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Timothy Peck
6 How to Get Into

How to Get Into UC Davis: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

UC Davis is one of the nine undergraduate schools in the UC System and one of CollegeVine’s top 15 public universities in the U.S. The school began as the farm school for Cal Berkely and its ties to agriculture remain strong—the school’s nickname is the aggies, its campus features a slaughterhouse and dairy, and the university is notable for known for its Viticulture and Enology program (the study of grape growing and winemaking). 

 

UC Davis is known not only for its stellar academics, but also its beautiful location in the California Valley, right outside of Sacramento. Given all the school has to offer, many students want to gain acceptance. So, what does it take?

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into UC Davis?

 

Gaining admission to UC Davis is hard—76,225 applicants applied for UC Davis’s class of 2025, of which 35,304 were admitted, a 46% overall acceptance rate. 

 

While the UC Davis acceptance rate is low, your chances vary depending on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of admission at UC Davis and offer insight into how to improve your profile.   

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted UC Davis Students

 

GPA

 

The average high school GPA of UC Davis’s class of 2025 is 4.0. 

 

SAT/ACT

 

The middle 50% SAT and ACT scores at UC Davis are 1160-1370 and 25-31. However, the SAT and ACT are not used to make admissions decisions at any of the UC System Schools, including UC Davis. 

 

Class Rank

 

UC Davis didn’t report the average high school class rank for its class of 2025, although it’s reasonable to assume it’s high—64.7% of the class of 2025 graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. 

 

What is UC Davis Looking For?

 

All of the UC System schools—including UC Davis—have GPA and course requirements that you must meet for admission. If you’re applying to UC Davis from a public school, you’ll likely have met the course requirements, but they can trip up applicants from private schools and those who were homeschooled.  

 

The “A to G” subject requirements are a collection of 15 courses that are prerequisites for admission to UC Davis: 

 

Letter

Subject 

Requirement 

A

History 

2 years

B

English 

4 years

C

Mathematics

3 years 

D

Science 

2 years

E

Language other than English 

2 years (or the equivalent to the second level of high school instruction)

F

Visual and performing arts

1 year

G

College-preparatory elective

1 year 

 

In-state students are required to get a 3.0 GPA in their A to G subject requirements courses and cannot earn anything less than a C. Out-of-state applicants are held to a higher standard, they must earn a 3.4 GPA in the aforementioned courses and also must not get a grade lower than a C. 

 

How UC Davis College Evaluates Applications

 

According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, UC Davis considers the following factors “very important”:

 

  • Course rigor
  • GPA
  • Essay

 

These factors are “important”:

 

  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Talent/ability
  • Character/personal qualities
  • Volunteer work 

 

These are “considered”:

 

  • Test scores
  • First generation 
  • State residency 
  • Work experience

 

And these are “not considered”:

 

  • Class rank 
  • Interview
  • Legacy 
  • Geographical residence
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Racial/ethnic status 
  • Applicant interest
  • Recommendations 

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into UC Davis

 

1. Achieve at least a 4.0 average GPA while taking the most challenging classes available

 

GPA and course rigor account for two of the three factors UC Davis considers “very important” to admissions decisions. The average high school GPA of UC Davis’s class of 2025 is 4.0 and 64.7% of the class had a 4.0 in high school. In general, applicants to top schools like UC Davis have completed a minimum of five AP classes. 

 

Selective schools, like UC Davis, that receive huge numbers of applicants use a tool called Academic Index—a distillation of your academic performance into a single number—to ease the admissions process. If you fail to meet UC Davis’s Academic Index standard, you risk being seen as academically unqualified and not having your application given serious consideration.  

 

Test scores don’t factor into admissions at UC Davis, so the best way to improve your Academic Index at the schools of the UC System is to improve your GPA. Looking for advice on getting your grades up? Check out our tips for increasing your GPA.

 

2. Write engaging essays.

 

After meeting UC Davis’s academic standards, the best way to set yourself apart from other applicants is with essays—the only other admissions factor UC Davis deems “very important.” All UC System schools require applicants to answer four essay questions from a selection of eight prompts: 

 

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 artistically, 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 have 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/or 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 admissions to the University of California?

 

Almost every applicant to UC Davis is astounding academically and it’s imperative you use essays to distinguish yourself from other candidates. A strong college essay is written in your unique voice, highlights why you’re a great fit at a particular school, and how that school will benefit from having you on campus. For UC Davis-specific essay advice, check out our article, “How to Write the University of California Essays 2021-2022.”

 

3. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”).

 

Extracurricular activities, along with the talent/ability they demonstrate, are both considered “important” factors in UC Davis admissions decisions. To catch the eye of the admissions committee, you’ll want to have a highly developed interest known as a “spike” along with one or two supporting extracurricular activities that show a high level of achievement or leadership. 

 

Some extracurricular activities are more impressive to colleges than others. The four tiers of extracurriculars provide a good guideline for how colleges value what you do outside of the classroom. 

 

  • Tier 1 activities are the rarest and exemplify exceptional achievement and leadership, such as winning a national award or attending a prestigious merit-based summer program.

 

  • Tier 2 is the landing place for activities that demonstrate great achievement and leadership, but don’t meet the distinction or rarity of those in Tier 1. Examples of Tier 2 activities include winning a regional award or serving as student body president. 

  • Tier 3 extracurriculars spotlight your interest outside of the classroom but aren’t as influential as those in the higher tiers. These include serving in a minor leadership role in a well-known club or captaining a varsity sport. 

 

  • Tier 4 is home to the least impressive and most commonly seen activities, such as participating in a club or playing a sport. 

 

4. Aim for a 1370 SAT and 31 ACT.

 

The middle 50% SAT and ACT score at UC Davis is 1160-1370 and 25-31. Having strong standardized test scores is a quality shared by the majority of UC Davis students, however, they are not required for admissions. All of the UC System schools have dropped the SAT and ACT from consideration in admissions decisions. 

 

Although test scores do not figure into admissions decisions, UC Davis applicants may submit scores. Test scores are used to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after you enroll.

 

Test scores might not help you gain admission to UC Davis, but they do play a considerable role in admissions at other schools. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

 


How to Apply to UC Davis 

 

Deadlines

 

UC Davis, and the other schools in the UC system, use the UC application. The deadline to submit your UC application is November 30 and decision notifications are sent on March 31. 

 

Application Requirements

 

UC Davis only accepts the UC application for admissions and the UC application along with its four personal insight questions are the primary requirements for consideration.

 

Standardized test scores are optional and are not used to make admissions decisions and the university warns against submitting letters of recommendation, transcripts, and samples of your academic or creative work with your application—the university will not review them or return them. You only need to submit a transcript after you’ve been admitted to UC Davis. 

 

Learn more about UC Davis 

 

Interested in learning more about UC Davis? Check out these other informative articles: 

 

 

Want to know your chances at UC Davis? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.