Last Updated on July 28, 2023
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles, California. UCLA’s academic roots were established in 1882 as a teachers college then known as the southern branch of the California State Normal School (now San José State University). This school was absorbed with the official founding of UCLA as the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest of the 10-campus University of California system (after UC Berkeley). UCLA offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, enrolling about 31,600 undergraduate and 14,300 graduate and professional students. UCLA had 168,000 undergraduate applicants for Fall 2021, including transfers, making the school the most applied-to university in the United States.
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What Is Ucla Known For
The University of California, Los Angeles is among the most highly ranked public schools in the nation each year– and for good reason. UCLA’s incredible opportunities span across its academic offerings, extracurriculars, and rich campus life. Its prime location in Southern California and the sheer size of the Bruin alumni network afford UCLA students a wealth of resources both on and off-campus. So whether you’re already drafting your supplemental essays or just embarking on your college search, read on to find out all about UCLA’s perks and quirks!
Overview of UCLA
Location: Los Angeles, California (Westwood area)
Undergrad Enrollment: 31,500
Acceptance Rate: Please get the rest of this data from the school website or Common Data Set
Middle 50% SAT: 1360-1550
Middle 50% ACT: 29-32
UCLA is a part of the University of California system, along with eight other public undergraduate colleges spread out across the state, stretching from the Bay Area down to San Diego. Admission to the UCs, as they are collectively known, is unique in that the UCs have their own application, separate from the Common or Coalition apps.
The UC application consists of four essays, in which applicants have the opportunity to showcase their perspective and establish themselves as prime candidates for admission. Notably, the application does not include a “Why School” prompt, and selecting specific campuses in the app is a matter of merely checking boxes. This means applicants must write strong supplements that convey their values and interests through thoughtful stories.
The UCs also have very specific academic prerequisites: the A-G requirements. While the majority of students who attend US public high schools should meet these prereqs by way of their high school curriculum, students who attend private schools or are homeschooled may need to plan for those requirements more carefully.
Unique Aspects of UCLA
UCLA offers 125 undergraduate majors spread across 109 academic departments, and over 90 minors. The most popular undergraduate majors are Biology, Business Economics, Political Science, Psychology and Psychobiology. The school places a strong emphasis on student research, awarding nearly $1 billion in competitive research grants and contracts annually. The campus’s proximity to Ronald Reagan Medical Center accentuates its vibrant research community.
UCLA boasts a stellar School of Theater, Film, and Television (known as TFT), with its performing arts programs consistently ranked highly by U.S. News and The Hollywood Reporter. Its famous alumni include actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, Star Trek actor and activist George Takei, and actor James Franco, who even returned to campus for a brief teaching stint.
UCLA has a lively athletic department, with 118 NCAA team championship titles, second only to Stanford. The university is home to 25 NCAA Division I sports, divided into 14 for women and 11 for men. Both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams are accomplished, winning 11 and 4 championships, respectively. And with an equally accomplished football team, it’s no wonder you’ll find students lining up outside Pauley Pavilion for hours before basketball games or gearing up for the annual rivalry game with USC.
The school also has plenty of club sports, with varying levels of commitment. Over 8,000 students participate in the competitive Intramural Sports program, which consists of 30 leagues, tournaments, meets, and other special events. Most notably, there is a wide range of intramural sports, such as rugby, table tennis, and even Quidditch!
UCLA has a vibrant extracurricular scene with over 1,000 clubs, presented to students during an annual Enormous Activities Fair that sprawls across Royce Quad. One of its most notable clubs is the Student Alumni Association, which hosts Dinner for 12 Strangers, a tradition that’s gone on for over 50 years. Over 3,700 students, alumni, and faculty come together to host over 500 global dinners through this community tradition.
Additionally, UCLA hosts the largest student-run hackathon in Southern California, recruiting over a thousand hackers each year to create technology-oriented solutions around a rotating theme. The hackathon is a multi-day event open to students of all majors and culminates in the completion of over 150 multi-faceted creative projects.
Furthermore, UCLA is well-known for its flourishing startup culture, boasting numerous clubs and accelerator programs that help students ideate and execute for their own companies. The valuations for startups built using UCLA’s technology since 2000 have totaled over $30 billion. Notable startups that have blossomed out of UCLA’s startup community include AWAK Technologies and Sike Insights which provide medical devices and AI-powered productivity tools respectively.
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UCLA’s student body is rich in traditions. The school has a “True Bruin Traditions Keeper” app where students can log activities in any of the 100+ campus traditions across areas such as Academics, Arts/Culture/Food, and Campus Leadership. Students who complete a certain number of traditions will receive a medal to wear at Commencement.
Volunteer Day is an annual event that allows all students to participate in community service around the Los Angeles area. Over 5,000 students, faculty, and other UCLA affiliates visit dozens of service sites, not only in the Los Angeles area, but at nationwide and global locations as well. Volunteers get a free t-shirt and the incredible opportunity to explore and positively impact their community.
However, the most universal tradition happens early in your UCLA experience at the Inverted Fountain. During orientation, freshmen get “Bruintized” by dipping their hands in the fountain, with the caveat that they can’t touch the water until they graduate, or they won’t complete their schooling on time. Towards the end of spring quarter, seniors can be seen completing their graduation photoshoots by wading into the fountain with their sashes on, champagne in hand.
Niche has rated UCLA dorm food Number One year after year. The school has 8 dining halls and takeout locations full of scrumptious meals that span a wide range of cultures and cater to a multitude of diets.
One of the most notable dining halls is Rendezvous, which is split into an East and a West wing. The East side serves pan-Asian food such as Pad Thai, boba, and green tea ice cream, while the West side has a Chipotle-style build-your-own burrito bar along with a number of other Latin American specialties.
It would be remiss to discuss UCLA dining without mentioning its newest dining hall, Bruin Plate or BPlate. BPlate dining hall is an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of clean, healthy eating. With herbs grown on its roof and a variety of locally sourced produce, the eatery places an emphasis on eco-conscious eating as well. With uncommon inclusions like tempeh, yuca, and amaranth, students may find themselves trying and enjoying new ingredients weekly.
UCLA offers the Cal Grant to in-state students, covering tuition and fees and/or providing a living allowance for students who meet the financial requirements and have a 2.0-3.0 minimum GPA. Students do not have to pay this money back and must fill out the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application to be considered.
A large part of UCLA’s appeal comes from its prime location in Los Angeles, California. Situated in Westwood, an upscale neighborhood close to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, UCLA typically sees sunny and clear skies, allowing students to frequent the neighboring hiking trails and beaches for a good portion of the year.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at UCLA?
No two students’ chances of admission are entirely the same; and don’t let UCLA’s status as a public university deceive you– the bar for that coveted acceptance letter is incredibly high. With competitive admissions rates comparable to those of the Ivies, your personal chances of acceptance might differ from the standard percentage you’d find on the school’s website.
Your application may be disqualified almost immediately if your statistics don’t pass the threshold the school is looking for. Alternatively, if your profile is well-rounded in that you have strong extracurriculars in addition to stellar grades and test scores, you might have a slight advantage and better chances of getting in.
Understanding the moving parts of your application isn’t easy, but we at CollegeVine have formulated a great tool to remove some of the guesswork for you. Using a variety of factors, such as your grades, standardized testing scores, extracurricular profile, and background, we’ll give you our best estimate of your individual odds of acceptance to UCLA and other schools on your college list. We’ll also give you tips on improving your profile to maximize these chances. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today!
Ucla Acceptance Rate
The historical trajectory of UCLA admissions can best be understood through a once-per-decade peek at the university’s shifting acceptance rates. In 1980, nearly three-quarters of those who applied were accepted, by 1990, this had dropped to the low-40s, by 2000, it had fallen to the high 20s, by 2010, the low-20s and now, in 2022, the acceptance rate rests at 11%.
Want some even more intimidating stats? Among those who sported a 4.39 or better GPA, just 36% were admitted. Those that took 22 or more honors/AP classes in high school found success just 27% of the time. Now that UCLA boasts a similar acceptance rate to likes of Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon and is even more selective than Berkeley, this begs the question, “What is the secret to getting in!?”
While there are rarely “secrets” in the world of college admissions, an examination of the available data, demographic info, and recent trends can illuminate the process at a given institution. Toward that aim, this article will provide:
1) A deep-dive into just how highly-selective the UCLA admissions process truly is.
2) Data that will help you better assess how you measure up to the competition.
3) How the UCLA admissions committee operates and what they look for in a successful candidate.
To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:
- UCLA’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
- SAT/ACT policy at UCLA and GPAs of admitted applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2025
- The demographics of current UCLA undergraduates
- UCLA’s yield rate
- How UCLA’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
- Tips for applying to UCLA
- How to assess whether applying to UCLA is even worth the $70 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
UCLA: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025
UCLA admitted just 15,028 of the 139,490 freshman applicants who sought admission into the Class of 2025. This equates to just a 11% acceptance rate. The previous year (most recent data available), when the overall acceptance rate was a more favorable 14%, California residents were accepted at a 14% clip while out-of-state students were successful 21% of the time. However, as you will see in the next section, it is actually far more difficult to gain entry as a non-resident.
UCLA Admissions – SAT/ACT Policy, and GPA
Among those who enrolled in the Class of 2025, the mid-50% unweighted GPA was 3.92-4.0 and the weighted GPA range was 4.36-4.68.
In general, despite enjoying a higher acceptance rate, in-state applicants have lower measurables than their out-of-state counterparts. In one recent cycle (when test scores were part of the application process), California residents possessed a mid-50% unweighted GPA of 4.30-4.60, SAT scores of 1250-1500, and ACT composites of 26-34. Out-of-state admits had a GPA range of 4.35-4.80, SATs between 1390 and 1530, and ACTs of 31-34. Admitted students generally took 17 to 25 honors/advanced courses in high school.
As a test-blind institution, UCLA does not consider standardized test scores.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- The most significant note is that all University of California schools have adopted a test-blind policy.
- 33% of the Class of 2025 were first-generation students.
- 30% of first-years are from underrepresented backgrounds.
- 50% of the most recent freshman class received need-based aid.
- The yield rate increased from 41% to 44% between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 freshman classes, meaning that more admitted students are choosing UCLA now than in previous years.
Who Actually Gets Into UCLA?
Let’s look at the demographics of UCLA undergraduates:
Most UCLA students hailed from the Golden State and paid in-state tuition. The total geographic breakdown is as follows:
- Percent California (residents) – 75%
- # of other U.S. States (non-residents) – 47
- # of other countries (non-resident, international) = 84
- Percent from Southern California: 46%
- Percent from the rest of California: 29%
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the Class of 2025, the breakdown is as follows:
- Asian American: 38%
- Hispanic: 22%
- African American: 7%
- International: 10%
- White: 28%
The breakdown by gender of the entire Bruin student body shows far more women than men:
- Male: 41%
- Female: 59%
One recent freshman class included students from the following types of high schools
- Los Angeles County Public: 21%
- Other CA Public: 40%
- Los Angeles County Private: 3%
- Other CA Private: 6%
- Outside California (Public/Private): 30%
2021–2022 Estimated Undergraduate Student Budget
Figures for system-wide tuition and fees represent currently approved amounts and may not be final. Actual system-wide tuition and fees are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California. Final approved 2021-22 tuition and fee levels may be higher or lower than the amounts presented.
Last updated on June 2, 2021.
|UCLA Residence Halls
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|Total – California Residents
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* The UC SHIP health insurance requirement and fees can be waived if a student already has adequate insurance coverage.
Residency Requirements and Tuition
As the nation’s premier public research university, UCLA is grateful to the people of California. Residents contribute to state education funding and are responsible for the continued existence of this special California institution.
As a result, the tuition you pay depends on your residency status, which is determined by a specific process. California residency for tuition is not the same as other definitions of California residency.
If your parents are not California residents, then the financial independence requirement makes it extremely difficult for most undergraduates to qualify for classification as a California resident at UCLA. This includes students from community colleges and other post-secondary institutions within the state.
Transfer students who were classified as residents of California at their previous school should not assume that they’ll be classified as residents here.
If you’re unsure whether you qualify for in-state tuition at UCLA, visit the UC’s residency requirements page for more information.