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College of Letters and Sciences implements changes to computer science major policy

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The updated policy for the computer science major guarantees a place in the department for prospective computer science majors, subject to requirements.


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AUGUST 10, 2023

UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Sciences changed its admission policy for the computer science major for Fall 2023 admits.

The policy indicated that first year students starting in Fall 2023 and after who selected the computer science major when applying to UC Berkeley will be guaranteed a place in the department. Students must still meet the necessary prerequisites, uphold a strong academic performance and submit a major declaration form.

“One motivation was to eliminate the former GPA-based restriction on declaring the CS major,” said John DeNero, a campus associate teaching professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS), in an email. “Another motivation was to ensure that declared CS majors could enroll in the courses they need to graduate, given the limited capacity that exists for CS courses.”

Prospective first-year computer science majors who were not accepted into the major upon admission to the College of Letters and Sciences will have one chance to apply for the major and must have a secondary “non-high demand” major, according to the updated policy.

The policy stated that the changes will not apply to students admitted prior to Fall 2023.

This policy will also apply to admitted transfer students who intended the computer science major upon application if they uphold a GPA of 2.0 or higher starting Fall 2023, the policy added.

“For transfer students in particular, who have limited time at Berkeley and often take lower-division courses on an accelerated schedule, the minimum GPA requirement did not foster an ideal Berkeley experience,” DeNero said in the email.

The updated policy will be more “equitable” than the previous requirements for students interested in computer science later during their time at Berkeley, DeNero noted.

The new declaration process aims to accommodate individuals with strong capabilities in computer science — a change from the previous application, which did not require a specific interest in the major. DeNero acknowledged that experienced students still have to select an alternative major due to limited space.

“I hope that the most popular computer science courses will remain open to non-majors as well as majors, and many of us are working to ensure that is the case,” DeNero said in the email.

According to Josh Hug, a campus associate professor of EECS, the updated policy will improve the student and faculty experience within the department, as the department has struggled with a high volume of students each year.

The high number of students has also contributed to significant financial struggles for the department. He added that the severe budget limitations “led to a lot of stress behind the scenes” for staff.

“This opens up for us to start really thinking about how we can expand access in a sustainable way,” Hug said.

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AUGUST 10, 2023