The University of California, Berkeley’s 2022-23 admissions season was like no other, marked by a lawsuit and subsequent court ruling that threatened to drastically reduce the number of first-year students offered admission for fall 2022.
Ultimately, state legislation signed in March allowed UC Berkeley to offer admission to more than 19,700 prospective freshmen and transfer students for the new academic year — the same target number it had originally planned for.
UC Berkeley admission figures were released today in coordination with University of California officials, who released freshman and transfer admissions data for all nine UC undergraduate campuses.
At UC Berkeley, about 14,600 students were offered freshman admission, and about 5,250 students were offered admission as transfer students.
The new freshman and transfer admitted classes are comparable to those in the prior two academic years in terms of academic strength and ethnic diversity. Some notable differences include that more California students are being offered freshman admission and that more attractive financial aid packages are being offered to those with the most need.
An unprecedented admissions cycle
The admissions cycle began in fall 2021 with, as is the case almost every year, a record-high number of student applicants: More than 128,000 sought freshman admission for fall 2022.
However, prospects for a seat at UC Berkeley appeared far more competitive than anticipated when, in early March, the month each year when the campus releases offers of admission, a court ruling required UC Berkeley to drastically reduce enrollment. The ruling prompted campus officials to explore creative options, such as offering some students remote-only enrollment for the fall 2022 semester.
Fortunately, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom created a new law that addressed the legal issue and, consequently, UC Berkeley was able to proceed with its original plans for admission and enrollment.
Through it all, the campus’s value system — which includes equity, inclusion and diversity — guided the approach to the crisis and led to the good news that followed.
“It was our North Star,” said Olufemi Ogundele, UC Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admissions. “Throughout the challenges of this past year, our commitment to diversity and providing economic mobility did not waiver. It was fortified.”
Officials from departments, units and programs across the campus reflected those commitments and values and, despite another pandemic year and a legal challenge, their collective work resulted in a freshman and transfer admitted class that is academically strong and diverse ethnically, geographically, economically and in terms of academic interests, according to Ogundele.
Freshman outreach and admission
Estimates regarding the number of freshmen who accepted offers of enrollment will not be available until the start of the fall semester, but early indicators suggest that many more than the anticipated number of freshmen offered admission wound up accepting those offers.
Ogundele credits more robust financial aid packages, as well as more engagement opportunities held for newly admitted students. To offer these required pouring more resources into events in California. New events were added, as well as new locations, and there was an increased campus presence at each regional program. There also was a mix of virtual and more large-scale, in-person events, as well as special events designed to promote community among various student populations. One event, “Power in Community,” brought underserved students from Northern California to campus to hear from administrators and others about financial aid, support services and student groups.
“Given the pandemic, many institutions had fewer events,” said Ogundele. “We decided to have more — more in California than the last several years pre-pandemic. New regions that we did not try before. We welcomed the students, and we are seeing all of those efforts bear fruit.”
Freshman admission rate
While the litigation issues of this winter ultimately had no impact on the number of admission offers, the percentage of students offered admission did drop based on standard enrollment planning efforts.
Each year, UC Berkeley plans for the next year’s enrollment target based on a number of factors that also may include the final enrollment numbers for the prior year. Given that more freshmen and transfer students than anticipated accepted admission offers in fall 2021 and that a number of enrolled students returned to their studies after taking time off during the first year of the pandemic, campus officials had planned to lower their target enrollment numbers for fall 2022.
Based on that enrollment planning effort and the increase in freshman applications, the percentage of applicants offered admission dropped from about 14% in fall 2021 to 11% in fall 2022. There were about 16,400 freshman offers for fall 2021 and about 14,600 for fall 2022. (The number of students offered standard in-person admission for fall 2022 would have been notably lower had the litigation issue not been resolved by the new state law.
The fall 2022 freshman admitted class comes from 53 of California’s 58 counties, 55 U.S. states and territories, and 88 countries. About 60% of the admitted class (more than 8.800) identifies as women, while 2% (about 300 students) identifies as nonbinary — twice the number as last year’s admitted class. About 20% of admitted students are first-generation — neither of their parents has a four-year college degree.
Among ethnic groups, the number of students offered admission declined in all categories — again, according to admissions officials, a result of fewer offers to students as compared to the prior year. Among all racial groups, including African American/Black and Latinx and Native Americans, their percentage representation in the new class remained the same or comparable to that of last year’s admitted class.
Among transfer students, the state trend of a pandemic-related enrollment decline in students attending community college was reflected in UC Berkeley’s (and the UC system’s) applications.
At UC Berkeley, applications from transfer students dropped 13%, to about 19,300 applicants, for fall 2022. Approximately 5,250 were offered admission (up from 4,900 last year), resulting in an admit rate of 27%, compared to 22% the prior year.
Compared to last year, the number of underrepresented transfer students offered admission increased in all ethnic categories except Native American, which has three fewer admitted students than the prior year. More than 1,400 students in the total class of admitted students are first-generation.
Students responded enthusiastically to their offers of admission and, as is the case with freshmen, Ogundele sees signs that a higher than anticipated number of transfer students will accept their offers. Preliminary data on transfer enrollment will be available around the start of the fall semester.
For the first time in five years, entering freshmen and transfer students were offered financial aid packages with loan and work expectations below $9,000 ($8,950) a year. Each year, campus financial aid officials seek to keep the loan and work expectation for students as low as possible. For the two prior academic years, it was $9,800 and $10,000, respectively.
In addition, the UC system instituted a new debt-free pathway program for a set of new students for fall 2022 as the first step toward a UC debt-free pathway for all UC students, part of a multi-year compact between the governor and UC.
As part of that effort, UC Berkeley offered hundreds of students a no-loan financial aid package that contained grants, scholarships and the work-study expectation. This was the first year that students were provided financial aid in this manner. Those receiving this package — 5% of freshmen (776) and 6% of transfer students (329) — were the lowest income students from certain underresourced schools.
Freshman admissions decisions were posted for students on March 24. Transfer decisions were posted on April 22.
UC Berkeley admissions charts are available at this web page. Please note that some UC systemwide charts may have data that differ from UC Berkeley’s and, for example, may show California resident counts only. Some UC Berkeley and UC data may not match because some UC charts may be limited just to fall admissions or may reflect a different point in time for the UC’s systemwide data collection.