How to get into UCLA: Breaking Down Acceptance Rates and Admissions Requirements

04/05/202319 minute read
How to get into UCLA: Breaking Down Acceptance Rates and Admissions Requirements

Hailed as one of the top public universities in the world, University of California, Los Angeles attracts thousands of applicants each year. The university received 169,800 applications for the Fall 2023 admission, making it the most applied-to of all universities in the United States. In 2022, the university accepted 12,844 to its extremely competitive pool of students.

UCLA Overview

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), began in 1882 as the State Normal School of Los Angeles. Its primary purpose was to train teachers. It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second institution in the UC system. In 1926, UCLA formally adopted the “Bruins” nickname when their athletic teams joined the Pacific Coast Conference.

With more than 1,000 student organizations, including more than 65 Greek chapters, students are sure to find their niche on campus. UCLA has a variety of athletics as well, including golf, tennis and water polo, among others.

UCLA is known for its prestigious School of Theater, Film, and Television and School of Dentistry. While Biology, Business Economics, Psychology, and Political Science are some of their most popular majors, UCLA offers 130 world-class undergraduate majors through its seven academic divisions. These divisions include:

  • The College of Letters and Science
  • School of the Arts and Architecture
  • Samueli School of Engineering
  • Herb Alpert School of Music
  • School of Nursing
  • Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • School of Theater, Film, and Television

Do you want to study at UCLA but don’t know where to begin? Crimson helps students reach their university admissions goals. Our Strategists can help you put together a robust application that stands out from the rest! Learn more about our US Admissions Support program.

How hard is it to get into UCLA?

UCLA is one of the hardest schools to gain acceptance. More people apply to UCLA each year than any other university in the United States. Now that the UC school application does not require SAT and ACT scores, more students are applying. The average GPA of admitted UCLA freshmen rose to 4.5 with an average of 52 terms of college-prep courses, including 23 terms of AP courses. It’s tough to get into UCLA, but not impossible! If you have exceptional grades and receive high scores on your AP exams, you can stand out from the rest by showing how you align with UCLA’s values. Showcasing your grit, creativity, and leadership through your extracurricular activities and providing strong, thoughtful answers to the personal insight questions demonstrates your unique attributes and why you’d be the perfect addition to the UCLA campus community.

Typically, UCLA admits about 12% of applicants. However, in the 2021/22 admission cycle the acceptance rate dropped to 10.7%. In Fall 2022, UCLA received a record number of applications (169,800 freshmen and transfer students).

UCLA Admissions Statistics 2021/22
Average GPA (Weighted)Total ApplicantsOverall Acceptance RateInternational Student Acceptance RateCrimson Student Acceptance Rate
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What do you need to get into UCLA?

UCLA does not accept the Common App. If you want to apply to UCLA, you will need to fill out the UC Application. This universal application allows you to apply to any of the nine UC schools at one time. You should apply to more than one UC school because it will significantly increase your chances of getting into the UC system. Even though UCLA might be your first choice, the other UC schools also offer world-class education and countless opportunities to grow.

UC Application Sections at a Glance

1. About You

This section is where you include basic information about you and your family.

2. Campuses & Majors

In this section, you’ll select which campuses you’d like to apply to and mark your major if you have one. You may choose “undecided” if you haven’t chosen a major yet.

3. Academic History

This section is where you’ll record your courses and grades. At a minimum, you must earn a 3.0 GPA or better (3.4 for nonresidents) in all college preparatory courses. No grades can be lower than a C.

The following are the freshmen profile GPA and honors course statistics for the Fall 2020 school year:

Fully Weighted GPAUnweighted GPAHonors Courses
25th Percentile4.343.9219
75th Percentile4.684.0030

4. Test Scores

The UC schools do not consider ACT and SAT scores in their admission decisions. If you need an alternative method of fulfilling your minimum eligibility requirements, you may add these scores as part of your application.

You will record your scores for AP exams, IB exams, TOEFL or IELTS, and International exams on separate pages. If you haven’t taken these tests yet, you’ll need to indicate if you’re planning on taking them in the future.

4. Activities & Awards

Record the activities and awards you’re most proud of and the ones that you believe would make you a great candidate for UCLA admission. Six categories classify the awards and honors:

  • Award or honor
  • Educational preparation programs
  • Extracurricular activity
  • Other coursework
  • Volunteering/Community service
  • Work Experience

5. Scholarships & Programs

In this section, you can select any scholarship categories that apply to you. The UC system offers support services while you’re at a UC. If you’re interested in their Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), you indicate it in this section.

6. Personal Insight Questions

The UC schools put together a list of eight personal insight questions. You must respond to four of these questions and each response is limited to 350 words. These questions help personalize your application and show the admissions officers a little bit about your personality, interests, background, and achievements. You should write them in your unique voice.

For more information about the Personal Insight Questions please visit this helpful page on the UC application website.

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How does UCLA evaluate applications?

The University of California uses a system called a 13-Factor Comprehensive Review System to evaluate applicants. Each campus works with the UC Office of the President to set specific goals and determine how many first-year and transfer students they expect to enroll each fall.

UCLA seeks to enroll students who will contribute to their dynamic learning community. They look for applicants with leadership skills, initiative, tenacity, and intellectual curiosity. While grades and curriculum choices indicate academic achievement, UCLA considers a broad range of criteria when determining who they admit. The criteria include quantitative and qualitative factors as well as academic and personal accomplishments.

Professionally trained readers review each application using the following faculty-approved criteria. You can find the full explanations for each criterion here.

  • A full record of achievement in college preparatory work in high school
  • Personal qualities of the applicant
  • Likely contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus
  • Achievement in academic enrichment programs.
  • Other evidence of achievement
  • Opportunities
  • Challenges

UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering, School of Nursing, School of the Arts and Architecture, Herb Alpert School of Music, and the School of Theater, Film, and Television all take additional specific considerations, depending on the school.

How to Stand Out in Your UCLA Application

Admissions officers look at thousands of applications each year. How do you make your UCLA application stand out? Here’s are some helpful tips on how to stand out in your UCLA application:

1. Identify your goals as a UCLA student

Do you want to pursue leadership opportunities? How do you hope to positively contribute to the university? By answering these questions, you will have a stronger idea of what you are looking for and how you can make a difference on the UCLA campus.

2. Allow your true self to shine through your application

Rather than writing what you think admissions officers want to read, be honest and raw. Talk about growth experiences and what you learned from them.

3. Talk to students who currently attend UCLA

Ask them about their application, the methods and practices that worked for them, and the types of activities they included.

4. Focus on AP classes and activities that truly interest you.

You will excel in areas you’re passionate about and ones that benefit others.

5. Learn as much as you can about the UC application process and UCLA

Join online communities, read books and blogs, and meet with your school’s counselors to learn as much as you can about UCLA and the UC applications.

6. Speak to a Crimson college advisor

Our highly trained education and application specialists will walk you through every step of the UCLA application process, ensuring you include everything that will make your application stand out from the rest.

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Is UCLA right for you?

UCLA might not be the school for you if you prefer small class sizes. Many lectures have more than 200 students, although some classes break into discussion sections which helps students get more one-on-one attention. It’s hard to connect with professors and TAs due to the sheer number of people in a class. UCLA is also a research university so students looking for a traditional liberal arts education may want to choose a different university.

Before choosing UCLA, examine the pros and cons and determine if they align with your interests, goals, and personality. If your academics and expectations align with UCLA, you should apply! If not, you might like one of the other UC schools more. You might even consider a private liberal arts university.

Life After UCLA

UCLA graduates learn how to navigate the real world well before graduation. With ample internship and research opportunities, students learn what life beyond college may look like for them. UCLA has a 93% graduate rate and many graduates find jobs in research, finance, and computer science. Companies like Accenture, Amazon, Deloitte, Disney, Facebook, and Google love hiring graduates from UCLA.

Some of UCLA’s most famous alumni include:

  • James Franco, Actor, Producer, Director, Writer
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Basketball Player
  • Taylor Wang, Astronaut
  • Jackie Robinson, Professional Baseball Player
  • Francis Ford-Coppola, Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter
  • Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States
  • John Williams, Composer
  • Terence Tao, Mathematician

Harvard and UCLA Grads: My Favorite College Memory

Final Thoughts

UCLA is looking for independent thinkers who want to make a real difference on the campus, in the community, and worldwide. Most students take advantage of learning opportunities on campus and in the surrounding Los Angeles area. If you’re ready to make your mark on the world, UCLA is a great place to start.

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company specializing in helping students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities. Our admissions advisors understand everything about the University of California system. They can direct you to the classes you should take, extracurriculars, and activities that pair well with your future major and address any questions you have about UCLA. Book a free consultation with an admissions counselor today. Learn more through our Admissions Support program.


How much is UCLA tuition?

UCLA’s in-state tuition and fees are $13,268 per academic year. UCLA’s out-of-state tuition and fees are $43,022 per academic year.

Is UCLA a private school?

No, UCLA is a public university founded in 1919.

When does UCLA send acceptance letters?

UCLA makes its freshman admissions decisions by April 1. Students have until May 1 to commit to the school. Transfer students are notified by April 30 and have until June 1 to commit.

How many students are at UCLA?

UCLA is home to about 31,500 undergraduate and 12,800 graduate students.

Big Questions Ep. 1: UCLA