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Study Abroad at the University of California, Berkeley

Experience brilliance at the
University of California, Berkeley

The Berkeley International Study Program (BISP) provides opportunities for visiting international students to study at UC Berkeley for one or two semesters. Since 2005 we have provided invitations to study at Berkeley to students who are nominated by select universities that we partner with. With the BISP invitation students can then apply to UC Berkeley Extension who provides the visa documents to study here and administrative processes to enroll and earn credit in regular UC Berkeley courses, a program called International Concurrent Enrollment.

We are now offering individual students, who do not attend one of these partner universities, the opportunity to apply directly to BISP. We will screen and select a limited number of students who qualify. We are looking to invite students from different parts of the world who are interested in taking courses in the Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities. Students from many disciplines take courses in these areas, not only from traditional subjects such as sociology, anthropology, history, english, and political science but also from multidisciplinary areas in business, media, health, languages, international relations, cultural and global studies, to name a few.

Recently, UC Berkeley was rated as one of the “Elite Six” global university brands by the prestigious Times Higher Education, and the best public university by 2018 US News and World Report. Our professors are some of the best in their fields, engaged in ground-breaking research, innovative thinking and service to society. The campus is vibrant and alive with students from California and all over the world, who actively engage in campus life in many different ways.

The City of Berkeley is a mid-sized city known for its progressive policies and viewpoints, and is a hub of creativity and counterculture. It is just 20 minutes from iconic San Francisco. Whether it's sports games, opera, or the entrepreneurism of Silicon Valley, there is something for everyone here.

Next steps

The University of California, Berkeley is a world-renowned public university famous for its top scholars, social activism, innovation, and diverse student body. Our programs are consistently rated in the top ten among universities in the U.S., and often the world, in many subject areas.

Get the "Berkeley Experience"

BISP students take the same high-quality courses alongside UC Berkeley students on a space availability basis. BISP works with over 50 academic departments in the Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities to identify courses that have space to add our visiting international students. Hundreds of courses do, and our BISP students join these classes with UC Berkeley and other international students, which provides a globally-rich academic learning experience for all.

Over 500 visiting international BISP students each semester enjoy the experience of taking classes at Berkeley, and tend to do quite well! BISP students then transfer these courses back to their home universities, which in most cases will count for credit towards their degree. Moreover, they take with them the “Berkeley Experience” having spent a semester or year abroad among some of the best students and professors in the world, on a diverse and amazing campus.

Daily activities, performances and events are commonplace on campus, open to both the student population and the general public. The Berkeley International Study Program also offers a Cultural Peer Mentor Program, in which current UC students plan fun activities, guide, support and connect BISP students towards important campus and community resources. Students are encouraged to participate in student groups, of which there are over 1,000 available to choose from all over campus. Our students often travel to Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Yosemite, Los Angeles/Hollywood, with easy access to the famed California beaches on the Pacific Coast.

Tuition and Fees

Unlike exchange programs involving a partnership between a university and the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, students in our program pay fees to cover tuition and program costs. This makes it possible for us to invite qualified international students to study at UC Berkeley through BISP, and offer outstanding activities and support for all.

All visiting students on an F-1 Student Visa to study in the United States must take a minimum of 12 semester units or credits. Your university may require additional credits or units taken here while you study abroad.

The tuition you will pay depends on the number of units you take. Each unit costs $750 USD in academic year 2019-2020. For example, if a student enrolls in 12 units, their tuition would be $9,000 USD.

Additional fees include:

  • $10,500 USD for estimated living expenses
  • $700 USD for required health insurance
  • $575 USD for application and student services fees

All fees are subject to change in future academic years. And, of course, students should plan for other costs such as books, travel and entertainment.

How to Apply

If you are interested in applying directly to our BISP program for an invitation to study for one or two semesters at UC Berkeley, and believe you are a good candidate considering the qualifications below, please complete the information requested on the Inquiry Form.



Academic Interest in Social Sciences or Arts and Humanities

Students should have an interest in taking courses from one or more of the following academic departments in the Social Sciences and Arts & Humanities.

Please let us know your subject and course interest areas in the Inquiry Form.

We are looking for students who have taken at least one year, preferably two years, of academic courses at an accredited university before studying abroad at UC Berkeley. We look for high marks or grades on a transcript, generally equivalent to a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Academic Accomplishments


Visiting international students from non-English speaking universities must meet a minimum score on an English Language Proficiency exam, such as: TOEFL: score of 90 (iBT) or IELTS Academic Format: score of 7.0. If you have taken another type of English Language exam, please let us know in the inquiry form so we can let you know if this alternate exam is acceptable and what the score requirement is. Students who meet or exceed the minimum scores noted above will be considered.

English Language Proficiency


It is very important that the students we select have an excellent command of the English language including skills in reading, writing, listening and conversation. We want you to succeed in your courses here, and be able to participate fully with other students in your classes. Please take this into consideration when you apply to our program.

Beyond Academics

After completing the Inquiry Form you will receive a response back from one of our Program Advisors, letting you know if you're eligible to officially apply to our BISP program and what the next steps are.

The inquiry application period and deadlines are generally the following:

  • Fall Semester start: February 1 - June 15
  • Spring Semester start: July 15 - November 1

We encourage you to apply as soon as possible so we can communicate with you about your plans. We will select students on a rolling basis during the application period, until we have reached capacity. If we reach our limit before the deadline, we will post this on the BISP website.

If you have questions, you can always email us at

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