Unit Ceiling and Semester Limit

This page covers the overall unit and semester limits for your time at UC Berkeley. If you are looking for the maximum units you can take during a semester, see the Unit Minimum and Maximum page. 

Time Allowed for Degree Completion

Because space on campus has limits, the University must graduate students in order to make room for newly admitted students. All UC campuses therefore have limits on how much time undergraduate students have to complete their degrees. UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science (L&S) has one of the more liberal time limits on campus. This page will walk you through understanding how much time you have to finish your degree.

Semesters Allowed 

Every student in the College of Letters and Science (L&S) is assigned an Expected Graduation Term (EGT) at the point of first-time enrollment at Berkeley. For freshmen, the EGT is assigned at the projected 8th semester of enrollment, for transfer students at the 4th semester. You can confirm your EGT in the “Term Information” section (below your Cal photo) on My Academics in CalCentral. More information on EGTs, graduation, and commencement can be found on our Preparing for Graduation page. 

Semesters are defined as Fall and Spring terms. Summer terms are not counted toward the semester limit but they do count towards overall units earned.

For double majors, L&S allows one extra semester (a 9th semester for freshmen, a 5th semester for transfers). Adding additional majors beyond a double major does not add additional semesters. This policy is for majors only, adding minors does not increase the amount of semesters allowed. 

For simultaneous degrees, L&S allows one extra semester, as above, as long as the other college also agrees to allow the extra time.

If you are able to graduate within your allowed semesters, you can take as many units as you want and your unit ceiling will not be assessed. If, however, you want to take additional semesters beyond the above allowances, this will depend on your unit ceiling.

Unit Ceiling

You may be granted additional semesters to complete your degree as long as you do not exceed the unit ceiling. College credit earned prior to high school graduation and credit granted for AP/SAT/IB exam scores will not be factored into the calculation of the unit ceiling.

For students declared in a single major, the unit ceiling is 130 units. 

For students declared in a double major or more, the unit ceiling is 136 units. 

Example: A student declared in a single major will earn 140 units by the end of their 8th semester. However, they entered UC Berkeley with 15 units of AP exam credit as a first year student. This means that they will have 125 units that count towards the unit ceiling by the end of their 8th semester. Since they will not exceed 130 units, they are eligible to request an extension of their EGT. 

See "Moving EGT" in the FAQ below for information on how to request an extension of your EGT if you will be under the unit ceiling.  

Students on financial aid should contact the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office to determine if their aid package will cover the cost of additional semesters.

 Unit Ceiling and Semester Limit FAQ

UC Berkeley Summer Sessions

Students who exceed the unit ceiling and are blocked from enrolling in Fall and Spring semesters may still enroll in Berkeley classes during Berkeley Summer Sessions. 

It is important to note that while UC Berkeley summer sessions do not count toward the semester limit, the units earned in UC Berkeley summer sessions do count toward the unit ceiling. Units earned at other institutions during summer may or may not count toward the unit ceiling and it is valuable to discuss your academic plan with an L&S College Adviser if you believe you will be exceeding your semester limit.

UC Berkeley Extension

Students who exceed the unit ceiling and are blocked from enrolling in Fall and Spring semesters may still enroll in Berkeley classes through UC Berkeley Extension’s Concurrent Enrollment program, assuming seats are available. Please contact UC Berkeley Extension for more information.

Please note that UC Berkeley Extension has a different payment and enrollment structure than attending a regular Fall or Spring semester. Research this with UC Berkeley Extension and, if applicable, Financial Aid.

Attending Other institutions

Students who exceed the unit ceiling and are blocked from enrolling in Fall and Spring semesters at Berkeley, may still take courses at other institutions. It will be important to make sure these courses will satisfy degree requirements and it will be especially important to make sure residence requirements have been satisfied before trying to finish your degree elsewhere. You would also need to complete extra steps to add yourself to the degree list for graduation. Meet with an L&S College Adviser and your Undergraduate Major Adviser (UMA) to plan. 

Please note that if, while on a break from Cal, you take classes at another institution during a Fall or Spring semester, these semesters will count toward your semester limit (discussed at the top of this page). So if you took two semesters at Berkeley, withdrew, then took one semester at a community college, when you return to Berkeley, you will have used three of your semesters toward your semester limit. 

If you are ever considering taking courses elsewhere while on a break, you should discuss this with an L&S College Adviser.

Extra time beyond unit ceiling

Although it is possible to appeal for excess units in order to be extended past these enrollment limits, this is rarely granted, and only in exceptional circumstances. Not having completed degree requirements is not a reason extra time at Berkeley would necessarily be approved. Students who have not completed their degree requirements will often need to look at other enrollment options, which may not be covered by financial aid. 

To inquire about appealing for excess units and/or learning about other potential enrollment strategies, meet with a L&S College Adviser.

Unsure if under the unit ceiling

The unit ceiling is a complicated policy. You are always welcome to meet with an L&S College Adviser who can help you understand where you are toward your unit ceiling, aiding with the deduction of high school enrichment units and any other deductions you may be eligible for.

Moving EGT

If you are certain you are under the unit ceiling, you may request to move your Expected Graduation Term to a future Fall or Spring semester. You are eligible to move your EGT to a Summer term regardless of whether or not you are under the unit ceiling. You can do this by submitting the Change EGT form to L&S Advising. 

For full information on moving EGTs and special circumstances that may require extra steps to make sure you graduate, review the Preparing for Graduation page. 

Changing major late

If you are considering changing a major later in your time at UC Berkeley (especially after earning 75 units), a common concern is whether you will have enough time to complete it. 

While having outstanding degree requirements does not mean you can have your EGT extended beyond the unit ceiling, students high in unit count may be able to complete some lower division prep work at a California Community College and have that deducted from their unit ceiling count. This is a complicated rule and best discussed with an L&S College Adviser. 

Learn more about changing majors in our Majors & Minors section.