UCLA’s Acceptance Rate: What It Means and How to Get Accepted

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UCLA’s admissions rate is 16%, the lowest throughout 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 younot someone from a large, well-endowed private school.


The good news is that there is room for people of all walks of life at UCLA. Currently in the undergraduate program, there are 4,207 California residents as well as 6,795 out-of-state/international students enrolled.


Of the student body, 5.2% are African American/Black, 0.5% are American Indian/Alaska Native, 31.6% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 21.3% are Hispanic, 26.1% are White, 3.5% are domestic students with race/ethnicity unknown, and 11.8% 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?


Last year, out of 63,523 California residents who applied to UCLA, 9,288 gained admission, which works out to an admissions rate of 15%. 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 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 3.88-4.00, Weighted 4.33-4.60
    • ACT: 28-34
    • SAT: Due to the changing test format, UCLA did not provide SAT score ranges this year. However, you can get a rough sense of whether your SAT score falls in range by converting it to the ACT scale.
    • Number of Honors Courses: 17-25


As an Out-of-State Applicant, How Likely am I to Gain Admission?


Of the 21,004 out-of-state students who applied last year, 4,873 gained admission. In other words, 23% received offers. Of those offered a spot on campus, 21% 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 3.88-4.00, Weighted 4.40-4.80
    • ACT: 32-34
    • SAT: UCLA did not provide SAT score ranges this year because the test format recently changed. Determine whether your SAT score is competitive at this school by converting it to the ACT scale.
    • Number of Honors Courses: 22-36


As an International Applicant, How Likely am I to Gain Admission?


17,715 international students applied to UCLA last year, but only 2,295 gained admission. That works out to an admissions rate of 13%. Of those admitted, 29% 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 3.88-4.00, Weighted 4.00-4.41
    • ACT: 32-34
    • SAT: You can get a rough sense of whether your SAT score falls in range by converting it to the ACT scale. UCLA did not provide SAT score ranges this year due to the changing test format.
    • Number of Honors Courses: UCLA does not publish data on honors courses for international applicants.

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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. Not so for extracurricular activities, since framing what you have done will have a substantial impact on how it is received. See CollegeVine’s Comprehensive Guide to Extracurriculars for more details on how to choose and represent your extracurricular activities well.


Apply to similar schools. With an admissions rate as low as 16%, UCLA is not a guarantee for any applicant. However, if you are open to attending similar schools in slightly different locations, applying to multiple UCs will be your ticket to success.


Consider applying to Berkeley. Granted, it has a similar admissions rate, but by applying to two schools with this low rate, you double your chances of being accepted to at least one of these schools.


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.


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.


Do you want more personalized guidance on your college admissions journey? Consider CollegeVine’s College Applications Program, where you’ll work one-on-one with a successful mentor at a top school to create your unique admissions strategy, and brainstorm and polish your essays.


For more articles on how to make sense of your admissions chances to UCLA, check out…


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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.