UC Berkeley Admissions Statistics

Learn About Berkeley and the GPA and, SAT/ACT Scores You'll Need

Le Conte Hall at Berkeley
Le Conte Hall at Berkeley ( Explore the UC Berkeley campus in this photo tour). Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

Admission to the University of California Berkeley is highly selective—in 2017, only 17 percent of those who applied were admitted. Students must use the University of California application. SAT or ACT scores as well as four short essays are required parts of the application.

Why UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley Admissions Standards 2017-18

For students who entered the University of California Berkeley in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was 17 percent. Below are SAT and ACT score percentiles for matriculated students.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 630 720
Math 630 760
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for the University of California system, you'll see that Berkeley is the most selective of the nine undergraduate campuses. UCLA comes in a close second.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 29 35
Math 28 35
Composite 30 34

The SAT is more popular than the ACT among Berkeley applicants, but both exams are equally acceptable. In a comparison of ACT scores for the top public universities, Berkeley

UC Berkeley GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

University of California Berkeley GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores for admission.
University of California Berkeley GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores for admission. Graph courtesy of Cappex. 

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was submitted by applicants to UC Berkeley. GPAs are unweighted. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into UC Berkeley with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of UC Berkeley's Admissions Standards

As the scattergram reveals, students who are admitted to Berkeley tend to have high GPAs and test scores. The blue and green represent accepted students, so you can see that the great majority of students who got into Berkeley have a GPA above a 3.5, an ACT composite score above 23, and a combined SAT score (ERW+M) of above 1100. The chances for admission look best for students with GPAs of 3.7 or better, ACT scores of 27 or better, and an SAT score of about 1250 or higher. Also note that high scores and a high GPA are no guarantee of admission—some students with excellent scores do not get in. Check out the graph below of rejection data for Berkeley and you'll see how much red is hidden behind the blue and green in the graph above. 

The reverse is also true—a few students were accepted with test scores and grades below the norm. Like all of the University of California schools, Berkeley has holistic admissions, so the admissions officers are evaluating students based on more than numerical data. Strong Personal Insight Essays, meaningful extracurricular involvement, and your demonstrated interest in your major can all play a role in the admissions process. Work experiences, community service, and your personal background can also be factors. As the graph shows, however, strengths in these non-academic areas will improve your chances of being admitted, but they won't compensate for grades or standardized test scores that are too far below the norm.

Most important of all for admission to UC Berkeley is your academic performance, but Berkeley is looking at much more than your grades. The university wants to see grades that are trending upwards (or at least not downwards) as well as successful completion of challenging college preparatory classes such as AB, IB, and Honors. The university wants to admit students who show passion for learning and who have pushed themselves in high school.

Rejection and Waitlist Data for UC Berkeley

Rejection and waitlist data for admission to UC Berkeley.
Rejection and waitlist data for admission to UC Berkeley. Graph courtesy of Cappex. 

In the first graph, all the blue and green for accepted students hides the fact that a lot of students with excellent grades and standardized test scores get rejected from UC Berkeley. With an acceptance rate below 20%, the university is looking for students who shine in both academic and non-academic areas, so good grades and SAT scores aren't always enough to get an acceptance letter. 

When applying to Berkeley, you'll be safest if you consider it a reach school even if your grades and SAT/ACT scores are on target for admission. 

More UC Berkeley Information

On the academic front, Berkeley is hard to beat. Financially, Berkeley represents a good value for in-state applicants, and the university doesn't rely too heavily on loans in the financial aid process. For out-of-state applicants, Berkeley is one of the most expensive public universities in the country.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 41,891 (30,574 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 48 percent male / 52 percent female
  • 96 percent full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $14,170 (in-state); $42,184 (out-of-state)
  • Books: $891 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $17,549
  • Other Expenses: $4,379
  • Total Cost: $36,989 (in-state); $65,003 (out-of-state)

UC Berkeley Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 60 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
  • Grants: 48 percent
  • Loans: 21 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
  • Grants: $18,319
  • Loans: $6,237

Academic Programs

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 76 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 91 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Football, Rowing, Swimming, Water Polo, Golf, Gymnastic, Baseball, Track and Field, Soccer, Basketball
  • Women's Sports: Track and Field, Lacrosse, Rowing, Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Softball, Gymnastics, Field Hockey

If You Like Berkeley, You May Also Be Interested in These Schools

Those interested in a large college or university located on the West Coast should also consider schools like the University of Washington, UCLA, CSU – Long Beach, and CSU – Northridge.

High-achieving applicants looking for selective and highly-ranked schools across the country may also be interested in the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and Princeton University. Keep in mind that these universities are even more selective than Berkeley, so you'll want to make sure you also apply to a few schools with a lower admissions bar.

Data Sources: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics