The Ultimate Guide to UC Colleges: A Comprehensive Ranking and Comparison

The Ultimate Guide to UC Colleges: A Comprehensive Ranking and Comparison

Choosing the right college is a crucial decision that can shape your academic journey and future career. If you’re considering attending a University of California (UC) college, you’re in luck! The UC system is renowned for its world-class education, diverse campuses, and vibrant communities. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore and compare the various UC colleges, providing you with valuable insights to help you make an informed choice.

Overview of the UC System

The University of California system comprises ten campuses, each with its own distinct strengths and specialties. However, UC San Francisco(UCSF) offers only postgraduate courses so we will not be considering UCSF. The various UC campuses include

  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego (UCSD)
  • UC Santa Barbara (UCSB)
  • UC Santa Cruz (UCSC)
UC Rank US News Ranking Acceptance Rate
UC Berkeley 1 20 11.4%
UCLA 2 20 8.6%
UC Santa Barbara 3 32 25.9%
UC San Diego 4 34 23.7%
UC Irvine 5 34 21%
UC Davis 6 38 37.5%
UC Santa Cruz 7 83 47.1%
UC Riverside 8 89 68.1%
UC Merced 9 97 90.4%

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley, located in Berkeley, California, is the flagship campus of the UC system. Founded in 1868, it is known for its academic excellence, groundbreaking research, and vibrant campus life. UC Berkeley consistently ranks among the top public universities in the world.

UC Berkeley offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines. The campus is renowned for its rigorous academic standards and intellectual rigor. It has exceptional faculty members who are experts in their fields and dedicated to teaching, research, and mentorship. Students at UC Berkeley engage in critical thinking,

UC Berkeley is particularly renowned for programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), social sciences, humanities, and business. The campus houses several prestigious colleges and schools, including the College of Letters and Science, College of Engineering, Haas School of Business, and School of Law. UC Berkeley also offers interdisciplinary programs and research opportunities that foster collaboration across different academic disciplines.

The most popular majors at UC Berkeley are

  • Cellular Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Electrical Engineering

The cost of tuition at UC Berkeley per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Berkeley is approximately $14,226.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Berkeley is approximately $43,980.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Berkeley is approximately $43,980.

UCLA

UCLA, located in the vibrant city of Los Angeles, is one of the most prestigious campuses in the University of California (UC) system. Founded in 1919, UCLA has become a world-renowned institution known for its academic excellence, research contributions, and vibrant campus community.

UCLA offers a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines. The campus is known for its academic rigor and renowned faculty members who are experts in their fields. UCLA students benefit from a comprehensive and interdisciplinary education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields. UCLA excels in numerous areas, including the arts, humanities, sciences, engineering, business, and health sciences. The campus is home to prestigious schools and colleges, such as the College of Letters and Science, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of the Arts and Architecture, Anderson School of Management, and David Geffen School of Medicine. UCLA also offers a wide range of professional programs and research opportunities.

UCLA has a storied athletic tradition, with its teams known as the Bruins competing in the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference. The campus offers a wide range of competitive sports programs, including basketball, football, soccer, baseball, and many others. UCLA athletes have achieved remarkable success, and the campus fosters a strong sense of school spirit and pride.

The most popular majors at UCLA are

  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Political Science and Government
  • Biology
  • Psychology

The cost of tuition at UCLA per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UCLA is approximately $13,300.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UCLA is approximately $43,000.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UCLA is approximately $43,000.

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara, commonly known as UCSB, is a renowned public research university located in Santa Barbara, California. Established in 1909, UCSB has gained a reputation for its exceptional academic programs, cutting-edge research, and beautiful coastal campus. The College of Engineering at UCSB is highly regarded, offering innovative programs and research opportunities. It is known for its strengths in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science. The college boasts state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories, allowing students to engage in hands-on research and collaborate with faculty on cutting-edge projects.

The most popular majors at UC Santa Barbara are

  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Communications
  • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Biology

The cost of tuition at UC Santa Barbara per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Santa Barbara is approximately $15,000.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Santa Barbara is approximately $46,000.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Santa Barbara is approximately $46,000.

UC San Diego

UC San Diego, a renowned public research university located in La Jolla, California, is known for its academic excellence and groundbreaking research. Established in 1960, UCSD has gained a reputation as one of the top universities in the world. The university offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including arts and humanities, social sciences, engineering, and sciences. UCSD is particularly recognized for its strengths in STEM fields, with world-class research facilities and renowned faculty. The campus provides a vibrant and diverse community where students can engage in a rich academic environment, pursue innovative research, and participate in numerous extracurricular activities. UC San Diego’s commitment to interdisciplinary education, cutting-edge research, and community engagement make it an ideal choice for students seeking a transformative and impactful educational experience.

The most popular majors at UC San Diego are

  • Biology
  • Cognitive Science
  • International Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Political Science and Government

The cost of tuition at UC San Diego per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC San Diego is approximately $14,700.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC San Diego is approximately $44,500.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC San Diego is approximately $44,500.

UC Irvine

UC Irvine, a prestigious public research university located in Orange County, California, is renowned for its commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and diversity. Founded in 1965, UCI has established itself as a leading institution with a strong focus on research and interdisciplinary education. The university offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields, including arts and humanities, social sciences, engineering, health sciences, and physical sciences. UCI’s cutting-edge research centers and institutes foster collaboration among faculty and students, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in various fields. With state-of-the-art facilities, a vibrant campus community, and a commitment to fostering inclusive excellence, UCI provides students with a dynamic and supportive environment to thrive academically and personally. UCI’s dedication to research, innovation, and its commitment to public service make it an exceptional choice for those seeking a world-class education and impactful learning experiences.

The most popular majors at UC Irvine are

  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Managerial Economics
  • Public Health
  • Economics

The cost of tuition at UC Irvine per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Irvine is approximately $17,400.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Irvine is approximately $47,300.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Irvine is approximately $47,300.

UC Davis

UC Davis, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, is a renowned public research university known for its excellence in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and biological sciences. Established in 1905, UC Davis has grown into a comprehensive university offering a wide range of academic programs across various disciplines. The university prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, diversity, and community engagement. With world-class faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities, UC Davis is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and innovation. The campus boasts a vibrant and inclusive community, providing students with a supportive and collaborative learning environment. With its strong emphasis on hands-on learning and experiential education, UC Davis equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle real-world challenges. Whether it’s in the field of agriculture, health sciences, engineering, or social sciences, UC Davis offers a transformative educational experience for students seeking to make a positive impact on society.

The most popular majors at UC Davis are

  • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Management Sciences and Information Systems
  • Economics
  • Neuroscience and Neurobiology
  • Biology

The cost of tuition at UC Davis per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Davis is approximately $14,600.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Davis is approximately $44,400.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Davis is approximately $44,400.

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz, nestled among the towering redwoods and scenic landscapes of California’s Central Coast, is a unique and forward-thinking public research university. Established in 1965, UC Santa Cruz has built a reputation for its interdisciplinary approach to education, innovative research, and commitment to social justice. The campus offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields, including the arts, sciences, humanities, and engineering. Students at UC Santa Cruz benefit from small class sizes, close interactions with faculty, and a supportive learning environment that encourages intellectual curiosity and exploration. The university’s distinctive academic structure, featuring a system of residential colleges, fosters a sense of community and provides students with opportunities for personalized learning and engagement. With its breathtaking natural surroundings and a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, UC Santa Cruz offers a unique educational experience that combines academic rigor with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Students at UC Santa Cruz are encouraged to think critically, challenge conventions, and make a positive impact on society.

The most popular majors at UC Santa Cruz are

  • Computer Science
  • Psychology
  • Cellular Biology
  • Managerial Economics
  • Sociology

The cost of tuition at UC Santa Cruz per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Santa Cruz is approximately $14,600.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Santa Cruz is approximately $31,000.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Santa Cruz is approximately $31,000.

UC Riverside

UC Riverside, located in the vibrant and diverse city of Riverside, California, is a leading public research university known for its commitment to academic excellence and community engagement. Established in 1954, UC Riverside has grown to become a respected institution offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines. With a focus on cutting-edge research and innovation, UC Riverside is home to world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities. The university takes pride in its diverse and inclusive campus community, fostering an environment that values collaboration, critical thinking, and cultural understanding. UC Riverside also boasts a strong commitment to community service and social mobility, striving to make higher education accessible and transformative for all students. The campus’s stunning location near the scenic Box Springs Mountain Reserve provides a beautiful backdrop for outdoor exploration and recreational activities. With its strong academic programs, diverse student body, and dedication to community impact, UC Riverside offers an enriching and supportive environment for students to thrive and make a positive difference in the world.

The most popular majors at UC Riverside are

  • Business
  • Biology
  • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Economics

The cost of tuition at UC Riverside per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Riverside is approximately $13,800.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Riverside is approximately $43,500.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Riverside is approximately $43,500.

UC Merced

UC Merced, nestled in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, is the newest addition to the prestigious University of California system. Established in 2005, UC Merced has quickly gained recognition for its commitment to cutting-edge research, innovative interdisciplinary programs, and a strong focus on sustainability. The campus boasts state-of-the-art facilities and a picturesque setting surrounded by scenic landscapes. With a diverse and inclusive community, UC Merced offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields, including the arts, sciences, engineering, and social sciences. The university’s small class sizes and close-knit campus environment foster a supportive and personalized learning experience for students. UC Merced is dedicated to addressing pressing societal challenges through research and community engagement, making it a hub for forward-thinking scholarship and meaningful community impact. With its unique academic offerings, commitment to sustainability, and vibrant campus life, UC Merced provides students with an exceptional educational experience in a dynamic and rapidly growing university.

The most popular majors at UC Merced are

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Computer Hardware Engineering
  • Public Health

The cost of tuition at UC Merced per year is approximately

  • In-State The annual tuition and fees for in-state students at UC Merced is approximately $14,300.
  • Out-of-State The annual tuition and fees for out-of-state students at UC Merced is approximately $45,300.
  • International The annual tuition and fees for international students at UC Merced is approximately $45,300.

Academic Requirements for the UC Universities

Below is a table that would be the approximate minimum to average academic requirements for all the UC universities.

University SAT Score ACT Score GPA(Out of 4.0)
UC Berkeley 1310-1530 30-35 3.6+
UCLA 1450+ 30+ 3.6+
UC Santa Barbara 1230-1460 28-34 3.4+
UC San Diego 1270-1480 28-34 3.4+
UC Irvine 1230-1430 26-33 3.4+
UC Davis 1160-1400 25-33 3.4+
UC Santa Cruz 1160-1360 25-33 3.4+
UC Riverside 1080-1280 22-31 3.2+
UC Merced 960-1140 19-24 3.2+

The academic requirements above for the SAT, ACT and GPA are estimates. Additionally, we recommend applicants to possess a score that would be higher in order to have a higher probability of gaining admissions to the UCs.

Ideally, we recommend applicants having

  • SAT 1400+
  • ACT 30+
  • GPA
    • For UCLA and UC Berkeley Above 3.7
    • For UC Riverside and UC Merced Above 3.2
    • For the other UCs Approximately above 3.5

The UC Application

Accessing the Application

You can access the UC application through the official UC admissions website. The application typically opens on August 1st for fall admission.

Application Deadlines

Fall Term

The application period for fall admission typically opens on November 1 and closes on November 30. Some campuses may have different deadlines, so it’s important to check each campus’s specific deadline.

Transfer Students

Transfer application deadlines vary by campus, but they generally fall within the months of November to January.

Personal Information

The application will require you to provide personal details such as your name, address, contact information, and demographic information.

Academic History (Transcripts and Test Scores)

You will be asked to enter information about your high school coursework, including grades, GPA, and class rank. The application will also ask you to provide information about any standardized tests you have taken, such as the SAT or ACT. Primarily, you will need to submit your grades (if your school does not follow the US GPA system) or GPA (if you attend a US high school). Standardized tests are now optional, but we still recommend you submit your scores for either one of them if you took the SAT or ACT.

Activities and Achievements

The UC application includes sections where you can showcase your extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, and any awards or honors you have received. This is an opportunity to highlight your involvement and accomplishments outside of the classroom.

Extracurricular Activities

Include any clubs, organizations, or teams you have been a part of. This can range from academic clubs, sports teams, performing arts groups, community service organizations, and more. For example, you can mention your involvement in the school’s debate club, where you participated in competitions and developed strong public speaking and critical thinking skills.

Leadership Roles

Highlight any leadership positions you have held within your extracurricular activities. This can include being a team captain, club president, or committee chair. For instance, you can mention your role as the president of the student council, where you organized and led various school-wide events, demonstrating your leadership and organizational skills.

Community Service

Share your experiences with community service and volunteer work. This can include activities such as volunteering at a local shelter, organizing fundraising events for a nonprofit organization, or tutoring younger students. For example, you can discuss your volunteer work at a local hospital, where you provided support to patients and gained insights into the healthcare field.

Awards and Honors

Mention any significant awards, honors, or recognitions you have received. This can include academic awards, scholarships, athletic achievements, or artistic accomplishments. For instance, you can highlight your recognition as the recipient of the “Outstanding Science Student” award, which acknowledges your exceptional performance and dedication in the field of science.

When describing your activities and achievements, be sure to provide specific details and examples that demonstrate the impact and significance of your involvement. Emphasize the skills, qualities, and values you have developed through these experiences. Focus on the leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and personal growth aspects of your activities.

Also read Full Scholarships Based On SAT/ACT Scores

Here’s an example

Extracurricular Activity

Robotics Club

Role

Team Captain

Description

As a member and team captain of the Robotics Club, I led a group of students in designing and building a robot for regional competitions. I organized team meetings, coordinated tasks, and ensured effective communication among team members. Through this experience, I developed strong leadership skills, learned to collaborate effectively in a team setting, and honed my problem-solving abilities. Our team’s hard work and dedication paid off when we won the “Best Design” award at the State Robotics Championship, which was a testament to our innovative approach and commitment to excellence.

Personal Insight Questions

The UC application requires you to answer four personal insight questions. These questions allow you to provide more context about your experiences, achievements, and personal qualities. Each response has a maximum limit of 350 words. It’s important to take the time to craft thoughtful and compelling responses that showcase your unique perspective and strengths.

Application Fees and Fee Waivers

There is an application fee to submit the UC application. The application fee for each UC is $70.00 for US students while it is $80.00 for international students. However, fee waivers are available for eligible students who demonstrate financial need. The fee waiver information is provided within the application, and you can check if you qualify for a fee waiver based on the eligibility criteria.

Multiple Campus Selection

One of the advantages of the UC application is that you can select multiple UC campuses to apply to within a single application. This allows you to apply to several campuses with one application, saving time and effort. We recommend you to apply to at least 4 to 5 UC schools just to keep your options open.

Choosing the right UC college is a decision that can shape your future. By exploring the rankings, academic programs, campus facilities, and student experiences, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Remember to visit the official websites of each UC college, attend campus tours, and connect with current students and faculty members to gather more information. The UC system offers an exceptional educational experience, and with this comprehensive guide, you’re well-equipped to embark on your journey towards a successful college career.

Good luck in your college exploration and decision-making process!

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