Seven-Course Breadth Requirement

What is 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:

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

Current political, cultural, artistic and/or socio-economic life in at least one country other than the United States. 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). Additionally, this requirement may be satisfied by full participation in a study abroad program, review more information to the right.

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 & Institutions, American 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.

For a full master list of all current and past courses approved for Seven-Course Breadth, click here for the archive.

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 propsective coures in advance of enrolling in a program, please click the 'Evaluation of breadth courses' link on the Berkeley Study Abroad college advising(link is external) page. 

This same link(link is external) also lists previously approved UCEAP courses by country and program.

Study Abroad Option for International Studies Breadth

In addtion 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 (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.

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 fall 2017 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:

  • All transfer courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better, or the equivalent of a Passed grade on the host campus, in order to be considered for Seven-Course Breadth. 
  • 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.
  • For courses from California Community Colleges, use ASSIST to identify course options for Seven-Course Breadth. (Note: IGETC certification from a California community college or a letter of reciprocity from a UC campus satisfies the Seven-Course Breadth requirement.) 
  • Successful completion of  transferable courses from an accredited college university outside of UC and CCC 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, review the 'Transfer Credit for Continuing Students' section of Transfer Credit
  • After the institution where you took the course posts grades, submit an official transcript. If the school where you completed your requirement offeres electronic transcripts, request that an e-transcripts be sent to UC Berkeley Business Operations office: busops@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail). For paper transcripts, send to: Add Credit: UCB SID # (insert your ID)16 Sproul Hall, MC 0608, Berkeley, CA 94720-0608.