admissions process.

Still on the fence as to whether or not you should apply to it? Don’t stop reading now!

Below, you will come across just about everything you need to know about UC Berkeley admissions-wise. After checking out this article from start to finish, you will have a better idea if you are exactly what this public institution is looking for or if applying to another college or university is the smarter step to take.

Is UC Berkeley Ivy League?

UC Berkeley is not one of the eight Ivy League schools. However, it is regarded as one of the most prestigious public institutions in the US. Because of this, it is one of the Public Ivies, which is an unofficial list. UC Berkeley is one of the highest-ranking schools in the entire UC System.

Refrain from assuming that just because UC Berkeley is not Ivy League means that it’s not a good school, and getting an acceptance letter from it should be easy.

That’s because UC Berkeley is one of the most eminent schools in the UC System and the US, too.

Due to being a top-notch institution, it’s no wonder why some people mistake it for being an Ivy League school. And if you check out its admissions statistics, the fact that only a tiny fraction of applicants get admitted into it will tell you that it doesn’t have to be one of the eight Ivy League schools to have a competitive reputation.

My overall experience at Cal was wonderful. I felt super sheltered when I first arrived in Berkeley, but it was the most significant learning experience in my life. Education was excellent and if I had the choice to attend college again, I’d definitely attend Cal. Attending Berkeley will definitely change your life. Go Bears!!!

What is the Ranking of UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley is #2 in 2022 Top Public Schools and #22 in 2022 National Universities, both by US News. On the other hand, the institution is #32 in 2022 in QS World University Rankings. UC Berkeley is #1 in two Forbes rankings: 2021 America’s Top Colleges and 2021 America’s Top Public Colleges.

You are not going to have a hard time figuring out how UC Berkeley fares in college rankings. That’s because it is in many of them. And, more often than not, the school is located at or near the top of each list.

Many high school students who are about to go to college soon check out ranking sites when creating a college list. This is okay as it can help speed up the process. However, it is a good idea to rely on a college ranking that ranks the entries according to a category or factor you find personally important as a soon-to-be college student.

And, more importantly, consider only trusted and reliable college ranking sites.

There is no denying that US News is one of the most popular and dependable college rankers out there. The following are the various US News rankings of UC Berkeley for 2022:

  • #2 in Top Public Schools
  • #22 in National Universities
  • #7 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #14 in Most Innovative Schools
  • #48 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #82 in Top Performers on Social Mobility
  • #160 in Best Value Schools

Besides US News, Niche is another go-to college ranking site by many junior and senior high school students during the college application season. Here are the different 2022 rankings of UC Berkeley by the college ranker:

  • #2 in Top Public Universities in California
  • #3 in Best Big Colleges in California
  • #9 in Colleges With the Best Professors in California
  • #9 in Colleges With the Best Student Life in California
  • #8 in Top Public Universities in America
  • #9 in Best Big Colleges in America
  • #25 in Most Liberal Colleges in America
  • #47 in Colleges With the Best Academics in America
  • #52 in Best Value Colleges in America
  • #76 in Most Diverse Colleges in America

UC Berkeley is a part of the UC System, which is composed of nine institutions that offer both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Let’s take a look at where UC Berkeley sits if all UC System schools are ranked:

UC Berkeley2
UC Santa Barbara3
UC San Diego4
UC Irvine5
UC Davis6
UC Riverside7
UC Merced8
UC Santa Cruz9
UC college rankings

Note that there is one more school in the UC System, which is UC San Francisco. However, unlike the nine schools ranked above, UC San Francisco is only a graduate and professional school.

Related Article: Which State Has Best Colleges: Ultimate Guide

What is UC Berkeley Known For?

UC Berkeley is known as the oldest school in the entire UC System. It was established in 1868 as the University of California, which was the very first land-grant university in the state. Today, UC Berkeley has over 500 undocumented students enrolled through its Undocumented Student Program (USP).

Among the UC System, there are two schools that are more competitive and generally more esteemed of the bunch. One is UCLA, and the other is UC Berkeley.

The school has an impressive retention rate of 97%. This means that almost all of its first-year students come back the following academic year, most likely due to being happy with their freshman college experience. UC Berkeley also has a high graduation rate of 92% — the average graduation rate at four-year institutions in the US is 60.4%.

Some of the most popular majors at UC Berkeley include:

  • Social Sciences
  • Biology
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Management
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science

As mentioned earlier, UC Berkeley has a program called USP. This program of the school is a component of the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence (CE3), which helps ensure that non-traditional students shine at the top public universities not only in the US but also all over the globe.

UC Berkeley has more than 500 students from 34 different countries under the program. USP offers a holistic and multi-cultural approach that provides each undocumented student individualized service.

Related Article: Does It Matter Where You Go to College for Engineering?

Acceptance Rate at UC Berkeley

The acceptance rate at UC Berkeley is 15%, which makes it a highly selective school. So, in other words, only a very few applicants get accepted into it. Among the various UC System schools and public colleges and universities in the US, UC Berkeley is one of those with the lowest acceptance rates.

Most college-bound teens believe that gaining admission into public schools is trouble-free. However, this is far from the truth. Case in point: UC Berkeley, which has an admission rate of 15% only. With an admission rate this low, having a strong overall application is a must in order to be welcomed into its 1,232-acre campus.

To get a better idea of the selectivity level of UC Berkeley when compared to other UC System schools, check out the following table showing the acceptance rates at each of them, arranged from lowest to highest:

UC Los Angeles11%
UC Berkeley15%
UC Irvine29%
UC Santa Barbara29%
UC San Diego34%
UC Davis49%
UC Santa Cruz59%
UC Riverside66%
UC Merced96%
Acceptance rates in UC schools

And now, let’s check out 10 of the public colleges and universities in the US (only those that have appeared in US News rankings) with the lowest acceptance rates, arranged from lowest to highest:

UC Los Angeles11%
UC Berkeley15%
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill22%
Georgia Institute of Technology23%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor23%
University of Virginia26%
UC Irvine29%
UC Santa Barbara29%
San Diego State University34%
UC San Diego34%

Due to the fact that UC Berkeley is a very selective school, it’s a good idea to check whether or not your odds of getting accepted into it is high.

To do this, you can use any of the many college chances calculators that can help you find out if the school you are about to apply to is likely to send you an acceptance letter.

GPA You Need to Get Into UC Berkeley

The GPAs of 50% of students admitted into UC Berkeley range anywhere from 3.75 and 3.99. Some of the accepted students have higher GPAs, while others have lower GPAs. Since UC Berkeley has a holistic admissions policy, it considers the entire application in the admissions process, not just the GPA.

Many times earlier, we have established the fact that UC Berkeley is one of the most prestigious and selective public institutions in the nation. It’s because of this exactly why having a high GPA is important if you want to get an acceptance letter from the school’s admissions office.

If your GPA is between 3.75 and 3.99, there’s a good chance that you will get accepted into UC Berkeley.

However, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about applying to the top-notch school if your GPA is below the range given above. That’s because there are freshmen students at UC Berkeley with lower GPAs.

The following is a breakdown of the GPAs of students admitted into the institution during the academic year 2019 to 2020:

3.75 to 3.9950%
3.50 to 3.7410%
3.25 to 3.492%
3.00 to 3.241%
UC Berkeley GPA breakdown

But just because your GPA is higher than 50% of the admitted students doesn’t mean right away that you will surely be admitted into UC Berkeley. Again, the school has a holistic admissions policy. If the rest of your application is not as solid as your GPA, it’s not unlikely for you to receive a rejection letter from its admissions officers.

Read Also: What Are The Best Non-Ivy League Schools Along The East Coast?

Is UC Berkeley Test-Optional?

UC Berkeley is a test-optional school. This means it lets applicants decide whether or not they will provide their test scores. However, as of 2021 to 2023, UC Berkeley and the rest of the UC System have a test-blind policy, which means that test scores are not considered in the admissions process.

Whether you are not proud of your test score or haven’t taken the SAT or ACT, there is no need to fret when applying to UC Berkeley. That’s because it’s one of the many test-optional US colleges and universities.

And, as of this writing, it is test-blind — its admissions officers do not look at any SAT or ACT scores.

But just to give you an idea, when UC Berkeley was still a test-optional school, up to 81% of its admitted first-year students submitted their SAT scores. On the other hand, up to 41% of its admitted first-year students submitted their ACT scores. Accepted students had an average SAT score of 1430 and an average ACT score of 31.

Unlike many institutions for higher education, UC Berkeley did not superscore test scores. So, in other words, it did not add the highest SAT or ACT section scores across all or various administration dates in the admissions process.

Related Article: Is It Harder to Get 36 on ACT or 1600 on SAT?

How Much Does It Cost to Go to UC Berkeley?

Being a public institution, the cost of attending UC Berkeley for one academic year can vary between in-state and out-of-state students. The in-state tuition is $14,254, bringing the total cost to $39,550. On the other hand, the out-of-state tuition is $44,008, bringing the total cost to $69,304.

The average in-state tuition at four-year institutions in the US amounts to $9,212. Clearly, the in-state tuition at UC Berkeley is higher than the national average. Its out-of-state tuition, too, is higher than the national average of $26,382. As a matter of fact, UC Berkeley is the fourth most expensive public school for out-of-state students.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost of attendance at UC Berkeley as of the academic year 2019 to 2020:

COSTIn-StateOut of State
Tuition and fees$14,254$44,008
Health insurance plan$3,286$3,286
Room and board$17,220$17,220
Books and supplies$870$870

According to UC Berkeley itself, almost two-thirds of its undergraduate students qualify for financial aid. The school adds that over 65% of its undergraduate students get some form of aid.

Is UC Berkeley Online Accredited?

UC Berkeley Online, which it refers to as UC Berkeley Extension, is an accredited online school. Its accreditor is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It is the same accrediting body responsible for the accreditation of UC Berkeley and its various departments and programs, too.

Going to a physical campus for four years can be a challenge to non-traditional students who wish to get their hands on a degree. The good news is that there are online schools that cater to them.

Unfortunately, the internet is filled with thousands of diploma mills. Making the mistake of enrolling in any one of them is big money down the drain as the resulting degree is worthless — employers do not respect them. It’s because of this why it is a good idea to check whether or not an online school is a diploma mill before applying to it.

I thought I would enjoy it here at Berkeley more. Most say that I’ll learn to love it, but until that day comes, I’m not really enjoying it here. Though there are some very nice and genuine people, most are so competitive, ambitious, and just fake. You can’t really approach just anyone. The school is prestigious, but sometimes that seems to fade away. Nevertheless, people here are amazingly talented. I just wished it had a better environment, instead of everyone having to always try to beat one another.

Since it’s accredited by WASC, you can rest assured that UC Berkeley Online is not a diploma mill. After all, WASC is one of the six regional accrediting agencies that is recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), too.

One of the nicest things about UC Berkeley Online is that it offers online programs across more than 70 academic areas. What’s more, the online school offers three different online classes:

  • Live online. It gives you the experience of a traditional class but in the comfort of your own home. Online sessions are scheduled, thus allowing you, your classmates and the instructor to interact with one another in real-time. Live online is ideal for non-traditional students who have plenty of time for their online studies.
  • Fixed date. As the name of the online class type suggests, this has a start date and an end date. Unlike the live online option, this does not involve any real-time sessions. However, students are given the opportunity to collaborate with one another and get in touch with the instructor, too.
  • Start anytime. Are you a non-traditional student with a lot on your plate? Then consider going for the start anytime type of online class. What’s so great about this is that you can enroll and start your online program at any given time. Also, there are no deadlines to meet, thus allowing you to study at your own pace.

Just Before You Apply to UC Berkeley

By now, you should have a clear idea of whether or not you should include UC Berkeley in your college list in order to make it more realistic and balanced.

Make sure that it’s not just your high school GPA and test score that can astonish but the rest of your application, too, since UC Berkeley has a holistic admissions policy. And if you are a non-traditional student who cannot go to physical classes like everybody else, you may give UC Berkeley Online a try to earn a degree that employers will respect.

Read Next: 17 Best Colleges on the West Coast: West Ivies

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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