College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Frequently Asked Questions



About CNR

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What is the College of Natural Resources?

UC Berkeley is organized into 14 schools and colleges, including the College of Natural Resources, or CNR for short. Each college has its own set of degree requirements and major offerings – CNR is home to 4 academic departments, offering 10 undergraduate majors. CNR’s departments are united by a broad mission to increase knowledge, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, and provide the foundations of wise and responsible environmental management.

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Do I have to decide on a major before applying to CNR?

Not necessarily – Freshmen in their first year in the College are not required to declare a major, although they must select one by the end of the third semester. All other undergraduates (including junior-year transfers), must be affiliated with one of the major programs in the college. Forms for declaring a major are available in the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs, 260 Mulford Hall, and must be signed by the advisor for the major in question.

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How do I switch into CNR from another college on the Berkeley campus?

Students wishing to declare a major in the College of Natural Resources should contact the department in which the degree program resides. It is recommended that you bring a copy of your unofficial transcript, so that the undergraduate advisor will be able to plan out a program of study. Change of College, Major, or Curriculum Petitions are available at the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs, 260 Mulford Hall. Some majors have a formal application process, so it’s a good idea to meet with an advisor from your desired major.

More about changing colleges

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Once I’ve declared a major, may I change it, or am I locked in?

Your choice of major should be based on your interests and goals. However, students' interests often change during their first years of college, and students do not need to feel locked into their initial choice. Many of the major programs have similar lower division requirements, and changing majors during the first two years generally creates no difficulties. Changes in major may be made with the approval of the new major advisor and the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs.

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If I am enrolled in CNR, will I be able to take courses from other colleges?

Yes – all students at UC Berkeley take an assortment of courses provided by many departments on campus. Although CNR requires its students to take courses within the College during each term they’re enrolled, students will also have room for outside electives.

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Once I’m a student at CNR, if I decide it’s not for me, will I be able to transfer to another College?

If you enroll in the College of Natural Resources and later decide you'd like to change to a different college, you must apply for admission to another college on the campus. It is up to you to determine how to do this for the college you are interested in, and to assess your chances of admission--ability to transfer is not guaranteed. Advising websites are a good place to start. While you remain in CNR, you must follow CNR's curriculum requirements to remain in good academic standing. If you lose good standing, it will be very difficult to gain admission to another college.

Further, if you are not successful in your application to another college, you will need to finish your degree in one of our majors, and you need to be prepared for that and not fall behind. Be sure to check out all our majors--including Conservation and Resource Studies, which lets you design your own program--to see if we can meet your needs right here. It may turn out that you can accomplish your goals even more effectively by remaining in CNR.

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Majoring and Minoring

When must I declare a major?

Incoming first-year CNR students must declare a major by the end of their second year.  Junior transfers enter CNR declared in the major under which they applied. Please see Declaring a Major for more information.

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How do I declare a major, or switch majors?

To declare or switch majors, you must meet with the major advisor whose major you wish to declare.  Bring the change of college or major form to the meeting so that the advisor can help you plan your schedule.  Once you have obtained their signature and completed the form, you may submit it to the student affairs office in 260 Mulford. Please see Declaring a Major for more information.

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Can I have both a CNR and an L&S major? 

To add another major from one of Berkeley’s other colleges, use the simultaneous degree petition .  Meet with your current major advisor and the advisor whose major you wish to add.  After obtaining their signatures, submit the form to 260 Mulford.  After CNR reviews the petition, it will be forwarded to your new college for final approval.

It is important to remember that adding a simultaneous degree will make you subject to the rules for both of your colleges. Please see Declaring a Major - Simultaneous Degrees for more information.

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Is it possible to double major and/or minor and still finish in four years?  What about studying abroad?

The key is meeting with your major advisor early to work out a plan that fits your goals.  Many students pursue double majors, minors, or study abroad, but it is crucial to begin planning as early as possible.

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How can I declare a minor?

Begin by visiting the department offering the minor.  Minor requirements differ by department, so make sure you are informed about the course requirements for the program that interests you. Please see Minoring at CNR for more information.

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Which majors have the Seven Course Breadth requirements?

Environmental Economics and Policy is the only major within CNR that requires the entire Seven Course Breadth.

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Classes, Grades, and Credit

How many classes should I take during my first semester?

In order to make a smooth transition to Berkeley, CNR recommends you take 13 to 15 units during your first semester.  While this may seem like a small amount, remember that Berkeley classes tend to be more challenging than high school or community college courses. Additionally, you will also be learning new ways to structure your time while adjusting to life on campus.

Do not worry about falling behind; you will have plenty of time to add more courses in subsequent semesters.  It is better to start with a lighter load and start the year off successfully than to overload yourself and have to worry about the impact of a low grade that could have been avoided.

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What are the deadlines to add courses, drop courses, and change grading options?

You may add and drop classes until the end of the 5th week of instruction.

You may change a P/NP grading option to a letter grade until the end of the 5th week of classes.

You may change a letter grade to a P/NP grade until the end of the 10th week of classes.

For a more comprehensive description of the deadlines and fees associated with them, visit the Registrar’s web site. There, you may also review a calendar detailing other dates and deadlines pertaining to registration.

Please see Adding and Dropping Courses for more information.

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How do waitlists work, how hard is it to get in?

Waitlists can be processed automatically as people add and drop the course, or they may be processed manually by the instructor or the department. 

If you are on an automatic waitlist, you can estimate the likelihood of being added by looking at the maximum capacity of the class in relation to your position on the waitlist.  For example, being fifth on a waitlist in a class with a maximum of 300 students is generally a safer bet than being fifth on a waitlist in a class with a maximum of 20 students.

Regardless of your position, it never hurts to attend the first few class sessions and ask the instructor about your chances of getting into the course.

Remember to monitor your schedule carefully; even if an instructor says you will drop off the waitlist, it is your responsibility to ensure you have either added or dropped the course.

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How do discussions/labs work?

In addition to a lecture, many courses require a discussion and/or a lab section.  Discussions and labs are used to augment the material covered in the lecture.

Generally, lectures and discussions/labs must be taken concurrently, and Telebears will prompt you to sign up for them after enrolling in a lecture. 

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What classes are good to take for someone undecided on a major?

The CNR college handbook has some sample first-semester schedules for each major on page 16.  Using the handbook as a guide, you can choose introductory courses that fulfill requirements for multiple majors, so that you can explore your options while still making progress towards possible majors.

You should also look into fulfilling your Reading and Composition requirements as well as your American Cultures requirement.

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Which Math class should I take?

Unless you are pursuing the Physical Science track within the Environmental Science major, you should take the Math 16 series. 

If your major does not require a lot of math classes and you scored high on the AP Calculus exam, you may be able to pass out of some math requirements.  It is important to talk to your major advisor before making this decision.

Many students end up taking Math 16A even if they could technically pass out of it.  Math at Berkeley tends to be much more rigorous than even the hardest high school classes, and it is crucial to get a good foundation in the early classes.  Additionally, medical schools generally require college-level math courses regardless of AP scores.

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How do DeCals work?

DeCals are student-run courses that are sponsored by a faculty member.  Topics vary from community organizing to analysis of pop culture.  Most DeCals are offered on a P/NP basis for a low number of units.

For more information and enrollment procedures, visit the DeCal website.

Can I use one class to fulfill multiple requirements?

Certain classes may be used to simultaneously fulfill multiple requirements.  For example, if a required course also happens to be an American Cultures course, you may fulfill both a major requirement and your AC requirement with that course.

Major requirements must each be taken separately.

If you are double majoring or pursuing a simultaneous degree, you may count no more than two upper-division courses towards both majors.

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How do P/NP classes affect my GPA?

Courses taken on a Pass/No pass basis are not factored in when calculating your GPA.  A passing grade will give you course credit, while a no pass will give you none. 

All major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.  Additionally, the number of P/NP units must be less than 33% of the total units completed at UC Berkeley.

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What do AP, IB, and Community College classes count for?

AP and IB scores can count towards Berkeley units, and can also be used to fulfill certain requirements. The most common requirements students fulfill with AP and IB scores is the Reading and Composition requirement. For most other classes, it is best to consult with an advisor before electing to test out via test scores.

If you have taken community college courses, you can check to see if they fulfill a Berkeley class by visiting Assist.

To receive credit for community college work, order an official transcript from the institution and have it sent to:

Office of Instruction & Student Affairs
College of Natural Resources
University of California, Berkeley
260 Mulford Hall
Berkeley, CA 94520-3100

If you are having transcripts sent from an institution other than a California Community College, or if you have any other questions about transferring credit, please consult an advisor.

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Pre-Med

Berkeley’s Career Center has compiled a comprehensive guide to medical school that helps answer many questions pertaining to the pre-med track.

Which classes do I take for pre-med?

While med schools requirements may differ slightly depending on the institution, most share the same basic requirements.

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Which major is good for pre-med?

Many of the CNR bioscience majors like Microbial Biology or Nutritional Science have major requirements that overlap with pre-med requirements. But you are free to pursue any major and still apply to medical school.  While completing the medical school pre-reqs is crucial, it is also important to major in something that interests you, as that passion will show through in your application.

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Koshland Hall, home of Plant and Microbial Biology

Connect with CNR Students

Do you need to advertise a job opening, internship, or another opportunity with CNR students? Just e-mail your message to CNR News. After approval, your message will be distributed in CNR's electronic student newsletter, CNR Newsline.