Most of the information on the BISP website, including this page and its links, is geared towards our in-person study abroad program, which we hope will resume in Spring 2021 (to be determined given the pandemic situation). Please keep this in mind when exploring our web pages. Students interested in the BISP Goes Virtual program for Fall 2020 should follow the information and instructions on the BISP Virtual tab and the links from that page.
Study Abroad at the University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is a world-renowned public university famous for its top scholars, social activism, innovation, and diverse student body. 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.
Recently, UC Berkeley was rated as one of the “Elite Six“ global university brands by the prestigious Times Higher Education. 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.
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.
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.
About BISP (Berkeley International Study Program): Get the “Berkeley Experience”
The Berkeley International Study Program (BISP) is a unique program that provides study abroad opportunities for visiting international students, where limited options exist for these students, to come to UC Berkeley to study for one or two semesters. Since 2005 we have been partnering with select universities in different parts of the world where we have had academic connections, who nominate qualified students to study abroad in our program. We are now offering individual students, sometimes called “freemovers,” who do not attend one of these BISP Partner Universities, the opportunity to apply directly to BISP.
With an invitation letter from BISP and other documents, our UC Berkeley Extension office provides the visa documents to study here and the administrative processes to enroll and earn credit in regular UC Berkeley courses, a program called International Concurrent Enrollment. BISP students take the same high-quality courses UC Berkeley students take on a space availability basis. BISP works with departments and instructors to identify courses that have space, once UC Berkeley students have enrolled, 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 students each semester enjoy the experience of participating in class discussions and engaging in unique ways of learning, and the ones we invite tend to do quite well at our university! Our Berkeley students value getting to know our international visitors, and learn a lot from them in class and through cultural integration and activities.These kinds of activities and experience are so important in our increasingly globally diverse work world.
BISP students return back to their home universities happy with the courses they have taken, which in most cases will count for credit towards their degree (inquire at your university). Students also find that studying abroad at UC Berkeley, and succeeding in the academic courses, is an impressive experience to put on their resume. Moreover, they take with them the “Berkeley Experience” having spent a semester or year abroad on a diverse and amazing campus, among some of the best students and professors in the world, in the outstanding San Francisco Bay Area in beautiful sunny California, U.S.A.
Tuition and Fees
Unlike exchange programs involving a partnership between a university and the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, UCEAP, 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. For example students from European universities must take the equivalent to 30 ECTS points, which would be 15 semester units at UC Berkeley).
The tuition (called course fees at UC Berkeley) you will pay depends on the number of units you take. Each unit costs $750 USD in academic year 2019-20. For example, if a student enrolls in 12 units, their tuition would be $9,000 USD; 13 units would be $9,750, and so on.
Additional fees include:
$10,500 USD for estimated living expenses*
$825 USD for required health insurance (unless waived**)
$475 USD for application and student services fees
*Living expenses can vary greatly depending on living circumstances. Most of our visiting students live in apartments surrounding UC Berkeley. Some students will spend less than the estimated amount, and others will spend a little more.
**This fee can be waived if a student has substantial coverage in a health plan for foreign health care services. This is the case for Norwegian citizens.
The above fees do not include miscellaneous costs such as books, travel and entertainment. All fees are subject to change in future academic years.
We understand that the fees and expenses may be more than what you are used to at your home university. Tuition is very common at universities in the United States, and living expenses can be quite high in popular urban areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of our students are able to obtain scholarships and loans from their home country’s government, university, local organizations, or financial institutions. We encourage you to search for these opportunities or talk to an International Coordinator or Advisor at your university for ideas. Many of our students also provide their own private funds to offset some or all of the expenses, and value the opportunity to come to Berkeley so much that they work and save up ahead of time to make this dream possible.
Unfortunately our university and the BISP program do not have scholarships available for visiting international students. As a public state university, financial aid is reserved for residents of California and the U.S.
How to Apply to BISP:
There are two ways to apply to the Berkeley International Study Program (BISP), depending on if you attend one of our BISP Partner Universities or not. Please look at the list to see if we have an agreement with your university.
1) If you do attend one of our partner universities, please visit the International Office at your school to inquire about the application process for the Berkeley International Study Program. We recommend doing this as soon as possible, so that you have enough time to make plans and don’t miss any deadlines which will be earlier at your university than our deadlines.You should also go to the information page we provide for students at our BISP Partner Universities.
2) If you do not attend one of our partner universities, you may apply directly to our BISP program as an independent student, for an invitation to study for one or two semesters at UC Berkeley. Please review the following information page for independent students: BISP Application Process-Independent Students
We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you to come spend a semester, or maybe two, with us at Berkeley. We are sure you will find it to be an incredible academic and cultural experience. If you are interested, please don’t forget to complete the Inquiry Form to express your interest in our program.