Undergraduate Requirements

In the Rausser College of Natural Resources, undergraduate students must satisfy four different levels of requirements: University, College, and Major. Please be familiar with all of these requirements:

University Requirements

American Cultures

You fulfill this requirement by passing, with a grade not lower than C− or P, an American Cultures course. You may take an American Cultures course any time during your undergraduate career at Berkeley. International students must satisfy the requirement.

Departments all across campus offer American Cultures courses, but all courses share a common framework: they focus on themes or issues in United States history, society, or culture; address theoretical or analytical issues relevant to understanding race, culture, and ethnicity in our society; take substantial account of groups drawn from at least three of the following: African Americans, indigenous peoples of the United States, Asian Americans, Chicano/Latino Americans, and European Americans; and are integrative and comparative in that students study each group in the larger context of U.S. society, history, or culture.

For further information including details on how the American Cultures requirement might be satisfied by taking a course at a community college, please go to the American Cultures website.

American History and Institutions (AH&I)

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that graduates from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States. Students often satisfy the AH&I requirements with high school courses, e.g., U.S. History and American Government. 

International students should see  American History and Institutions for International Students for more information.

Entry-Level Writing (ELW)

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).

Students may fulfill that requirement by passing the Analytical Writing Placement Examination (AWPE). (Passing the AWPE is only one method of satisfying the ELWR. High school students planning to attend a UC campus may take the Analytical Writing Placement Examination in May of their senior year. (Students selected for the May exam are sent the test notification letter in April.) Admitted students who have not yet fulfilled the requirement may take the exam their first semester at Berkeley.

The UC Entry Level Writing Requirement website provides information on how to fulfill the requirement. In addition, it provides the examination scoring guide, sample past examinations, and sample student essays.

The requirement may also be met by earning a grade of C or higher in an acceptable composition course offered at Berkeley.

Rausser College Requirements

Reading & Composition (R&C)

In addition to the university-wide Entry-Level Writing requirement, the university requires two semesters of lower-division coursework in Reading & Composition (R&C). These courses are typically noted as R1A and R1B. All Rausser undergraduates must complete the Reading and Composition requirement by the end of their fourth term at Berkeley, or the university will block the student's registration for the following semester. Many departments offer R&C courses—not just the English Department—so be sure to review the wide range of course choices. You must take R&C courses for a letter grade. We do not allow waivers for this requirement.

Satisfying Reading & Composition

If you opt to fulfill first or second half of your R&C requirement by completing equivalent coursework from a California community college, please check with the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs for recommendations on courses. You may also check  this page  to check for courses that articulate as R&C at Berkeley. Students who completed coursework at a non-California Community College, can check coursework articulation at this page.  

Newly admitted transfer students will be notified by email by the Office of Instruction and Student Affairs if their previous coursework has not satisfied the R&C requirement. Transfer work usually posts to the student's Berkeley transcript between August and the end of October. Rausser College will accept IGETC certification to satisfy the full R&C requirement, as well as any variances that have been granted by other colleges on the Berkeley campus regarding the R&C requirement.

Fulfilling the first half of Reading & Composition (R1A) requirement :

  • AP Exam in English Literature and Composition: 4
  • AP Exam in English Language and Composition: 4 or 5
  • International Baccalaureate Higher Level Examination in English: Literature - Score of 5 or higher
  • General Certificate of Education “A” Level English Exam: A, B, or C
  • Grade of C or better in College Writing R1A at Berkeley 
  • Approved California community college course with C or better (see below)

Fulfilling both halves of the Reading & Composition (R1A and R1B) requirement :

  • Advanced Placement Exam in English Literature and Composition: 5
  • International Baccalaureate Higher Level Examination in English: Literature - Score of 5 or higher
  • General Certificate of Education “A” Level English Exam: A, B, or C
  • You may satisfy the first half of the R&C requirement with one of the following scores:
  • AP Exam in English Literature and Composition: 5

GPA Requirements

You must have at least a 2.0 cumulative UC GPA to graduate, both overall and in the upper-division courses required for your major.

Unit Requirements

  • You must complete at least 120 semester units of courses.
  • You must complete at least 36 upper-division units, 15 of which must be taken in the Rausser College of Natural Resources (EEP, ESPM, ERG, NST, and PMB). 

Distribution of Units

  • Only 16 units of Independent Study (97, 98, 99, 197, 198, or 199) may count toward graduation.
  • Only 4 units of Independent Study may be taken per semester.
  • No more than one-third of the total units attempted at UC Berkeley may be taken Passed/Not Passed. This includes units in the Education Abroad Program and UC Intercampus Visitor or Exchange Programs.
  • Only 4 units of Physical Education (PE) will count toward graduation.

Senior Residency

After the term in which you achieve and exceed 90 units (senior status), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence at the Rausser College of Natural Resources over at least 2 semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units taken while the student is a member of Rausser. At least one of the two terms must be a fall or spring semester. Senior residence terms do not need to be completed consecutively. All courses offered on campus for the fall, spring, and summer terms by Berkeley departments and programs and all Berkeley online ('W') courses count. Inter-campus Visitor, Education Abroad Program, UC Berkeley Washington Program, and UC Berkeley Extension units do not count toward this requirement.

Students may use Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence Requirement, provided that 6 units of coursework are completed.

Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless students go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through University Extension during their senior year. In these cases, students should make an appointment to see an adviser to determine how they can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Modified Senior Residency

Participants in a fall, spring or summer UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program may meet a modified Senior Residence Requirement by completing 24 of their final 60 semester units in residence (excluding UCEAP). At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after senior status is reached. International travel study programs sponsored by Summer Sessions and education abroad programs offered outside of the UC system do not qualify for modified senior residence.

Major Declaration Requirement

Students at Rausser are required to declare a major by the end of their fourth semester. Failure to declare a major by your fifth semester in the college will result in a hold being placed on your account that will block registration for the coming terms. Students must at this point either declare a major or obtain at least two signed program plans for two different potential majors that are feasible to finish by the semester limit. If any of these majors are in colleges outside of Rausser, an intent to change college form must also be attached. This will be required each semester thereafter until a major is declared. Extra semesters will not be granted on the basis of a student being unable to finish a major due to late declaration.


If you matriculate to UC Berkeley as a first-year student, you will automatically be placed on the degree list for the semester at the end of your fourth year. For example, if you arrive as a freshman to UC Berkeley in Fall 2018, you would be placed on the Spring 2022 degree list. If you matriculate as a transfer student, you will automatically be placed on the degree list for the semester at the end of your second year at UC Berkeley. You may access  CalCentral  to check whether you are on the degree list. If you are planning to graduate at the end of the current term and you are not on the degree list, please see your major advisor to declare your candidacy before the Friday of the eighth week of your last semester. 

Rausser will carry out a degree check to make sure you have satisfied all college requirements. You need to make sure that your major requirements are satisfied by working with your undergraduate major advisor. If all university, campus, college, and major requirements are satisfied, you will officially have your degree. If for any reason you do not complete all graduation requirements, you must file a new degree candidacy for the term in which you plan to finish your degree requirements.


Participating in the commencement ceremony is not the same as graduating. Rausser College Commencement is held only once a year, at the end of spring semester. If you graduated the previous summer or fall, or plan to graduate the next summer or fall, you may “walk” in the commencement ceremony even though you are not on the spring degree list.