Campus & community, Campus news

UC Berkeley announces plans for fall semester

The intention is to offer limited in-person classes for those students who wish to come to campus

Doe Library

Chancellor Carol Christ, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine P. Koshland, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen C. Sutton sent the following message to undergraduate students on Wednesday:

We are delighted to share our plans for fall semester with you. I know you are eager to hear of our decisions, and before we delve into the details, let us caution you that decisions are dependent on approval from local public health authorities.

Between now and the start of fall semester, we will continue to operate amid great uncertainty. It is an uncomfortable feeling for many of us, requiring enormous flexibility, patience, resilience and grace. All of the unknowns make for a very challenging planning environment, and ultimately we must be prepared at very short notice to reduce or limit on-campus activities and move to fully remote teaching should pandemic conditions worsen at any point before the end of fall semester. We must also point out that while we will do our utmost to mitigate risks associated with living and learning on campus, we cannot eliminate them altogether.

We have created a set of options for you. You and your family will need to decide which course of action is right for you based on your circumstances, your preferences, your goals, and your judgment of the risk. Please be assured that we are committed to providing you with the highest quality educational experience and will do everything possible to support your progress toward a UC Berkeley degree.


It is our intention to conduct limited in-person classes this fall for those students who wish to come to campus. The in-person classes will be restricted to a small number of people, as dictated by factors including public health guidance and our own building density guidelines.

Instruction in large courses will be offered by remote means. However, some smaller discussion groups that are part of larger courses or other activities may be offered in person. We are in the process of determining which courses will have an in-person option this fall and will have our course schedule available in July.

Students will not be required to take in-person classes or be present on campus for the smaller discussion sections. Almost all academic offerings, including those with in-person instructional activities, will also be provided via a remotely delivered method. Students who require accommodations for classes, whether online or in person, can contact the Disabled Students’ Program.

An innovative “Semester in the Cloud” program is being developed for a group of  large “gateway” courses as well as several other critical-path classes that will allow students to make progress toward meeting major and  breadth requirements. A great deal of thought and investment has gone into the Semester in the Cloud program. All of those courses will be offered remotely.

As we have communicated previously, tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction.

Finally, to reduce COVID-19 exposure that could come about as a result of students traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, all in-person instruction (as well as final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.

On-Campus Housing

Our housing plans are also subject to the restrictions of local public health authorities. We plan to house up to 6,500 students in our on-campus residence halls in single and double rooms. We will stagger student arrival to residence halls and undergraduate apartments beginning in early August to avoid the typical crowded move-in experience. We will reserve space at one of our housing complexes for quarantine and isolation purposes. Students moving into residence halls will likely be required to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately prior to returning to campus and/or upon arrival to campus and will be expected to isolate for 7-10 days after arriving on campus.

The following categories of students are among those who will be given priority for on-campus housing:

  • Students for whom living in Cal Housing is their self-selected best option
  • Students who have already signed housing contracts
  • Students with documented disabilities/need for housing accommodations
  • Students with Estimated Financial Contribution at $0
  • Berkeley Hope Scholars, Fiat Lux Scholars, and Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars
  • Cultural/identity/living-learning housing programs (African American, Asian Pacific American, Casa Magdalena Mora, Native American, Unity LGBTQIA+ House, Empowering Women in STEM (WISE), Transfer Experience)
  • Student Athletes

Students who wish to cancel their existing on-campus housing contract will receive a message explaining how to do so without penalty. Students who have applied but not yet received a contract will receive a message with information on the action required to complete the housing contract process.

On-campus dining will be offered on a “to-go” basis.

Student Activities and Events

Pandemic conditions may make it inadvisable to hold in-person events as we have done in the past; this consideration will likely cause us to restrict the use of campus facilities for events and meetings this fall. Students will be supported in engaging in clubs, activities and events remotely and we will do all that we can to enrich the student experience for all.

Incoming freshmen and transfer undergraduate students participating in Golden Bear Orientation will receive detailed information about the program on Friday.

Protecting the Health of the Community

Because it is in everyone’s interest to Keep Berkeley Healthy, everyone who will be present on campus will be required to meet campus, city and state mandates of physical distancing, face coverings and hand washing hygiene. We’ll ask you to read and sign a Keep Berkeley Healthy pledge prior to returning to campus.

Ask Questions and Share Your Thoughts

We are eager to hear from you, to take your questions and to hear your feedback. We will hold a Campus Conversation for students and families on Thursday, June 25, from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time. You may submit questions ahead of time or pose them in real time via Facebook Live. Visit the Campus Conversations website for details about how to view and participate. In addition, we will send you a survey where you can provide feedback.

Let us close by saying we are looking forward to welcoming you to our UC Berkeley community in whatever way that makes sense for you. Our typical back-to-school mode will be altered, to be sure, but our commitment to your academic success and your personal growth is unwavering. Our Division of Student Affairs will be sending you more detailed information shortly and we encourage you to visit our COVID-19 housing information page and our Student Affairs information site for more information. Please continue to check your Berkeley email as you will continue to receive further important updates as we approach the fall semester.