How to Get Into UCLA: Requirements & Acceptance Rate

May 21, 2024
7 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/21/24

Getting into UCLA requires patience, dedication, and initiative. If you want to maximize your chances of acceptance, continue reading for everything you need to know.

UCLA is a public land-grant research university that was founded in 1892 as the southern branch of the California State Normal School. It is one of the US's most respected and competitive universities, informally known as a public Ivy

The school promotes a community spirit and looks for academically outstanding candidates with a drive to make a positive change in the world. If you want to learn how to gain admission to UCLA, our guide will provide everything you need to know to become a competitive candidate.

UCLA Acceptance Rate: 9.3%

The acceptance rate at UCLA is a low 9%. That means students must position themselves as competitive applicants to be one of the few students to gain admission.

Year # of Students Applied # of Students Admitted Acceptance Rate
2023 145,910 13,589 9.3%
2022 149,815 14,696 9.8%
2021 139,490 14,370 10.3%
2020 108,877 13,514 12.4%

UCLA Early Decision Acceptance Rate

UCLA does not have an early decision option. Applicants must submit a stellar regular decision application to be admitted.

How Hard Is It to Get Into UCLA?

With a mere 9.3% acceptance rate, it is extremely difficult to get into UCLA. That means out of 100 applicants, only nine students receive admission. 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.

UCLA Admission Statistics

Since UCLA’s admission process is competitive, it’s important to understand the average test scores to improve your chances of acceptance. As a competitive applicant, you must not just match these average scores, but exceed them to stand out.

UCLA Average GPA: 4.0

The average GPA students have at UCLA is 4.0. Though this might seem difficult to achieve, focusing on your studies and preparing for tests properly will help you achieve an above-average GPA.

UCLA Average SAT: 1550

The average SAT score at UCLA is 1550. This score reflects both the Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Mathematics section.

UCLA Average ACT: 32

UCLA students have an average composite score of 32. To stand out, applicants must meet this minimum score.

What Is UCLA Looking for in Applicants?

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. 

    If you want to hear what else Sarah had to say about UC schools’ expectations, take a look at this video:

    Though it can be challenging to meet up to UCLA’s expectations, it’s not impossible. The application gives you several opportunities, like your extracurriculars and essays, to showcase your strengths. 

    Knowing what UCLA values most can help you focus your efforts where they'll have the biggest impact. The following tables outline the academic and non-academic factors that UCLA considers, ranked by their importance in the application process:

    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

    Non-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

    Source: UCLA

    Key Takeaways From UCLA's Common Data Set

    UCLA's freshman admission decisions emphasize both academic and non-academic factors. While the rigor of the secondary school record, GPA, application essay, and recommendations are very important, class rank and standardized test scores are optional. UCLA also values first-generation status, racial/ethnic background, volunteer work, and work experience, over geographic and state residency.

    ‍UCLA Admission Requirements

    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. 

    The full list of requirements is as follows:

    • History/Social Science: 2 years
    • English: 4 years
    • Mathematics: 3 years (4 years recommended)
    • Laboratory Science: 2 years (3 years recommended)
    • Language other than English: 2 years (3 years recommended)
    • Visual and Performing Arts: 1 year
    • College Preparatory Elective: 1 year
    • Earn at least a 3.0 GPA in A-G courses taken in 10th and 11th grade
    • Submit an application for admission during the filing period of November 1-30
    • Answer the Personal Insight Questions in your application

    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. 

    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 of them 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 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 the last and current year's income for either you or your parents.
    • 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: If you prefer, you can also pay by check or mail in 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.

    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 Deadlines

    The completed application can be submitted no earlier than Nov. 1 and no later than Nov. 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:

    Application Step Deadline
    Application opens Early August
    Application filing period October 1 – 30
    Admission notification Late March
    Official transcripts submission deadline Early July
    Deadline to send official AP, IB examination results Mid-July

    How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into UCLA

    For tips on how to get into UCLA, 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. 

    Understand Selection Criteria

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

    1. 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. 

    2. 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 as well, and explain how you kept going: obstacles don’t have to be a barrier to UCLA undergraduate admission. 

    3. 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. 

    4. 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 every student, not only academically but personally and professionally.

    5. 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. 

    6. 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

    You need to be a high-achiever to get into UCLA. 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 that you're willing to challenge yourself. 

    Ace Standardized Tests

    Ace your standardized tests. Good grades and high test scores will certainly strengthen your application. You must do well on the SAT or ACT; otherwise, your application may not be at the top of the pile. However, this doesn’t mean that grades are all that matter; they are just a starting point. 

    Write Exceptional Essays

    An outstanding GPA is necessary, but grades alone won't get you accepted by themselves. To stand out and get into UCLA, you'll need to show your uniqueness through admissions essays

    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 who 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 that 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 Essay Prompts

    UCLA requires applicants to answer four out of eight Personal Insight Questions (PIQs). These prompts are designed to help the admissions committee learn more about you beyond your grades and test scores. The questions cover a wide range of topics, from your leadership experiences to your creative side.

    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. 

    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 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 most remarkable 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 and 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 stand out as a strong candidate for admission to the University of California?”

    When writing your essays, it's essential to be authentic and specific. Use concrete examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points, rather than relying on generalizations. Show, don't tell, by providing vivid details that bring your experiences to life.

    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.

    1. 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. 

    2. 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. 

    3. 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. 

    4. 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. 

    Don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what Dayvon had to say about his experience with Quad Education:

    5. 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.

    UCLA Interview

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

    Other Schools Similar to UCLA

    As you're exploring your options for college, it's important to consider a range of schools that match your interests and goals. Alongside UCLA, here are a few other schools you should think about adding to your list:

    Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into Compared to UCLA 

    School Location Acceptance Rate Avg. GPA Avg. SAT
    Duke University Durham, NC 5.1% 3.90 1520-1570
    Columbia University New York, NY 3.9% 4.15 1500-1560
    Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4.5% 3.90 1540-1580
    Harvard University Cambridge, MA 3.6% 4.00 1550
    Yale University New Haven, CT 3.7% 4.13 1480-1580

    Same Level Schools: Equally Hard to Get Into Compared to UCLA

    School Location Acceptance Rate Avg. GPA Avg. SAT
    University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 9.0% 3.8 1475
    University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA 11.7% 3.9 1390-1540
    University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 17.9% 3.9 1350-1530
    University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 16.4% 4.3 1490
    New York University New York, NY 8.0% 3.7 1470-1570

    Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into Compared to UCLA

    School Location Acceptance Rate Avg. GPA Avg. SAT
    University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 31.0% 3.84 1360
    Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 21.0% 3.91 1380-1510
    William and Mary Williamsburg, VA 33.0% 3.45-3.85 1370-1510
    University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 55.0% 3.5 1315
    Clemson University Clemson, SC 38.5% 4.43 1325


    If you have more questions about how to get into UCLA, these FAQs can help. 

     1. Does UCLA Accept Transfer Credit?

    Yes, UCLA accepts transfer credit from accredited institutions. The UCLA Registrar's Office and Undergraduate Admission evaluate coursework following UC-wide transfer guidelines.

    2. Is UCLA an Ivy League School?

    No, UCLA is not an Ivy League school. It's a prestigious public university often considered a "Public Ivy."

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

    It's very difficult to get into UCLA with a 3.5 GPA. UCLA doesn't have a minimum GPA, but most admitted students have GPAs well above 3.5. Focus on strengthening your GPA if it's lower.

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

    To stand out in the application process, express your relevant personal qualities and explain the positive impact you will make at UCLA. Craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your achievements, challenges overcome, and goals for the future.

    5. When Should You Prepare for UCLA?

    Start preparing after your junior year, if not sooner. The application opens on August 1st, and the deadline is November 30th. Make sure to plan ahead to give yourself plenty of time, at least 

    6. 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. 

    7. Does UCLA Consider Superscore for ACT or SAT?

    No, UCLA does not superscore standardized test results. UCLA only considers your highest composite SAT and ACT scores from a single test date.

    8. What Is the Lowest GPA Accepted to UCLA?

    Demonstrated by 2% of accepted students, the lowest GPA at UCLA is 3.52. The majority of admitted students have GPAs well above 3.5.

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