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

27 SEP 2021

Hailed as one of the top public universities in the world, UCLA attracts thousands of applicants each year. The university received nearly 168,000 first-year and transfer student applications for the Fall 2021 admission, the most applications in its history, and the most applied-to of all universities in the United States. The accepted class of 15,000 high school seniors and 5,300 transfer students represented the most academically accomplished class in UCLA’s history. 

This globally respected institution offers unmatched instruction, state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge research, and access to countless job opportunities through faculty and alumni. As a public institution, UCLA also seeks to serve the State of California, educating future leaders in research, business, and arts.


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.


Table of Contents

  • UCLA Overview
  • UCLA Rankings
  • UCLA Acceptance Rates: How hard is it to get in?
  • UCLA Admission Requirements
  • How to apply to UCLA
  • How does UCLA evaluate applications?
  • How to Stand Out in Your UCLA Application
  • Is UCLA a good school?
  • Is UCLA right for you?
  • Life After UCLA
  • FAQs

UCLA Overview

Set in urban Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood, UCLA sits on 419 acres of land five miles from the Pacific Ocean. UCLA includes the College of Letters and Sciences and many prestigious graduate schools

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.

Set in urban Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood, UCLA sits on 419 acres of land five miles from the Pacific Ocean. UCLA includes the College of Letters and Sciences and many prestigious graduate schools.

With more than 1,000 student organizations, including more than 65 Greek chapters, students are sure to find their niche on campus. UCLA’s athletics teams include:

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Baseball (Men)
  • Football (Men)
  • Beach Volleyball (Women)
  • Gymnastics (Women)
  • Rowing (Women)
  • Softball (Women)
  • Swimming and Diving (Women)

Where is UCLA located?

UCLA is located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Surrounded by neighborhoods like Bel Air, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills, the campus sits at the base of the Santa Monica mountains, only five miles from the Pacific Ocean. Students enjoy 292 days of sunshine each year.

What is UCLA known for?

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

Many students enroll in UCLA’s famous theater program because they have the opportunity to study avant-garde video, ancient theater, and film production with well-known industry experts. Graduates of this program include Academy Award, Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony winners. As part of the NCAA Division 1 Pacific 12 Conference, UCLA’s nationally-ranked athletic teams compete with some of the best university athletic teams in the nation. 

How many students are at UCLA?

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

A Day in the Life: UCLA Student

UCLA Rankings

U.S. News & World Report ranked UCLA #20 in their Best Colleges 2022 edition. UCLA ranked #40 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

U.S. News & World Report ranked UCLA #20 in their Best Colleges 2022 edition. UCLA ranked #40 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

Notable UCLA Rankings

  • #20 in National Universities
  • #1 in Top Public Schools
  • #5 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #21 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
  • #15 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)
  • #12 in Electrical / Electronic / Communications
  • #10 in Biocomputing/Bioinformatics/Biotechnology (tie)
  • #12 in Data Analytics/Science (tie)
  • #12 in Software Engineering (tie)
  • #10 in Nursing (tie)
  • #29 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)

To compare UCLA’s ranking with other UC Schools check out our blog on the UC Schools Ranked!

UCLA Academic Statistics
CoursesAcademic DepartmentsMajors
3900+109125+

What are the Best Majors at UCLA?

Biology, Business Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Psychobiology are the most popular majors at UCLA.

How hard is it to get into UCLA?

t’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.

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. 

UCLA Admissions Statistics 2021/22
Average GPA (Weighted)Total ApplicantsOverall Acceptance RateInternational Student Acceptance RateCrimson Student Acceptance Rate
4.34-4.68167,90310.7%9%40%

UCLA Acceptance Rate

Typically, UCLA admits about 12% of applicants. However, in the 2021/22 admission cycle the acceptance rate dropped to 10.7%.

How many people apply to UCLA?

In Fall 2021, UCLA received a record number of applications (168,000 freshmen and transfer students).

UCLA GPA Requirements

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. 

UCLA Average GPA

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

UCLA Average Test Scores

UCLA and all the University of California schools do not consider SAT or ACT scores when making application decisions or awarding scholarships. Test scores can be submitted and used as an alternative to fulfill minimum eligibility requirements or for course placement after acceptance and enrollment.


Crimson Students are 4x more likely to gain admission to UCLA! Book a free consultation with our expert admission advisors to learn more about how we can help your application stand out from the rest!

UCLA Admission Requirements

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.

While the general application is the same for all UC schools, each UC looks for specific values and characteristics in their students and works with the UC Office of the President to set their own specific goals and guidelines for admission.

UC Application Sections at a Glance

About You

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

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.

Academic History

This section is where you’ll record your courses and grades.

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.

Check our blog on ACT vs SAT to find out which test you should take!

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.

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

Download our free eBook to learn how you can build an extracurricular profile for top US Universities!

Extracurricular Profile

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.

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.

  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.  
  2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  
  3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  
  4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. 
  7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  
  8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

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

How to Apply to UCLA

More people apply to UCLA than any other school in the United States. UCLA has approximately 100,000 applicants each year. To help streamline the application process, the University of California system created the UC application.

UCLA also created a helpful “UCLA Guide to Applying” that provides answers to many undergraduate application questions.

UCLA Application Deadlines

UCLA and the rest of the UC schools share similar application deadlines.

DateApplication Status
August 1UC Application Opens
November 1UC starts accepting applications
November 30Last day to submit applications
Late MarchFirst-year applicants receive decisions
Late AprilDecisions for most transfer applicants released

How to Apply to UCLA as an International Student

UCLA admits students from nearly 90 countries. International students can apply as a freshman or as a transfer student using the UC application.

Students whose primary language isn’t English but demonstrate English proficiency. Students can take any of the following language tests:

If you submit the TOEFL test results to one campus, they will automatically go to all campuses you apply to. You must submit IELTS and DET results to each campus separately.

Learn more about UCLA’s country-specific requirements. UCLA has also put together a helpful “Guide to Applying” for International students.


Need help preparing your application for UCLA? Our expert admission advisors can answer any questions you have regarding your application. Book a free consultation to learn more!

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.

Check out our blog to learn more about ways you can stand out to colleges!

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.

Download our free eBook to learn how to crush your US College Applications!

Crush Us College App Ebook

How to Stand Out in Your UCLA Application

what looks good on college applications

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.


Crimson offers a wide range of educational support services that will help you tailor your education and application, so it aligns with UCLA’s values and requirements. Through our admissions support programs, we walk with you through the application process. From online tutoring and extracurricular mentoring to essay review and even postgraduate admissions, Crimson can help you get into UCLA.


Is UCLA a good school?

UCLA is a great school with tons of opportunities for graduates

UCLA offers a world-class education. But this campus is not for everyone. Students who excel at UCLA are independent thinkers and have the confidence to forge their own paths. UCLA is a large school with plenty of opportunities for everyone, but it takes real effort to seek out those opportunities. You should be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, especially if you’re still figuring out your plans. UCLA offers exceptional theater arts opportunities because it’s close to Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment industry.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about UCLA

What does UCLA stand for?

UCLA stands for the University of California, Los Angeles.

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.

What application system does UCLA use?

If you want to apply to UCLA, you will need to use the University of California’s online application, also known as the UC Application. You can apply to any of the nine UC schools with this application. 

Big Questions Ep. 1: UCLA

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