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FRESHMAN: Changes to Berkeley’s L&S High Demand Majors


For transfer L&S changes, click here.

For fall 2023, freshman students who want a high-demand major should select that major in their application. If admitted to Berkeley L&S, they will be guaranteed a spot in the major they selected, subject to completing the prerequisites, maintaining good academic standing in L&S, and filing a declaration form.

Berkeley Letters & Science has 12 freshman majors that are participating in the pilot:

High demand L&S majors, Berkeley freshman

Why is L& S making this change?

This policy change is designed to improve the student experience. In L&S, most of our 80+ majors are “open”— to declare that major, you have only to take the prerequisite courses, maintain good academic standing in the College, and file a declaration form. However, there is a small subset of high-demand majors (12) that have additional requirements, to better match teaching capacity to student demand. Traditionally, to declare a high-demand major in L&S, students are required to have a minimum GPA in a specific set of courses (also referred to as major prerequisites). Those students who did not meet the minimum GPA requirements must redirect focus to an alternative major midway through their career, often leading students to experience great stress and anxiety.

This new process provides peace-of-mind to students by ensuring that their application will be subject to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions holistic review process. If they select the high-demand major when they apply, they will be guaranteed a spot in the major they selected (subject to completing the prerequisites, maintaining good academic standing in the College, and filing a declaration form).

Changing to a high-demand major after arriving at L&S:
For students who did not select a high-demand major on their UC Berkeley admissions application, they will be subject to a review after a student enrolls at Berkeley. This review includes quantitative and qualitative criteria such as academic and personal accomplishments by the student along with consideration of the context of those accomplishments and opportunities afforded to the student. Admission to high-demand majors based on these criteria is overall a more fair and equitable process instead of the current criterion of the student’s major prerequisite GPA. Students will have one opportunity to apply for a high-demand major, and will be required to have an alternate plan to declare a non-high-demand major as a back-up.

Does this change mean that freshman students enrolled in a high-demand major will come into college declared?

No. Beginning fall 2023, first-year students who select a high-demand major on their Berkeley L&S application and are admitted to the College will be guaranteed a spot in that major, subject to completing the prerequisites, maintaining good academic standing in the College, and filing a declaration form.

NOTE:  Computer Science has taken a major hit with this new policy. 

On YouTube, Professor John DeNero indicates the new policy revolves around severe budget cuts, mainly due to to the spiraling cost of instruction that no longer aligns with funds.  According to Dr ___ this policy has been years in the works and is unlikely to change substantially. He also notes that Data Science is probably next.

CS stats in review:

Currently, there are approximately 882 enrolled in CS at Berkeley (2022-2023).

Starting with Fall 2023 admission:
Freshman admits to CS will hover around around 100, instead of  previous 561 (but no GPA cap)
Those admitted after declaring another major will be around 70 (GPA will now be a factor)
Transfer admits will be at 35  (but no GPA cap)
TOTAL ADMITS: 205  (down from 882)

Although there is possible wiggle room, this is a huge downturn as regards admissions to CS. Trying to switch in through the back door will now be a limited option and a student’s GPA will apply. The best chance of admittance to CS is to apply as  a primary and put in an alternate, although there is no guarantee that admissions will look at the alternate.

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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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