A Comparison of the University of California Campuses

Acceptance Rates, Graduation Rates, Financial Aid, Enrollment and More

California Hall at Berkeley
California Hall at Berkeley. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

The University of California system includes some of the best public universities in the country. Acceptance and graduation rates, however, vary widely. The chart below puts the 10 University of California schools side-by-side for easy comparison.

Click on a university's name for more admission, cost, and financial aid information. Note that all of the University of California schools are quite pricey for out-of-state students.

The data presented here is from the National Center for Educational Statistics.

A Comparison of the UC Campuses
CampusUndergrad EnrollmentStudent / Faculty RatioFinancial Aid Recipients4-Year Graduation Rate6-Year Graduation Rate
Berkeley27,12617 to 162%72%91%
Davis27,56518 to 175%53%83%
Irvine24,48919 to 172%68%86%
Los Angeles29,63316 to 164%72%91%
Merced5,88420 to 193%34%64%
Riverside18,79019 to 186%44%68%
San Diego24,81019 to 164%57%86%
San FranciscoGraduate Study Only
Santa Barbara20,23817 to 166%69%81%
Santa Cruz16,27718 to 179%55%77%


A Comparison of the UC Campuses: Admissions Data
CampusSAT Reading 25%SAT Reading 75%SAT Math 25%SAT Math 75%ACT 25%ACT 75%Acceptance Rate
Los Angeles580710610750273319%
San Diego560670630760273233%
San FranciscoGraduate Study Only
Santa Barbara530660570710263136%
Santa Cruz480620510650232956%

You can see that acceptance rates and admissions standards vary widely from campus to campus, and universities such as UCLA and Berkeley are among the most selective public universities in the country. For all campuses, however, you're going to need strong grades, and your SAT or ACT scores should be average or better.

If your academic record seems on the low side for the UC campuses, be sure to check out some of the excellent options among the 23 California State University campuses -- many of the Cal State schools have a lower admissions bar than the UC schools.

Also be sure to put some of the above data into perspective. UCSD, for example, has a four-year graduation rate that seems a bit low given the selectivity of admissions, but this can be partly explained by the school's large engineering programs which nation-wide tend to have lower four-year graduation rates than programs in the liberal arts, social sciences, and sciences. Also, UCLA's lower student/faculty ratio doesn't necessarily translate into smaller classes and more personalized attention at the undergraduate level. Many of the faculty at top research universities are devoted almost entirely to graduate education and research, not undergraduate instruction.

Finally, be sure to not limit yourself to public universities strictly for financial reasons. The UC schools are some of the most expensive public universities in the United States. If you qualify for financial aid, you may find that private universities can match or even beat the price of the University of California.

It's worth looking at some of the private options among these top California colleges and top West Coast colleges.