What is UC Davis Known for?
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- Overview of UC Davis Admissions
- Unique Aspects of UC Davis
- What Are Your Chance of Acceptance at UC Davis?
What is UC Davis known for? It’s best known as one of the nine undergraduate schools in the University of California system, all of which stand out for their academic excellence—six are included on our list of the top 15 public universities in the nation, including UC Davis.
The schools in the University of California system have many similarities, but they also have unique attributes. For example, the UC Davis campus has its own fire department and is one of just three college campuses in the U.S. with a Student Resident Firefighter program.
Keep reading to learn more about what UC Davis is known for and what sets it apart from other schools.
Overview of UC Davis Admissions
Location: Davis, California
Undergrad Enrollment: 30,700
Acceptance Rate: 39%
Middle 50% SAT: 1260-1470
Middle 50% ACT: 28-34
All of the California University System colleges, including UC Davis, have course and GPA requirements for admission. There are 15 prerequisite courses and they’re commonly referred to as the “A to G subject requirements.” Those courses are:
Language other than English
2 years (or the equivalent to the second level of high school instruction)
Visual and performing arts
In-state students need to earn a minimum 3.0 GPA in the required courses and cannot receive a grade lower than a C in any of them. The bar is higher for out-of-state students, who must earn a 3.4 GPA in the aforementioned courses and also must not get a grade lower than a C.
In-state students attending public high school should meet the course requirement; however, awareness of these is particularly important for applicants from private high schools and out-of-state schools.
Unique Aspects of UC Davis
What is UC Davis best known for? Agriculture. The “Aggies” is the nickname for the university’s athletic teams and its school newspaper is The California Aggie. The school’s history is deeply rooted in agriculture; it began as the University Farm, the research and science-based instruction extension of UC Berkeley, and in 1938 was renamed the University of Agriculture at Davis.
Today, agriculture continues to play a large role on campus: 2,300 of UC Davis’s 5,300 acres of land are dedicated to ag and the university is home to both a dairy center and a slaughterhouse.
Notable ag-focused programs at UC Davis include its Viticulture and Enology major and its Food Science and Technology degree with an emphasis in brewing. That’s right—at UC Davis you can study how to make beer and wine. In fact, UC Davis is one of the few schools in the U.S. with an undergraduate program specializing in brewing science.
It’s not all ag at UC Davis, though. The university offers a wide variety of programs across its four colleges:
- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Biological Sciences
- Letters and Science
Through those four colleges, UC Davis offers 103 majors, ranging from Aerospace Science and Engineering to Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.
The Aggie Pack is the largest student-run spirit group in the nation and is focused on driving attendance to sporting events along with cheering and supporting the university’s athletic teams. Membership to the Aggie Pack is free for UC Davis students and comes with a free t-shirt to wear to games along with the chance to win a variety of prizes, such as school swag and food.
Bicycling is also a popular activity at UC Davis and a primary means of transportation for many students. UC Davis has a Platinum Bicycle Friendly University designation, the highest rating bestowed by the League of American Bicyclists. On any given day, there are 22,000 bikes on campus taking advantage of the bike-friendly flat terrain and 55 miles of pathways dedicated to bike and pedestrian traffic on and around campus.
There is seemingly something to satisfy the interest of every student on UC Davis’s campus. The school is home to more than 800 student clubs. A total of 68 fraternities and sororities also call UC Davis home and more than 10% of undergraduates participate in Greek life.
In 2008, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) created a list of 50 essential activities—known as the “50 Aggie Traditions”—to take part in at UC Davis. Students who complete all 50 are given a medal to wear at commencement.
One of the most notable traditions on the list of 50 is Pajamarino, which traces its beginning to 1912, when pajama-clad students snuck off campus to the train station to meet returning alumni. Pajamarino coincides with homecoming, and festivities include the Pajamarino parade (a march through downtown Davis accompanied by the band) along with a variety of other events.
Finding all the Eggheads on campus—sculptures created by the late professor and artist Robert Arneson (there are six in five locations)—also makes the list of 50 Aggie Traditions, and students in need of a little luck might want to try smooching the one in front of the Peter J. Shields Library, it’s said to increase the chances of acing your finals.
Another long-standing tradition at UC Davis—dating back to 1909—is Picnic Day, a campus-wide open house and the largest student-run event at UC Davis. Picnic Day allows prospective students to explore the university while current students can discover parts of the school that they aren’t commonly exposed to. There are also a handful of fun events that take place on Picnic Day, including the Battle of the Marching Bands, the Doxie Derby Race, and a Chemistry Magic Show.
UC Davis guarantees two years of housing to all first-year students, although it’s common for students to move off-campus after their freshman year. UC Davis is home to a numerous living-learning and shared-interest communities, including:
- African & African American
- Aggie Explorers
- Asian Pacific American Community Housing
- Casa Cuauhtémoc (Chicanx-Latinx House)
- Global Engagement Opportunity (GEO)
- Health Sciences Community
- Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention (LEADR)
- Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian
- Rainbow Community
- Sustainable Aggies
- University Honors Program (UHP)
- We Are First
- Aggie Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs (ABLE)
- Music, Arts, & Performance
- Native American Program
- Student Organizations, Community, Involvement, and Leadership (SOCIaL)
UC Davis dorms are located on one of the greenest campuses in the country. UC Davis has set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2025 and the Sierra Club ranks it among the 20 greenest universities in the U.S. A biodigester on campus turns waste from dining halls and animal facilities into clean energy.
UC Davis neither practices need-blind admissions nor guarantees that it will meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need. It will, however, do its best to help students get the financial support they require.
38% of UC Davis undergraduates receive Pell Grants, which are awarded only to students with exceptional financial need. The UC Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan is another great opportunity for students from low-income families—it covers tuition and fees with gift aid for in-state students from families earning less than $80,000 annually.
The UC Davis Aggie Grant Plan is a similar program, only it’s focused on students from middle-income families. Qualifying students from families with annual incomes between $80,000 and $120,000 will have at least 25% of their base tuition and fees covered by gift aid.
UC Davis provides exceptional opportunities for undergraduates interested in research. In 2019-2020, UC Davis received $941 million in research funding and half of all undergraduate students conduct research and projects outside of the classroom.
UC Davis is the only school in the University of California system with its own airport. The airport is open to the public, but about half of the flying hours out of the airport are flown by students.
The UC Davis Arboretum is open every day, all day, and is home to 20 different gardens featuring plants from California and areas with similar climates—such as Australia, the Mediterranean, and South Africa.
UC Davis is known for its relatively quiet location—especially compared to other University of California system schools, like UCLA, Cal Berkeley, and UC San Diego—but Davis is a very cool college town. More than half (53%) of Davis’s population are students at the university and the city is very student-focused—with miles of bike trails, regular live music, interesting art galleries, and quiet bookstores.
Davis is also a great jumping-off point for numerous California adventures. It’s only 15 miles from the state capital in Sacramento while San Francisco, Silicon Valley, wine country, the beach, the mountains, and six national parks are all just a day trip away.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at UC Davis?
Wondering what your odds of admission are at UC Davis? CollegeVine can help. Our free chancing calculator uses metrics such as GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities to predict your odds at UC Davis, along with 600 other schools across the country. It can also help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your college profile, showing you areas where you can improve your profile and odds of admission.