About Colleges

Everything About University of California, Berkeley

Everything About University of California, Berkeley

Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,609

Institutional Type: Public

Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible

Academic Rating: 4.5

Top Programs

Biological Sciences



Computer Science





Who Recruits

1. AlphaSights

2. Fisher Investments

3. Navigant

4. Putnam Associates

5. Western Digital

Notable Internships

1. Lyft

2. WeWork

3. Airbnb

Top Industries

1. Business

2. Education

3. Engineering

4. Research

5. Operations

Top Employers

1. Google

2. Apple

3. Facebook

4. Amazon

5. Oracle

Where Alumni Work

1. San Francisco

2. Los Angeles

3. New York City

4. Seattle

5. Boston

Median Earnings

College Scorecard (Early Career): $64,700

EOP (Early Career): $67,900

PayScale (Mid-Career): $131,800

Inside the Classroom

The University of California, Berkeley, more commonly referred to as Berkeley or Cal, is the flagship university in the stellar and gargantuan UC system. Founded in 1868 with the motto “Fiat Lux” (let there be light), the university today offers education to over 30,000 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate students. The name Berkeley likely conjures up two immediate associations—academic prestige and the protests of the 1960s. While no longer a hotbed of youth rest on the level of the Vietnam era, Berkeley remains a bastion of liberal thought and idealism. It is fitting that the school is the number one all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

More than 150 undergraduate majors and minors are available across five undergraduate schools: The College of Letters and Science, the College of Chemistry, the College of Engineering, the College of Environmental Design, and the College of Natural Resources. A sixth school, the Haas School of Business, must be applied to separately prior to one’s junior year. Over two-thirds of undergrads are housed within the College of Letters and Science, which requires course work including entry-level writing, American history and American institutions, foreign language, quantitative reasoning, and reading & composition.

Constant budget crises in the UC system haven’t dented the school’s reputation one iota, but the impact can be felt in measures such as student-to-faculty ratio that, at 18:1, is significantly higher than other elite flagships like UVA or Michigan. However, that doesn’t translate to across-the-board large class sizes. Rather, under-grads will encounter a mix of large lectures (19 percent of sections contain more than fifty students) and tiny, single-digit enrollments in seminar-style courses (24 percent of sections contain nine or fewer students). Undergraduate research opportunities do exist despite the school’s massive size; 56 percent of students assist faculty with a research project or complete are search methods course in their time at Berkeley. Study abroad opportunities are available for those who desire them, and approximately 1,800 undergrads take a semester in a foreign country each year. Locations where Berkeley faculty deliver instruction include Taiwan, Switzerland, Serbia, Peru, and the Philippines.

Thanks to its equally esteemed graduate schools, many departments have top international reputations including computer science, engineering, chemistry, English, psychology, and economics.

Outside the Classroom

Almost 95 percent of incoming freshmen live in university-run housing, upperclassmen are generally left to fend for themselves. Housing is a challenging issue, and while the university is building new dormitories, it presently only has the capacity to house roughly one-quarter of the undergraduate population. A prominent but far from dominant Greek life attracts 10 percent of men and women (3,600 individuals) into sixty+ active fraternities and sororities. Cal’s sports program is exceptional as the Golden Bears thirty varsity teams have won a collective eighty-seven NCAA championships in the school’s history; they mostly compete in the Pac-12 Conference. With 1000+ clubs and activities, there is truly something for everyone, including many political and public-service organizations. Roughly5,300 undergraduate students volunteer their time to community service projects, and the campus has a genuine focus on sustainability; 87 percent of students walk, bike, or take public transit, and the school has a goal of zero non-recycled waste. Being a few miles north of Oakland and a few miles east of San Francisco, big-city fun is never faraway. Berkeley itself is replete with awesome restaurants (including, of course, many vegan options), a botanical garden, a marina, an art museum, and a 2,000-acre park. Berkeley is considered one of the most socially liberal cities in the United States.

Career Services

With twenty-five full-time employees dedicated to undergraduates, the UC Berkeley Career Center has a 1,234:1student-to-counselor ratio, much higher than most of the schools featured in this guide but comparable to the other University of California institutions. What the center lacks in its ability to connect one-on-one it makes up for by putting together large-scale events that bring 350+ employers to campus every year. There are large career fairs in the fall and spring, and many industry-specific affairs are held as well including the Social Impact Career Fair, Investment Banking Forum, Law & Graduate School Fair, and the Civil & Environmental Engineering Career Fair.

A survey of employed graduates reveals that the efforts of the career center directly contributed to their job attainment. Specifically, 17 percent found their first job through on-campus recruiting, 15 percent directly from an internship, 14 percent via a career fair or information session, and 13 percent through Cal’s Handshake platform. A hard-to-beat network of 493,000 alumni— 100,000 are dues-paying members of the alumni association— can assist you throughout your career. More than 4,500 students attend webinars and in-person events hosted by alums. The average student received two job offers. Overall, despite a high counselor-to-student ratio, Cal’s career services provides plenty of opportunities for undergrads to connect with top employers, resulting in students landing positions that align with their career goals while also paying the bills.

Professional Outcomes

Upon graduating, 61 percent of Cal’s last year's Class members had already secured employment, 19 percent were headed to graduate school, and 14 percent were still seeking their first jobs. Just over three-quarters of that cohort were employed by for-profit companies, 11 percent entered the education field, 7 percent took positions at non profits, and 6 percent were working for government entities. Thousands of alumni can be found in the offices of Google, Apple, and Facebook, and 500+ Golden Bears are currently employed by Oracle, Amazon, and Microsoft. Most alumni are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay area with Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, DC, Boston, and the United Kingdom next in popularity. Average starting salaries vary widely by major. Computer science grads are compensated to the tune of $107k, business majors averaged $75k, biology majors made $59k, and psychology majors brought home $57k.

Because almost 8,000 students earn bachelor’s degrees each year, it’s hard to pinpoint the most commonly attended graduate/professional schools with literally hundreds of institutions absorbing Berkeley undergrads. They range from the most selective Ivy League universities to a host of less selective institutions. For example, political science degree holders from last year's class attended graduate schools that included Stanford, Georgetown, San Francisco State, and Eastern Michigan University. Suffice it to say that earning strong grades at Berkeley will set you up for a successful graduate application process at the nation’s most elite schools.

Students' Voice: Pros and Cons of Location

Pros of Berkeley, CA

• “The diversity of the area. There are lots of places to eat and the ratio of people who are different from you.” [The population of Berkeley is about 55% White and 18% Asian. About 20% are foreign-born.]

• “One of my favorite things about living in Berkeley is you’re right next to San Francisco. It’s good for recruiting and jobs and getting you ready for semester and semester internships. It’s also just a fun city to explore. It’s a 30-minute BART ride away.”

• “There is the marina you can explore and lots of parks and things to explore.”

• “Berkeley puts you in uncomfortable situations where you can grow. You have to adapt to the homeless people and be more in touch with different cultures.”

Cons of Berkeley, CA

• “Safety is a big issue. I consider the homeless problem is included in the safety issue. The homeless also just make the city gross because they [defecate in public places].”

• “It can feel unsafe at times. You have to be smart about where you’re walking and the number of people you’re walking with.” [The violent crime rate is 42% higher than the national average and the property crime rate is 108% higher than the national average.]

• “The Bay Area is kind of expensive in terms of housing and food.”

Students' Voice: Reasons to attend and not to attend

To Attend

• “You’re on a really cool campus and the location is right next to Silicon Valley and San Francisco. There are lots of opportunities being so close to those places, so if you work hard there are so many doors there that can open career-wise.”

• “Post-graduation, it’s really helpful to be at Berkeley because of the tech bubble that the Bay Area is.”

• “If you want to be challenged academically, definitely attend. Also, the quality of education is very high in terms of a content and knowledge-gained perspective. I was amazed by the quality of education.”

• “The faculty. A lot of them have done great things in their field. It’s great to pick their brains and ask them anything about what you’re curious about.”

• “You learn a lot. Classes can be difficult, but at the end of every difficult class you realize that you now know so much more information than you used to.”

To Not Attend

• “If you’re not that resilient of a person it can be difficult to study and do well at Berkeley. Regardless, you’re going to be knocked down sometimes by your classes. In an atmosphere like Berkeley where everybody is trying really hard and has their dreams and aspirations that they’re working towards, it can be difficult to continue here if

you can’t bounce back from things like that.”

• “Berkeley can be unsafe sometimes. You just have to be smart about when and where you’re walking and how many people you’re walking with, then you should be okay.”

• “Berkeley has a pretty unhealthy culture because everybody is grinding so hard that it’s easy to feel bad about yourself if you’re not overloading yourself. Mental health can be an issue in that sense. If you have a strong mental fortitude though, you’ll be okay.”

• “Housing is really expensive. I have to share a bedroom and still pay a lot.”

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