Study at UCB (University of California, Berkeley)

The best public university in the United States


Located 10 miles (about 16 km) across the bay from San Francisco in the Bay Area of Northern California, The University of California, also known as Berkeley or Cal, is America’s #1 public university (U.S. News & World Report) and #27 in the world overall (QS World University Rankings). The sprawling, 500 hectare (1200 acre) campus of Berkeley is home to over 30,500 undergraduate and more than 11,300 graduate students.

The history of UC Berkeley dates back to 1868 when it became the first of what would be a network of 10 University of California universities. Led by its first president Henry Durant, a minister who had initially come to California with his wife to open a school, the University quickly found itself the lucky recipient of benefactors such as American feminist, philanthropist, and suffragist, Phoebe Hearst.

Perhaps a relationship can be established between the tone that was set by Berkeley’s first president, the values of its early benefactor and the University’s continued social engagement and political activism. Indeed, students and faculty of UC Berkeley were particularly noted for the Free Speech Movement as well as the Anti-Vietnam War Movement both led by its students in the 1960s. And their engagement goes well beyond the borders of the United States. The University also holds the honor of being the #1 All-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

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Berkeley University in a few words

In recent years, students have continued to find new ways to engage with the community. Since 2003, the Haas School of Business has recruited and trained students from all majors to work on pro-bono consulting engagements with real-life nonprofit clients. Indeed Berkeley has significant entrepreneurial tradition. Among its alumni are founders and co-founders of such global companies as Apple, Coursera, Gap Inc., Intel, Mozilla, Myspace, Rotten Tomatoes, SanDisk and Tesla.

Berkeley has a remarkable track record of scientific discoveries and inventions including the development of the flu vaccine by chemist Wendell M. Stanley in the 1940s, the creation of the atomic bomb by physicist J.R. Oppenheimer in 1943, the polio virus in 1954, the launch of an affordable treatment for malaria in 2006 and improvement on this treatment in 2013, and many more ( As a public research university, Berkeley depends on money from the State of California. However, private donors have made significant contributions to the important research efforts performed on campus. This includes the 2016 donation by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan for 0 million to establish the BioHub, which in its own words is “committed to solving the world’s biggest problems – together.” (

The campus

Campus life

Although extremely vast, the “central campus” of Berkeley covers 72 hectares (178 acres). The beautiful buildings on campus reflect the French influence of their original design by Emile Bénard although the construction of Beaux-Arts Classical style campus was ultimately overseen and modified by the American John Galen Howard. One of Howard’s works the Sather Tower, also known as The Campanile, stands boldly in the the middle of campus. Its chimes can be heard for miles around. It has the particularity of resembling a similar clock tower in Venice and for being the 3rd highest in the world.

A major competitor in Division I sports among American universities, Berkeley students proudly support their teams with help from Oskie the Bear, their well known mascot, who wears the team logo “Cal”. Students have the option of living in one of 12 residence halls including the International House built with funds provided by John D. Rockefeller, Jr, the only son of the famous American philanthropist.

Further away from the center of campus, forests, streams and wildlife abound, including two branches of Strawberry Creek and Founder’s Rock, which connect this campus with the history of the California frontier.


At Berkeley students can pursue one of 106 Bachelor’s degrees, 88 Master’s degrees, 97 research-focused doctoral programs and 31 professionally focused graduate degrees. Moreover, with greater than 130 departments and programs are divided into 14 colleges and schools including the Haas Business School, the College of Chemistry, the College of Engineering and Berkeley School of Information where students study computer science among other subjects.

According to the QS World University Rankings by subject, Berkeley deserves a spot in the top 10 in every area included in the ranking: Environmental Sciences (1); Chemistry (2); Civil & Structural Engineering (2); Sociology (2); Material Sciences (3); Electronic & Electrical Engineering (3) and the list goes on!

The following phD programs are also top ranked: Agricultural and Resource Economics, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, English, Epidemiology, Geography, German, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Genomics, and Development, Physics, Plant Biology, and Political Science.

1525 full time faculty teach at Berkeley including 7 Nobel Prize winners, 4 Pulitzer Prize winners and 137 members of the National Academy of Sciences. The University also boasts an impressive system of 32 libraries on campus for a total of 11 million volumes. The Bancroft Library, one of the largest special collections libraries in the United States, stands nobly in the center of campus.

How do I apply?

To apply to Berkeley, you will first need to use UC Application portal. Once you have filled in some preliminary information, you will be able to log into the My Application Portion ([email protected]), a system unique to the University of California system, to complete your application.

Berkeley does not require you to submit letters of recommendation, but you may do so if you believe will have a positive effect on your application. One letter should be from a teacher. You must complete all tests: ACT/SAT/SAT Subject tests, on or before the December test date. Subject tests are not required for most areas but can be beneficial to your application. Subject tests are recommended for “the College of Engineering and College of Chemistry, including Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the your intended major. Include the scores in your application. UC uses the highest scores from a single test administration”. (

The University requires you to answer 4 out of a list of 8 “Personal Insight Questions” (350 words each). See for more information. You must submit all your materials between November 1st-30th.

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University of California

When do you have to start preparing for Berkeley University ?

Taking into account the numerous specific requirements for American universities like taking exams; consistently participating in extra-curricular activities including clubs, music, sports, and side projects; and the numerous essays to write, we recommend that students begin start to think about their path to Stanford as soon as they begin high school. The application itself is typically completed during the fall semester of students’ last year in high school

What is the profile of the students at Berkeley University ?

“Since Berkeley is a competitive campus, satisfying the minimum requirements is often not enough to be competitive for selection… We review students using a Holistic Review process. This means that we not only look at academic factors, but also non-academic factors. Using a broad concept of merit, readers employ the following criteria which carry no pre-assigned weights”. (

Out of 1,362 International applicants for 2017-218, 15,448 were accepted for an admit rate of 8.8% (*The overall rate of admission for Berkeley is 18%.). In 2018, that rate dropped to 8.7%. As may be evident, the profile of international students is slightly more competitive in terms of GPA as well as ACT and SAT scores. (

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