Undergraduate Major FAQ

Can I double major?

Students are generally advised not to seek a double major, for a variety of reasons, including a negative impact on grades and scheduling conflicts. Instead, a minor (such as the new summer Global Public Health minor, Global Poverty and Practice, Public Policy, Education, Nutrition, Demography, Geographic Information Science, and most languages) works much better both for scheduling and for time constraints. However, it may be possible to do a double major; a discussion with the academic advisor is crucial.

It’s important to determine why you want to double major. Originally, the double major was developed for students who could not decide between two majors and wanted to do both. Now, many students feel that double majoring will make them “competitive” for graduate or medical school, or that since their roommates are doing a double major, they should do one also. These are not really valid reasons to do double majors: with regards to medical school, a case study of a recent UC Berkeley graduate illustrates that doubling is not essential for medical school admission and actually could be a hindrance.

The Public Health Undergraduate Major web page states that students usually declare at the end of their sophomore year. If I finish all of the prerequisites for the major by the end of my sophomore year, am I guaranteed to be able to major in public health?

Completing all the prerequisites does not guarantee you placement in the major. Admission into the major is dependent on your prerequisite coursework and the information you provide in your application to the major. Because placement is not guaranteed, all students should have a backup major!

Can I take courses at a community college?

Yes. Prerequisite courses may be taken at a community college. We advise all students to visit www.assist.org to determine which classes count for credit at UC Berkeley. However, all core classes required for the major must be completed at UC Berkeley.

How do I know whether a course I took at a community college is transferable to UC Berkeley?

Check the "ASSIST" website (http://www.assist.org/web-assist/welcome.html), which is the official site for courses from other colleges that are transferable to the University of California. ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when you transfer to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

Can I use AP credits for my prerequisites?

The undergraduate Public Health program accepts Advanced Placement (AP) units for the Social Sciences and Math prerequisites. AP scores of 3, 4, or 5 are acceptable for the following courses:

  • Psychology for Psych 1 or Psych 2
  • Economics (both micro and macro) for Econ 1, 2, or 3
  • Government for POL SCI 2 or 4
  • Math
    • A minimum score of a 3 on the Math AB or BC exam is equivalent to Math 1A
    • A score of 5 on the BC Math is equivalent to Math 1A and 1B

If you have taken both an AP exam and the equivalent college-level course, we will only take the grade from the college-level course into consideration for admissions purposes. For AP Government, you may take either POL SCI 2 or 4 in combination with your AP score.

Do I need to complete my Reading & Composition, American Cultures, and/or breadth requirements before declaring a Public Health Major?

While the Reading and Composition requirements must be met before declaring any major (Public Health included), the American Cultures requirement and the breadth requirements can be completed any time during your undergraduate career.

I've already taken a Social Science class that satisfies my American Cultures requirement. Can I also use it to satisfy the School of Public Health Social Science requirement?


Can I apply before I finish all of my prerequisites?

No. The earliest you can apply is at the end of the semester in which you’ve completed all your public health prerequisites.

I took a prerequisite course as P/NP. Can I apply with this?

No. All prerequisite classes must be taken for a letter grade and you must earn at least a C- grade or above.

Can I apply more than once?

Beginning Spring 2017, you can only apply once to the major.

Can I take Public Health core classes before getting in to the major?

It is highly unlikely that non-Public Health major students will be able to enroll in the Public Health core classes (with exception of PH HLTH 142) in the fall and spring semesters since Public Health major students have priority during the Phase I & II enrollment windows. Non-Public Health major students are strongly encouraged to take PB HLTH 150B or PB HLTH 150D in the summer prior to applying to the major. PB HLTH 142 counts for multiple majors so if you are not accepted, you can apply this course to your backup major option. In addition, taking Public Health core classes does not guarantee your admission into the major.

Can I take Public Health graduate courses as an undergrad?

Yes. Declared Public Health major students may take graduate courses within the School of Public Health if they get approval from the faculty teaching the course. The class must be for a letter grade and can count toward your Public Health electives.

Can I study abroad?

Yes, you can study abroad, but not in your final year at UC Berkeley. It’s important to meet with an academic advisor for advice on how best to plan this. As a Public Health major, you cannot complete your requirements in time if you study abroad during your final year at UC Berkeley. The UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) strongly discourages students from studying abroad during their final semester. Because it takes a while for final grades to arrive at the Registrar’s office, if you decide to study abroad your final semester, there’s a likely chance that you will not be able to officially graduate from the university until the following semester. This may impact any graduate school or job offers you have that require you to have a bachelor's degree by a specific start date. This delay can also add to the cost of your education.