In a competitive year, Berkeley admits 13,321 prospective freshmen

More than 13,300 students were offered admission to UC Berkeley’s 2015-16 freshman class following a highly competitive admissions cycle in which the number of freshmen applications grew by 7 percent and the number of available seats remained largely unchanged, admissions officials announced today.

The 2015 data were released in coordination with the UC Office of the President, which today issued admissions data for undergraduates at all 10 UC campuses.

Freshman admission

A total of 78,918 students applied for a seat in the UC Berkeley freshman class and, of those, 13,321 were offered admission, compared to 73,753 applications and 13,286 students offered admission last year. This dropped the admissions rate at UC Berkeley to 17 percent, down 1 percent from last year.

The pool of admitted UC Berkeley freshmen is made up of students from across the state, the nation and the world. These students not only are academically talented; they also have a broad cross-section of interests, cultural backgrounds and talents. Some have competed at the national or international level in equestrian events, martial arts and robotics competitions. Scores of them have performed nationally or internationally as dancers, singers and musicians. Many others have participated in varsity sports including soccer, crew, tennis and volleyball.

“Every year, we offer admission to exceptionally talented students who work hard to gain admission to Berkeley, but this year was definitely more competitive than years past,” said Amy Jarich, Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor and director of undergraduate admission. “Because of the high demand for a UC Berkeley education and the academic strength of the students who apply, we are the most selective public university in America, excluding the military academies. We have to make tough choices.”

Earlier this year, UCOP officials advised all UC campuses to keep the enrollment number of California-resident freshmen in line with that of 2014-15, given the continued lack of sufficient state funding to the UC to increase the number of incoming California-resident freshmen.

All of Berkeley’s freshman admission offers are for seats in the 2015-16 entering class and include opportunities to participate in what in the past was categorized as “spring admission.” More freshman seats become available each January due to December graduation.

Fifteen percent of the students admitted to the 2015-16 freshman class may choose among three options designed to make more seats available to freshmen. They can enroll in a new Global Edge program and study with their UC Berkeley peers in London during the fall semester; they can live on the Berkeley campus during the fall semester and take courses through UC Extension’s Fall Program for Freshmen; or they can take off the fall semester to travel on their own, work or pursue other interests before beginning their Berkeley education next January.

“We dearly want these students here,” said Jarich of those offered alternate enrollment options, “we just do not have seats for them in the traditional fall semester program. Both the London pilot program and the UC Extension freshman program have smaller classes and offer more access to faculty, offering students a small college feel their first semester along with the advantages of a large university.”

More information on these fall options for select freshmen is available at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.

California students admitted to the new freshman class come from 52 of the state’s 58 counties. The others offered freshman admission hail from 55 states and U.S. territories, with most students coming from Texas, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Washington state, and from 90 countries including Egypt, Denmark, Macau, Kenya, Peru and Iran. Most of the international students live in China, South Korea, India, Canada, Taiwan and Turkey.  More than 100 languages and dialects are represented among the students offered admission. The youngest admitted freshman is 16, and the oldest is 23.

Other information about the freshman admitted class includes the following:

  • The students’ academic profile is strong, with an average 3.91 GPA (unweighted), SAT score of 2093 and ACT score of 31. These academic indicators are equal to or higher than thoset of the previous year’s admitted pool.
  • California residents make up 65.6 percent of the students offered freshman admission, compared to 65.8 percent last year.
  • Admission offers increased for African Americans (426 offers, 18 more than in 2014-15) and Asian Americans (5,494 offers, up by 248). Offers decreased for Chicano/Latino students (1,876, down by101), white students (3,508, down by 161) and American Indians (76, down by 23).

UC Berkeley’s admissions process evaluates applicants based on a host of factors including academic achievement, leadership skills and persistence. Applicants for freshman admission were notified of their acceptance on March 26.

Starting this fall, students seeking 2016-17 admission to the freshman class also will be able to submit two letters of recommendation. Under the former policy, a small percentage of students were invited to submit a letter of recommendation when Admissions requested additional information. Under the new policy, passed by faculty in April, all students will have the opportunity to send letters.

One of the two letters must come from a teacher, and all letters will be accepted through a supplement to the UC Berkeley online application for admission. Allowing letters of recommendation will provide students with the opportunity to  bring powerful new information about their leadership, persistence and other qualities to the application process.  This new policy will not apply to other UC campuses or be part of UC Berkeley’s admissions requirements for prospective transfer students.

Transfer Admission

Data about newly admitted transfer students — 93 percent of them coming from California community colleges – also were released today. They show that 17,239 students applied for admission, up from 16,613 applicants a year ago. Of those, 3,763 were offered admission, compared to 3, 825 admitted for 2014-15.  The admit rate for transfer students this year was 22 percent, compared to 23 percent last year.

This group of transfer students offered admission is very diverse: 30 percent of the students are from underrepresented ethnic minorities, 38 percent grew up speaking a language other than English at home and 30 percent come from families where neither parent attended college. The students’ average age is 23, and 8 percent of them will be 30 or older when classes begin in August.

They hail from scores of California’s community colleges, with the top sources being Diablo Valley College, Santa Monica College, De Anza College, City College of San Francisco and Pasadena City College.

Transfer applicants are evaluated on their academic achievement in post-secondary coursework, preparation for their intended majors at UC Berkeley and engagement and leadership outside the classroom.  They were notified of admissions decisions on April 24.

For more detailed data on the 2015-16 admitted class, see the UC Berkeley admission charts, which show combined data for California residents and non-residents. Additional charts on the UC system’s website provide statistics from all 10 UC campuses and generally focus on California residents.