Best Colleges in America 2022
college_name
Prev RANK: 14, Best Selective Colleges Next
Overall Score: 84.67

University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley, or Cal for short, is one of the most selective public colleges in the country, with an acceptance rate of about 17%. A respected research institution, Cal gives students access to a faculty that includes numerous MacArthur fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel laureates, including biologist Randy Schekman, who received the 2013 Nobel Prize for medicine, and astrophysicist George Smoot, who won the 2006 award in physics. As with many big universities, lower-level classes are large – one computer science course usually draws more than 1,000 students. But with scale also comes a mind-boggling array of choices for non-academic pursuits, including more than 60 sororities and fraternities, as well as hundreds of clubs (including several devoted to specific dance styles such as tango, ballroom and K-Pop). Sports are a big attraction on campus, and the Golden Bears' Division I sports teams tend to be very strong – the football rivalry with nearby Stanford is legendary and results in an annual "Big Game." Cal grads go on to earn an average of $80,000 in their first several years after graduation, which is slightly more than what peers from comparable schools typically make. Famous former students include the author Maxine Hong Kingston, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, actor John Cho, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen and "Myspace Tom" Anderson.

Costs

Est. full price 2022-2023
$42,700
% of students who get any grants
59%
Est. price for students who receive aid
$20,400
Average price for low-income students
$8,450

Admissions

Acceptance rate
16%
Median SAT/ACT score
1430/33
SAT/ACT required?
No
Undergraduate enrollment
31,350

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
95%
% of need met
80%
% of students who get merit grants
6%
Average merit grant
$7,520

Student Success

Graduation rate
92%
Average time to a degree
4.2 years
Median student debt
$13,500
Early career earnings
$80,360
% earning more than a high school grad
81%

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

More From Money’s College Team

  • Recent College News

    Recent College News

    Read the latest Money coverage on paying for college, succeeding on campus and transitioning to the working world.
  • How to Apply for the FAFSA

    How to Apply for the FAFSA

    The application is the gateway to billions of dollars in financial aid for college.
  • Best Student Loans

    Best Student Loans

    Learn all about private student loans with Money's expert guide.