Instruction FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

UC Berkeley has provided the following information so students can decide what is right for them based on their circumstances, preferences, goals, and personal judgments of risk. This is a living document that will be reviewed regularly to ensure it contains the most up-to-date information. We are committed to providing you with the highest quality educational experience and will do everything possible to support your progress toward a UC Berkeley degree.

The following answers reflect the most current plans for Fall 2020 instruction, although further changes to public health guidance may make changes necessary. We believe that preparing now will help us adapt our instructional approach to the prevailing public health guidelines. 

Questions and answers were compiled by members of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction and the Office of the Registrar. Additional questions and answers will be added. If your question is not listed here, please submit it using this form

Last updated 7/10/2020

Mode of Instruction:

What type of in-person instruction will be offered?
  • The intention is to conduct limited in-person classes this fall for students who are able to attend in person. 
  • The in-person classes will be restricted to a limited number of people, as dictated by factors including public health guidance and our own building density guidelines. 
  • Courses and discussion sections consisting of 26 or fewer people (including instructor) may be held in person for certain classes, if approved, following a comprehensive review process.
    • The decisions regarding which courses and sections will be offered in person versus remotely can be viewed via the Academic Guide Class Schedule.
  • To reduce COVID-19 exposure that could result from students traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, all instruction (including lectures and discussion sections that were delivered in person before Thanksgiving), RRR week activities, and final exams will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.
What types of classes will be offered remotely?
  • Classes meetings with more than 26 persons (enrollment of 25 plus one instructor) will be offered remotely. 
  • Most Berkeley Law classes will be remote. Please check the Law Schedule of Classes for details.
  • Different components of the same class may be offered differently. For instance, a large-enrollment class with small discussion sections or labs may have a remote lecture with in-person discussion sections or labs.
  • An innovative “Semester in the Cloud” program is being developed for select “gateway” classes as well as several other critical-path classes that will allow students to make progress toward meeting major and breadth requirements remotely.
    • A list of Fall 2020 courses being developed through this program, along with courses previously designed for fully online delivery, can be found here. Participating sections will be available via the schedule of classes soon. 
    • The Semester in the Cloud offerings will give some students enough choices to put together their entire Fall 2020 class schedule. In addition, still many more classes that were formerly taught in-person will be offered via remote instruction.
How can I find the Semester in the Cloud classes?
  • Semester in the Cloud classes can be found here.
  • Participating sections can be found by searching for Semester in the Cloud under the Course Types filter on the Academic Guide Class Schedule. In the CalCentral Schedule of Classes, search via the class attribute “online courses” and class attribute value “Semester in the Cloud.”
How are Semester in the Cloud classes different from a standard remote class offered via Zoom? 
  • Semester in the Cloud instructors have worked with Berkeley’s Digital Learning Services team to transform their in-person content for online delivery, using specific learning design and strategies, content preparation, and technical infrastructure. 
  • Courses previously designed for an online format are also available as Semester in the Cloud offerings.
Are all "Semester in the Cloud" classes asynchronous? 
  • Not necessarily. Instructions will determine if a class has an asynchronous option. Look for the asynchronous attribute on the class via the class search and read class notes for additional information. 
What is the difference between online classes and remote classes?
  • An online course has been designed from the ground up to be delivered online. Such courses undergo an approval process to be delivered online.
  • Classes delivered by remote instruction were originally designed and approved to be delivered in person. Their online delivery in 2020 is an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When will campus announce which classes will be taught in person?
  • Campus leaders — including faculty, staff, and the College, School, and Division Deans — are in the process of determining which classes and/or activities associated with classes will be taught in person in Fall 2020.
  • The decisions regarding which courses and sections will be offered in person versus remotely will be announced by July 8, 2020 and begin appearing in the Class Schedule.
  • All students will be notified via email when the process is complete.
Where can I find the list of classes approved for in-person instruction?
How can I use the schedule of classes to find remote and in-person classes?
Will students be required to take in-person classes or be present on campus for the smaller discussion sections?
  • No. No student will be required to take an in-person class or be present on campus.
  • Students who require accommodations for classes, whether online or in person, should contact the Disabled Students’ Program. DSP resources relating to Covid-19 can be found here.
Can I enroll as a full-time student even if I am not comfortable coming to campus?
  • Yes. The majority of classes will be offered remotely.
Is it possible for new and continuing international students to enroll from abroad?
  • Yes, the majority of classes will be offered remotely. Some classes will also be offered asynchronously. No student is required to take an in-person class or be present on campus.
  • International students may contact the Berkeley International Office for additional information.
  • BIO is reviewing the July 6 SEVP guidance and will provide guidance as soon as possible on their COVID-19 Updates website
Will students need to re-enroll in classes they have already signed up for or make other significant changes?
  • The majority of classes will maintain the currently assigned days and times.
  • Some additional discussion sections may be added or times of existing discussion sections may be modified to accommodate students living in different time zones.
  • Some in-person classes may have their times changed or capacity reduced due to space constraints.
  • Check your CalCentral to see what classes you are currently enrolled in and waitlisted for.
Will students be dropped from Fall classes if they have already enrolled?
  • No, there will be no universal drop of students from Fall classes. 
  • However, on a case by case basis, a student might be dropped if a class is cancelled or seating capacity is reduced. Departments should notify students by email if they drop them from a class.
Will every in-person class be required to offer a remote option?
  • No. There may be cases in which an in-person class cannot reasonably be conducted remotely (e.g., fieldwork, a clinical experience, or a lab course). 
    However, a remote alternative will exist to ensure that no student is prevented from making academic progress.
Will accommodations be made for students in different time zones?
  • Many classes will offer asynchronous lectures.
  • Additional discussion sections may be added or times may be modified to accommodate students in different time zones.
  • These adjustments will be made on a class by class basis and students should check the details of each component carefully.
  • Filter for asynchronous sections on the Academic Guide’s Class Schedule and the CalCentral Schedule of Classes. In CalCentral, the asynchronous attribute appears under the “online courses” class attribute dropdown menu.
How will final exam scheduling work with courses that are offered through asynchronous instruction?
  • Each class is assigned a final exam group.
  • All final exams will be administered remotely. 
  • Not every class will have a final exam. Some instructors may replace final examinations with other modes of final assessment, subject to the department chair’s approval. Any such change in the mode of final assessment should be announced in the syllabus. 
  • If a student wishes to take two or more courses with the same final exam time, they must consult the syllabus to confirm that only one of the courses will require a final exam administered during the final exam time. If there is a conflict, students must make a choice between the two courses. Faculty will not reschedule the final exam to accommodate this sort of exam time conflict. 
Will books for courses be available through the library online?
  • Consult the course syllabus to see if the course texts are available online.
  • In many cases, books will be freely available online through the library.
Will there be changes to the Academic Calendar?
  • There will be no change to the start date, end date, or number of days in the semester.
  • To reduce COVID-19 exposure that could result from Thanksgiving holiday travel, all in-person instruction (as well as RRR activities and final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving.
How can students build relationships with instructors for letters of recommendation, etc.?
  • Faculty will continue to hold virtual office hours, which are fantastic opportunities to meet in small groups or one-on-one.
  • Most letters of recommendation are based on relationships spanning more than a single semester. Students should approach the fall as an opportunity to start that process or to continue building upon a pre-existing association.
  • Collaborating with faculty on a discovery or research project, typically in the junior or senior years, is the best way to build meaningful professional relationships with faculty. Students in their first year should focus on broadly understanding the types of work going on in their discipline and elsewhere on campus to identify potential faculty research advisors.
Will all Fall 2020 classes be offered on a Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) basis?
  • No. The Spring 2020 P/NP grading policy was specific to spring semester only. The standard grading options apply in Fall 2020.
    • The Spring Semester was particularly challenging because the campus community had no advance warning in January 2020 that it would have to cope with a shelter-in-place order in mid-March. In response, the Senate and Administration made an extensive series of changes to regulations to help protect the most vulnerable students and ensure that undergraduate students could maintain academic progress towards their degrees.
    • For the Fall semester, both students and instructors are much better prepared. As a result, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate has no plans to implement a default P/NP grading policy for the Fall 2020 semester.
Will my fees and tuition change if I take classes remotely?
  • No. As UC Berkeley has communicated elsewhere, tuition, and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction. Even if students are not on campus, they are generally able to access all required instructional materials, complete their coursework, and make timely progress towards their degree. Students are continuing to earn full credit for their coursework, and university-wide charges like tuition, the student services fee, and nonresident supplemental tuition continue to help cover the faculty’s delivery of instruction, other educational costs, and the cost of essential student services such as registration, financial aid, and remote academic advising.
  • Some campus-based fees were established to support certain efforts like the Wellness Fee, which is paying for many essential health services. Others were established to maintain the safety of buildings or other facilities when necessary for the health and safety of students—e.g., to address seismic deficiencies. As UC campuses such as ours have curtailed limited aspects of their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the costs that campus-based fees are intended to cover continue. Debt service for student facilities and the need to maintain campus infrastructure, for example, continue. The fact that campus-based fees would in part be paid by all students who do not individually benefit from the fees was discussed in referenda documents considered by the students who voted to authorize that these fees be charged to future students.
Can a student take time off in Fall semester without penalty?
  • The rules are the same as always.
  • There has been no change to the cancellation and withdrawal process.
  • Continuing students should work closely with their college advisor to consider all of the possible implications of their withdrawal decision and to learn about the readmission process.
  • Financial aid recipients are encouraged to speak with a Cal Student Central advisor to understand the possible consequences a break may have for their financial aid. 
  • Newly admitted students for Fall 2020 should log into the MAP@Berkeley portal to find more information about this in the FAQs.
If a student chooses to cancel (before instruction) Fall 2020, do they need to apply for readmission for Spring 2021 and/or pay the fee?
I will not be in Berkeley at all this fall. In order to graduate, I need a course that is only offered in-person or a course that was cancelled. What should I do?
  • If a student is unable to participate in person or the course needed is cancelled, the student should contact their undergraduate advisor to look for another class that meets graduation requirements.
How will New Graduate Student and First-Time GSI Orientations be affected?
How will Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) for new undergraduate students be affected?
  • In order to serve all students, most of the in-person components of Golden Bear Orientation will be transitioned to online events. 
  • The new online orientation programs occurring in August prior to the start of classes will include a combination of live and recorded content so that all students — whether in Berkeley or anywhere in the world — can participate.
  • Learn more about plans for Fall 2020 GBO.
If students need to take a lighter load due to COVID-related circumstances, will it take them longer to graduate?
  • The answer depends on how many units per semester you have taken in the past and how many units per semester you take in the future. In general, undergraduates need to take an average of 15 units per semester to graduate on time. AP credit, summer courses, and additional courses taken in past or future semesters may allow students who take fewer than 15 units in a specific semester to graduate on time.
Will students in the FPF program still be able to live on campus?

Yes, students in the Fall Program for Freshmen are eligible for housing with the same priority as other matriculated freshmen.

What is the timeline for scheduling updates and enrollment?

The timeline as of July 9 is:

July 8, 2020

Courses provisionally approved by the Review Committee for in-person, hybrid, or flexible instruction that have confirmed room assignments will begin to be added to a list on the Office of the Registrar website.

July 10, 2020

Majority of courses provisionally approved for in-person, hybrid, or flexible modes of instruction will be coded in the schedule of classes.

July 8-11, 2020 Phase 1.5, the re-opening of Phase I enrollment period for continuing undergraduate students (13.5 units).
July 10-13, 2020 Phase 1.5, the re-opening of Phase I enrollment period for continuing graduate students (12 units).
July 14, 2020 New undergraduate student registration begins.
July 20, 2020 Phase II enrollment for continuing students begins (17.5 UG/20.5 Grads).
July 27, 2020 Haas EWMBA core courses begin (other Haas programs begin at later dates).
August 17, 2020 Law classes begin
August 21, 2020 Tuition & Fees due for Fall 2020 (Cancel for Non-Payment Deadline).
August 26, 2020 First day of classes.


Will there be any changes to the enrollment period?

Continuing students are invited to review and make changes to their enrollments during Phase 1.5. Details were shared with eligible students via email on June 30, and Phase 1.5 appointment times will be added to CalCentral by 6pm on Sunday, July 5. See the timeline above for Phase 1.5 dates for undergraduates and graduates.

What is the plan for clubs and student organizations?

Classroom and one-time event reservations are not being accepted at this time. Student organizations should contact the LEAD Center for additional resources on how to build community virtually.

Mode of Instruction

What is “mode of instruction”?
  • “Mode of Instruction” is the manner in which a class component — lecture, discussion, lab, etc. —  is delivered in a given semester.
  • Fall 2020 modes of instruction include in-person, remote, web-based, flexible, and hybrid. Definitions are given below.
  • You can search by these categories using the “modes of instruction” search filter in the class search.
  • Most class components — lecture, discussion, lab, etc. — will be remote or online, some will be in-person, and very few will be hybrid or flexible.
How can I determine the mode of instruction for a particular class?
  • Find classes using the “mode of instruction” filter in the Academic Guide’s Class Schedule or the CalCentral Schedule of Classes.
  • Mode of instruction is noted on the class details page of each section.
  • Mode of instruction may vary within a course. The lecture and the discussion section or lab may have different modes of instruction. For example, the lecture, the lab, and 2 of the possible discussion sections may be remote while 2 other possible discussion sections are available in-person.
What are the definitions of the different modes of instruction and other terminology?
  • Course: A class, with a unique course number (e.g., AEROSPC 1A), which may include one or more instructional components (lecture, discussion, lab, etc.). To accommodate students during the pandemic, many courses have changed to include remotely delivered components. In choosing to enroll in a course, it is very important to look at all of the components of the course. Some components may be in-person, others may be remote. Some remote offerings may be synchronous; others may be asynchronous. These differences are particularly important to students who may be participating from a remote location, especially one in a different time zone. Please read below for definitions of different modes of instruction.

  • Class component: A component of a course has its own meeting pattern and section number (e.g. Math 1A Discussion Section 111 or Math 1A Lecture 001). Depending on the course, class components may take the form of lectures, seminars, discussions, labs, etc. In general, primary class components(e.g., lecture, field work) appear as 001, 002, etc. and secondary class components(e.g., discussion, lab) appear as 101, 202, etc. In the example below, 001 is the lecture component of the class, while 102 and 108 are the discussion sections. Despite common usage on campus, in the CalCentral enrollment system the word “section” is not the same as “discussion section” but also includes lectures, labs, seminars, etc. Below is an example of how a student selects specific components of a class (referred to as class sections) when registering for a course.

  • In-person (Mode of Instruction): A class component which meets completely or primarily in person. Physical attendance on campus is expected. 
    • In-person class components will be assigned a campus location and meeting pattern.
    • In-person classes may or may not have course capture available. 
    • Some courses with in-person sections will also offer remote class components for enrollment so it is important to review all class component offerings.
    • Look for additional information and details specific to the class component under “class notes” on the class details page.
  • Remote (Mode of Instruction): A class component which is fully online or remotely delivered, with no in-person instruction whatsoever. Delivery may be synchronous or asynchronous. 
    • Remote class components will be assigned a location of Internet/Online
    • Synchronous remote sections will be assigned a meeting pattern in the class schedule. Details for asynchronous participation, if available, will be listed under “class notes” or in the syllabus. 
    • Asynchronous-only remote class components will be flagged via a class attribute (note).
    • Look for additional information and details specific to the class component under “class notes” on the class details page.
  • Hybrid (Mode of Instruction): A class component in which some traditional in-person instruction has been replaced by remote learning activities. A certain amount of physical attendance on campus will be expected. The instructor is not required to offer an asynchronous option but may choose to do so.
    • Hybrid sections will be assigned a physical location and meeting pattern.
    • Details for asynchronous participation, if available, will be listed under “class notes” or come from the instructor.
    • Look for additional information and details specific to the class component under “class notes” on the class details page.
  • Flexible (Mode of Instruction): A class component that offers students the ability to choose whether to attend in-person or remotely. Some students may participate fully online, others may choose to participate fully in-person, and others may choose some online and some in-person participation. Physical attendance is not required. Students should review the class notes for additional details.
    • Flexible sections will be assigned a physical location and meeting pattern.
    • Details for asynchronous participation, if available, will be listed under “class notes” or come from the instructor.
    • Look for additional information and details specific to the class component under “class notes” on the class details page.
  • Web-Based (Mode of Instruction): A web-based course has been designed from the ground up to be delivered online and many of these courses were developed pre-COVID. Such courses undergo an approval process through the Academic Senate to be delivered online.
  • Multiple Mode Courses: A multiple -mode course is one that allows students the choice to participate either in-person or remotely, depending on the class components in which they enroll. Each component of the class (e.g., lecture, labs or discussion sections)  is assigned its own mode of instruction. Students should check to make sure they are registering for class components appropriately. After the add/drop deadlines, student schedule changes require the dean’s approval. Note that the remote offerings may be synchronous or asynchronous; please be sure to check the class notes section, as described below. For an example, see the courses OSKI 101 and OSKI 102 described below.
    • Information about  the mode of instruction of each class component can be found under “class notes” on the class details page.
    • In-person, flexible, and hybrid components of multiple mode courses will each be assigned a physical location and meeting pattern. Synchronous remote class components will be assigned a meeting pattern. Asynchronous remote class components will have a location of Internet/Online.
​What is the definition of synchronous and asynchronous?
  • Synchronous: A synchronous class component is one in which students are expected to participate in the class component during the days and time that are specified on the schedule of classes. Participation may be in-person or remote, depending on the mode of instruction. A meeting pattern is specified on the schedule of classes, for example, AEROSPC 1A Lec 001 is scheduled for Mondays from 2:00-2:59PM.
  • Asynchronous: An asynchronous class is one in which the instructor pre-records a presentation and makes it available to students to watch later at a time of their choosing. Asynchronous engagement may also include collaborative annotations, discussion threads, etc.  Asynchronous sessions are always remote. Some classes with the “asynchronous” notation may be asynchronous only; others may have a synchronous option — consult the class notes or class syllabus for details. In either case, students are held to assignment completion deadlines and are responsible for consulting with the instructor to determine the final exam schedule, ensuring no time conflicts with other examinations. A meeting pattern will display in the class schedule to ensure faculty and students can easily identify which exam group a section is assigned, as well as determine if there are exam conflicts.
What is the difference between "asynchronous classes" and "time conflict enrollment allowed"? 
  • Time conflict enrollment allowed means that a student may enroll in the course even if the time conflicts with another enrolled course. If time conflict enrollment is allowed, it will be tagged as such in the class schedule. However, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that there is not a final exam time conflict. If there is, the student must choose between the two classes. No final exams will be rescheduled due to time conflicts. 
  • Some classes with the “asynchronous” notation may be asynchronous only; others may have a synchronous option — consult the class notes or class syllabus for details. 
  • An asynchronous class may allow for time conflicts or it may not. A time conflict enrollment allowed course may be asynchronous or it may not. 
Why is it important that I review the mode of instruction for both lecture and discussion/lab for my courses?
  • A course updated for Fall 2020 may offer many options (via mode of instruction) for participation. You must review the mode of instruction for each section in which you enroll, not just the day and time, to ensure you can fully participate and complete the course. 
  • Phase I enrollment took place when all courses were scheduled to be in person. However, during summer 2020, departments are actively updating the schedule to indicate which classes are remote and which are in person.
  • The lecture or discussion/lab you enrolled in during Phase I may no longer work for you depending on your physical location and time zone in the fall. 
  • See this quick overview of attendance expectations by mode of instruction.
What does a course with multiple modes of instruction look like?
  • Example 1: Oski 101 (fictitious example) - a course of 250 students that consists of 1 lecture section, 1 lab section, and 12 discussion sections may offer the following options for enrollment:
    • Lecture = 1 Remote section (asynchronous only)
    • Lab = 1 Remote section (synchronous but recorded so students can participate later) )
    • Discussion = 3 remote sections (asynchronous only), 2 remote sections (synchronous with no recording), 3 in-person sections (synchronous), and 4 hybrid sections (synchronous)
  • Example 2: Oski 102 (fictitious example) - a course of 75 that consists of 1 lecture section, 2 lab sections, and 3 discussion sections: while the lecture is remote and asynchronous for all students, the lab can be either remote or in person, and the discussion can be remote, in person, or hybrid (see graphic below).

I will not be in Berkeley at all this fall. How do I find classes am I eligible to take?
  • Narrow your search by mode of instruction to classes that offer at least some of their sections as remote, web-based, or flexible.
  • If the class component is synchronous, take the time zone difference into account before enrolling.
  • Sections that are asynchronous only or have an asynchronous option may offer the most flexibility for participation.
  • See this quick overview of attendance expectations by mode of instruction.
What happens if a class was originally designated as one mode of instruction but then changed to another? Will the department/instructor notify the student after a student enrolls/waitlists for the class?
  • While departments are encouraged to notify enrolled students of a change in the mode of instruction, meeting pattern, or other important features,  it is the student’s responsibility to utilize CalCentral to review enrollments carefully prior to the start of instruction. 
Where can I find the class notes that provide more detail?
I believe that the format of some discussions and labs are not updated yet. 
  • Class schedule details are being updated regularly as classes are provisionally approved to be taught in person. Departments are adding more information via class notes. For the time being, students are encouraged to check the class schedule and their enrollments regularly as information is subject to change.