Those who are interested in earning a baccalaureate degree from UC Berkeley in either computer science or EECS (electrical engineering and computer science) will find that it can be very difficult to get into either of those programs. The admissions path to each program is very different.
It is very important for potential students of either of these programs to be skilled in math and science courses. Passing a plug and chug calculus course does not prove a student is good at math. Instead, getting a good grade in later courses such as linear algebra and differential equations is a good sign that the student has the math aptitude to succeed. Being good at logic and proofs is a good thing too. With respect to science courses, it is helpful to be good at physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering. Previous experience in those science courses can be very helpful. Those who are not good at math and science will have a very difficult time completing the courses necessary for graduation. That is why students should consider weeding themselves out of the CS/EECS majors if they’re doing poorly in math or science.
There are two paths for getting a computer science degree from Cal. The first option is to apply to the College of Letters and Science for admission. Then gain admission to the computer science major as a L&S student. The other option is to apply to the College of Engineering as an EECS major. Being admitted will result in getting into UCB and the EECS major. Then the student only needs to worry about taking courses and graduating.
UCB L&S Computer Science
In the past, the L&S computer science program was impacted with additional GPA requirements needed to get in. This may come back if the CS program becomes impacted again in the future. Currently, those who can get into UC Berkeley in L&S can get admissions by completing all prerequisite courses with a C or better.
This means the trick is to get admitted to UC Berkeley in the College of Letters and Science. This is usually easier than getting into the College of Engineering as an EECS major. Freshman applicants should try to have high test scores, high GPAs, and some way to demonstrate genuine interest in CS. Transfer applicants should try to take as many of the prerequisite courses as possible. The courses are listed here, but they include:
- 1 year of calculus
- 1 semester of differential equations
- 1 semester of linear algebra
- 1 semester of discrete mathematics
- 1 semester of digital electronics (the associated lab course is highly recommended)
- the equivalents of UCB CS61A, CS61B, and CS61C
It can be very difficult to find equivalents to the electronics course and the CS61 courses. UCB admissions knows this. Nevertheless, students should try to complete all of the other courses if offered.
The admissions essay should be used to show interest in CS. This can be critical in gaining admissions.
UCB College of Engineering EECS
To get into UC Berekely as an EECS major, the student needs to apply using the general university application. The student should demonstrate high aptitude in math and science courses. Because admissions to the College of Engineering is so competitive, a high GPA is going to be needed in order to gain admission. Transfer applicants will need to complete as many of the lower division requirements as possible. The following are requirements for getting into EECS as a transfer student:
- UCB Math 1A, 1B (first year calculus)
- UCB Math 53, 54 (linear algebra and differential equation)
- UCB Physics 7A, 7B
- UCB English R1A and R1B (English composition)
- One from UCB Astronomy 7A or 7B or Bio 1A & 1AL or Bio 1B or Chem 1A/1AL or Chem 1B or Chem 3A/L or 3B/L or Mcellbi 32 & 32L or Physics 7C
Strongly recommended courses: (if your college offers the courses listed below
and they are articulated, taking them will strengthen your application)
- UCB Compsci 61A
- UCB Compsci 61B
- UCB Compsci 61C
- UCB El Eng 20N
It is very important for all applicants to use the UC essay to show genuine interest in EECS and CS. This will be an important part in gaining admissions.
Tips for Getting Admitted into CS or EECS:
- Take as many math courses as possible. Always try to get an A. Math courses are more important than any other type of class. If you suck at calculus, CS and EECS may not be right for you. If you think it’s the professor’s fault that you got a C/D/F in calculus, you’re probably wrong.
- Programming classes should be easy for anyone interested in CS/EECS. Take as many of these as possible. However, don’t let the math grades slip. Programming courses show interest in CS or EECS. Take programming courses even if they don’t count.
- If you take a programming course or any other course with a lab, try to take fewer units. Lab courses and programming courses can be very time consuming.
- Take as many electronics courses as possible, even if they don’t transfer over. The electronics courses will make the later EE courses a bit easier.
- Transfer students to EECS should not do the IGETC. There are too many major requirements.
- Transfer students to L&S CS should get the IGETC completed prior to admissions. This can be helpful in clearing GE requirements. IGETC completion can increase the chances of admissions.
- Don’t cheat on programming assignments and exams. The UCB professors in CS/EECS are quite good at catching cheaters. Changing variable names is not going to be enough. If you need to cheat, perhaps CS and EECS is not right for you.
- Demonstrate interest in CS and EECS via the UC admissions essay.