For undergraduates seeking to shape bright futures for themselves, one question often arises: how do they stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in sunny California, where Berkeley Global is based. The department is part of University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), developed to make the institution’s offerings more accessible to international students via short-term study and professional certificate programmes.
It’s how Sibble (Qidi) Zhang from China tested the waters first before committing to a year of study. She did so last summer when she left The University of Hong Kong to attend UC Berkeley’s Summer Sessions. With each class, she earned credit that could be transferred to her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and finance. “I valued my experience,” she says. Hence her decision to stay.
Last semester, she was accepted into the Berkeley Chemistry Visiting Student Programme, which entailed intensive training alongside dedicated Berkeley faculty and like-minded, full-time Berkeley students. This semester, she’s broadening her horizons with the Berkeley Global Access Programme (BGA).
“The benefit is that you are free to choose courses from any subject, so you have the chance to explore more disciplines,” Zhang explains. “This semester, I started to take molecular cell biology courses. I think it’s changed my future career orientation.”
These are precisely the kind of realisations Berkeley Global wants visiting students to make on their grounds. The BGA programme lets learners chart their paths by picking from thousands of Berkeley’s exceptional programmes. While some take this opportunity to dive deeper into their areas of interest, perhaps through lessons their university does not currently offer; others focus their attention on exploring topics that could set them up for interdisciplinary success. Regardless, everyone earns credits along the way that bring them steps closer to earning the degrees they started back home.
Subjects popular among visiting students include computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, social sciences, humanities, business, and economics. Futian Zhong, however, chose the BGA programme to advance his interests in economics and research.
“UC Berkeley is extraordinarily famous for economics research,” explains the student. “That’s why I chose two economics courses; they taught me how to conduct research in an empirical way. Furthermore, real analysis is a good demonstration of my mathematics ability, which, in the long run, can help my application for graduate school.”
Those keener on stepping into the world of work once they graduate can further prepare themselves with the one-unit Focus on Your Future: Career Development and Coaching Course. This programme empowers students to identify their strengths, enhance emotional intelligence, and develop tangible skills for professional success. Through coaching, workshops, and guest interactions, they improve their communication skills, cross-cultural competencies, job application, and personal branding skills while gaining insights into the Bay Area and Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.
Academics aside, UC Berkeley’s multicultural environment and social responsibility made Berkeley Global an obvious choice for Zhong. “I wanted to hear insightful opinions of others that are not subjected to autocratic monitoring and restrictions and to be able to discuss with people of great minds freely,” he says. That’s what campus life should be like from my perspective.”
Such surroundings make it incredibly easy for students to form friendships that often transport them across California. For instance, Jawon Kim and her friends love using their Clipper Cards to spend their weekends in San Francisco. “I went shopping and experienced American life,” she enthuses. The global innovation hub, otherwise known as Silicon Valley, is a stone’s throw away, too.
Those who prefer to immerse themselves in campus life are by no means out of luck. Beyond the classroom, several Berkeley opportunities await visiting students, such as over 1,200 student clubs and organisations or 34 intramural sports teams. Campus is also a vibrant hub of events, performances, and cultural festivities, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment.