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
Berkeley29,31018 to 163%76%92%
Davis29,37920 to 170%55%85%
Irvine27,33118 to 168%71%87%
Los Angeles30,87317 to 164%74%91%
Merced6,81520 to 192%38%66%
Riverside19,79922 to 185%47%73%
San Diego28,12719 to 156%59%87%
San FranciscoGraduate Study Only
Santa Barbara21,57418 to 170%69%82%
Santa Cruz16,96218 to 177%52%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 Angeles570710590760283318%
San Diego560680610770273336%
San FranciscoGraduate Study Only
Santa Barbara550660570730273236%
Santa Cruz520630540660253058%

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.