How to Get Into UC Davis

Picture of UC Davis Mondavi Center
February 5, 2024
8 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/24/23

UC Davis is a competitive and high-ranking public college among the University of California colleges. This article will cover everything you need to know about how to get into UC Davis.

UC Davis campus

UC Davis is the northernmost campus in the public University of California system. Located on the outskirts of Sacramento, the school is known for its science and engineering programs and consistently ranks first in the country in agricultural majors and programs. 

Sustainability is an integral part of the mission of UC Davis. The school is committed to creating a green campus and is well known for its bicycle program. The school actively supports sustainable transportation, and bikes have become the number one mode of transportation on campus.

The student body sits at around 40,000 students, with over 800 clubs for students to choose from. 

UC Davis has one of the higher admission rates among the University of California campuses and is less competitive than UC Berkeley and UCLA. However, UC Davis is still a highly sought-after school, and applicants must have strong applications for admittance. So, how hard is it to get into UC Davis, and how can you get in?

UC Davis Acceptance Rate

The UC Davis acceptance rate is 41.8%. This is down by more than 10% from the previous year, so it's becoming harder to get into UC Davis because they're being more selective.

UC Davis is less selective than other University of California schools. The acceptance rate at UCLA is 9%, the most selective of the UC campuses, and it’s 89% at UC Merced, the campus with the highest acceptance rate.

Take a look at UC Davis' acceptance rate over the last few years. This info provides valuable insights into the university's competitiveness, admission trends, and how selective it is for prospective students.

Year Acceptance Rate GPA LSAT Acceptance Rate
2022 39% 3.92 173 6.9%
2021 46% 3.94 175 5.7%
2020 38.9% 3.91 173 14.2%

UC Davis Yield Rate

UC Davis has a yield rate of 18%, which means that approximately 18% of admitted students choose to enroll at the university. This percentage reflects the university's appeal to prospective students and the effectiveness of its admissions process.

How Hard is it to Get Into UC Davis?

Getting into UC Davis is moderately competitive. While it's not extremely difficult, you'll still need a strong application with good grades, test scores, and other achievements to increase your chances of being admitted.

UC Davis also looks at your extracurricular activities and personal qualities, so presenting a well-rounded application is essential. 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into UC Davis.

UC Davis Admissions Statistics

Here are all of the updated UC Davis admissions statistics you need to know.

Class Rank

UC Davis takes a unique approach to student ranking by not assigning numerical class rankings, such as ranking a student as "25th out of 175 students." Instead, the university evaluates each student's academic performance, achievements, and qualifications within a holistic context. 

UC Davis Requirements

Considering its promising acceptance rate of 42%, scoring above UC Davis’ average SAT/ACT scores and GPA will almost guarantee your admission. Aim for an SAT score of 1500, an ACT score of 33, and a GPA of 4.26 to wow the admissions committee. Take it up a notch by writing unique and reflective personal insight essays!

To be considered for admittance to UC Davis, students must have fulfilled the ‘A-G’ subject requirements set out by the university. 

UC Davis’ ‘A-G’ subject requirements:

A. History/Social Science = two years

B. English (or the language of instruction) = four years

C. Mathematics = three years (four years recommended)

D. Laboratory Science = two years (three years recommended)

E. Language other than English (second language) = two years (three years recommended)

F. Visual and Performing Arts = one year

G. College Preparatory Elective = one year

UC Davis receives many competitive applications each year. To stand out, the admissions team recommends challenging yourself with advanced coursework, such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes or an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Try to boost your grades and make the most of your classes. 

As of 2022, UC Davis does not require SAT or ACT scores from its applicants, although this is likely to change after 2024. 

UC Davis GPA Requirements

UC Davis advises that California residents must achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher, while non-residents must have a GPA of at least 3.4. Remember that though you don’t need a 4.0 GPA, the higher your GPA, the more competitive you’ll be. 

UC Davis SAT Requirements

The University of California board has suspended all SAT requirements until 2024. Preceding the suspension, the scores achieved by the middle 25%-75% of successful applicants to the class of 2019 was a composite ACT score between 25 and 31 and a composite SAT score of 1230 to 1490. 

UC Davis ACT Requirements

ACT test scores are also not considered in admissions decisions or scholarship awards during this period. However, if you decide to submit ACT scores, they may be used as an alternative method for meeting minimum eligibility requirements or for course placement after enrollment.

UC Davis Personal Insight Questions

An important part of the application process for getting into UC Davis is answering the personal insight questions. All applicants to the University of California campuses must complete three short answer personal insight questions as part of the application process. 

There are seven questions for applicants to choose from, and each answer has a maximum of 350 words.

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. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
7. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Answering each question carefully and considering what questions to answer is essential, so make sure to take time to reflect on which four questions allow you to demonstrate your skills and life experiences to the highest degree. 

UC Davis describes the questions as a chance for you to show your personality “like you would in a face-to-face meeting.” The University of California Admissions website has a guide for how to approach each question, but there are a few things to keep in mind: 

There is No Right or Wrong Answer 

Sadly, there is no magic formula that will allow you to write the ‘perfect’ answer. A good answer is one that allows you to show who you are and your life experiences. Let them know why these experiences make you a good fit at UC Davis. 

Be Specific

Don’t recycle answers from other applications. Instead, tailor your answer to UC Davis and state why you want to attend the campus in particular. This will show that you are genuinely passionate about attending the school and that you have researched the campus, its programs, and student life.


Take some time to brainstorm and think about each question before answering. Your first idea for how to approach a question might not be your strongest, so give yourself the time needed to really think about your answers. 

Don’t Repeat Yourself

As tempting as it might be to answer every question using the same examples, it is important that you use different ones for each. For example, if you have faced significant barriers to your education, use that experience and show how you overcame it when answering one question, not all four. 


It is important when writing any application to start early and give yourself time to proofread thoroughly. After writing your answers, come back the next day to read them over again with fresh eyes- you’ll be surprised at how many new errors you catch! 

Remember, this is your chance to stand out from the crowd! Your answers should be specific to you and your interests while demonstrating why you are a great fit for UC Davis. 

A good answer is one that allows you to show the admissions committee who you are and what is most important in your life. Remember that a great answer is not one where you write what you think the admissions officers want to hear–it’s where you can show the admissions committee who you are beyond your application.

What Does UC Davis Look For?

UC Davis provides prospective students with some insight into what factors play into a good application. Many of the criteria look at your performance on the A-G subjects listed above, how you rank among your high school class, and any advanced placement classes you have taken. 

They are also looking for students with leadership experience and an interest in green living–ultimately adding value to the UC Davis community and campus. 

College students working together

How UC Davis College Evaluates Applications

As outlined in UC Davis' Common Data Set, the university employs a multifaceted approach in its application evaluation, with distinct levels of importance assigned to various factors:

High Priority Factors 

  • The rigor of coursework
  • Academic GPA
  • Essays

Significantly Important Factors

  • Extracurricular engagements
  • Demonstrated talents and abilities
  • Personal character and qualities
  • Volunteer contributions

Other Factors Taken into Account 

  • Standardized test scores
  • First-generation status
  • Residency in the state
  • Relevant work experience

Factors Excluded from Consideration 

  • Class rank
  • Interviews
  • Legacy connections
  • Geographic location of residence
  • Religious affiliations or commitments
  • Racial or ethnic backgrounds
  • Applicant-specific interests
  • Letters of recommendation

UC Davis relies on these benchmarks to thoroughly evaluate the qualifications of applicants in the admission review process.

UC Davis Application Process

Applications for admission to UC Davis open on August 1, and applications must be submitted between October 1 to November 30, depending on the year. That means you have lots of time to get started early! It is also important to note that you can apply to as many of the nine UC campuses as you want using one application.

What you need to apply:

  • Unofficial Transcripts
  • Any test scores (this is not mandatory, but if you have written any AP tests, this is the section where you submit your results) 
  • Estimated annual family income
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Citizenship Status
  • California State ID (if you are a resident of California)

There are seven sections in the application. In these sections, you will answer questions about yourself, submit documents, and answer personal insight questions. This is also the place where you can apply for scholarships. 

Tips to Get Into UC Davis

Now that you know everything you need about the UC Davis application process, here are some tips on getting in from our admissions experts!

1. Research

The best way to create a successful application to get into UC Davis is to prepare! Do your research into the majors you are interested in, UC Davis campus life, and the school's mission.

By integrating this research into your personal insight questions and what you choose to highlight about yourself, you show them that you have taken the time to look into all aspects of student life at UC Davis and allows you to tie your personal experiences to life on campus. 

2. Prepare

Make sure you always take note of any dates and deadlines and create a timeline that ensures you will meet them all!

3. Stay Confident!

Confidence in yourself and your abilities shines through on applications no matter what. Demonstrate to admissions officers that you know what you want and have taken all the right steps to get there. 

FAQs: How to Get Into UC Davis

Still curious about how to get into UC Davis? Here are some frequently asked questions to ease any lingering concerns you might still have. 

1. Can an Average Student Get Into UC Davis?

Students who meet the average GPA requirements and are involved in extracurriculars can still gain admittance with a strong application. However, UC Davis is still a competitive school, so having a GPA above the minimum requirement is an asset. 

2. What Type of Students Get Into UC Davis?

UC Davis values students who play an active role in their community. They are looking for students who enjoy being involved in student life and have demonstrated strength in their academics and leadership skills. They are also looking for students who align themselves with their mission of sustainability and green living. 

3. Is Getting Into UC Davis a Big Deal?

Getting into UC Davis is a major accomplishment. It is currently ranked the 38th-best college in the country and the tenth-best public school. 

4. What Major is UC Davis Known For?

UC Davis is known for its agriculture programs, engineering, and biology. They also offer majors such as Agriculture and Environmental Technology, and Biological Systems Engineering, which combine these programs. 

5. How Much is UC Davis’ Tuition?

UC Davis tuition and fees vary depending on residency and enrollment status. California residents pay around $16,000 annually, nonresidents pay approximately $48,573, and UC employees have reduced fees of about $4,650 per year. 

Final Thoughts

UC Davis is a well-respected school and remains accessible to many students. UC Davis offers its students an opportunity to join a vibrant and community-focused college while being a part of the wider University of California–the world's leading system of public research universities. 

UC Davis is a great fit for students hoping to work in agriculture, environmental science, and engineering. While less selective than other institutions in the University of California system, UC Davis’ admission rate is still below 50%, meaning students must be competitive applicants to gain admission. 

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