Seven-Course Breadth

Guidelines for Seven-Course Breadth

As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. 

The requirement consists of seven distribution areas (expand below for descriptions of each breadth requirement): 

Arts and Literature

Knowledge and appreciation of the creative arts. Courses meeting this requirement involve significant engagement with arts, literature or language, either through critical study of works of art or through the creation of art. 

Biological Science

An Introduction to the diversity of life on all scales (e.g., molecular genetics, structural biochemistry, ecosystems, and evolution). Courses that satisfy the Biological Sciences requirement use a combination of observation, hypothesis-driven data analysis and experimentation.

Historical Studies

Perspectives on the human condition and an appreciation of the origins and evolution of the numerous cultures and social orders that have populated the earth. Courses fulfilling this requirement deal primarily with the human events, institutions and activities of the past.

International Studies

An in depth education of political, cultural, artistic and/or socio-economic life centered on both a country or region other than the United States and on the contemporary period.

Some advanced language instruction courses (5th semester or above) may count for International Studies breadth. Use the Schedule of Classes to determine if a language course applies to the International Studies breadth requirement for the semester in which you plan to enroll. 3rd semester language instruction courses were accepted for International Studies breadth through Summer 2017 only.

Additionally, this requirement may be satisfied by full participation in a study abroad program, review more information below.

Philosophy and Values

Investigation of the intellectual and ethical motivations that inspire the record of humanity's social and cultural achievement and to ponder the types of questions that will enhance their ability to understand their heritage, their contemporaries, and themselves. Courses fulfilling this requirement include those with a major focus on religion, ethics, legal values, or leading philosophical figures.

Physical Science

A quantitative understanding of the physical universe, from its microscopic underpinnings to its large-scale structure and evolution. Courses that satisfy the Physical Science requirement teach students how to explain natural phenomena starting from first principles, using a combination of reason, experiment, and quantitative analysis.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Analyze the determinants of human behavior, the dynamics of social interaction among human beings, and the complex political, economic, social, cultural, and psychological factors at play in societies. Courses meeting this requirement include courses in development studies, economics, political economy, history, legal studies, political science, sociology, social welfare, and many courses in anthropology, linguistics and psychology.

How to Satisfy Seven-Course Breadth

To satisfy Seven-Course Breadth at Berkeley follow these guidelines:

Complete one approved course for each of the seven areas with a minimum grade of C- or P

To find course options for breadth, go to the Berkeley Academic Guide Class Schedule, select the term of interest, and use the 'Breadth Requirements' filter to select the breadth area(s) of interest.  When selecting a course, keep the following in mind:

  • While some courses may satisfy more than one breadth area, in the end, a course may only be used for one of the approved areas. To satisfy the requirement, complete seven distinct courses, one for each breadth area.
  • Students may use up to two courses from any one academic department to satisfy Seven-Course Breadth. This limitation includes all subject areas offered by the department, and if the course is cross-listed (indicated by a 'C' prefix), all the other department(s) offering the course as well.  An exception to this restriction is courses offered by Letters and Science ('LS'). Students may complete as many LS courses as they wish for Seven-Course Breadth. This includes LS courses offered through the Discovery and Big Ideas programs. 
  • Courses fulfilling American History & InstitutionsAmerican Cultures or requirements in the major program may also be applied to the Seven-Course Breadth requirement.
  • Exams, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, cannot be used to fulfill breadth requirements.

Courses taken prior to Fall 2016 can be verified for Seven-Course Breadth approval by viewing The Archived Seven-Course Breadth List.

Fall Program for Freshmen (FPF) Students can confirm Seven-Course Breadth options using the Berkeley Fall Program for Freshmen website. 

UCEAP Course Options for Breadth

UCEAP courses may be evaluated to fulfill Seven-Course Breadth. To request review of prospective courses in advance of enrolling in a program, please click the 'Evaluation of breadth courses' link on the Berkeley Study Abroad college advising page. 

This same linkalso lists previously approved UCEAP courses by country and program.

Study Abroad Option for International Studies Breadth

In addition to the course options for International Studies breadth published in the Class Schedule, this requirement may also be satisfied by full participation in the UC and UC Berkeley sponsored programs for study abroad listed below. All the required courses for each program must be completed with a C-/P or better.

Completion of study abroad programs sponsored by other accredited colleges and universities is also acceptable provided a student has obtained pre-approval from a College Adviser. Please note that not all programs may qualify.

GCE Advanced Level Exam Options for Breadth (for students admitted fall 2017 and prior)

The college accepts a limited number of GCE A Level exams for Seven-Course Breadth. Those students admitted Spring 2018 and prior are eligible to use these exams for breadth, with scores of A, B or C. Please see the link below for the exams and the breadth areas they satisfy. 

Beginning with students admitted Fall 2018 and beyond, the college will no longer accept exams for breadth. Students must complete a college-level course. 

GCE A Level Exams for Breadth

To satisfy Seven-Course Breadth with Transfer Work follow these guidelines:

  • Final Grade: All transfer courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better, or the equivalent of a Passed (P) grade on the host campus, in order to be considered for Seven-Course Breadth. 
  • Units: To be eligible for consideration, the minimum unit requirement for a course offered from a campus on the semester system is 3.0 units, and for courses offered from campuses on the quarter system, 4.0 units.
  • California Community Colleges: See our California Community College Transfer Credit page for more information on how to select California Community College courses for breadth. 
  • Other Higher Education Institution: Successful completion of  transferable courses from an accredited college university outside of UC Berkeley and the California Community College system may also be considered. Course descriptions and syllabi will be required to make a breadth determination. For more information on pursuing transfer courses for Seven-Course Breadth at another Higher Education institution, select the type of institution at which you plan to take coursework on our Transfer Credit page.
  • IGETC or UC ReciprocityIGETC certification from a California community college or a letter of reciprocity from a UC campus satisfies the Seven-Course Breadth requirement and the Essential Skills requirements. They do not cover American History, American Institutions, or American Cultures
  • Submitting Transcripts. After the institution where you took the course posts grades, submit an official transcript. Review information on how to send transcripts to UC Berkeley at Admissions's Submitting Transcripts to UC Berkeley page (scroll down to find "Instructions for Students").