Learn how to get into UC Berkeley, an institution at the top of UC rankings and considered the top public university in the world. UC Berkeley is part of the University of California public universities and receives thousands of applications a year. UC Berkeley is also home to 350 degree programs and the prestigious Haas School of Business, making it one of the best undergrad business schools. It's also among the best engineering schools in the US. In this blog, we’ll look at how to get into UC Berkeley, admissions statistics, eligibility, application tips and more.

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Article Contents
6 min read

Mission Statement Admissions Statistics Eligibility Selection Factors Interview Format Acceptance and Waitlist Application Timeline Tuition and Funding Contact Information FAQs

Mission Statement

“The distinctive mission of the University is to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge.”

UC Berkeley Acceptance Rate

Admissions Statistics

Acceptance rate overall: 11.4%

In-state acceptance rate: N/A

Out-of-state acceptance rate: 8.6%

Average GPA: 3.89

Average SAT/ACT: Not Required or Considered

Number of applicants: 128,278


To be accepted to UC Berkeley, students must first and foremost meet the minimum academic requirements for all UC schools. These include:

  • Completion of 15 A-G courses with a letter grade of “C” or better. 11 of these courses must be completed before your senior year of high school. (CR and Pass grades are also accepted)
  • Earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher (minimum GPA of 3.4 for non-resident applicants)

UC Berkeley no longer requires or considers SAT and ACT scores, making it one of the colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT. Students who submit scores should note that their test scores will not be considered as part of their application. Applicants can choose to submit IB or AP exams and SAT Subject exams instead. These exam scores are optional but may be considered as part of your overall application.

International students who completed their education in a language other than English will need to submit proof of English Language Proficiency.

Out-of-state applicants will need to check that their high school coursework meets the minimum requirements for UC schools and that their GPA is at least 3.4. Out-of-state applicants also do not need to submit college letters of recommendation.

Here's a guide to UC schools:

Selection Factors

If you want to get into UC Berkeley, it’s important to know what admissions is looking for in its students and how you can demonstrate these qualities in your application materials. Although not explicitly stated in the UC application, Berkeley is looking for students who show “leadership, initiative, tenacity or persistence” in their extracurriculars for college, activities and personal statement.

To demonstrate your leadership, think about the main areas of your life and application where you can showcase the UC Berkeley qualities of leadership, initiative, tenacity and persistence. Berkeley recommends the following:

  • Leadership in the home
  • Leadership at school
  • Leadership in your activities

UC Berkeley uses a holistic review for admissions, so no one part of your application matters more than the other. It also means every section of your application needs to be well-crafted and thoughtful. We’ll go over the main aspects of the UC application in detail next.


1. Academic History

Getting into UC Berkeley means presenting a strong academic profile, especially if you’re an out-of-state applicant as the standards are a bit higher. With the average accepted GPA at UC Berkeley being so high, it might seem impossible to get in with a low GPA. However, the average accepted GPA tells you what score you need to be a competitive applicant, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have no chance of getting in with a lower GPA.

Still, if you’re asking how to get into college with a low GPA, be ready to explain any circumstances which affected your grades in your UC application. If you’re still in high school, do what you can to raise your GPA and keep it more competitive to increase your chances of getting into Berkeley.

2. Test Scores

Asking yourself should I take the SAT? If you plan to apply to UC Berkeley, you don’t necessarily need to. You may choose to take and submit SAT subject exam scores or IB and AP exam scores instead. This can help strengthen the academic portion of your application if you have a less competitive GPA.

3. Activities and Awards

The UC activities and awards section is your opportunity to really stand out and show the admissions committee you have the leadership qualities they’re looking for. Be selective in the activities that you choose, and focus on how these activities demonstrate leadership, tenacity, persistence and initiative. If you spent a summer volunteering for a food bank in an effort to make your community a better place, use your description to explain how you did so and what impact it had on you. If you’ve been the captain of the football team for years, discuss what you’ve done as team leader and the results your leadership has achieved.

4. Personal Insight Questions

The UC application Personal Insight Questions or UC personal statements are composed of 8 prompts designed to discover those personal qualities and experiences you have that make you a great applicant. Not unlike college essays, the Personal Insight Questions are again an excellent chance for you to stand out and make an impression. The questions are directly related to UC Berkeley’s values of leadership, persistence and giving back to the community, so they are perhaps the most critical part of your application materials.

Spend some time brainstorming relevant, significant and meaningful experiences you have which answer the prompts. Remember to explain why these experiences were important to you, what you learned from them, and detail the specific actions or decisions you made in the situation.

Don’t forget to proofread your work and revise it multiple times. You can ask a college essay review service for professional feedback on your essays. It’s also a good idea to read some college essay introduction examples for inspiration on writing a captivating introduction that really stands out!

Check out these college essay examples!

Interview Format

Rather than conducting college interviews, UC Berkeley has an additional component to the UC online application called Personal Insight Questions. These short-answer questions are reviewed by both the UC Berkeley admissions committee and scholarship office. So while college interview prep for UC Berkeley might not include interview practice, you can still prepare for the Personal Insight Questions ahead of time. Personal Insight Questions have some overlap with college admissions interview questions, so it’s worth reviewing some common questions and sample answers, too.

UC Berkeley uses your Personal Insight Questions as a way to distinguish you from other applicants, so it’s vitally important to highlight your unique experiences, achievements and qualifications. This is what UC Berkeley looks for in your responses:

  • Initiative, motivation, leadership, persistence, service to others, special potential and substantial experience with other cultures
  • All achievements in light of the opportunities available to you
  • Academic accomplishments, beyond those shown in your transcript
  • Any unusual circumstances or hardships you have faced and the ways in which you have overcome or responded to them. Having a hardship is no guarantee of admission.

Be sure to focus on what you learned from your achievements or setbacks, how you overcame obstacles and what you’ve gained from your achievements and experiences. Be specific and thoughtful in your responses. Take the time to proofread your responses and consider asking a second set of eyes to review them for you!

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Admissions decisions are sent out at the end of March. Admitted students must accept their offers by May 1 or request a deferral.

UC Berkeley does use a waitlist, but only accepts around 1% of students on the waitlist because of the limited number of spots available and high number of applicants. If you want to know how to get off a college waitlist, consider writing a college letter of intent to explain why UC Berkeley is your first choice for undergraduate studies and that you would accept an offer of acceptance.

Application Timeline

Below are the important dates and deadlines when applying to UC Berkeley.

NOTE: UC Berkeley does not offer application for early admission or early decision.

Tuition and Funding Opportunities

Tuition and fees at UC Berkeley is at $ 9,594.50 for California state residents and $ 25,107.50 for non-resident students applying to undergraduate programs. These numbers include both tuition and the school fees paid by incoming students per year.

You can check whether you can qualify for California residency on the school’s website, as there are certain factors which determine whether you are eligible to be classified as a resident for educational purposes.

More than 60% of UC Berkeley undergraduate students receive financial aid. Aside from loans, scholarships, grants and prizes, students can qualify for one of Berkeley’s financial aid programs:

  • Berkeley Undergraduate Dream Act Aid (for non-residents)
  • Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan (for California residents)
  • Native American Opportunity Plan
  • Berkeley Summer Aid Program

Contact Information

You can contact the UC Berkeley Admissions Office by phone, through the school’s social media accounts and through the online contact form. You can also find contact information for a regional admissions officer on the UC Berkeley website below.

Phone: 510-642-3175

Contact form: https://admissions.berkeley.edu/visit/contact-us/


1. How hard is it to get into UC Berkeley?

With an acceptance rate just over 11%, UC Berkeley is far from being one of the easiest colleges to get into overall. However, over 90% of UC Berkeley students are in-state applicants, with heavy preference given to California students. UC Berkeley is quite selective and competitive, but it is much easier for California applicants to get accepted, provided they demonstrate good grades and a strong applicant profile.

2. Can out-of-state students get into UC Berkeley?

Yes, there is a strong preference for in-state students, but out-of-state students are welcome to apply and are accepted at UC Berkeley. The acceptance rate for out-of-state students is around 8.6%.

3. What SAT/ACT scores do I need to get into UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley no longer considers SAT or ACT scores as part of admissions. Students can choose to submit SAT Subject test scores or IB/AP exam scores instead to enhance their application.

4. What GPA do I need to get into UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 to apply. Out-of-state applicants need to have a GPA of 3.4 or higher to be admitted. The average GPA of admitted Berkeley students if around 3.9.

5. Does UC Berkeley accept international students?

Yes. International students can apply to UC Berkeley, but they may have additional admission requirements such as English Proficiency tests.

6. What is UC Berkeley known for?

UC Berkeley is considered one of the best public universities in the US and has ranked as the #1 public university in the world. The institution has more than 350 programs, but is especially renowned for its STEM courses and programs. It is also one of the top non-Ivy League schools in the US.

7. How do I increase my chances of getting into UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley uses a holistic admissions process, so the best way to increase your chances of getting in is to present a very strong academic profile and stand out in the personal sections of your UC application. This means demonstrating a variety and depth of extracurricular activities, and writing a knockout UC personal statement or college essay.

8. What kind of students does UC Berkeley look for?

UC Berkeley stresses the importance of leadership, community service and enhancement of the community. Students who demonstrate considerable leadership qualities, have a strong background in public service, volunteerism and experience with other cultures will be looked on favorably by the admissions committee. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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