The University of California System

The Nine UC Schools for Undergraduates

California has one of the best state university systems in the country, and three of the schools below made my 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. UCSD, for example, has a higher acceptance rate than UCSB, but it actually requires significantly higher grades and standardized test scores to get in. Follow the profile link to get data related to admission standards, costs, and financial aid.

San Francisco also has a University of California campus, but it is dedicated exclusively to graduate study.

Be sure to check out these other University of California articles:

01
of 09

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

02
of 09

Royce Hall at UCLA
Royce Hall at UCLA. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 17%
  • Enrollment: 41,908 (29,585 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; one of the top public universities; top 20 engineering program; member of the Association of American Universities; member of the NCAA Division I Pacific 10 Conference
  • Explore the Campus: UCLA photo tour
  • Admissions: UCLA GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UCLA profile

03
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UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara
UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara. Carl Jantzen / Flickr
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 33%
  • Enrollment: 23,497 (20,607 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; member of the Association of American Universities; member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference
  • Admissions: UCSB GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UCSB profile

04
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Geisel Library at UCSD
Geisel Library at UCSD. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 34%
  • Enrollment: 30,906 (26,590 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; one of the top public universities; top 20 engineering program; member of the Association of American Universities; highly regarded Scripps Institute of Oceanography
  • Explore the Campus: UCSD Photo Tour
  • Admissions: UCSD GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UCSD profile

05
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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
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 38%
  • Enrollment: 35,186 (28,257 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; member of the Association of American Universities; huge 5,300-acre campus; highly ranked public university; member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference
  • Admissions: UC Davis GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UC Davis profile

06
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Frederick Reines Hall at UC Irvine
Frederick Reines Hall at UC Irvine. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 39%
  • Enrollment: 30,836 (25,256 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; member of the Association of American Universities; many highly-ranked programs including biology and health sciences, criminology, English, and psychology; member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference
  • Explore the Campus: UC Irvine photo tour
  • Admissions: UC Irvine GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UC Irvine profile

07
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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
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 50%
  • Enrollment: 17,868 (16,231 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; high number of students go on to earn doctorates; campus overlooks Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean; progressive curriculum
  • Admissions: UC Santa Cruz GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UCSC profile

08
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Botanic Garden at UC Riverside
Botanic Garden at UC Riverside. Matthew Mendoza / Flickr
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 56%
  • Enrollment: 21,385 (18,607 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the country; highly popular business program; member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference
  • Admissions: UC Riverside GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UC Riverside profile

09
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University of California Merced
University of California Merced. Russell Neches / Flickr
  • Acceptance Rate (2015): 61%
  • Enrollment: 6,685 (6,237 undergraduates)
  • Distinctions: first new research university of the 21st century; state-of-the-art construction for minimal environmental impact
  • Admissions: UC Merced GPA and Test Score Graph
  • For more admissions data, costs and financial aid information, check out the UC Merced profile