How to Get Into UC Davis

Picture of UC Davis Mondavi Center
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/11/23

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 is the northernmost campus in the University of California system. Located on the outskirts of Sacramento, the school is known for its science, engineering, and agricultural programs.

Sustainability is an integral part of UC Davis’ mission. 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.

UC Davis has one of the higher admission rates in the UC system and is less competitive than UC Berkeley and UCLA. However, UC Davis is still a popular choice – building a robust application is key. So, how hard is it to get into UC Davis, and how can you get in?

UC Davis Admissions Statistics

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

UC Davis Acceptance Rate

The acceptance rate for UC Davis is 37.5% (class of 2026), down from more than 10% from the previous year. That compares to UCLA’s 8.6% acceptance rate (the most selective of the UC campuses) and UC Merced’s 90.4% acceptance rate (the UC school with the highest acceptance rate). 

UC Davis GPA Requirements

Getting into UC Davis means meeting a GPA requirement first. 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 these GPAs are the minimum requirement, so the higher your GPA, the more competitive you’ll be. 

Class profile data from the class of 2026 shows students at UC Davis had an average GPA between 4.06 and 4.30. 

UC Davis SAT/ACT Requirements

The University of California board has suspended all SAT/ACT requirements until 2024. Although some schools remain test-optional and will evaluate your scores if you choose to submit them, UC Davis will not use your scores in the admissions process whatsoever.

If you’re curious about UC Davis’ average SAT/ACT scores from previous years, the middle 50% of the entering 2019 class reported SAT scores between 1230 and 1490 and ACT scores between 24 and 31. 

UC Davis Requirements

To get into UC Davis, you must complete the UC Application. No UC schools accept the Common or Coalition Applications. The UC Application includes seven sections for you to share your academic history, test scores, activities and awards, personal insight questions, and scholarship categories you fall into. 

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

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. 

As mentioned above, California students must have a GPA of at least 3.0 to apply, while non-residents must report a GPA of 3.4 or higher. UC Davis does not require SAT or ACT scores from its applicants.

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 four short answer personal insight questions as part of the application process. 

There are eight questions for applicants to choose from, and each answer has a maximum of 350 words. Answering each question carefully and considering what questions to answer is essential, so make sure to take time to reflect on which four allow you to demonstrate your skills and life experiences to the highest degree. 

UC Davis describes the questions as a chance 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: 

1. 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 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. 

2. 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 have researched the campus, its programs, and student life.

3. Reflect

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. 

4. 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. 

5. Proofread

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 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 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 insight into what factors play into a good application. Many 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.

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. 

Here’s what you need to apply:

  • 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 UC application. In these sections, you will answer questions about yourself, submit documents, and respond to 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 application process, here are some tips on getting into UC Davis from our admissions experts!

1. Research UC Davis

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 it allows you to tie your personal experiences to life on campus. 

2. Build an Application Timeline to Stay On Track

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 and Show UC Davis Is the School for You

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. How Hard is it to Get Into UC Davis?

UC Davis is one of the more accessible schools in the UC system. The University of California, Davis acceptance rate is 37.5%

Additionally, you won’t need an SAT or ACT score to apply until 2024. Admitted students also have an average GPA of 3.0 for in-state applicants and 3.4 for out of state, which is lower than other UC colleges.

2. Can an Average Student Get Into UC Davis?

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

3. 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 academics and leadership skills. They are also looking for students who align themselves with their mission of sustainability and green living. 

4. 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. 

5. 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.

6. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into UC Davis? 

California residents must earn a 3.0 GPA or higher, whereas non-residents must achieve a 3.4 or higher to apply. However, the middle 50% of admitted students reported GPAs between 4.06 and 4.3. 

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 UC system (like UCLA), the admission rate is still below 40%; a strong application will help boost your chances of getting into UC Davis!

Main Image Source: Wikimedia

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