Graduating Seniors

Graduating Seniors

CalCentral will show your expected graduation term.

Well before Phase I of your last semester, you should check your Academic Progress Report on CalCentral dashboard. The APR will disclose whether or not you have satisfied the University and L&S graduation requirements. Contact an Undergraduate Adviser in 368 or 374 Physics North to confirm that all major requirements are, or will be, completed by graduation. (See Graduation Checklist below).

Graduation Ceremony

Graduation ceremony for the Astrophysics/Astronomy, Physical Science and Physics Departments is usually held shortly after Spring final examinations (mid May). Graduating seniors should receive an invitation to participate in the ceremony by early March. Students graduating in the following Fall semester may participate with the approval of their department. Contact an Undergraduate Adviser (368 or 374 Physics North) for more details.

Graduation Checklist

There are four categories of requirements which you must satisfy in order to graduate:

  1. General Requirements (Consult the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for information.)
    1. Subject A
    2. American History
    3. American Institutions
  2. Berkeley Campus Requirement
    1. American Cultures
  3. Major Requirement
    1. Completion of 12 upper Division in residence
  4. L & S Requirements

4a. Essential Skills

  • Reading and Composition
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Foreign Language

4b. L&S Breadth Requirements

4b.1 Seven-Course Breadth Requirement
In effect beginning fall 1994 for all freshmen/sophomore admits (fewer than 56 units); beginning fall 1996 for all junior transfer admits (56 or more units).

Seven courses totaling a minimum of 19 semester units outside of the major field (Breadth courses must carry at least 2 units - see L&S Announcement for distribution). The breadth requirements may have been satisfied if IGETC has been completed prior to admission or by the UC Reciprocity for transfer students.

  1. Arts and Literature
  2. Biological Science
  3. Historical Studies
  4. International Studies
  5. Philosophy and Values
  6. Physical Science
  7. Social and Behavioral Science

4b.2 Traditional Six-Course Breadth Requirements
In effect for freshmen/sophomores (fewer than 56 units) admitted before fall 1994, and for junior transfers (56 or more units) admitted before fall 1996. You must graduate by August 1999 or else complete the Seven-Course Requirement.

Six courses (minimum of 16 semester units) outside the field of your major, distributed according to the guidelines. (Please see L&S Announcement).

4c. Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units
  • At least 60 L&S units
  • of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
  • of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside the Major Department

Always consult L&S for clarification and updates:

4d. P (passed) Rule
A maximum of 1/3 of the units successfully completed at UC Berkeley (excluding UC Extension) from Fall 1970 until graduation may be graded "P".

4e. Senior Residence
After 90 units have been accumulated, at least 24 of the remaining 30 units must be completed at UC Berkeley in at least two semesters.

4f. Scholarship Requirement
Minimum 2.0 (C) overall grade point average

Life after Physics

Some early post-graduation planning can go far in enhancing a student's undergraduate curriculum.

If work in the technical field is part of the student's immediate plans then he/she should look into getting "practical" experience through supervised independent or group research, working (paid or non paid) with a research group on campus or internship programs. Practical experience can make, an otherwise, theoretical curriculum more marketable when applying for jobs.

Graduate School

The Admissions Committee looks at the following criteria when considering admission to the Ph.D. graduate program at Berkeley: grades in upper division math and physics (3.7 and above), score in the GRE, Advanced Subject Test in Physics (870), letters of recommendation, research experience (if applicable), and Statement of Purpose. Applications for fall admission (we only admit graduate students in the fall) are due January fifth of any given year.

Informational flyers from various graduate programs offered nationwide are posted on the last bulletin board along the west corridor of the third floor in Physics North. The Physics Library has the directory of Graduate Programs published by American Institute of Physics (AIP). Instructors and advisors are valuable sources of information regarding graduate school. View graduate programs in physics.

Neatness Counts!

Make photo copies of your application forms first. Complete sections and revise until you are satisfied with your entries. Type the final form neatly and accurately. Reviewers have to read hundreds of applications, and typed forms are easier to read. Keep on top of the deadlines!

Letters of Recommendation

There are no standard recommendation forms available through the Department. Ask the recommender to write a general letter commenting on your abilities as a scholar and/or scientist. A written request which includes courses taken with the instructor, and when; a short description or your academic or career goals; and what the recommenders should comment on may be helpful, especially if you did not have very much contact with them.

Note: Letters of Recommendation forms included in the application material for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship and Hertz Foundation Fellowship must be completed by your recommenders.

Physics majors only may open a recommendation file. Recommenders should send their letter to Student Services, 368 Physics North where the original will be kept on file. The Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer (SAO) will send out photo copies of the originals in the file to prospective employers, fellowships, graduate schools and summer internship programs. Contact the Undergraduate SAO for specific details. We advise all other students may visit the Career Center.


Information regarding fellowships general or specific to UC can be obtained from the Graduate Division (318 Sproul Hall); information regarding fellowships specific to schools can be obtained from the departmental bulletin board (Physics North, third floor, west corridor); and information regarding general fellowships (i.e. NSF) can be obtained from 368 Physics North. 

These are a few of the major fellowships and their approximate deadlines:

National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships
Deadline:  first week of November, annually

Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowships in the Applied Physical Sciences
Deadline:  second week of October, annually

National Physical Science Consortium Graduate Fellowships in the Physical Sciences
Deadline:  no later than November 5, annually. For information on the letter of recommendation service.

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program
Deadline:  second week of January, annually.

Graduate Records Examination (GRE)

Because completed graduate applications are due late December or early January at most universities, the October test date is optimal for admission and fellowship reviews. Test dates later than December will delay your application from admissions review and preclude it from fellowship review. Consult your regional Educational Testing Services Office for test dates.