Is UCLA Ivy League? Ranking, How to Get In, and More

Located in western Los Angeles near the Westwood shopping district and Sunset Boulevard, UCLA teaches over 30,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students that study a wide range of disciplines. Since the school’s establishment in 1919, it has grown in reputation and prestige. The campus’s distinct architecture and proximity to Hollywood have led it to be the site of many films from Legally Blonde to Erin Brockovich. 

UCLA also significantly impacts the area’s economy as one of the largest employers in LA county and the overall region. Through charity events, volunteering, and fundraising, students are encouraged to contribute to their surrounding community and make a positive impact. The school’s medical excellence draws in top students and improves the level of healthcare throughout the county. The professional schools of health science operate the nationally ranked Medical Center, hospital, and primary care clinics throughout Los Angeles.

Students come to UCLA for the school’s top-tier research, athletics, and academics. The Bruins compete in NCAA Division I athletics as part of the Pac-12 Conference and have brought home dozens of national championships. Inside the classroom, students learn from renowned professors and are exposed to groundbreaking discoveries made on campus. Students can participate in research side-by-side with their professors in various subjects, including environmental issues, data science, social sciences, and public health. Driven by the optimism to redefine what’s possible, UCLA is recognized for the quality and breadth of its various academic and research programs.

Is UCLA an Ivy League School?

b r e n t, UCLA, CC BY 2.0

UCLA is not an Ivy League school but is often considered on par with the prestigious Ivies. The Ivy League was formed in the mid-1900s as a sports league of eight private universities in the Northeast. This elite group includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, UPenn, Columbia, and Dartmouth. As an exclusive group with global recognition, the Ivy League does not accept new members.

The Ivies are known for their highly successful NCAA Division I athletics. These renowned athletic teams attracted funding which increased the standards for student performance, admission selectivity, and resources available. With excellent funding, Ivy League schools can provide top-tier education, faculty, and learning opportunities for students. Today, the Ivy League schools have admission rates at or below 10% as more and more students hope to attend. 

Each Ivy League school has a reputation for producing graduates with high academic ability, social prestige, and the drive to succeed. The global recognition means that a degree from an Ivy League school opens many doors in the future. This can be seen in the impressive list of alumni who have contributed to the country and world as a whole. Ivy League schools create top innovators, thinkers, creatives, leaders, and businesspeople.

The term Ivy League has become synonymous with high-quality universities, giving rise to the idea of Public Ivies. UCLA falls into this category as a prestigious and academically rigorous school with an impressive reputation. Although UCLA is not in the Ivy League, it is informally considered one of the country’s Public Ivies.

Why Is UCLA Often Confused As an Ivy League School?

UCLA is often confused as an Ivy League school because of its renowned faculty and alumni, research capabilities, selectivity, and global recognition. Receiving 168,000 applications in 2021, the most of any university in the US, UCLA is highly competitive. The school is considered one of the most prestigious universities globally, which encourages more and more students to apply each year.

While at UCLA, students find themselves among leaders in their field. Dozens of faculty members have been elected to the National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Medicine. The school is affiliated with 15 Nobel Laureates, 2 Turing Award Winners, and 2 Chief Scientists of the US Air Force. Thanks to the school’s stellar reputation, alumni go on to be big names in politics, business, entertainment, and technology. 

Business Insider ranks UCLA as #5 globally for the number of alumni working at Google, ahead of all of the Ivy League schools.

Similar to the Ivies, UCLA has a decorated athletic history. The school has won 129 national championships and 119 NCAA team championships. Furthermore, graduates compete in the Olympics, with UCLA alumni winning a gold medal in every Olympics that the US has participated in since 1932.

UCLA, classified among R1: Doctoral Universities – very high research activity, is one of the world’s top research universities. The school amassed $1.4 billion in research funding in 2020, on par with many Ivy League schools. The research endowments, intellectual capital, and extensive facilities at UCLA are necessary to tackle society’s most challenging problems. 

UCLA: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

As a prestigious university, it is no surprise that UCLA tops the rankings both nationally and globally. Using criteria based on access and social commitment, Washington Monthly places the school as #11 among national universities. This ranking recognizes UCLA for its importance as a significant driver of economy and quality of life.

In the US News rankings for 2021, UCLA is listed as #20 overall and #1 among public universities nationwide. In addition, many departments ranked in the top 10 programs globally, including arts and humanities, biology and biochemistry, chemistry, clinical medicine, mathematics, psychiatry, materials sciences, social sciences, public health, and neuroscience. Due to the increasing number of applicants, admission is highly selective.

In 2020, the Times Higher World University Rankings placed UCLA as #15 worldwide for academics, the #2 US Public University, and #9 for World Reputation Rankings. This placement is based on a survey completed by over 10,000 academics from 138 countries worldwide. Beating out hundreds of schools, these rankings show that UCLA is respected by peers and has top-tier academic programs and a global reputation.

UCLA’s overall acceptance rate sits at an impressive 14%, on par with the Ivies. This selective admissions process means that approximately one in ten students who apply are admitted. The acceptance rate varies based on the college that applicants choose. The School of Nursing is the most selective at 2.2%, while the School of Engineering and Applied Science admits 12.4% of applicants. 

How to Get Into UCLA

Each year, more students apply to UCLA than can be admitted. It is among the most selective universities worldwide with an acceptance rate on par with Ivy League schools. With over 100,000 applications each year, how do you make yours stand out?

The admissions team wants to admit students who will flourish even with the difficulty of UCLA classes. This can be shown through success in courses that match UCLA’s academic rigor, such as honors, college-level, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes. Although there aren’t defined minimum scores, competitive applicants have an average GPA of 3.8. Along with mostly A’s, applicants tend to score around 25 on the ACT and 1190 on the SAT.

While grades and curriculum are vital signs of academic achievement, they are only part of the story. Students who are intellectually curious with strong leadership, initiative, and tenacity are poised to succeed. In addition, the admissions team is looking for students who will contribute to the UCLA learning community and who will take advantage of the resources available to them. 

Through extracurriculars, application essays, and letters of recommendation, students can show what makes them unique. In particular, the school values sustained participation in intellectual and creative endeavors from the performing arts to community organizations. These achievements are indicators of a student’s ability to succeed at UCLA and beyond. Another side of the applicant can be shown through volunteer and work experience, which show the likelihood that the student will contribute to the community inside and outside of the classroom.

Recap: UCLA Is Not an Ivy League School, However, It Is One of the Nation’s Top Universities

Despite not technically being an Ivy League school, UCLA has one of the most impressive reputations in the country. The school is on par with top-tier schools regarding academic quality, research opportunities, and other achievements. As a Public Ivy, it provides an Ivy League experience with the tuition of a public university. 

UCLA is highly selective, with admission statistics similar to that of the Ivies. The admissions team seeks out a diverse class of students to make a rich learning environment. UCLA brings in students from all backgrounds, with the Class of 2024 representing 47 states, 84 countries, and 33% first-generation students. The school’s mission is to serve the state and nation by educating future leaders in research, industry, and arts.

Students can pursue their passions through research alongside UCLA faculty, supported by the school’s impressive funding. The common thread among all fields is the optimism to redefine what’s possible. This can be seen in the 300+ inventions and 100+ companies created based on technology developed at the school.

Graduates from UCLA enjoy global recognition on par with other top ranked universities. The school’s network of over 500,000 alumni is united by their goal to improve the quality of life in their community. James Franco, Sara Bareilles, and Jackie Robinson are just a few examples of the star-studded list of UCLA graduates. In addition, the CEO of Youtube, founder of Uber, and father of the Internet all got their start at UCLA