How To Get Into UC Irvine: Requirements + Tips

Irvine, CA
May 6, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/6/24

If you hope to gain acceptance into one of the nation’s leading academic institutions, read on to learn how to get into UC Irvine.

There are multiple achievements that UC Irvine (UCI) is known for. It is the youngest member of the Association of American Universities, one of the most prominent research universities in the nation, and ranks 33rd as the best university in the nation!

Aside from its academic excellence, UC Irvine is  well-known for its unique mascot- an anteater! The decision to name themselves the UCI anteaters faced much backlash in the 1960s, with some newspapers arguing it would “dismay any coach,” and others ridiculing it for being an “unconventional choice.” 

But, because it reflects the school’s uniqueness and mission to break boundaries to make history, the name stuck. The anteater has since become a beloved mascot.

If you’d like to join the UCI anteaters and be part of a school known to be cutting-edge, this guide will tell you how to get into UC Irvine, its important admission details and deadlines, and more!

UC Irvine Admission Requirements

If you’re considering applying to UC Irvine, prepare your application materials early to avoid the hassle. Here are UC Irvine’s admission requirements:

UC Irvine GPA Requirements

Past admitted UCI students had GPAs of 3.86-4.0, with a median of 3.95! Considering this high median, it’s no surprise that UC Irvine prefers to admit students within the top 9% of their high school class!

UC Irvine SAT/ACT Requirements

UC Irvine no longer uses the SAT or ACT to assess applicants.

UC Irvine Course Requirements

UC Irvine requires all of its applicants to complete what they call the “A-G” course prerequisites before enrollment:

  • A: two years of History; one year of world or European History, Cultures, and Geography and one year of US History (or half a year of US history and half a year of American government civics)
  • B: four years of English
  • C: three years of Mathematics (four years preferred), including Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry
  • D: two years of Science (three years preferred); two years of laboratory Science and additional years in applied science, engineering, computer science, or other integrated science courses
  • E: two years of a foreign language (three years preferred); higher-level classes must be of the same language
  • F: one year of Visual and Performing Arts; in dance, music, visual art, theater/drama, or interdisciplinary arts
  • G: one year of college-preparatory electives

Students must receive a GPA of at least 3.0 in all their prerequisites to be considered for enrolment. Non-California residents must have a minimum GPA of 3.4 in these courses.

building on UC Irvine Campus

UC Irvine Application Requirements

You do not need to submit letters of recommendation to get into UC Irvine. But you will have to fill out the following section on your application so that the committee can gain more insight into your personality, character, and interests:

Activities and Awards

UCI will use your GPA to assess your performance inside the classroom, but they’re also curious about what you do outside of the classroom! 

You will need to list all of the extracurriculars, activities, and awards you pursued during your high school career and classify them into one of the following categories: 

  • Award or honor
  • Educational preparation programs (to prepare you for college)
  • Extracurricular activity (sports or school clubs)
  • Other coursework (outside of the A-G prerequisites)
  • Volunteering/community service
  • Work Experience

You should have at least one experience in each category to impress the admissions committee!

Dance and Music Auditions

Students interested in majoring in a performance arts discipline must participate in auditions as part of their application. 

Personal Insight Questions

Students must answer four of eight essay prompts as part of their application. We will discuss these questions further later in this guide!

UC Irvine Acceptance Rate

After reviewing these extensive expectations, you may  wonder, “how hard is it to get into UC Irvine?” 

Let’s look at the UC Irvine acceptance rate to answer this question. UC Irvine accepts just over 25% of applicants, which is only moderately selective. 

UC Irvine Class Profile

Whether you’re a first-year applicant or a transfer student, there’s room for you at UC Irvine! Take a look at UCI’s 2023 student profile to learn more about their successful candidates:

Applicant Category Number of Applicants or Score
First-Year Applicants 121,095
First-Year Admits 31,181
First-Year Applicant Acceptance Rate 25.7%
First-Year Applicant Median GPA 3.95
Transfer Applicants 21,995
Transfer Admits 9,545
Transfer Applicant Acceptance Rate 43.5%
Transfer Applicant Median GPA 3.77

Source: UC Irvine

While these guidelines can offer you more information about UC Irvine’s selectivity, they should not be used as a predictor of your chances of admission.

UC Irvine Application Deadlines

UC Irvine has a specific application form it requires students to fill out through their school portal. To ensure you submit your application on time, make a note of these key dates:

Deadline What’s Due
August 1 Applications open
October 1 - November 30 Submission period
December 1 - January 31 Dance and music auditions take place
March 1 - March 31 First-year applicants are notified of decisions
March 2 Priority deadline for FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application
April 1 - April 30 Transfer applicants notified of decisions
May 15 Statement of Intent to Register due for first-year applicants
June 1 Statement of Intent to Register due for transfer applicants

Source: UC Irvine

There is a fee to apply to UC Irvine. Domestic students must pay $80 to apply to UCI, and international students must pay $95.

If you require a fee waiver, you can determine your eligibility by entering your family size and income and selecting your campus on your application. 

UC Irvine Essays

As mentioned, you must answer four personal insight questions on your UC Irvine application. These essays are used to substitute interviews. 

To ensure you present your best self in your answers, you should create your responses well before you submit your application. Here are the questions you can expect to see and some UC Irvine-approved tips on how to answer them effectively:

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.  

To answer this question, consider the various ways you’ve demonstrated leadership. Leadership is not necessarily tied to a specific title or role but is an action! Think of extracurriculars, class projects, or other experiences outside of school where you mentored others or took a lead role. 

What were your responsibilities as a leader? What did you learn from this experience? What did you accomplish by being a leader? Were there any obstacles that you faced?

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem-solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistic, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Think about what creativity means to you and how you express it. Are you an out–of–the–box thinker? Are you known for finding creative solutions to impossible problems? Do you have artistic skills?

Whatever it may be, reflect on why this skill is important  and what it has helped you accomplish. 

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  

This question tends to be tough for students because they either have too many talents to choose from or don’t know which one will impress the admissions committee.

To pick one skill to share, consider what accomplishment you’re most proud of. Ask your friends and family what you’re known for. Are you the person everyone comes to for math help? Have you received any awards or honors for your talents? 

Explain the use of your talent and how it can help you throughout your education and career journey.

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

If you participated in anything that added value to your education, write about it in this answer. You may have taken courses to prepare you for college, electives that helped you develop a wider range of skills or extracurriculars that facilitated your learning.

If you answer the second prompt, demonstrate your resilience and perseverance to overcome and succeed despite the odds.

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?

You can talk about any challenge for this response. It can be a personal challenge; one your family faced, or a community-wide challenge. Whatever it may be, share the obstacles the challenge presented and how you overcame them. Rely on concrete examples and discuss what you learned from the experience. 

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside or outside the classroom. 

Every student has a favorite subject. Maybe it’s the subject you plan on pursuing at UC Irvine. If it is, explain how you plan on furthering it with UCI. If it’s unrelated to your major, discuss what else you’ve done to develop your interest. 

If you took higher-level courses in the subject, ensure you discuss them in your response, as UC Irvine strongly emphasizes academic excellence.

7.  What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Hopefully, you’re leaving your school a better place than when you joined it. What problems within your school community did you take the initiative to fix or help others? What inspired you to take action, and how did your action benefit others?

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?

If there’s an experience or information that didn’t quite fit anywhere else on the application, you can share it in this response. Think of a skill, talent, or trait you haven’t had the chance to discuss but is important for the admissions committee to know.

Tips to Get Into UC Irvine

We’ve covered the basics of how to get into UC Irvine. To ensure you submit a stellar application that goes beyond the basics, incorporate these tips into your application:

Academics Achievements Outside of Your Grades

While your grades will tell the committee how well you perform on assessments, there are other ways to prove your academic potential. 

If you’ve also participated in academic-related extracurriculars like DECA and debates or were a successful Mathlete, these activities will prove your academic merit.

Focus on more than just your grades in each course! Try to diversify your application and prove your intellect in several ways.

Spend Time on Your Personal Insight Questions

Be genuine, reflective, and specific in your personal insight answers. You want to present your unique voice, so avoid cliches or generalizations. Revise and proofread your work several times before submission, so the meaning behind your words isn’t reduced by silly grammar errors or a lack of flow.

FAQs: How To Get Into UC Irvine

For any remaining questions about how to get into UC Irvine, read on to find your answers.

1. How Hard Is It To Get Into UC Irvine?

While UC Irvine has a moderately competitive acceptance rate, you will still need a high GPA to meet its admission standards. 

2. Is UCI Harder To Get Into Than UCLA?

No, UCLA is more selective. They have an acceptance rate of only 11%.

3. What GPA Do You Need To Get Into UCI?

Previous successful applicants had a median GPA of 3.95, with many having a perfect 4.0 GPA

4. What Is UC Irvine Known for Academically?

UC Irvine is one of the nation’s top research institutions and has made many headlines in the media for its cutting-edge discoveries, including studies to help humans colonize the moon and Mars!

5. How Much Does It Cost To Attend UC Irvine?

Tuition and fees cost about $17,105.14 yearly for residents and $49,679.14 for non-residents.

6. How Many Letters of Evaluation Do I Need to Submit To Apply to UC Irvine?

UC Irvine does not require letters of evaluation from teachers or counselors as part of the admissions process. Instead, they rely on your grades and other academic accomplishments to determine your level of intellect and potential to succeed in university. 

Final Thoughts

With so many excellent universities, picking your top choice can be overwhelming. If becoming an Anteater and being part of a revolutionary school fits into your career plan, you can add UCI to your list of top contenders! 

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