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UCLA’s Acceptance Rate: What It Means and How to Get Accepted
UCLA’s admissions rate is 12%, one of the lowest in the UC System. However, depending on your academic profile and extracurricular experiences, you might be much more (or less) likely to gain admission when compared with the rest of the applicant pool.
In this CollegeVine post, we break down admissions likelihood for three applicant types—in-state, out-of-state, and international.
Want to learn what UCLA will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering UCLA needs to know.
How Important is My Personal Background When I Apply?
The short answer: very important. All universities try to create a class with a diverse array of nationalities, ethnicities, and experiences while still giving priority to California residents.
As a result, your admissions chances depend a lot on how you compare against applicants with a background similar to yours. What that means is that if you are coming from a small public school without many extracurricular activities, your profile will be compared against a student who had similar access to opportunities as you—not someone from a large, well-endowed private school.
The good news is that there’s room for people from all walks of life at UCLA. The college has students from all 50 states and over 100 countries on campus. Of the student body, 28% are Asian, 27% are White, 22% are Hispanic, 6% are from two or more races, 3% are African American, and 12% are international students.
California public universities are also known for welcoming undocumented students and have special channels for these applicants to seek financial aid.
As a California Resident, How Likely am I to Gain Admission?
Out of 69,607 California residents who applied to UCLA in 2019, 8,354 gained admission, which works out to an admissions rate of 12%. Of those, about half enrolled at UCLA. This is a lower admissions rate than for out-of-state applicants because the admissions office knows that in-state applicants are much more likely to enroll if admitted.
You are likely to gain admission to UCLA if your own academic profile falls within this range. These numbers are based on the academic profiles from the 25-75th percentile of admitted California residents from this past cycle.
- GPA: Unweighted 3.91-4.00, Weighted 4.36-4.63
- ACT: 28-35
- SAT: 1300-1530
- Number of Honors Courses: 18-26
As an Out-of-State Applicant, How Likely am I to Gain Admission?
Of the 23,137 out-of-state students who applied in 2019, 3,806 gained admission. In other words, 16% received offers. Of those offered a spot on campus, 25% enrolled at UCLA. Out-of-state applicants have a higher admission rate than in-state and international students, but they also tend to submit stronger profiles than in-state applicants.
If your academic profile falls within this range, you are much more likely to get accepted at UCLA. These numbers are based on the academic profiles from the 25-75th percentile of admitted out-of-state students from this past cycle.
- GPA: Unweighted 3.93-4.00, Weighted 4.46-4.86
- ACT: 33-35
- SAT: 1440-1550
- Number of Honors Courses: 23-37
As an International Applicant, How Likely am I to Gain Admission?
18,578 international students applied to UCLA in 2019, but only 1,560 gained admission. That works out to an admissions rate of 8%. Of those admitted, 35% of international students actually enrolled at UCLA. There are far fewer slots for international students than domestic students in the upcoming class.
That said, you may have a shot if your own academic profile falls within this range. These numbers are based on the academic profiles from the 25-75th percentile of admitted international applicants from this past cycle.
- GPA: Unweighted 3.95-4.00, Weighted 4.00-4.46
- ACT: 33-35
- SAT: 1480-1550
- Number of Honors Courses: UCLA does not publish data on honors courses for international applicants.
Not sure if you meet UCLA GPA requirements, or curious to see how you stack up against the 2019 accepted applicants? Our free GPA calculator makes decoding weighted and unweighted GPAs easy.
How Do I Apply to UCLA?
Create an account in the UC Application Portal. Every University of California school uses the same application with a due date of November 30. Simply fill out the application and check the box for each school where you wish to be considered. Each school charges a $70 application fee.
Here is a full list of the UC application requirements:
- Record your basic demographic information.
- Reply to four of eight Personal Insight Questions.
- Send your transcripts.
- Send your test scores.
- Include your scores from the ACT with Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test. If you’re applying for Fall, sit for standardized tests by December.
- Also SAT Subject Tests, AP, IB, TOEFL, and IELTS scores are accepted.
- Share tax and ID information, including:
- Your family’s annual income for last year and this year.
- Your social security number, if you have one.
- Your citizenship status. Citizens of other countries will need to state immigration status and visa type.
- For students in California public schools only, supply your California Statewide Student ID.
How Can I Improve My Chances When I Apply?
Spend extra time on the essays. Check out CollegeVine’s tips on how to respond to UCLA’s Personal Insight Questions. Since these essays form the backbone of your application at all of the UC schools, it pays to give these prompts extra attention.
Emphasize extracurricular strengths. By the time you apply, your grades and test scores are set in stone. While you don’t have time to improve your extracurriculars either, how you frame your activities will have a substantial impact on how they are received. How do your activities fit into your broader narrative and goals (otherwise known as an Applications Theme)? Be sure to form a cohesive narrative with your activities and other components of your application. For more on Applications Themes, read this post.
Apply to other UC schools. With an admissions rate as low as 12%, UCLA is not a guarantee for any applicant—even if you have great standardized test scores, incredible extracurricular activities, and GPA well above the UCLA average GPA. However, if you are open to attending similar schools in slightly different locations, applying to multiple UCs will be your ticket to success.
UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara both have strong programs as well, yet each has twice the acceptance rate as UCLA. To learn more about these schools, see CollegeVine’s post on The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of California.
What if My GPA and Test Scores are Below ULCA’s Average?
If you’re coming up short on UCLA’s GPA requirements, one of the best ways to improve your odds of acceptance is to increase your standardized test scores. It’s easier to move the needle on standardized test scores than GPA, especially if you’re an upperclassman. This is because your GPA is an average, and improving your grades in one semester may barely change your cumulative GPA.
Standardized test scores are also just as significant in your Academic Index as GPA. Academic Index is a tool that admissions officers at selective colleges use to screen students. Check out our blog post What is the Academic Index? How is it Calculated? for an in-depth look at AI.
Admissions officials will sometimes look past academic metrics like whether you meet the UCLA average GPA and test scores, especially if you have a special circumstance. Students who fall into this category might be recruited athletes, those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, or underrepresented minorities. However, UCLA is a challenging school; if you fall short academically, it will greatly benefit your case for admission if you can demonstrate you’ve worked hard and made the most of your opportunities.
Lastly, if it’s too late into your academic career to cultivate a strong GPA, and there are no more opportunities to improve your standardized test scores, the best course of action is to make your essays as strong as possible. Your essays will help humanize your application, and allow you to provide more context for any extenuating circumstances behind your lower academic stats.
How Do You Apply for Scholarships?
All domestic applicants are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application. The FAFSA is for all students living in the U.S. who can prove they reside here legally and would be eligible to federal or state aid. Undocumented students should file the California Dream Act Application for state and school financial aid instead.
Students who fill out these forms automatically will be considered for all public financial aid programs, including federal aid, Cal Grants, the Middle Class Scholarship Program, and the Blue and Gold Opportunity Program. You will receive a letter or email if it is determined that you can receive one of these types of aid.
There are also private scholarship available from third parties. Check out our related posts on How to Secure Funding for College to find third party scholarships designed for you.
For more articles on how to make sense of your admissions chances to UCLA, check out…
- 4 Factors That Could Affect Your College Acceptance Chances
- What Test-Optional Means for College Admissions
- What Your SAT Scores Really Mean in College Admissions
- How to Write the University of California Essay Prompts 2019-2020
- Seven Tips for Creating Your College List
Wondering what your chances of acceptance are at UCLA? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get access to our data-driven chancing engine. Our chancing calculator takes into account your academic profile, extracurricular activities, and other demographics to let you know your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the US. We’ll also let you know how to improve your chances of admission!
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