Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Bowles Hall located?


Bowles Hall is an on-campus dorm located on Stadium Rim Way between the Greek Theater and California Memorial Stadium. To find Bowles Hall on a map please click here.




What is a Residential College?


There are approximately 130 residential colleges in the U.S. and nearly 500 worldwide. First established in 1249 at Oxford in England, a residential college is typically a permanent, cross-sectional, faculty-led residence that provides the advantages of a small community within the environment of a large university. As demonstrated at many of the most prestigious universities throughout the world, this approach yields an intimate environment where social and cultural programming is designed, decided and overseen by its student residents under the auspice of faculty and other well-experienced adults. This self-governing dimension affords significant individual and group leadership development opportunities that serve as learning tools for a student’s after-college life. Academics are a very important element, but a better way to think about a residential college is as a home-away-from-home. As Jonathan Holloway of Calhoun College (Yale) puts it, a residential college is where “adults live alongside the students, celebrating their successes and helping them navigate their challenges.” Residents also host a variety of parties, social outings (sporting events, concerts, etc.) and form intramural teams.




Who is behind the Bowles Hall Residential College?


The Bowles Hall Foundation, a non-profit organization operates Bowles Hall. This privately-funded group is dedicated to the re-establishment of the Bowles Hall Residential College (BHRC) to once again serve as a premiere model of campus undergraduate living. Bowles Hall originally opened in 1929 as the country’s first residential college. In the ensuing decades, its mission and living standards faded until the building — and the spirit that thrived within it — were a shadow of its former self. So a group of Bowles alumni led by Bob Sayles (Class of '52) bound together to restore the Hall’s legacy. Thus began a 10-year journey to make BHRC a reality. Driven partially by a desire to return the building to its deserved prominence, the Foundation’s focus is most decidedly forward looking: We want to help shape meaningful contributors to society. More than non-residential societies and clubs, we believe it is critical that students live in community to interact not only with their peers but also with faculty members and alumni. This allows for immersion into academic, social and career-readiness support programs that use a structured advising system to guide students through an appropriate progress plan for their entire undergraduate career and best position them for a life of success.




Does Cal Housing run the facility?


No. Bowles Hall is a privately-owned and operated facility governed by a 45-year ground lease the Bowles Hall Foundation signed with the University of California after approval by the Board of Regents. The facility’s $45 million renovation was funded by private revenue bonds; we received no funds from the University, the UC system or California taxpayers. But we are a good University partner and we work closely with the administration to conform with standard policies and procedures. And while the Foundation's Board of Directors is made up mostly of Bowles Hall alumni, several members of the Cal faculty and administration serve on the Board as well.




What is the difference between the Bowles Hall Foundation and the Bowles Hall Association?


The Bowles Hall Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates Bowles Hall. This privately-funded group is dedicated to the maintaining Bowles Hall Residential College as a premiere model of campus undergraduate living. The Bowles Hall Association is the formal name of the Bowles Hall student government.




What type of student succeeds most in residential colleges?


Students who seek to achieve their academic goals, who want to develop their social and leadership skills, and who desire to be career-ready when they graduate. They also should strive to embrace all types of diversity, be interested in non-classwork activities inside and outside of Bowles Hall, and generally seek to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of their community.




What is BHRC’s goal for the community diversity among genders?


While we do not consider gender, disability, or other prohibited questions during the selection process, Bowles Hall seeks a diverse community representative of the UC Berkeley undergraduate population.




What is the Bowles Hall goal for the community among freshman, sophomore, juniors and seniors?


Bowles Hall welcomes students across all undergraduate years and majors. Class distribution is very close to our target of equal proportions between all four class years.




Do the responsibilities as a resident evolve with each year?


Residency through graduation is strongly encouraged and provides the stability for increased responsibility. All residents have an opportunity to lead the planning and execution of social and other events as well as the civic aspects of Bowles Hall. We especially look towards upperclassmen to help guide the lower classmen. Also, the Bowles Hall Student President serves as a member of the Bowles Hall Foundation Board of Directors to have an active impact on future generations of Bowles residents.




Do residents have any roles within the larger Cal community? Are they be precluded from participating in any other Cal organizations (e.g. Greek Life)?


Residents are encouraged and supported to actively participate in groups beyond Bowles Hall including Greek Life and other student groups. The purpose of a residential college is to enhance — not replace — the undergraduate experience.




When does the application process take place?


There are different application periods depending on whether an applicant is a continuing Berkeley student, an incoming transfer student, or a newly admitted freshman. Please visit our "Apply" page for details on the application process dates.




How are students selected to live in Bowles Hall?


Upon submission of a potential resident's application, the essay component of the application is sent to the members of our Selection Committee, which is composed of current Bowles Hall students. The information visible to the selection committee does not include any demographic and other background details. These details are not used to evaluate an applicant's qualification for admission; we support of the Fair Housing Act as amended, prohibiting discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status.

Having access only to essay answers, each committee member individually assesses student responses and scores each applicant based on a pre-determined scale. These ratings are then averaged to establish Accepted or Waitlist status for each application period. Notifications are sent via email to the applicant.




I was put on the Waitlist. Is there a priority order to the list?


Our Waitlist is not ranked, however only a limited number of students are waitlisted. As we work to ensure a diverse community of students, several factors are considered when deciding admission to someone on the Waitlist. These factors relate to Bowles Hall's stated objectives of having an approximate balance of men and women, a mix of students across class years, and promoting diversity by having residents of various backgrounds and academic interests.




Do you offer summer residency?


Yes, we offer summer residency to both individuals and groups during all summer sessions. For more information or to inquire about summer residency please contact dennis.lieu.bhrc@gmail.com or use the form on the "Contact" page.




What role do the in-residence faculty play?


A residential college has three key non-undergraduate roles that collectively mentor students as they consider and pursue college majors and courses, projects and extracurricular activities, and life after Cal. College Principal: Responsible for the college’s academic, intellectual, social, athletic, and cultural development. A member of the Berkeley faculty, this person collaborates with students to ensure viable social, cultural, and intellectual influences are rich and evolving. College Dean: Also a member of the Berkeley faculty, this role focuses on supporting the residents in their efforts to achieve their academic goals. Director of Program Development: Ensures our programming is always in balance with the ever-changing needs of today's undergraduate students. All of faculty members live and dine among students, enabling them to get to know residents formally and socially. They interact at meals, at social engagements and performances, at sporting events and, of course, in the hallways and courtyards all over the campus; sometimes they’ll even be in the same class. In addition, based on varying areas of academic interests, these advisors help facilitate mentor programs where upperclass residents assist lowerclass residents by forming groups of like-minded students and affiliated faculty that contribute to each student’s progression.




Do Bowles Hall associated Berkeley faculty help advise residents as well?


In addition to the Bowles Hall Principal and Dean, both of whom are members of the Cal faculty, we are pleased that a number of additional Cal faculty members have been closely involved in the Bowles Hall project for several years and help support our residents.




Can parents contribute to the endowment funds?


Absolutely and we’d greatly appreciate it! The Bowles Hall Foundation is a qualified 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and all contributions to the endowment funds are tax-deductible. Donations can be made online, or for additional inquiries please contact Chuck Sizemore (chuck@chucksizemore.com) for more details.




When and how are rooms and roommates assigned?


Our facility provides 188 beds for our undergraduate resident population: 42 singles and 73 doubles, each with an attached bathroom. Of these 115 student rooms, 11 singles and 10 doubles are ADA-compliant and are reserved for those with mobility and/or communication disabilities. During the room assignment process, we strive to meet the requests made by students during the application process (singles vs. doubles), but we ultimately make decisions based on a variety of factors under the assumption that students are first interested in Bowles Hall for what the program offers and second for the type of room they receive. Above all, the Foundation seeks to create a living situation that best meets the needs of the Bowles Hall community as a whole. During the application process for incoming students, we collect information from each applicant about their key living style preferences (like cleanliness, desired quietness, bedtime, etc.) and we also allow them to state any desired roommates, by name. Using this information, we employ a “best match” method to establish roommate pairings. All rooms are single sex.




Is there a procedure to change rooms or roommates?


Yes, changing rooms or roommates is possible. Specifics are addressed in the Bowles Hall Community Standards Handbook made available during the lease process.




How are study abroad students accomodates in Bowles Hall? Do you keep your room choice seniority?


Students studying abroad retain their position in the Bowles Hall community. We try to provide such students with their same room (and roommate if applicable) when they return, but we cannot guarantee that. In a related recruiting effort, we also work directly with the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) office to host inbound students to reside in Bowles Hall. This program anticipates and welcomes residents who are both outbound and inbound EAP participants and we work to accommodate their needs.




Do returning students receive priority room placement?


All rooms within Bowles Hall have been thoughtfully designed to maximize available space. Each offers the same modern amenities and functionality, including a connected bathroom. By nature of our historic facility, not all rooms are created equal. Some offer certain functional values — closeness to dining, bigger windows, grander views, etc.—while others do not. With this in mind, we follow a selection methodology that gives priority to those with seniority in the Hall once we accommodate demonstrated special needs.




During campuswide closures such as Thanksgiving and winter/spring breaks, is Bowles Hall open?


Bowles Hall is open during Thanksgiving week as well as winter and spring breaks, but no meal service is provided.




Can continuing students leave belongings in the Hall over the summer?


Bowles Hall has some very limited storage space for continuing studentsto store their belongings during the summer. Similar storage is available to students leaving temporarily for study abroad programs.





Founded in 1929, Bowles Hall is the only residential college at UC Berkeley. After extensive renovations in 2016, it now offers the premier co-ed four-year housing experience for Berkeley students.

Bowles Hall Residential College

1928 Stadium Rim Way

Berkeley, CA 94720

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