UCLA – Acceptance Rate, Tuition, Requirements, and More

The University of California at Los Angeles, or UCLA, is a public institution that was founded in 1919. In fact, it’s the second oldest school among the University of California’s network of 10 campuses located across the state. UCLA strives to go beyond providing students with a top-notch education; the prestigious institution also works to address social issues that affect today’s world. 

UCLA frequently finds itself near the top of lists of the best colleges. And actually, it’s considered to be one of the most prestigious schools in the country. For instance, the Times Higher Education ranked UCLA as the #2 public university in the country. Moreover, it was rated #20 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 list of top national universities. However, U.S. News also ranks UCLA as the top public school in the country and the #5 school for veterans. 

Students at UCLA can choose from over 125 majors in subjects as diverse as the sciences, engineering, arts and humanities, architecture, film, and nursing. Plus, study abroad programs, internships, hands-on learning opportunities, and summer travel round out a well-balanced UCLA education. 

Acceptance Rate

Neeta Lind, Powell Library, UCLA, CC BY 2.0

For the Fall 2020 class, UCLA had more applicants (about 135,000) than any other university in the United States. Since so many people apply to UCLA, the school has to maintain rigid acceptance standards. Therefore, UCLA accepts about 14% of its freshmen applicants, which is a higher acceptance rate than some Ivy League schools but lower than many other public universities. In addition, about 24% of students transferring from other colleges or universities get into UCLA. 

Furthermore, it’s getting harder to get into UCLA, too, as the institution grows. As recent as 2021, the acceptance rate was 25%, but only 61,500 students applied that year. Through the second decade of the 2000s, the acceptance rate continued to go down as the number of applicants consistently grows year by year. The UCLA School of Nursing has the lowest acceptance rate at 1%, while the School of Music has the highest at 23%. So really, to best understand the chances of getting into a particular program at UCLA, students should check the rates in specific courses of study. 

Requirements & Admission Tips

Admission to UCLA is selective, and so the school places a strong emphasis on an applicant’s average GPA when making admission decisions. In fact, UCLA does not consider some other factors like students’ rankings in their graduating high school class or letters of recommendation. After all, the school receives such a large number of applications that they need an efficient way to make admissions decisions. 

However, for incoming freshmen, UCLA does strongly consider high school GPAs. Specifically, UCLA calculates both “weighted” and “unweighted” GPAs from courses taken in grades 10 and 11. Competitive students have weighted GPAs, which include an extra point for honors courses, between 4.34 and 4.68; unweighted GPAs usually fall between 3.92 and 4.00. It’s important to note that students do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores with their UCLA application. 

Admissions committees look at a student’s out-of-classroom experiences, too. Leadership and volunteer positions are especially valued and can weigh especially heavy in scholarship decisions, and so are achievements in athletics and the arts. Students are also expected to be able to contribute to UCLA’s culture of intellectual vitality and rigor as well. 

Notable Alumni

As a large esteemed university with a long history, UCLA has many notable alumni in almost every profession. Because of its prime LA location near the heart of the entertainment industry, it’s no surprise that well-known figures like actor and activist George Takei, Grammy-winner Sara Bareilles, and Emmy-winning actress Carol Burnett all attended UCLA. Not to mention, noted filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola have made UCLA’s film studies programs famous. 

Still, UCLA has many prominent alumni outside of the arts, too. For example, seven alums have gone on to win Nobel laureates in medicine, chemistry, economic sciences, and peace studies. The most recent alum to win the Noble Prize, Randy W. Schekman, shared his award with two fellow researchers for their studies on the physiology of cells. 

Likewise, several MacArthur Foundation Fellows began their education at UCLA. Jason De León, who studied anthropology at UCLA, was the most recent alum to accept this distinguished no-strings-attached fellowship to examine how immigration policies impact people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In a completely different field of study, UCLA alum and playwright Lee Breuer received a fellowship to push the boundaries of American avant-garde theater. 


With 4,300 faculty members, UCLA has more teachers than some small universities have students. Besides, the UCLA faculty are world-renowned experts who are leading innovations in the sciences, arts, and humanities.

For instance, professors in several departments have received Pulitzer Prizes, including Jared Diamond, Saul Friedländer, and Daniel Walker Howe.

Kelly Lytle Hernández examines American culture and how ideologies have evolved to create existing incarceration and immigrant detention policies. In fact, her work is the first significant academic exploration of the history of the U.S. Border Patrol, another demonstration of the UCLA faculty’s dedication to current issues affecting society. 

UCLA’s science faculty are contributing ground-breaking research, too, such as the work that landed Andrea Ghez a 2020 Nobel Prize in physics and led to J. Fraser Stoddart’s 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry. 

Similar Schools & Ranking

Many consider UCLA to be a “Public Ivy.” That is, it’s a public institution that rivals major private Ivy League schools, giving students the academic experiences of these private schools at a public school price. This designation puts UCLA among schools like the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Virginia, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

However, the University of Michigan has a higher acceptance rate (23%) and much higher out-of-state tuition than UCLA. Likewise, the University of Virginia has a smaller student body than UCLA but accepts about 24%of its applicants. And while the University of North Carolina has in-state tuition lower than UCLA’s, UNC also has higher acceptance rates at 23% and 28% for early decision applications. 

So, in comparison to some of the best public universities around the United States, UCLA is a great value but is tougher to get into. But still, UCLA does not require incoming freshmen to take the SAT or ACT, and these other top schools do expect students to submit these scores.


Although students receive a top-rated education at UCLA, the institute still can significantly help students with college costs. In fact, about 45% of UCLA students don’t even pay tuition between their scholarships, grants, and other financial aid. 

For example, UCLA has several merit-based scholarships, like the Regents Scholarship for students that show outstanding personal achievements and academic accomplishments. UCLA alumni select the recipients of the Alumni Scholarships, which are awarded to high-achieving students who also show leadership potential. 

Need-based aid is available through the Achievement Scholarships program as well. Additionally, specific programs are dedicated to attracting underserved students, like those from Los Angeles County high schools that typically send few students to college. Similarly, the Chancellor’s Blue and Gold Scholarships award outstanding students transferring to UCLA from community colleges.  

Plus, tuition is the same for California residents and non-residents alike, making UCLA an even more affordable option for out-of-state students. Low-interest loans and work-study jobs are also available during the academic year.

Is UCLA Right For You?

UCLA is a multicultural campus that attracts students from many walks of life. The fall 2020 incoming class was particularly diverse, with 33% of students being Asian, 21% Hispanic, and 9% from countries outside of the United States. Plus, about 33% of UCLA’s undergrads are the first students in their families to attend college, nodding to UCLA’s commitment to a diverse student population. 

UCLA works to create an environment where all students can thrive and go into leaders that will shape tomorrow’s future. After all, the typical UCLA student is driven and wants to make the world a better place. That is, UCLA is looking for students who understand how to improve our society and will work hard to find new solutions to today’s problems. 

Students who want to be on the cutting-edge research, innovation, and leadership should consider a future at UCLA. 


Not only is UCLA a great school, but it’s also located near the best attractions that Los Angeles has to offer. First, UCLA is just a few minutes drive to the Pacific Ocean, beautiful beaches, and the Santa Monica Pier and amusement park, one of the oldest in the country. Plus, students can take advantage of the school’s proximity to the Getty Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Of course, UCLA offers plenty of cultural and social activities on campus, too. For instance, UCLA has several a cappella music groups that compete in major competitions like the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Plus, several cultural unions like the Japanese Student Association and the Chinese Music Ensemble bring a greater understanding of global cultural traditions to the UCLA campus. Everyone can find a place to belong at UCLA.