Do you have prior knowledge of English, but need to improve your language skills to apply to one of our programs? Then this preparatory program is for you. You'll focus on developing your English-language and test-taking skills needed to succeed at UC Berkeley.

BGA-Start is a language program intended to be taken before participating in one of our programs or tracks, which focus on academic subjects as opposed to English language development.

Why Take Part in BGA-Start

  • Improve your TOEFL score
  • Practice writing, listening and speaking skills in a U.S. classroom
  • Access to Berkeley, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley
  • Qualify to apply to one of our many programs


Duration of program

One semester (approximately 4 months) or a full academic year (approximately 8 months).

Pace of study

Full-time, Monday–Friday, 12–18 units per semester


You'll take one approved UC Berkeley course and various UC Berkeley Extension courses so that you can focus on your English as a Second Language (ESL) skills and TOEFL test preparation. You'll take a minimum of 12 units and a maximum of 18 units total of credit-bearing, in-person courses (online courses are not eligible). Enrollment in all courses is subject to availability.

Suggested course structure: 1 UC Berkeley course +1 TOEFL preparation course + 2 ESL courses + 1 or 2 non-language-focused Extension course(s).

UC Berkeley Extension courses—Recommended courses include:

  • TOEFL preparation
  • Two to three ESL courses in academic reading and writing, listening and speaking (required)
  • Courses related to major or subject of interest (optional)

UC Berkeley Courses—To view available courses, select the academic term and then the subject you are interested in. Upon acceptance into the program, we'll work with you to choose an appropriate UC Berkeley course that meets your English proficiency level so that you can succeed.

If you successfully complete the BGA-Start program, you will have the opportunity to join the BGA Discover program or a program track focused on a specific academic subject. You must maintain a 3.0 GPA and receive recommendations from your instructors and the Program Director before being accepted into a BGA program.

UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate-level courses must be approved in advance. You must meet listed prerequisite requirements to be eligible for any course.


  • Program Fee Range $10,400—$11,850
  • Estimated living expenses $10,500 per semester
  • Estimated cost per semester $20,900—$22,350

Cost includes:

  • Courses and fees
  • Visa and housing support
  • New student orientation
  • Welcome lunch
  • International student fee
  • Mandatory health insurance
  • Student advising
  • Graduate school admissions workshop
  • Undergraduate research and student learning center resources
  • Academic transcript

Cost does not include Visa fees, textbooks, supplies, travel and housing costs, meals or daily expenses. If you participate in BGA Discover for a full academic year you'll receive a $500 continuing-student discount.


  • Recommended minimum grade point average (GPA): 3.0. Calculate my GPA. Exceptions are sometimes made on a case-by-case basis; you may contact us for details.
  • Completion of the BGA-Start online application.
  • Make sure that you meet specific prerequisites for any course you intend to take.

BGA-Start Program English Proficiency Requirements

Applicants must submit official evidence of English-language proficiency. Sometimes exceptions to this requirement are made. Please note that the submission of language proficiency scores or other forms of verification does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

English Language Test Minimum Score for BGA-Start Program

If you have a lower English test score or do not have an English proficiency test score when you apply, please contact us to request a language proficiency interview. If you complete this interview satisfactorily, you may be eligible to attend BGA-Start and then Discover or our other tracks. BGA-Start students generally have language skills equivalent to a TOEFL score of 80–89.

If you have a TOEFL of 79 or below or do not demonstrate adequate language proficiency, you may attend one of our partner English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) schools. We have agreements with several schools in the United States to accept institutional TOEFL scores.


UC Berkeley Main Campus
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94704

Golden Bear Center
1995 University Ave., Suite 200
Berkeley, CA 94704

Program Dates:

Start and End Dates Application Deadline
Spring 2019 January 18, 2019–May 17, 2019 November 19, 2018
Summer 2019 Internship June 3, 2019–August 9, 2019 No additional application necessary.
August 26, 2019–December 20, 2019 July 1, 2019

You may note your interest in a summer internship in your online application. More information about internships will be provided after your program begins.

Program taught in:
  • English

See 27 more programs offered by UC Berkeley Extension »

Last updated January 8, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
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Jan 2020
4 - 8 months
10,400 USD
$10,400 to $11,850 per semester
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Nov 29, 2019
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