The UC Berkeley department of electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, and the College of Letters and Science executive committee announced in a statement May 26 that EECS 16B will no longer be a course requirement for the computer science major.
The statement noted this change will be effective fall 2022 for incoming and continuing students with graduation terms of fall 2022 or later. As of this summer, the number of units for the upper division technical elective requirement is reduced from seven units to four units.
“EECS 16B no longer being a requirement for CS is a massive step forward for the program,” said rising senior Cyrus Bugwadia in an email. “The material and concepts covered are only tangentially related to certain specific subfields of CS that not everyone is interested in, such as machine learning and low-level systems.”
The statement added that while students admitted spring 2022 or earlier are able to fulfill the technical elective with a computer science course, incoming students will not be able to do so.
Bugwadia, who took EECS 16B in spring 2020, also said it is a course that is “structured poorly,” noting the low performance of many students.
“As of Fall 2021, student surveys rate the course only a 3.8/7 in terms of worthwhileness, and the average GPA has fallen to 2.89, both being the lowest in the EECS department for lower-division courses,” Bugwadia said in the email.
Similarly, campus junior Jay Kudva, who took EECS 16B in fall 2021, said in an email that the content taught in this course is “unrelated” to computer science majors. Kudva added that dropping it as a requirement would allow students to take other courses related to their interests.
While Kudva said the problem-solving skills and broad range of topics covered in EECS 16B are valuable, the “constant grade pressure” makes the course difficult to manage.
“EECS 16B pushed me in an incredibly unhealthy way, and forced me to constantly lose sleep,” Kudva said in an email. “It prevented me from studying my other core classes, all because the homeworks were incredibly rigorous and involved, to the point of complete irrelevance in the scope of the class.”
Kudva said it is “frustrating” that this change came into effect after third-year computer science students were “pressured” by the department to take the course last fall.
He said that it prompted him to rearrange his schedule, preventing him from taking other courses he wanted to take that semester, such as CS 169A.
“Removing EECS 16B as a requirement for L&S CS will likely lead to a re-evaluation and re-structuring of the course as a whole, which has been long overdue,” Bugwadia said in the email.