New Transfer Student Guide

Welcome to UC Berkeley's College of Letters and Science! 

Congratulations on your acceptance to UC Berkeley! Many students find that themselves both excited and full of questions after they get their acceptance. You may be wondering what to expect and how to sort through the huge amount of information out there.

Whether you have just learned you've been accepted to Cal or are already in your first year, this guide will highlight resources, tips, and policies that might be particularly helpful for you at each stage of your transition into Cal.

Freshman student? Check our New Freshman Student Guide instead. 

The L&S New Transfer Student Guide

Newly Admitted

Getting Started

Considering Cal or wishing to learn more about the university? 

  • Admissions is the best resource for getting started. The Admissions Office can also answer questions about new student tasks, such as submitting exam scores, transcripts, and more. 

  • Visitor Services gives campus tours (including virtual options) and can offer opportunities to ask current students what the student experience is like on campus. 

Wish to learn more about L&S Degrees and Degree Requirements? Check out:

If you still have questions about academic issues, see "Golden Bear Advising" and "Advising for Newly Admitted Students" below for more resources.

Interested in learning more about ways to enhance your undergraduate experience? Check out our Discover Opportunities and Connect on Campus.

Golden Bear Advising

Golden Bear Advising (GBA) is mandatory, self-paced, online course that introduces you to academic resources and your college. You'll get access to this course in the summer before you start classes (or in the fall, if you are a spring admit). Through Golden Bear Advising, you will learn how to build your first semester schedule and prepare to enroll in classes. 

The course

  • communication with an Undergraduate Major Adviser
  • an overview of academic resources
  • graduation requirements

Click the link above to get started on your GBA course through bCourses. 


Once GBA begins for transfers, you will have an opportunity to connect with your intended major's Undergraduate Major Adviser. This adviser will help you assess which courses you should take in Fall based on your progress toward the major and make sure you understand how to declare your major when you are ready. 


The academic adviser you work with during GBA is different than your Admissions Officer, who you can find through your MAP@berkeley Admissions portal. Your intended Undergraduate Major Adviser will focus on your academic questions related to starting at Cal. Your Admissions Officer will answer questions about your new student checklist or questions related to your admission. 

First Semester Schedule Planning Tips

During GBA, your intended Undergraduate Major Adviser will give you guidance on which major courses you should enroll in for your first semester at Cal. Here are a few other tips to get you started:

  • Plan to take at least 13 units overall in your first semester, unless you are approved for a Reduced Course Load. We recommend new transfers take a 13-15 unit course load in their first semester so they can adjust to the rigor of major coursework at Cal.

  • A typical first semester schedule may look like: 
    • Two courses for major requirements (3-4 units each)
    • A course for a college requirement like American Cultures or breadth (3-4 units), and
    • An elective for enrichment (1-2 units) 
  • If you do not have seven-course breadth satisfied, that can be a good place to start to round out your first semester schedule. Since your Initial Transfer Credit Review will not yet be completed, see if there are any breadth requirements you are confident you have not yet satisfied with previous coursework (or use if you took California Community College coursework but did not satisfy IGETC).
  • If you satisfied IGETC or UC Reciprocity, you may still have the following general education requirements remaining, which could be planned into your first semester schedule: 
    • American History
    • American Institutions
    • American Cultures
  • If you have completed all general education requirements, you can work on elective units. You may wish to start making progress toward the degree requirement of needing 6 upper division units outside of your major

For more information on all of these requirements, please see the Degree Requirements page (linked above). 

Incoming transfer credit (including exam scores)

Golden Bear Advising will walk you through assessing high school exam scores and transfer credit earned through community colleges and other institutions. You can use to assess how California Community College credits will transfer. 

The university will perform an Initial Transfer Credit Review for all incoming students and will import the information into each student's CalCentral portal by the end of their first semester.

For more details, review our pages on:

Advising for Newly Admitted Students

  • Before Golden Bear Advising, check out the "Getting Started" FAQ above. You may also access our Virtual Front Desk to ask basic academic questions.

    Some major departments offer advising services for newly admitted students with questions about particular majors. Use the Academic Guide's Degree Programs page to find websites for particular majors and learn more about services that may be available. 
  • During Golden Bear Advising, you will work with an Undergraduate Major Adviser in your intended major. See the Orientation website for dates and deadlines. 
  • After Golden Bear Advising, after Enrollment Day (the day your Phase 1 enrollment begins), you may make an appointment through our Appointments & Advice page. 

    L&S College Advisers are different than Undergraduate Major advisers. If you're looking for advising particular to a major, visit that department's website to find major advising services for undergraduates. 

Enrollment Support

After Golden Bear Advising, you will be invited to a bCourse that will guide you through how to enroll in courses. It will show you how to use the shopping cart feature and other aspects of enrollment, including waitlists, discussion sections and labs, and swaps.

Play video
What is the College of Letters & Science?

During Your First Year at Cal

Essential things to know once you start at UC Berkeley

Deadlines and Policies

Important Deadlines for your First Semester

While you may have many deadlines and dates to keep track of (financial aid, visa, etc.), there are two main resources for Academic Dates and Deadlines: 

  • Office of the Registrar Calendars: The "Student Enrollment and Deadline Calendar" shows all dates and deadlines for everything from enrollment windows, and semester start dates to when you'll get an add or drop fee. 
  • L&S Semester Deadlines (found on the homepage): Each semester, L&S highlights deadlines for enrollment changes, including adding, dropping, changing grading options, submitting a Late Change of Class Schedule petition, and withdrawing. 

Note that other processes may have deadlines that are not captured on these pages. For example, there are deadlines related to Preparing for Graduation, applying for Readmission after an absence, or declaring/changing majors, minors, or colleges. If there are relevant deadlines to keep in mind, you will find these deadlines or application windows on the relevant page on this website. 

Want some support remembering deadlines? 

  • The L&S Advising Newsletter, sent to your bMail address ( twice each Fall and Spring includes deadlines for the semester. 
  • Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for reminders of upcoming deadlines, policy reminders, and updates (along with showcasing student voices, advising tips, and more)

Important Policies for your First Year

Students are responsible for understanding all policies on this website. We recommend spending some time before your first semester clicking through the Policies section of this website. However, here are a few that we recommend paying special attention to as a new student: 

Note: There is a difference between drops and withdrawals at UC Berkeley. Transfer students sometimes confuse these terms and make incorrect assumptions about what they will be allowed to do with their schedule based on their experience at different higher education institutions.  If you drop a course, a “W” will NOT appear on your transcript. If you withdraw or cancel registration (drop all of your courses), a notation will be on your record.

When to declare your major

In general, as a transfer student you should plan to declare your major by the beginning of your second semester at UC Berkeley. It is important to note that each major department has its own policies on when you can declare and some departments even have deadlines by which you must declare the major. See each major department's website for details. 


If you do not have at least one major declared by the time you reach 90 units (not including High School Exam Score credit), you will receive a registration hold that will prevent you from enrolling in courses for the following semester until you meet with an adviser.

In most cases, as long as you are making good progress on the major prerequisites and GPA requirements, your Undergraduate Major Adviser can remove the hold. An L&S Adviser can help you explore alternate major options if you are not happy with your major or major progress. 

High demand majors

If you plan to apply to a high demand major that has more restrictions for declaration, we recommend discussing alternative major options with your intended major's Undergraduate Major Adviser when scheduling your first semester. 

How to Declare or Change your Major


Each major has different requirements and procedures to declare. Most major departments in L&S have clear guidelines for declaration on the department's website. If you have trouble finding your department’s website, you can always go to the Berkeley Academic Guide to look up your major. Click to find the department website link under either “About the Program” or under “Contact Information.”

Any additional questions regarding declaration requirements or deadlines should be directed to the Undergraduate Major Adviser.


Cal has a huge variety of majors to choose from. Sometimes, students feel they are too far along to choose something new, and while that can be true if particularly far along or if declaration deadlines have passed, you often have more options than you think. We recommend meeting with an L&S College Adviser if you would like to explore other major options that may appeal to you and discuss how a change of major might fit into your degree plan. Read more about this topic on our Declare or Change Major page

Time to finish your degree

All UC campuses 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. Most transfer students will have four semesters to finish their degree, but in some cases you may be eligible for additional time. For more information, read about the Unit Ceiling and Semester Limit.

Navigating Advising

Who do I go to for....

UC Berkeley is a large campus and it can be challenging to figure out where to go to get help for specific questions. We have resources that can help! Our Appointments & Advice page has a lot of great options, including getting live advising, making appointments, and other ways to get support. 

Our Virtual Front Desk is a great starting point if you feel lost!

What is an "Advising Neighborhood"?

At UC Berkeley, you will work with both L&S College Advisers and Major Advisers. While L&S College Advisers are more generalists when it comes to your academics, it can be helpful to work with an L&S College Adviser who has some expertise in your intended or declared major. 

L&S College Advisers are also in Advising Neighborhoods, meaning that they have familiarity with particular L&S majors. Neighborhoods also help you easily find Major Advisers for your major-specific questions. To find L&S Advising apointments or links to major advising, visit Appointments & Advice. If you're still exploring, select "Undecided" at the top of the majors list. 

Note: New students will not start working with their Neighborhood L&S College Advisers until after Golden Bear Advising. 

Should I see an L&S College Adviser or a Major Adviser?

Both! Once you start classes at UC Berkeley, you can meet with both L&S College Advisers and Undergraduate Major Advisers.

For more information on the differences between these two types of advisers and contact information, select your intended major (or majors) on our Appointments & Advice page.

Finding your communities: Transfer Student Center, EOP, and other advising centers

Outside of the academic advising you can get from L&S Advising and your major department, you can also get holistic advising support through the Transfer Student Center, which is part of the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence, known as “CE3”.

CE3 ensures non-traditional students excel at the top public University in the world. CE3 is comprised of several programs and centers, including: 
• Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), 

• Transfer Student Center, and  

• Undocumented Student Program (USP).

To learn more, visit the CE3 website.

Resources and Tips

Academic Skills and Transition to College

It can be both exciting and intimidating to transition into UC Berkeley. There will be lots of new opportunities, new people to meet, and interesting courses to take. During your first year at Cal, you may also find that you will need to make changes to the way you approach studying, writing papers, and working with faculty. In addition, you may have concerns about feeling like you belong, meeting students like you, or dealing with homesickness. Whatever you may be feeling, know that this is normal and there are folks here to support you.

For academic support resources, finding community and mentorship, and other ways to find your place at Cal, check our our Discover Opportunities and Connect on Campus page.

Navigating Enrollment for your Second Semester and Beyond

As a continuing student, enrolling in classes will be a little different than when you enrolled in courses during Golden Bear Advising (GBA). 


While incoming students have a Phase 1 (17.5 unit limit) and an adjustment period (20.5 unit limit), continuing students have three different enrollment periods: 

  1. Phase 1: 13.5 unit limit

  2. Phase 2: 17.5 unit limit

  3. Adjustment period: 20.5 unit limit

These limits include enrolled and waitlisted units. For more information and tips on how to strategize your schedule planning, see our Semester Schedule Planning page. 

Enrollment times are released several weeks before your Phase 1 begins. You can find your Phase and Adjustment Period times under your CalCentral’s “My Academics” tab in the “Class Enrollment” block. When Phase times are available for the next semester, you will see that semester appear at the top of this block, which you can click on to find the dates and times for your Phase 1, Phase 2, and Adjustment Period. 

For more information on common enrollment questions, see our Enrollment (Add/Drops) page.


While as an incoming student, you had Golden Bear Advising to support building your first semester schedule, as a continuing student, you will be planning your schedule on your own. 

Because of the high demand for academic advising around Phase 1, here are some tips for getting advice: 

  1. Review online resources. Visit the Academic Guide page and/or the website for your intended major(s) to understand prerequisites. Sample schedules are sometimes provided. 

  2. Know which adviser to contact. Save yourself time by contacting the right resource the first time around. See the College Advising vs. Major Advising page to learn how to choose the right advising office for your needs. For questions about particular courses, contact the department that hosts the course. This includes questions about enrollment management, course content, pre-requisites or reserved seats, time conflicts, and more. 

  3. Plan early Students sometimes panic when they realize all the advising appointments are booked out leading up to their Phase 1. Try making an appointment with an adviser early to get ahead of the traffic. If that is not possible, remember that Phase 1 is just the beginning of your schedule planning. Do your best with your online resources and get some seats at the beginning of Phase 1, then make an appointment as soon as you can to see if you need to make adjustments. 

  4. See if the Virtual Front Desk can help. The L&S Advising Virtual Front Desk (VFD) is a wonderful resource for many questions. While the VFD may not be able to give you the depth of an appointment in assessing schedule ideas, they can often clarify common questions such as overlap rules, Phase limits, general schedule planning strategy, and more.

Exploring Major and Career

Get help discovering and narrowing down options: 

Creating a Program Plan

There are many exciting opportunities you can take advantage of as a transfer student at Cal. L&S Advisers can help you think through what you may be able to fit in and may even be able to provide you with some new ideas. Many transfer students are able to study abroad, participate in internship programs, conduct research, and fit in other enriching experiences. To start exploring, make an appointment and/or review these resources: 

  • Mini-article: "How to fit everything in as a transfer student." 
  • Our Create a Long-Term Program Plan page offers an overview of whether you need to do this work now and provides step-by-step guidance. You can also find ideas for exploring outside-of-the-classroom opportunities including study abroad, internships, and research under "Options for enhancing your program plan" on this page.
  • Our Majors & Minors section includes several pages that will help you learn more about declaring or changing majors, adding double majors and simultaneous degrees, minors, and more. 
  • Our Unit Ceiling and Semester Limit will help you understand the time allowed for degree completion. 

Office Hours: How to approach professors and GSIs (even when you're nervous)

Faculty and GSIs (Graduate Student Instructors) hold office hours. These are times set aside specifically so that you have a chance to ask questions and engage with faculty. You can use office hours as a time to get extra support in the class, or to talk with your instructors about ideas or research.

It is common to feel nervous about using office hours, either for support in a course or when you are trying to get to know faculty or GSIs but do not have a question in mind.

Check out our mini-article, "Icebreakers for Office Hours."

Our Discover Opportunities and Connect on Campus page can help you find even more ways to find mentorship and academic support. 

Media Gallery

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You Ask: We Answer | Peer Adviser, Quest, talks about enrolling in classes
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