How to Get Into UC Davis | Acceptance Rate & Requirements

Picture of UC Davis Mondavi Center
June 11, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/23/24

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 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. In fact, the school started as an agricultural branch in 1905 and became the seventh University of California branch in 1959.

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, if you want to know how you can get into UC Davis, continue reading for a comprehensive guide.

UC Davis Acceptance Rate - 49%

The UC Davis acceptance rate for 2024 is 49%. This is up almost 10% from the previous year, so it's becoming more reliable to get into UC Davis.

Year Acceptance Rate
2023 41.9%
2022 39%
2021 46%
2020 38.9%

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.

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

UC Davis Admissions Statistics

To get into UC Davis, you’ll want to meet the minimum requirements with a good average GPA, SAT, and ACT score. Outlined below are the target scores you should aim for.

UC Davis Average GPA: 4.0

The average GPA at UC Davis is 4.0. While not impossible to achieve, this score will take lots of time and studying to perform well academically.

UC Davis Average SAT: 1280

The average SAT score at UC Davis is 1280. This composite score is attainable as long as you prepare in advance for the SAT.

UC Davis Average ACT: 28

The average composite ACT score at UC Davis is 28. While not as competitive as other schools, achieving a score of 28 on the ACT will take lots of preparation.

What is UC Davis Looking For In Applicants?

UC Davis seeks to admit well-rounded students who demonstrate academic excellence, personal achievement, and the potential to contribute positively to the campus community. UC Davis evaluates applications with a multifaceted approach.

The ideal applicant will have a strong academic record, with a high GPA and a rigorous course load that includes challenging classes such as AP or IB courses.

Beyond academics, UC Davis values students who have demonstrated leadership skills through their involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteering experience, or community service. They look for individuals who have developed special talents, received awards or recognition, or overcome significant challenges or hardships in their lives.

UC Davis sees students as people as opposed to numbers. They are interested in students who have made meaningful contributions to their communities or families, as this indicates a strong sense of social responsibility and the potential to make a positive impact on the UC Davis campus.

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation(s) X

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Racial/ethnic status X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

UC Davis Admission Requirements

UC Davis receives many competitive applications each year, so to stand out, the admissions team recommends challenging yourself with advanced coursework, such as AP classes or an IB program; aim for a score of 3, 4, or 5 in these courses. Try to boost your grades and make the most of your classes. 

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

In addition to these courses, students must also meet the following admission requirements:

  • California residents must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA, while non-residents must earn a minimum 3.4 GPA. However, the average student has a 4.0 GPA, so you should aim for above a 4.0 to be a competitive applicant.
  • Submit a strong UC application, including thoughtful responses to the personal insight questions that demonstrate your qualities, experiences contributions to the campus.

UC Davis is test-free for fall 2021 through fall 2024, meaning SAT/ACT scores are not required or considered in admissions decisions during this period. You can choose to submit your scores as alternative methods to minimum requirements such as your GPA.

UC Davis Application Deadlines

For a full breakdown of key deadlines at UC Davis to keep in mind, refer to this table below:

Application Step Deadline
Undergraduate applications open August 1
The application filing period for admission the following fall October 1–November 30
Deadline to submit your UC undergraduate application for admission and scholarships November 30
Priority deadline to apply for financial aid (FAFSA or Dream Act) March 2
Deadline to submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) and Statement of Legal Residence (SLR) if admitted May 1

UC Davis Regular Decision Deadline

Though UC Davis does not have an early decision, you can apply as early as August 1 for the regular decision. Applying early can provide you with peace of mind and show the admissions committee that you’re serious about your application.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into UC Davis

Here are some specific tips to improve your chances of getting into UC Davis, based on advice from admissions officers and alumni:

1. Report All UC-Approved College Preparatory Coursework

Your academic record is the core of your application. It's important to report all your UC-approved college preparatory coursework, including courses in which you have enrolled, regardless of grades, transferability, withdrawal, or if they were repeated.

2. Be Detailed and Specific in Your Personal Insight Questions

The Personal Insight Questions emulate traditional supplemental essays and are an opportunity to demonstrate your qualities and tell your story. Don't give generic answers. Instead, be detailed and specific to show what qualities you bring to the UC Davis table.

3. Show Intellectual Curiosity

UC Davis admissions receives thousands of applications. To stand out, show off your intellectual chops and display how you'd contribute to campus life. This can be demonstrated through your coursework, extracurricular activities, and responses to the Personal Insight Questions.

4. Show Potential for Leadership or Growth

If you can present how you led an organization like a passion project or overcame a challenge, it will impress UC Davis admissions. Use your extracurriculars and your responses to the Personal Insight Questions to show how you’ll add to the UC Davis community.

5. Exceed the UC Davis GPA Requirements

The UC Davis admissions team takes academics seriously. To be a competitive applicant, you should exceed the UC Davis GPA requirements and be in the top 10% of your class.

6. Take Challenging Courses

Plan to take IB, AP, and honors courses to show UC Davis admissions your motivation and willingness to take on academic challenges.

7. Use Extracurriculars to Show Initiative

Treat the application like a job interview – use your extracurricular activities as examples of the initiative you’ll bring to the UC Davis community. This can include leadership roles, special talents, or skills that you have developed outside of the classroom.

8. Check Your Application Status

In December, you should receive a confirmation email from UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions containing your UC Davis student ID number. Use your student ID number to set up your MyAdmissions account to check your application status.

9. Follow the UC Davis Application Timeline

The UC application opens on August 1 and must be submitted between October 1 and November 30 for admission the following fall term. Be sure to follow the application timeline and submit all required materials, including the application, financial aid forms, and if admitted, your statement of intent to register by the stated deadlines.

10. Be Mindful of Your Social Media Presence

While UC Davis admissions do not have an official social media policy, it's important to use social media with care. If you think your social media accounts could undermine your application, you may want to rethink your online presence.

By following these tips, you can improve your chances of getting into UC Davis by crafting a compelling application for the admissions team.

UC Davis Essay Prompts

An important part of the application process for getting into UC Davis is answering the personal insight questions. All applicants 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. 

  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 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 we also have a few things for you 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.

UC Davis Interview

UC Davis does not conduct applicant interviews as part of the admissions process. This means you must present your full story in your application. Use the personal insight questions to show more about yourself beyond your academic achievements.


If you’re still wondering about how you can get into UC Davis, here are some frequently asked questions to ease any lingering concerns. 

1. Can an Average Student Get Into UC Davis?

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

2. What Types of Students Get Into UC Davis?

UC Davis values students who play an active role in their community. They are looking for students who are involved in student life and have demonstrated strength in their academics and leadership skills.

3. Is Getting Into UC Davis a Big Deal?

Getting into UC Davis is a major accomplishment. It is currently ranked the 28th-best national university

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, while nonresidents pay approximately $48,573.

Final Thoughts

UC Davis is a well-respected school and remains accessible to many students. The school 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 below 50%, meaning students must be competitive applicants to gain admission. 

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