How to Get Into UCLA: Requirements & Acceptance Rate

UCLA campus
Updated:
February 5, 2024
7 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/16/23


If you’re wondering how to get into UCLA, read on for tips and more to help you get accepted!

The University of California Los Angeles is a public research university. The school is one of the most respected and competitive universities in the US, informally known as a "public Ivy." 

With an undergraduate student population of 32,119, UCLA prides itself as a pioneer, persevering through difficulties and turning the impossible into the attainable for over a hundred years. The school promotes a community spirit and looks for academically outstanding candidates who drive to make a positive change in the world. 

UCLA Admission Requirements

Getting into UCLA requires strong test scores and a well-rounded academic profile. The most competitive applicants typically boast SAT scores of around 1510 and ACT scores of around 34. Attaining a GPA of 4.0 will also position you in the 75th percentile of past successful admits.

Applying to college is exciting, but there are requirements for every school that you should consider. You must ensure you are aware of them to produce a complete and well-constructed application.

UCLA is a competitive school, so ensuring you secure all the required materials ahead of time will give you an advantage and the opportunity to focus on application parts that will help you stand out. 

The UCLA admissions committee considers many elements when making decisions about prospective students. They seek good grades, students with rich experience, and solid personal stories demonstrating positive characteristics. 

Showcasing your intellect and being curious is key to gaining admission. Demonstrating how you've made a change through your academic work will get you a long way. Both your accomplishments inside and outside the classroom are considered for admission. 

While not necessarily admissions requirements at UCLA, these are some of the factors the admissions committee considers: 

  • Strong academic performance 
  • Unique talents, awards, or accomplishments 
  • Meaningful and unique insights about yourself when answering the personal insight questions. 

The admissions committee uses a holistic review method. They carefully balance many factors and gain a complete sense of every candidate; they are a person, not just a student or a mere number. 

GPA 

What the required GPA is at UCLA depends on whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. In-state students must achieve at least a 3.0 GPA, whereas out-of-state students must have a GPA of 3.4 or higher to apply. 

However, the average unweighted GPA of the 2027 class ranged from 4.2 to 4.31

It's essential you maintain a strong, consistent GPA throughout high school, as close to a 4.0 as possible. Higher grades demonstrate your academic aptitude and show you can handle the rigor of UCLA’s programs.

Test Scores

Test scores are no longer required for admission or scholarship purposes at UCLA— GPA is much more important. UCLA has not released data regarding the SAT or ACT since 2019

Of course, you may still need to take the ACT or SAT if you’re applying outside the UC system! Adequate SAT/ACT preparation is key to increasing your scores. 

Required Courses 

There is no academic path students are expected to follow, but UCLA expects candidates to achieve high grades in the most rigorous curriculum available to them, such as AP or IB classes

Required UCLA courses

Prospective students must complete 15 A-G courses, with at least 11 finished before starting their senior year. The list of A-G requirements includes the following: 

  • Two years of History/Social Science
  • Four years of college-preparatory English
  • Three years of Mathematics (four years recommended)
  • Two years of laboratory Science (three years recommended)
  • Two years of a language other than English (three years recommended)
  • One year of Visual and Performing Arts (if available)
  • One year of college-preparatory elective

Plan your high school courses carefully to ensure you meet these requirements!

UCLA Acceptance Rate

The 2023 admission rate is 9%, with 12,737 admitted students out of 145,910 applicants. For transfer students, the acceptance rate is higher, at 25.8%. 

UCLA acceptance rate compared to how many students Quad get's into the same school!

How Hard Is It to Get Into UCLA? 

UCLA is a pretty competitive school, accepting fewer than nine students out of every 100 that apply. For this reason, a perfect GPA will help get you accepted; getting into UCLA requires profile differentiation and hard work. 

Over 100,000 applicants apply every year. Your goal is to create a well-rounded application highlighting your abilities, achievements, resilience, and leadership capabilities. The admission committee needs an accurate idea of who you are as a person, not just who you are in the classroom.

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

Tips To Get Into UCLA

Before diving into UCLA admissions tips, we first need a clear understanding of the admission review process, what the admissions committee considers for acceptance, and what they look for in prospective students.

UCLA states that: "Each year more students apply to UCLA than we can possibly admit...we focus on successful applicants who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, leadership, initiative and tenacity. They are the students who would contribute the most to the UCLA learning community. They are the students who would make the most of immersion in UCLA's dynamic learning environment."

UCLA uses faculty-approved criteria when reviewing every single application. The criteria are not in order, and none is more important than the other. 

UCLA tips graphic

How Does UCLA Assess Applications?

Understanding selection criteria is critical to getting into UCLA. This is what admissions committees look for.

Record of Achievement in College Preparatory Coursework

Good grades are essential, but more important are good grades in rigorous coursework if available to the student, such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IB HL), college-level, or honors. Be sure to take high-level coursework if available to you. 

Personal Qualities

UCLA looks for candidates with a broad set of qualities, such as intellectual independence, responsibility, maturity, insight, leadership skills, motivation, initiative, and concern for others and the community. 

However, it's not enough to possess them; you have to show them in the best way possible. The application gives you several opportunities to showcase your strengths through the information you provide in the section "activities and awards," and through personal essays. 

Access to Opportunities

The admissions committee understands that not everyone has had the same access to resources and thus may not have had equal opportunities. 

Many aspects play a role in this, such as demographics, location, background, and schools. That's why the admissions committee considers your achievements based on potential opportunities. 

Reflect on anything that stepped in your way in your application, and explain how you kept going: obstacles don’t have to be a barrier to UCLA admission. 

Challenges/Obstacles

How have the hardships and unusual circumstances you've encountered shaped you into the person you are today and helped you grow? 

The way you have responded, faced, and overcome challenges is significant to the admission committee, as it shows your maturity, determination, and resilience. Be prepared to talk about it in the personal insight responses. 

Possible Intellectual and Cultural Contributions 

Your past contributions in your high school career can signal there's a high chance you'll contribute in college as well. UCLA is looking for proactive individuals who can bring something to the table; show them what that is. 

They are looking for someone willing to participate in clubs and extracurricular activities. Having a passion and hobby outside the class is very important for the development of each and every student, not only academically but personally and professionally.

Academic Achievement in Enrichment Programs

These include UC programs and local or national programs. Time and depth of participation, academic progress, and program rigor are several ways UCLA measures achievement: pre-college summer programs are an excellent option. 

Other Achievements

Maybe you're an athlete, an artist, a leader in an organization, or are involved in community service - you name it. Whatever it is that you do distinctively, UCLA wants to know about it. 

Prioritize Coursework and Grades

Getting into UCLA can be hard; you need to be a high-achiever to get in. If you're still a sophomore or even a junior in high school, plan to upgrade your coursework game soon if you haven't done so. 

Take advanced classes and raise your GPA. A perfect grade point average is not enough for this competitive school: your classes need to be challenging as well. Show them that you're not afraid of hard work and are willing to challenge yourself. 

Write Exceptional Essays

An outstanding GPA is necessary, but grades alone aren’t enough to make your college applications shine. To stand out and get in, you'll need to show your uniqueness through admissions essays. 

student writing an essay a laptop

Take advantage of the specific prompts to demonstrate how you positively impact your community and how you make a difference. Focus on your leadership skills, how they have improved throughout high school, and how you show them.

Demonstrate Your Interest

Colleges want you to attend if you get accepted, so if UCLA is your first-choice school, don't forget to allude to that somewhere in your application or your essays. Schools try to accept students that will likely accept an offer of admission. If you demonstrate that you specifically want to attend UCLA, the odds might be more in your favor. 

Focus on Your Strengths

When writing college applications, it's tempting to show the admission committees how you excel and are interested in everything. If you fill out every single extracurricular entry on the application with mediocre activities, chances are you won't stand out from the crowd. 

Instead, focus on quality; what is that one thing you do remarkably well? Stand out in what makes you you. Don't try to do "just fine" in everything or be like everyone else. 

Getting into UCLA is difficult but not impossible. To get accepted, you'll need not only to be an exceptional student but show how you're outstanding outside the classroom.

UCLA Personal Insight Essays 

So, does UCLA require an application essay? The answer is technically yes: in the form of personal insight questions. These questions are probably the most time-consuming and exciting part of the application. Freshman applicants have eight questions to choose from, four of which they must respond to

Transfer applicants will have a required question, plus three out of seven additional questions. Choose wisely!

UCLA recommends that applicants select the most relevant questions to their experience that best reflect their circumstances. Each response is limited to 350 words, so you'll have to be concise. 

The questions are pretty personal, so not going over the word count limit might be a challenge for many; brainstorming and outlining will help you create the perfect essays. 

All questions are given equal consideration, so regardless of the questions you choose to respond to, you won't have any advantage or disadvantage in your application review process. 

The UC system has a joint application for all its schools, including UCLA. This means that regardless of how many universities of the UC system you apply to, you won't need to write additional essays. 

UCLA Essay Prompts 

The UCLA Essay Prompts, which you should be able to find at the UC Application Site, are the following: 

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 artistic, 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've 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/outside 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 admission to the University of California?”

How To Write the UCLA Essays

The UC application essay prompts are very personal and require time, preparation, and focus. The following tips can help you write your essays and stand out as an outstanding candidate.

How tot write the UCLA essays graphic

Start Early 

It may seem obvious, but many students underestimate how long it will take them to write the essays and focus on other aspects of the application before they even start them. Don't make this mistake; give yourself plenty of time to prepare, brainstorm, outline, write, and revise. 

Write From a First-Person Perspective

Using "I" and "my" statements in your essays helps the admissions committee get to know you and your personality. Don’t talk about yourself in the third person. 

Revise and Proofread

We can't stress this enough: revise, revise, and revise again. In the UCLA essays, you will not be evaluated on grammar, spelling, or sentence structure, but errors can negatively impact your application. It's essential that everything makes sense and is clear; the reader will appreciate it. 

Get Feedback 

Although the answers to the prompts are personal, others can offer precious feedback and suggestions. Consider seeking the help of an admissions consultant for professional feedback. 

Take Your Time

Answering such personal prompts can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Don't try to get everything done in one night. Expect the essays to be a bit time- and energy-consuming, so prepare accordingly.

How to Prepare for the UCLA Interview

Unlike other institutions, UCLA doesn't offer admission interviews. If you're a shy person, this can work to your advantage, but it can also be a significant disadvantage. 

Interviews are more common for graduate programs and usually serve as a way for the school's admission committees to know the person behind an application. Being able to talk face-to-face can help your interviewer get a sense of who you are. 

Since interviews are not an option for UCLA admission, your essays are your best chance to shine. You'll rely on them for admission, so ensure your essays are edited to perfection!

How to Apply to UCLA

To apply to UCLA, you'll need to use the University of California's online application. This is a standard application system for all nine UC system universities, allowing you to apply to several without redoing the whole application. However, you'll need to pay a separate application fee for every institution you decide to apply to.

Applying to UCLA is not as complicated as it may seem, but you'll need to be prepared and gather some documents before you start your application. You'll need the following: 

  • Transcripts: You won't need to submit a copy of your transcripts until your application is reviewed and accepted, but you'll have to enter all your course's names and grades exactly as they appear in it. 
  • Citizenship status: If your country of citizenship is not the United States, you'll need to provide your immigration status and visa type. 
  • Social Security Number: UCLA uses this if you're applying for financial aid and to match your application to things like test score reports or transcripts. 
  • Annual income: This information is optional unless you apply for an application fee waiver or the Education Opportunity Program. You'll need to provide your last year's and current year's income or your parents if you're a dependent. 
  • California Statewide Student ID: This is optional and only for individuals who have completed their K-12 education at a California public school.
  • Credit card to pay for the application fee: You can also pay by check or mailing your payment. The application fee is $70 for each UC campus and $80 for international and non-immigrant applicants. You can also apply for a need-based application fee waiver, as mentioned above.

Please note that UCLA doesn’t require letters of recommendation. Once you have these materials, you'll be ready to get started on your application. You'll need to create an account in the UC application system if you don't have one already.

UCLA Application Sections

The layout of the site is pretty straightforward and organized into different sections. Take a look at how the application is laid out:

UCLA website navigation

About You 

You'll be asked to provide basic information about yourself, your address, country of citizenship, demographics, background, and languages you speak.

Campuses and Majors

Here is where you'll have the option to choose as many UC campuses as you wish. You can decide to apply only to UCLA or to other campuses as well. You'll also need to provide information about your desired major for every campus you choose.

Academic History 

You'll need to refer to unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended from the 9th grade onward, including college or university courses completed in high school. This section is crucial and must be accurately reported; the school requires official transcripts from every institution to report if the student accepts an offer of admission.

Test Scores

ACT or SAT scores must be completed by December of your senior year if you plan to use them “to determine your eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility or for course placement after you enroll.” 

Official scores can be submitted to only one campus to which the student will be applying but will serve the whole application and for as many campuses as the student applies to. Remember, your SAT and ACT scores won’t be considered for admissions anymore. 

Students whose first language is not English or who have completed fewer than three years of high school in the US must demonstrate English proficiency by submitting TOEFL or IELTS results. 

Activities and Awards

You can list up to 20 activities and awards, but there's no minimum. You should list significant activities, and you should describe them, your role, and what you learned from them. 

Scholarships and Programs

In this section, you have the opportunity to apply for scholarships as long as you’re eligible. There is no limit on scholarships students can apply to, and only scholarships available at the selected campuses will be displayed. 

Personal Insight Questions

You should start brainstorming as early as possible. We recommend outlining and writing your responses in a Word or Google document, and when ready to submit, copy and paste them into the space provided in the application. 

You can also provide information that you have not had the opportunity to include elsewhere in your application, such as explaining unusual circumstances or educational gaps.

It's important to mention that you'll be able to start the application, save it, and continue at any time from the time the system opens until the deadline.

UCLA Application Process and Deadlines

To start your application, you need to consider all requirements and deadlines. You can start working on your application in your senior year when the application portal opens on August 1. 

The completed application can be submitted no earlier than November 1 and not later than November 30. After that date, the application portal will be closed, and you won't be able to edit or submit your application anymore. Don’t let the UCLA deadline for applications sneak up on you. 

Here are the UCLA application deadlines to save in your calendar:

  • August 1: UC application opens
  • October 1: FAFSA filing period opens, and Dream Act Application filing period opens
  • October 1-30: Application filing period
  • March 2: Financial aid application (FAFSA) deadline, and Dream Act and Cal Grant GPA verification form deadline 
  • Late March: Admission notification
  • May 1: Enrollment deposit, applications for on-campus housing, and UCLA College Honors Program deadline) 
  • July 1: Official transcripts submission deadline (they must be postmarked or electronically sent on or before July 1) 
  • July 15: Deadline to send official AP, IB examination results (the scores must be postmarked or electronically submitted on or before July 15) 

Sadly, unlike many other universities, UCLA does not offer early decision or early action options for any application. They use the quarter system calendar and only accept applications for the fall term.

Should I Apply to UCLA?

Applying to college can be a time-consuming and tiring process but also an exciting one. We know that doubts may arise before, during, and even after applying. 

The university is pretty competitive, with an 8.8% admission rate. While it is difficult to gain acceptance at UCLA compared to the rest of the nation’s colleges, you’re sure to thrive if you know it’s the right school for you. 

Student applying to college

Before deciding not to apply or determining that it's not worth it, please take a deep breath and carefully examine all the requirements, class profiles, and what the school looks for in its candidates. If you're early, you'll have plenty of time to work on the possible gaps and submit a well-rounded application. It just takes effort and time! 

It's also wise to apply to take advantage of the UC application portal. You can apply to several UC universities with the same application. Do your research and consider other UC options: location, courses, major, and scholarships offered. You may be able to complete many of your applications in one fell swoop!

How to Get Into UCLA For Out-of-State Students 

Getting into UCLA as an out-of-state student may be more difficult than it is for in-state students, especially with California state lawmakers considering cutting the percentage of out-of-state and international students to free more seats for in-state students. The UC system has capped “nonresident enrollment at 18%.” 

You may need to step your game up; if your application has the same credentials as an in-state student, the California resident may have the upper hand. However, getting into UCLA as an out-of-state student isn’t impossible. 

If you’re an out-of-state student set on attending UCLA should: 

  • Achieve the highest GPA you possibly can
  • Take the most rigorous courses available to you 
  • Demonstrate leadership skills in your extracurricular activities 
  • Ensure your activities list is impactful, shows adequate time commitment, and your varied interests 
  • Explain in your application why UCLA is the school for you (perhaps you want to work and live in California and contribute to the local community post-graduation) 
  • Show how your acceptance will contribute to campus diversity (what would your acceptance add?) 

Hundreds of stellar out-of-state and international students are accepted into UCLA annually. Clearly outlining why UCLA is your top school and showing your commitment to the school and surrounding community is an excellent way to help boost your profile.

FAQs: Getting Into UCLA

If you have more questions about the University of California, these FAQs can help. 

1. What Does UCLA Look for in Applicants?

UCLA looks for students who "demonstrate intellectual curiosity, leadership, initiative, and tenacity." To match what UCLA looks for in applicants, show how you’ll contribute to the UCLA learning community. 

2. Does UCLA Accept Transfer Credit?

Yes, UCLA does accept transfer credit from other accredited colleges or universities. Coursework credits completed at other institutions are determined by the UCLA Registrar's Office and Undergraduate Admission, both of which follow UC-wide transfer guidelines.

3. Is UCLA an Ivy League School?

UCLA is not an Ivy League school. However, it's a prestigious and academically rigorous school with an excellent reputation. Because of that, it's usually informally referred to as one of the country's Public Ivies.

4. Can I Get Into UCLA With a 3.5 GPA?

Considering the GPA range of past admitted students is 3.95-4.0, it is difficult to get in with a GPA of 3.5 or below. While UCLA doesn't state a minimum GPA for admission, the data speaks for itself. If you have a lower GPA, focus on improving it. 

5. How Do You Stand Out in the UCLA Application Process?

To stand out, you'll need to show how you are a perfect fit for UCLA. You need to be not only exceptional academically but also committed to your community and possess a strong drive to make a change. Whatever makes you you is worth mentioning. 

6. When Should You Prepare for UCLA?

The application portal opens on August 1, and the deadline for submission is November 30—it is wise to start planning and preparing right after finishing your junior year, if not earlier. You want to stay ahead of the UCLA application deadline! 

7. What Should You Do If You Get Rejected from UCLA?

If you’re rejected from UCLA, you can try to appeal your rejection, take a gap year, or accept an offer from another school. Keep in mind that UCLA reviews rejection appeals on a case-by-case basis. 

8. What is the Cost of Tuition at UCLA?

Tuition alone for in-state students costs $14,478, while tuition for out-of-state students costs $47,052. 

9. Is UCLA a Public School? 

Yes, UCLA is a public land-grant research university.

Final Thoughts

UCLA is a well-respected university that can open the door to a bright future. With an 8.8% acceptance rate and admitted students boasting very high average GPAa, being an exceptional candidate is crucial if you want to get accepted. 

Focusing on activities outside the classroom, apart from achieving an outstanding academic profile, is also a critical part of the UCLA admission process. Now that you know more about UCLA, you’re one step closer to your dream school!

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