L&S: First-Year Pathways


  • Enrollment form opens at 5:30 PM PT on June 12, 2024. 
  • Pathways enrollment is first come, first-served.
  • Send questions to lspathways@berkeley.edu.

General Information

L&S First-Year Pathways is a program for first-year undergraduate students in the College of Letters & Science at UC Berkeley. Pathways consists of “course clusters,” which are three courses linked by a common theme. Each cluster contains a “hub” course and two “wing” courses. For Fall 2024, there are six clusters:

  • California: Ecology and Society
  • Technology and Society
  • Art, Environment and Economic Policy
  • Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Society
  • Democracy: Philosophy, Literature, History
  • Pre-med Cluster: Public Health, Immigration, Race (Fall 2024 and Spring 2025)

L&S Pathways has several beneficial components:

  • Early class enrollment – the enrollment process for Pathways runs right at the beginning of the primary registration period for incoming first-year students. Also, if you are enrolled in a cluster, you will only need to add 1-2 more units (so a small-unit course) to make the threshold for full-time student status.  See the question below on “how to enroll” for more information.
  • Small classes with faculty renowned in the topic they’re teaching you.
  • New friends – Pathways provides a small cohort experience (25 students), so you can make friends with interests similar to your own.
  • Compelling class topics on some of the most interesting and important issues of our time.
  • Efficient degree progress: Pathways helps you navigate the breadth requirements for your degree from the College of Letters & Science. You’ll take care of three of these in your very first semester at Berkeley.

To be eligible for L&S Pathways, you must:

  • be a newly admitted first-year student in the College of Letters & Science (Pathways will not enroll transfer students, as the high-uint load of the course clusters will prevent you from making progress in your major).

Pathways is a good choice if you are:

  • uncertain about what to take in your first semester.
  • unsure as to your intended major but have some ideas about topics of interest to you.
  • feeling a bit intimidated by how large the student population at Berkeley is and/or are feeling overwhelmed by the number of course choices you have.
  • want to get a jumpstart on fulfilling breadth requirements.
  • looking for a cohort experience with fellow students.
  • looking for a small seminar experience. 

Other considerations when choosing L&S Pathways:

  • If you are planning a pre-med/pre-health major, you may consider the NEW yearlong cluster, Pre-Med Cluster: Race, Immigration, and Public Health.
  • If you are planning a STEM major with significant or specific first-year requirements, Pathways is likely NOT a good fit for your academic needs – the high unit load of the clusters will prevent you from being able to take the courses you need for your major.
  Smaller Class Sizes Designed For First-Years Small Cohort-Based On Berkeley’s Campus Academic Themes Fall Semester Only
L&S First-Year Pathways X X X X X X
Fall Program for First Semester (FPF) X X     X X
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars X X   X    
Big Ideas Courses       X X  
Berkeley Connect X     X X  

Yes. There is no conflict between Pathways and Summer Bridge. If you are a Summer Bridge student, you should be able to enroll and participate in the Pathways program with no problem.

No. FPF students take a majority of their Fall coursework through the FPF course offerings, and thus would not have the space in their schedule to participate in L&S First-Year Pathways. For more information on the FPF program, please contact fpf@berkeley.edu.

L&S Pathways cohorts are capped at 25 students. While the lecture portion of the “wing” courses for the clusters may be larger, your central “hub” seminar and the discussion sections for the wing courses will have no more than 25 students.

Yes. Most L&S Pathway clusters carry an 11 or 12 unit course load – you will need to add another small unit course of 1-2 units to make the minimum course load (13 units) for full-time student status (you can ask your L&S advisor for suggestions during Golden Bear Advising). However, in order to help manage your course load for a more successful experience, we strongly suggest that you do NOT enroll in more 3-4 unit courses in this semester.

There is no extra cost for participating in Pathways. The cost of trips and outings is covered by the program. However, you must be able to fit them into your schedule, so please make sure to check these dates and put them into your calendar before signing up for the cluster.

You must be enrolled in L&S Pathways to take a “hub” course, which are only available as part of the cluster. However, you may be able to enroll in a “wing” course, outside of the Pathways program (this would be part of the regular class enrollment process in July).

No – you must take the whole cluster, all the way through the semester. Barring exceptional circumstances, if you drop one course, you will be dropped from the entire cluster. Otherwise, to drop the cluster, you will need to do so prior to the early drop deadline, which is Friday of the second week of classes – you will need to find an entire other roster of courses when you do, so we don’t recommend this course of action. 

If you are enrolled in a Pathways cluster and wish to drop out prior to the start of classes, please email us immediately at lspathways@berkeley.edu so we can drop you from the program and allow you to enroll for other classes.  If you are unsure as to whether Pathways is right for you, please contact us at the same email address, or simply register for regular classes.

L&S Pathways clusters usually carry a unit-load that is very close to the minimum threshold you need for full-time student status (i.e. 13 units). While you will need a small (1-2 unit) course to make that threshold, we strongly recommend against taking another full-load (3 or more unit) course on top of your cluster. Berkeley classes are challenging – they are not high school courses – and we recommend that the Pathways cluster be the courses you focus on. Unfortunately, the class times for the cluster are unalterable – if you have other competing obligations during class times, you will need to find classes outside the Pathways program.

No – due to the high unit-load of the clusters, you cannot fit more than one within the unit cap.

Spring 2025 is currently under development. The pre-Med cluster, Public Health, Immigration, Race, is confirmed to run yearlong (Fall 2024 and Spring 2025).

AP coursework and associated exam scores cannot be used to satisfy the seven breadth requirements for L&S. You can find more about what high school exam scores can be used for L&S degree requirements here: High School Exam Scores

Enrollment Information

You must have finished reading the FAQs on this page to register. Once you have done so, during the sign-up period which starts on June 12 at 5:30 PM PDT, you can click the “Sign Up” link at the top of the homepage, and follow the instructions on the sign-up form. You should indicate whether there’s a specific cluster that you want to be in, or whether you’d be happy in any of them. Please note that enrollment is first-come, first-served!

We will let you know whether you’ve been accepted into a cluster. We will enroll you in the cluster as soon as priority enrollment for first-year students begins. Once you have been enrolled, you will only be able to register for one small-unit course during the primary registration process.

You must have a CalNetID and Berkeley.edu email address to sign-up – to obtain these, make sure you have signed your Statement of Intent to Register form, and review the instructions here: How to Claim your CalNet ID.

We will do our best to place you in your first choice of cluster. If it is full, you will be placed on a waitlist for your first choice of cluster and will be notified as such.

We will email you to let you know whether you are enrolled or waitlisted in your cluster.  At that point, you will have the choice to try to sign up for a different cluster (if there is space available). If you are waitlisted for a cluster, we strongly recommend that you try to sign up for a different cluster, or go ahead and enroll in other classes during your priority enrollment appointment. If space in your desired cluster emerges at any time prior to the first week of classes, we will email you to see whether you would still like to be enrolled. 

L&S Pathways is only available for first-year L&S students at this time. You will not be able to sign up if you have already taken courses at Berkeley as a fully-matriculated student. If you are a transfer student, the high unit-load of the clusters will prevent you from making degree progress in your major, so we do not make it available to those students.

Please email lspathways@berkeley.edu with the subject heading “Cluster Sign-Up.” Please say in your email which country you are from, your name, your Berkeley email and student ID number, and the cluster for which you’d like to sign up.