Berkeley vs William and Mary: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student holding a folder in a room with her classmates.

Berkeley vs William and Mary: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to choosing the right college, there are many factors to consider. Two of the most highly-regarded universities in the United States are the University of California, Berkeley and William and Mary. Both schools have a long history of academic excellence and offer a wide variety of programs. In this article, we will discuss the varying aspects of Berkeley vs William and Mary and how they compare to each other.

Introduction to Berkeley and William and Mary

The University of California, Berkeley is a world-renowned public research university located in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded in 1868 and has since become one of the top-ranked universities in the world.

William and Mary is a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was founded in 1693 and is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.

Both universities have a rich history and offer a wide range of academic programs. UC Berkeley is known for its strong programs in engineering, computer science, and business, while William and Mary is renowned for its programs in law, public policy, and international relations.

Both universities also have a strong commitment to research and innovation, with faculty and students engaged in cutting-edge research across a variety of fields.

Overview of Academic Programs at Berkeley and William and Mary

Both universities offer a wide range of academic programs, with Berkeley offering over 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and the William and Mary offering over 40 majors and minors. Berkeley, being a larger school, offers a wider range of options in areas such as engineering, social sciences, and natural resources. William and Mary, on the other hand, offers a more intimate and personalized academic experience, with a focus on the liberal arts and sciences.

Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to participate in research and internships. Berkeley has a strong emphasis on research, with many faculty members leading groundbreaking studies in various fields.

Three caucasian students talking to each other.

William and Mary offers a variety of internship programs, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field of study. Both universities also have a strong commitment to community service, with many opportunities for students to get involved in volunteer work and service projects.

Faculty Comparison between Berkeley and William and Mary

Both universities have renowned and accomplished faculty members. Berkeley boasts of 26 Nobel laureates, 14 MacArthur fellows, and more than 100 Fulbright Scholars. William and Mary, while smaller, also has a distinguished faculty, with over 90% holding a terminal degree in their field of study. Professors are readily available to students for one-on-one advising and research opportunities.

Despite the impressive credentials of the faculty at both universities, there are some differences in the teaching styles. At Berkeley, the focus is on research and innovation, with professors often leading groundbreaking studies and projects.

At William and Mary, the emphasis is on teaching and mentorship, with professors taking a more hands-on approach to help students succeed in their academic and professional pursuits.

Group of students talking.

Another factor to consider is the diversity of the faculty. Berkeley has a larger and more diverse faculty, with professors from all over the world and a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

William and Mary, while still diverse, has a smaller faculty and may not have as much representation from certain underrepresented groups. However, both universities are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices and creating a welcoming environment for all students and faculty members.

Campus Life Experience at Berkeley vs William and Mary

Both institutions have diverse student bodies and vibrant campus communities. Berkeley’s campus is known for being highly political and socially active, with numerous clubs and organizations centered around activism and social justice.

William and Mary’s smaller campus offers a more tight-knit and traditional college experience, with an emphasis on community and campus traditions. Each campus offers its unique experience and culture, so students must choose which environment they believe suits them best.

One notable difference between the two campuses is the location. Berkeley is located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, offering students access to a bustling city and numerous internship and job opportunities.

Male student studying and writing in the library.

On the other hand, William and Mary is located in a smaller town in Virginia, providing a more peaceful and serene environment for students to focus on their studies. While both locations have their advantages, students should consider their personal preferences and career goals when deciding which campus to attend.

Student Body Composition at Berkeley vs William and Mary

The enrollment demographic at Berkeley is quite diverse, with students hailing from over 100 countries. The university has a reputation for having a politically active and socially-conscious student body. The majority of students at William and Mary are Caucasians, with a smaller but growing population of minorities. The College’s international program ranks highly, with more than 40% of students taking classes abroad.

One notable aspect of the student body at Berkeley is the high number of first-generation college students. Many students come from low-income backgrounds and are the first in their families to attend college. The university offers a range of support services to help these students succeed academically and socially.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

At William and Mary, the student body is known for its strong sense of community. The college has a small, tight-knit campus where students often form close relationships with their peers and professors.

The college also has a strong tradition of alumni involvement, with many graduates staying connected to the school and supporting current students through mentorship and networking opportunities.

Ranking Comparison between Berkeley and William and Mary

In terms of global rankings, Berkeley consistently ranks higher than William and Mary. Berkeley ranks in the top 10 among public universities globally and is regularly ranked as one of the best schools in the United States. William and Mary regularly earns recognition for its undergraduate teaching, and it is one of the top public universities in the United States.

However, when it comes to specific academic programs, William and Mary has some highly ranked departments.

Berkeley, on the other hand, is known for its strong programs in engineering, computer science, and the natural sciences.

Cost Analysis: Tuition, Fees, Room & Board Comparison

The cost of attending any college or university is a significant consideration for students and their families. Both University of California, Berkeley, and William and Mary are public universities and have relatively affordable tuition costs compared to some private colleges. Berkeley is pricier, however, with yearly tuition and fees costs nearly twice as much as William and Mary. Students attending Berkeley can expect to pay about $44,000 annually, while those attending William and Mary can expect to pay around $23,970 for in-state tuition and fees.

It is important to note that tuition and fees are not the only costs associated with attending college. Room and board expenses can also add up quickly. At Berkeley, the average cost of room and board is around $21,164 per year, while at William and Mary, it is around $13,534 per year.

Another factor to consider when comparing the costs of different colleges and universities is financial aid. Both Berkeley and William and Mary offer financial aid packages to eligible students, which can help offset the cost of attendance. It is important for students and their families to research and apply for financial aid early in the college application process to maximize their chances of receiving aid.

Graduate School Placement Rate Comparison between Berkeley and William & Mary

Both universities have excellent graduate school placement rates, with the majority of graduates going on to top-ranked graduate schools. Berkeley graduates have superior success in pursuing graduate studies in the sciences and technological fields, while William and Mary graduates’ emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences fosters excellent graduate school placement rates among their graduates.

However, it is important to note that Berkeley’s graduate school placement rate is heavily influenced by its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, which provides graduates with numerous opportunities to pursue careers in the tech industry.

On the other hand, William and Mary’s location in the historic city of Williamsburg, Virginia, offers unique opportunities for graduates interested in pursuing careers in government, public policy, and history.

Additionally, both universities offer extensive resources and support for students interested in pursuing graduate studies, including research opportunities, mentorship programs, and career counseling services.

View of students walking in the campus.

Berkeley’s strong emphasis on research and innovation provides students with unparalleled opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research and collaborate with leading scholars in their fields, while William and Mary’s close-knit community fosters strong relationships between students and faculty, creating a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

Notable Alumni from Berkeley vs William & Mary

Both universities have an impressive alumni network, with graduates who have achieved great success in their fields. Berkeley alumni include several distinguished Nobel laureates, including physicist Steven Chu and economist George Akerlof.

William and Mary alumni include notable figures such as former US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, former US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., and comedian Jon Stewart.

However, Berkeley also boasts a number of successful entrepreneurs among its alumni, including the co-founders of Apple Inc., Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, as well as the co-founder of Intel Corporation, Robert Noyce.

On the other hand, William and Mary has produced several prominent politicians, such as former US Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler, as well as current US Senator Tim Kaine.

Extracurricular Activities Comparison between Berkeley & William & Mary

Both universities offer an extensive range of extracurricular activities. Berkeley is known for having highly active student groups and clubs, with over 1200 organizations covering a broad range of interests. William and Mary, while having fewer organizations, offers students various opportunities to get involved in leadership, community service and volunteering activities.

Additionally, Berkeley has a strong tradition of sports and athletics, with a wide range of competitive and recreational teams available for students to join. The university also hosts numerous sporting events throughout the year, including the annual Big Game against rival Stanford University.

On the other hand, William and Mary has a thriving arts and culture scene, with a variety of music, theater, and dance groups for students to participate in. The College also has a renowned literary magazine, The William & Mary Review, which showcases the creative writing talents of students and faculty alike.

Study Abroad Opportunities at Berkeley vs William & Mary

Both universities offer numerous study abroad opportunities, as both universities strive to provide students with a global perspective and understanding. Berkeley hosts one of the largest student-study abroad programs in the United States. William and Mary organizes faculty-led trips, direct study, and exchange programs all over the globe, providing students with numerous opportunities to gain international experiences.

However, there are some differences in the study abroad programs offered by these two universities. Berkeley tends to focus more on semester-long programs, while William and Mary offers a wider range of program lengths, including summer and winter break options. Additionally, Berkeley has a strong emphasis on language immersion programs, while William and Mary offers a variety of programs in different subject areas, such as business, history, and environmental studies.

Admission Requirements: How do they differ?

The admission requirements for Berkeley and William and Mary differ. Berkeley accepts students based on their academic and personal achievements and considers many different factors in the application process, including test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, and extracurricular activities. William and Mary also considers extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation but prioritizes the student’s grade point average and letters in their admission decisions.

Additionally, Berkeley places a strong emphasis on diversity and seeks to admit students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. They also have a holistic review process, which means they consider the whole applicant and not just their grades and test scores. On the other hand, William and Mary has a more traditional approach to admissions and places a greater emphasis on academic achievement. They also have a higher average GPA for admitted students compared to Berkeley.

Scholarship Opportunities at Berkeley vs William & Mary

Both universities offer numerous scholarships and financial aid opportunities, with Berkeley offering numerous merit and need-based scholarships. William and Mary also provide a range of scholarship options, including merit and need-based scholarships, some that cover the entire cost of attendance. In addition, William and Mary offers unique programs such as its Tribe Advantage program, which offers financial incentives and benefits to Virginia residents attending the College.

However, the application process for scholarships at Berkeley can be more competitive due to the large number of applicants. On the other hand, William and Mary has a smaller student body, which means that there may be less competition for scholarships. Additionally, William and Mary offers scholarships specifically for students pursuing certain majors, such as the St. George Tucker Society Scholarship for students majoring in history or government.

It is important to note that both universities also offer work-study programs, which allow students to work part-time on campus to help cover the cost of attendance. Berkeley has a variety of work-study options available, including positions in research labs and community service organizations. William and Mary also offers work-study opportunities, with positions available in areas such as the library, dining services, and athletics.

Career Services Comparison between Berkeley & William & Mary

Both universities provide their students with extensive career services, including job fairs, resume and interview workshops, and career counseling. Berkeley’s career services have a significant focus on technological and business-related fields, whereas William and Mary’s career services offer a more comprehensive range of opportunities relevant to liberal arts and sciences graduates.

Additionally, Berkeley’s career services offer a variety of networking events and connections with industry professionals, providing students with valuable opportunities to make connections and gain insight into their desired fields. On the other hand, William and Mary’s career services prioritize individualized attention and support, offering one-on-one career coaching and personalized job search assistance.


Choosing the right university requires much thought and consideration, and both Berkeley and William and Mary offer excellent academic programs and opportunities to their students. Each university has its unique culture and environment, and it is up to each student to determine which environment aligns better with their needs and goals. Ultimately, one must weigh each factor, including tuition, academics, student life, extracurricular opportunities, and long-term career benefits, to select the university that best fits their unique goals and aspirations.

It is important to note that while academics and career prospects are important factors to consider, the overall college experience also plays a significant role in shaping a student’s personal and professional growth. Therefore, it is recommended that students visit both campuses, talk to current students and faculty, and attend events to get a better sense of the campus culture and community before making a final decision.


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