Undergraduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduate Admissions

What can I do to improve my chances of admission to the College of Environmental Design?

If you are a prospective freshman applicant, see the UC Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.

If you are a prospective transfer student,

  • Take pre-approved environmental design courses, either at a California community college, via UC Berkeley concurrent enrollment/UC Extension, CED Summer program offerings or at UC Berkeley during the summer.
  • Complete all lower-division requirements with grades of B or better (a 3.0 overall GPA is required) by the end of the spring semester before admission. Do NOT plan to complete requirements during the summer before admission.
  • Get real-life experience in environmental design through clubs, internships, work experience, or other special projects. This not only demonstrates your interest but helps you figure out whether environmental design is right for you.
  • Write about your experience and interest in environmental design in your personal statement.
  • Participate in the Starting Point Mentorship Program. More information is available through the Transfer Re-entry & Student Parent Center.
  • Participate in the Transfer Alliance Project (TAP). TAP is a highly successful academic advising and enrichment program that prepares low-income and otherwise educationally disadvantaged community college students throughout California to be competitive transfer applicants to UC Berkeley.
  • Read the transfer applicant section of this website for more detailed information.
Do I need to choose my major when I apply to UC Berkeley? How do I know which of the CED majors is right for me?

Yes, students must declare one of the four CED majors at the time of application to the college. Even if you are certain about which major you want, you can still benefit from doing some research into the content of the programs before you apply.

  • Come to an information session and meet current students.
  • Read descriptions of the majors on each department’s website: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Sustainable Environmental Design and Urban Studies. Browse the major handbooks.
  • Talk with an advisor to clarify the nature of the major and the types of skills and course work required.
  • Review the extended course descriptions available on the CED website.
  • If you can visit the campus, attend some classes, including upper division courses. Talk to students, faculty, and graduate student instructors.
  • See the Need Help Deciding? section of this website for more ideas and resources.
It is impossible for me to take an articulated ENV DES 1, 11A, and/or 11B course at a California community college or via UC Berkeley Concurrent Enrollment/Extension and I am unable to complete the courses at UC Berkeley during the summer. What should I do?

If it is not possible for you to complete pre-approved lower-division environmental design courses at a California community college or at UC Berkeley through Summer Sessions or UC Berkeley Concurrent Enrollment/Extension, contact us prior to submitting your application to have your coursework evaluated. Syllabi, course descriptions, and work samples are required and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Follow the course evaluation guidelines and contact the CED undergraduate advising office for more information.

I’m an out-of-state student. What do I need to do?

Both in-state and out-of-state applicants must complete all lower-division major and general education courses required for admission. Contact us prior to submitting your application to have your coursework evaluated. Syllabi, course descriptions, and work samples are required and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Follow the course evaluation guidelines and contact the CED undergraduate advising office for more information.

I’m an international student. How do I apply?

You must complete all lower-division major and general education courses required for admission. Contact us prior to submitting your application to have your coursework evaluated. Syllabi, course descriptions, and work samples are required and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Follow the course evaluation guidelines and contact the CED undergraduate advising office for more information.

Contact the UC Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions website for additional information on international student admission.

Can I use Advanced Placement or other exam scores to satisfy requirements at Cal?

Yes, CED does grant course credit for Advanced Placement (AP) exams, Advanced Level (A-Level) exams, and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams taken prior to admission at UC Berkeley. See the credit tables on our website.

I’m a parent of a prospective student. What resources are available for me?

If you are exploring college options with your daughter or son, check out the Cal Parents website, your portal to the University of California, Berkeley. There's a wealth of information online, plus programs and staff available to address your individual questions.

Architecture

How can I learn more about undergraduate and graduate architecture programs?

For more information on architecture programs in the U.S. and Canada, check out the Guide to Architecture Schools published on-line and in paperback by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

What classes do architecture majors take?

During their first two years (whether at UC Berkeley or at another college prior to admission as a transfer student), architecture majors complete all general education and lower division major requirements.

During the second two years, students select one of two major tracks: Studio or Project. See the architecture major handbook for more information.

Detailed course descriptions are available on the architecture courses webpage.

Is the undergraduate architecture major an accredited degree?

At UC Berkeley, the Master of Architecture is the accredited professional degree offered by the department. The undergraduate degree in architecture is a liberal arts, not a professional degree. In addition to offering a sound and well-rounded education, the undergraduate degree in architecture provides pre-professional competency for entry-level employment in architecture, graduate work in architecture, or further studies in a related environmental design field.

For information about becoming licensed in California, see the California Architects Board of the Department of Consumer Affairs, the American Institute of Architects, and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

What’s the difference between a 5-year architecture program like Cal Poly and a 4+2 program like UC Berkeley?

Whether you select a school that offers a 5-year accredited degree or one that offers a 4-year liberal arts degree depends on your interests and goals. See the AIA/AIAS Arch Careers website for an explanation of different types of architecture degrees and degree programs.

In most cases, 5-year programs are professional degrees that prepare students for a career as a licensed architect. Examples of 5-year programs include Cal Poly, Cal State Pomona, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

"4+2" refers to a combination of a 4-year liberal arts degree plus an accredited 2-year master's degree. A liberal arts major in architecture offered by schools like UC Berkeley, UCLA, or the universities of Illinois and Michigan is generally broad, flexible, and interdisciplinary in nature. You will study the social, historical, and scientific aspects of architecture as well as the broader urban and ecological context of environmental design.

At Berkeley, you will enroll in classes with landscape architecture and urban studies majors. You will also take classes throughout the University with students from all backgrounds and academic interests. Berkeley provides you with research and study-abroad opportunities as well as a huge range of enrichment activities.

Do I need to submit a portfolio with my application?

A portfolio is not required for admission. If you are a transfer applicant unable to take articulated courses to fulfill the lower-division design requirements, course syllabi and samples of your work are required to evaluate whether you are sufficiently prepared for the upper-division studios. Submit these materials to the CED Office of Undergraduate Advising for review prior to your application to the university.

What kind of computing and software knowledge will I need to develop as an architecture major?

AutoCAD remains the most common software for producing architectural drawings, but it is slowly being replaced by a variety of other programs. For this reason, it is essential that you regularly teach yourself new software skills. You will always be learning new programs, and there is no "correct" set of software to use.

Many schools and employers want you to know the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign). These are indispensable, and you will be using these frequently in studio courses here. You will also gain experience with 3D modeling. At CED the most common program is Rhinoceros, but Modo, 3D Studio Max, Maya, form-Z, and Blender are all quite useful. Learning these will give you more flexibility to model your designs. A good software combination for modeling might be Rhino and either Maya or Modo.

Don't think of these programs as distinct working environments, but rather as a set of tools that should be integrated with the design process. You should be able to model in 3D based on a sketch, and to use 3D simulations as aids for making physical models.

You should also be aware that these programs are used in concert, not separately. For example, one might transfer files from Illustrator to Rhino, from Rhino to Illustrator and Maxwell (a 2D simulation program), from Maxwell to Photoshop, from Photoshop to Illustrator, and from Illustrator and Photoshop to InDesign. Knowing how to transfer work between programs is as important as knowing how to edit the work within any given program.

See Computing @ CED for additional information.

Landscape Architecture

What classes do landscape architecture majors take?

The undergraduate curriculum in landscape architecture centers upon creative and ecologically tuned design, and introduces students to the breadth of knowledge common to the profession. See the landscape architecture major handbook for a full description of college and major requirements for the landscape architecture major.

Detailed course descriptions are available on the landscape architecture and environmental planning courses webpage.

What are the job opportunities for landscape architecture majors?

Almost all of our undergraduates are able to find jobs in the profession directly upon graduation. The largest concentration of landscape architecture firms in the world is located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For more information about licensure and careers, see the American Society of Landscape Architects website.

After graduation, will I be qualified to be accepted into an accredited two-year Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.) graduate degree program?

Yes, almost all of our undergraduates are accepted into the M.L.A. programs of their choice.

Can I get an internship with a local landscape architecture firm as an undergraduate?

Our program has a professional practice course, Landscape Architecture 160, which places undergraduates in internships at local landscape architecture firms.

What is the range of work that I can do once I become a landscape architect?

The range of work that landscape architects are qualified to do is very broad. The following is just a short list of specializations: residential gardens, public parks, regional and national parks, public open space, urban plazas, public housing, community design, master planning of towns, cities, and housing developments, community participation, ecological restoration, bioremediation and site-specific environmental artworks.

If you are interested in careers in landscape architecture, take a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), produced by the U.S. Department of Labor. It contains useful information about the nature of the work, qualifications and training, earnings, and the employment outlook. The OOH also contains detailed information about landscape architecture-related occupations.

The American Society of Landscape Architects website includes a variety of career exploration resources, including a survey of recent landscape architecture graduates.

The UC Berkeley Career Center website includes information on landscape architecture occupations.

I am interested in sustainable design; will I gain exposure to these ideas?

Yes, landscape architecture is the original "sustainable design." It is the foundation on which the practice has been built. Our program is an integration of ecology, science and art, with an emphasis on restoring and creating environments for the human community.

Why would I choose UC Berkeley's landscape architecture program rather than another university's?

Being in the College of Environmental Design gives you incredible exposure to all of the design arts — architecture, city and regional planning, visual studies. CED is a wonderful, dynamic, and creative environment with a wide range of lectures, exhibits, and installations happening all the time. Our students are encouraged to express ecological design as an artform. Additionally, many of the iconic works of the profession exist in the Bay Area for you to visit first-hand. These sites are visited during many class field trips.

Is the undergraduate major accredited?

No, our program is currently not accredited, but you are qualified to take the state boards for a landscape architecture license after you work three years with a licensed landscape architect.

Urban Studies

What classes do urban studies majors take?

The urban studies major is organized around core courses in the Department of City and Regional Planning and electives in the College of Environmental Design and in departments across the campus, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the major. The core courses introduce students to the tenets of urban planning and to the key theories and analytical frameworks in urban studies.

City and regional planning courses train students in the different sectors of urban studies and planning, from housing and community development to urban economics. In their senior year, students are encouraged to complete a capstone experience, be it an urban planning studio, a self-guided thesis, or an internship.

See the major handbook for a full description of college and major requirements for the urban studies major.

Detailed course descriptions are available on the city and regional planning courses webpage.

What’s the difference between the urban studies major and the minor in city and regional planning?

The minor in city and regional planning consists of five upper division courses that train students in the professional practice of urban planning. It is focused on the professional character of planning. The urban studies major is interdisciplinary. While urban planning lies at its core, the major also allows students to choose courses in keeping with their interests, which may range from urban design to social theory to environmental justice.

As a CED student, will I be able to complete an internship?

An internship is a great way to connect your academic experience with the professional work arena. Many CED students take advantage of the opportunity to complete an internship and some even create their own internships. For more information on internships, see the Career Center website and the CED Career Services section of this website.

What can I do with a major in urban studies once I graduate?

Our alumni have been successful in many different careers. Quite a few have gone on to graduate school — in city planning, architecture, public health. Others are engaged in the practice of urban planning. Yet others are involved in public interest and nonprofit work. Some are busy in business-oriented careers such as real-estate development.

If you are interested in careers in urban and regional planning, take a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), produced by the U.S. Department of Labor. It contains useful information about the nature of the work, qualifications and training, earnings, and the employment outlook. The OOH also contains detailed information about planning-related occupations.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning website includes information to help you determine whether Planning is the career for you.

The UC Berkeley Career Center website has a good collection of links to urban and regional planning career sites.

What is the advantage or disadvantage of applying to graduate school after graduating?

There is no single path to graduate school. Some of our urban studies majors choose to work professionally for a few years before applying to graduate school. Others prefer to go directly from an undergraduate experience to a graduate school. During their senior year, urban studies majors have the opportunity to hear from career center staff, their peers, and from alumni so that they can make the most appropriate choice.

If I do not take the urban studies major and instead pursue the minor in city and regional planning, will this help my chances of getting into the Master of City Planning program?

While urban studies majors are not given priority in admission to UC Berkeley's Master of City Planning (M.C.P.) program, they don't face any particular disadvantage either. Our urban studies majors have been successful in gaining admission not only to our M.C.P. program, but also to graduate programs at UCLA, MIT, Harvard, and the London School of Economics.

Career Options

How can I learn more about career options for CED students?

As a CED graduate, you have a wide variety of career possibilities. See the Careers Services section of the CED website for more information on licensure, graduate school, and alternative careers. CED has an in-house career counselor who can help you with the decision-making process.

Licensure

What do I have to do to become a licensed architect or landscape architect?

For information on architecture licensing requirements for every state, see the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) website. For information about becoming licensed as an architect in California, see the California Architects Board website, which also contains links to a number of different sites, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS). See also the National Architectural Accrediting Board website for information on accredited architecture degree programs in the United States.

For information on landscape architecture licensing or career options, visit the website of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The California Architects Board website also provides information on landscape architecture licensing.

Financial Resources

How much does it cost to attend Cal?

See the Financial Aid Office website for the most up-to-date estimated undergraduate student budgets.

Studio courses require lab access and project materials. Contact an adviser for more information on these costs.

Are application fee waivers available?

At the time you apply, you will be asked if you want to apply using a Fee Waiver. If you qualify for it, the waiver will be processed right away and you will see the amount reflected on the total fees to be paid.

What financial aid resources are available to CED students?