University of California-Berkeley

The University of California-Berkeley (commonly called Berkeley) located in Berkeley, California is a public research university. The university sits on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay and occupies 1232 acres. It offers around 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Berkeley is the oldest campus affiliated with the University of California, and is a founding member of the Association of American Universities. Berkeley has very high research activity, and had $652.4 million in development and research expenditures in 2009.



In 1866, the College of California purchased land that the currently Berkeley campus is located on. It eventually merged with other state-run colleges to form the University of California. At the turn of the 20th century, President Benjamin Ide Wheeler helped grow Berkeley’s reputation. Wheeler succeeded in procuring scholarship and research funds and helped attract renowned faculty to the school. During the presidency of Robert Gordon Sproul (1930-1958), Berkeley gained recognition as a major research university. It was during Sproul’s tenure that the American Council on Education ranked Berkeley as second to only Harvard in the number of distinguished departments. Berkeley participated in the V-12 Navy College Training Program during World War II along with 130 other colleges. Berkeley’s cutting-edge research in nuclear physics helped develop the atomic bomb. Today, Berkeley ranks in the top 5 in Arts & Humanities, Engineering, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences according to U.S. News.

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The University of California-Berkeley has many top programs, including the Goldman School of Public Policy. U.S. News ranks the Public Affairs and Public-Policy Analysis programs as 6th and 1st respectively in the country. Most of the students at the school are enrolled in the Masters of Public program, which emphasizes the quantitative and applied dimensions of policy making. The degree may be earned concurrently with degrees from other Berkeley schools, including engineering, law, and public health. While the school does not offer a bachelors-level degree, undergraduates can minor in public policy. All public policy courses provide strong foundations in law and political decision making, and equip students with analytical concepts and tools. The small class sizes help students enjoy a sense of camaraderie with faculty and other students. Berkeley also has an excellent law program. Berkeley Law School is ranked as the 9th best law school in the country by U.S. News, and 1st in Intellectual Property Law. The School of Law does not use GPAs or letter grades in an effort to end student rivalry, and allows students to shape their curriculum to their interests after their second semester. Students also have many opportunities to get involved in clinics and student publications. Berkeley pioneered the green movement, creating the country’s first environmental law program, and was the first U.S. Law School to offer Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Jurisprudence and Social Policy.

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Pros & Cons

The University of California-Berkeley is ranked 21st in the country by U.S. News, and is widely considered as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is situated overlooking San Francisco Bay, and is within driving distance to both San Francisco and Oakland, both of which are major cities that provide numerous entertainment options for students looking to take a break from school for an evening or weekend. Berkeley has a thriving Greek life with over 55 sorority and fraternity chapters. It also has over 700 student organizations on campus. Berkeley’s 21.6% acceptance rate is low, but not as low as some other institutions with a similar academic ranking. It also has around 60% of its classes with fewer than 20 students, which is excellent despite its 17:1 student-faculty ratio, which could be better. In-state tuition costs $11 767 while out-of-state tuition costs over $34 000. Room and board is very expensive at $15 272 per year, which is more than most other universities around the country. 57.4% of undergraduates require financial aid to help pay for tuition and room and board.