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Undergraduate students come to Berkeley from a variety of paths, backgrounds, and experiences but they all share at least two things in common. All are part of the Berkeley community and all plan to earn their degree.
Once they arrive on campus, the question becomes, What next?
Some students come with intended majors while others are undeclared. In the mix of new courses, new peers, and a new environment, do students continue on their intended path? Do students graduate?
In Fall 2013, 6,896 new students entered UC Berkeley.
Among them were
Using colleges and divisions to track student interests, students can be followed from intended major to declared major to where they ultimately earn their degree. Earned degrees are as of the 2018-19 academic year.
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Where do students find majors?
The majority of students who identify an intended major end up declaring their major within the same division.
For example, a 2013 freshman entrant with an intended major of English will likely follow 41% of their fellow students with intended majors in L&S Arts & Humanities and also declare a major within Arts & Humanities.
(Even if they switch to comparative literature, they are still counted as staying on the Arts & Humanities path.)
Where do students entering L&S undeclared find majors?
While undeclared students in Letters & Science didn't appear to have their minds made up when they entered UC Berkeley, almost all of the 2013 freshman cohort ended up declaring a major.
Only a small fraction (7%) of freshman students entering L&S undeclared did not declare a major within 6 years of entry.
Where do students earn their degrees?
The majority of students who declare a major end up earning a degree from the same division as that major.
For example, a student with a declared major of Psychology will likely follow 93% of their fellow students with declared majors in the Social Sciences and earn a degree within that area.
(Even if they switch to Economics, they are still counted as staying within the Social Sciences path.)
What about transfer entrants?
Up until now, this story has been focussed on freshman entrants. Transfer students are admitted into a major upon entry, while most freshman entrants are not. (The schools at the top of the graphic automatically declare majors for freshman entrant students as well, while the College of Letters & Sciences does not.)
Even with admission into a major upon entry, there is movement among transfer entrant students. Nearly one fifth (20%) of Fall 2015 transfer students entering into the L&S Arts & Humanities Division received a degree from another UC Berkeley school/division within 4 years.
How many students stay on the same track?
The majority of students who identify an intended major end up earning a degree within the same division as that major.
In cases where students don't earn a degree in their intended or declared major, most do earn their undergraduate degree at Berkeley - as can be seen in the grey part of each division's bar in the chart.
(Mouseover the bars to see the percentages.)
What are the trends over time?
While the bar chart reflects persistence within a major for the Fall 2013 freshman entering cohort, we've added some sparklines on the right that show the persistence for each division's cohort entering between 1996 and 2013.
The College of Natural Resources (CNR), for instance, has a strong upward trend in intended-to-degree persistence.
Back in 1996, only 21% of the Fall freshman entering cohort intending to major within the College of Natural Resources ended up earning a degree there. The intended-to-degree persistence increased to 63% for the Fall 2013 freshman entering cohort.
How many students stay on the same track after declaring their first major?
Not surprisingly, a much larger proportion of students declare a major and then go on to earn their degree in the same division as compared to intended-to-degree persistence.
Trends over time
The sparklines on the right of this chart show that the declared-to-degree persistence for each division's cohorts entering between 1996 and 2013 has remained relatively steady over the period.
Again, the College of Natural Resources experienced the largest increase in declared-to-degree persistence, more than doubling from 33% in the 1996 Fall entering freshman cohort to 71% in 2013.
We hope you've enjoyed this scrolling adventure and now encourage you to head back up to the top of the page to explore much more in the major migration flows.
- Data comes from UC Berkeley's data warehouse reporting system, Cal Answers.
- Because the graphic follows entering cohorts through to degree completion within a 6-year window for freshmen and a 4-year window for transfers, there is a time lag between the most recent data available and the present day. Note that there are structural policy differences between freshman and transfer students as well as between different divisions/colleges. The Colleges of Environmental Design, Natural Resources, Chemistry & Engineering automatically declare majors for students, while the College of Letters & Science does not. Additionally, transfer students are admitted into a major upon entry, while freshman students are not.
- Students with multiple majors are only counted once across divisions. If a student is a double major in Economics and Business but declared Economics first, they will appear only in Social Sciences. If a student is a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, they will appear only once in College of Engineering.
- There are cases in which a small number of students (~1%) are shown to earn a degree without declaring a major -- this is due to clerical error.
- L&S Undergraduate Division includes interdisciplinary programs such as:
- American Studies
- Media Studies
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- In addition to the major programs administered through the College's five divisions, Letters & Science has agreements with several professional schools and colleges on campus who administer undergraduate major programs. L&S Administered Programs includes:
- Computer Science
- Data Science
- Environmental Economics & Policy
- Legal Studies
- Operations Research & Management Science
- Public Health
- Social Welfare