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

Beginning in Fall 2017, course options as published in the Berkeley Academic Guide Class Schedule include 5th semester, advanced language instruction options offered by a limited number of departments (3rd semester language instructions were accepted through Summer 2017 only). Language proficiency exams may not be used to satisfy International Studies. Additionally, this requirement may be satisfied by full participation in a study abroad program (see more 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.

Passing Grade

C- or better or a Pass (P)

Grading Option

Letter graded or Pass/No Pass


All students must complete Seven-Course Breadth before graduation.

How to Satisfy Seven-Course Breadth

High School Exam Score

Students admitted Fall 2018 and later

High school exam scores cannot be used to satisfy Seven-Course Breadth


Some A Level exams may be considered for breadth. Contact a College adviser for an evaluation

Berkeley Courses

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 limitation 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

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 First semester (FPF)

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

UCEAP Courses

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 Program for International Studies Breadth

International Studies breadth may 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.

*If you complete all 5 courses of the Island Sustainability Program with a grade of C- or higher, you may use this program to satisfy International Studies breadth. Please contact L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising to update your APR.

Completion of study abroad programs sponsored by other accredited colleges and universities (for example, Budapest Semesters in MathematicsCEA Study AbroadPitzer College Study Abroad) is also acceptable provided a student has obtained pre-approval from a College Adviser. Please note that not all programs may qualify and simply taking coursework abroad does not qualify. To be reviewed for pre-approval, make an appointment with an L&S College Adviser and be prepared with a link to the program you are considering. 

Transfer Courses

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. 

Students admitted with IGETC Certification or UC Reciprocity Seven-Course Breadth is satisfied. No additional course work is required.
California Community College Berkeley students may pursue a pre-approved course for Seven-Course Breadth at a California Community College. To identify pre-approved courses for Seven-Course Breadth, see our Transfer Credit: California Community College page for step-by-step instructions. 
Non-California Community College  Transfer courses from accredited higher education institutions (i.e. 2-year or 4-year campus in the U.S. or non-UCEAP courses from abroad), must be reviewed and approved by L&S to satisfy Seven-Course BreadthTo 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. See our Transfer Credit: Other Higher Education Institution page for step-by-step instructions.