The University of California System

The Nine UC Schools for Undergraduates

California has one of the best state university systems in the country (also one of the most expensive), and three of the schools below made our list of top public universities. The nine universities that offer undergraduate degrees are listed here from the lowest to highest acceptance rate. Keep in mind that the acceptance rate isn't necessarily an accurate representation of selectivity. Follow the profile link to get data related to admission standards, costs, and financial aid.

Note that the UC system actually has nine campuses, not the nine listed below. San Francisco also has a University of California campus, but it is dedicated exclusively to graduate study and thus is not included in this ranking.

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The University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley. Charlie Nguyen / Flickr

Not only does the University of California Berkeley rank at the top of this list of the UC schools, it tends to earn the #1 spot in the country for all public universities. To get in, applicants will need grades and standardized test scores that are well above average. UC Berkeley made our lists of the top public universitiestop 10 engineering programs, and top 10 business schools. The university competes in the NCAA Division I Pacific 12 Conference.

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Royce Hall at UCLA
Royce Hall at UCLA. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

UCLA will nearly always be found ranked among the country's top 10 public universities, and its strengths span fields from the arts to engineering. The university's athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Pacific 12 Conference.

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Geisel Library at UCSD
Geisel Library at UCSD. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

UCSD consistently ranks among the country's best public universities, and it also tends to make lists of the best engineering programs. The university is home to the highly regarded Scripps Institute of Oceanography UCSD athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division II level.

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UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara
UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara. Carl Jantzen / Flickr

UC Santa Barbara's enviable location earned it a place among the best colleges for beach lovers, but academics are also strong. UCSB has a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, and it is a member of the Association of American Universities for its research strengths. The UCSB Gauchos compete in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference.

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Frederick Reines Hall at UC Irvine
Frederick Reines Hall at UC Irvine. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

UC Irvine has numerous academic strengths spanning a wide range of disciplines: biology and health sciences, criminology, English, and psychology to name a few. The university's athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference.

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The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis
The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. Steven Tyler PJs / Flickr

UC Davis has a huge 5,300-acre campus, and the school tends to do well in national rankings of public universities. Like several of the schools on this list, UC Davis competes in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference, and academic strengths earned the university a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and membership in the Association of American Universities.

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University of California Santa Cruz Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton
University of California Santa Cruz Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. the_tahoe_guy / Flickr

An impressive number of students who attend UC Santa Cruz go on to earn their doctorates. The campus overlooks Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and the university is known for its progressive curriculum.

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Botanic Garden at UC Riverside
Botanic Garden at UC Riverside. Matthew Mendoza / Flickr

UC Riverside has the distinction of being one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the country. The business program is extremely popular, but the school's strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences earned it a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. The school's athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference.

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University of California Merced
University of California Merced. Russell Neches / Flickr

UC Merced is the first new research university of the 21st century, and the university's state-of-the-art construction was designed to have minimal environmental impact. Business, science, and social science fields are most popular among undergraduates.

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Learn More

If you're planning to apply to one of the University of California schools, be sure to read these tips for the 8 UC Personal Insight questions. Also, you can get a sense of how your measure up at the different campuses with these comparisons of UC SAT scores and UC ACT scores

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Grove, Allen. "The University of California System." ThoughtCo, Dec. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-university-of-california-system-787015. Grove, Allen. (2017, December 1). The University of California System. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-university-of-california-system-787015 Grove, Allen. "The University of California System." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-university-of-california-system-787015 (accessed December 12, 2017).