UCLA Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

Even just 50 years ago, once someone was accepted by a college, they would stay at that school. 

It takes a lot of work to get into college, so why would anyone try to go through that process again?

But these days, it’s much more common for students to transfer to a different university. There are many reasons for someone to transfer to a new school. 

Some people complete their prerequisites at one school and take specialized courses at another, while others simply find that their current program can no longer meet their needs.

And when the school is the University of California at Los Angeles, people want to transfer just to go to one of the best institutions in the country. 

UCLA is one of the Public Ivies, a public institution with an academic reputation that rivals Ivy League schools like Princeton or Yale. 

Furthermore, major award winners have been associated with UCLA, including 27 Nobel Prize laureates and five Turing Award winners.

There aren’t many schools that can meet those standards, and it’s no surprise that students would want to leave their current institution to trade up for UCLA.

If that’s your plan, then you need to know how to apply to transfer to UCLA.

UCLA Transfer Acceptance Rate

UCLA Campus
Downtowngal, UCLA campus from the south, CC BY-SA 3.0

For Fall of 2021, UCLA had a transfer acceptance rate of 19%. The school received 28,457 applications from potential transfer students in 2021 and admitted 5,435 of them.

That might seem like an intimidating number. 

After all, an acceptance rate of 19% means that out of every ten students who apply, eight will be rejected – sometimes even more than that.

But there’s no need to be overly discouraged by that acceptance rate. 

For one reason, it’s essential to keep in mind that even a low acceptance rate indicates that the school does accept transfers. There’s always a shot that you can be among those who make it in.

More importantly, UCLA’s rate looks much better when examined in context. While UCLA only takes in 19% of its transfer applicants, that’s much higher than the less than 10% accepted by Columbia University and the microscopic 1.19% accepted by Stanford University. 

Clearly, UCLA is more excited to bring in transfers than most schools.

That number is even more encouraging for transfer students when compared to the standard admission rate. 

In Fall 2021, UCLA accepted only 11% of the first-year students who applied. That means transfer students are twice as likely to get into UCLA than freshmen coming from high school.

Application Requirements & GPA for UCLA Transfers

On average, transfer students accepted into UCLA have a GPA of at least 3.5. Furthermore, UCLA only accepts transfer students who have completed their first- and second-year courses. 

For that reason, applicants have a challenge in front of them to get mostly A’s and B’s in their college-level classes to maintain the expected GPA.

Although it isn’t required, UCLA gives preference to those transferring from community colleges in California or other schools in the University of California system.

If you don’t meet these GPA or school requirements, you don’t need to give up hope. UCLA looks at a variety of factors when deciding on offering admission. 

They want to bring well-rounded students into their campus, and the application is your opportunity to show them that you have those important qualities.

In particular, UCLA asks personal insight questions of its transfer applicants. These questions allow applicants to explain themselves in ways that aren’t reflected by an academic transcript. 

The questions ask about a potential student’s enjoyment in school, their family situation, and any military experience they may have.

Applicants can also demonstrate their value through letters of recommendation. These letters, written by professors with whom you have studied during your freshman and sophomore years, will speak to your abilities as a student.

UCLA Transfer Deadline

UCLA Dodd Hall
Beyond My Ken, UCLA Dodd Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Students who want to transfer to UCLA must have their applications submitted by November 30th each year. The application window for transfer students lasts the entire month, beginning on November 1st. Students also need to submit their grades from the Fall semester by January 31st.

UCLA only accepts transfer applications for the Fall semester, which means that those planning on applying should use the rest of their time working on their applications. 

Even those who have a high GPA and are coming from a California community college will still need to have a strong application to be among the 19% who make it in. 

By starting early on their applications, students can devote plenty of time crafting their answers to the insight questions.

Good planning is even more critical when securing letters of recommendation. 

Where incoming freshmen get letters of recommendation from high school teachers, transfer students need to get letters from college teachers.

Just like high school teachers, professors are devoted to their students and will do all that they can to help them. 

However, they tend to have a much more hectic schedule and hold much higher standards for writing letters of recommendation. For that reason, it’s imperative that you plan ahead when getting a letter.

Although UCLA accepts applications from transfer students throughout the entire month of November, you can’t ask a professor to write you a letter on the 1st and expect them to have it ready by the 30th. 

Instead, you need to contact them by mid-October at the latest and provide them with all of the contact information.

By paying careful attention to the deadline, you’ll be more likely to craft a strong application.

What is the Decision Date for UCLA Transfers?

According to UCLA’s website for transfer students, the school will inform applicants of their decision in late April.

Without question, it is tough to wait out those months between submitting an application and getting the decision. But there’s a need to waste time waiting for an answer. 

Instead, there are several steps to take to make the experience the best possible.

One of the best things to do while waiting for a decision is to contact the financial aid office. As is the case with many schools, UCLA has special funding options, especially for transfer students. 

These options exist to make it easier for transfers to bring their education and experience to UCLA’s student body.

The absolute worst thing to do during the waiting period is to contact the admissions office to ask about your application. 

It doesn’t hurt to check in once and ensure that all of your materials were received, but you don’t want to overdo it. The office won’t be able to answer your questions until the admissions committee makes its decision, so you’ll just be making yourself more anxious.

By looking at financial aid possibilities, you’ll not only feel better about the waiting process, but you’ll be ready to go as soon as that acceptance comes in.

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to UCLA

UCLA Anderson School of Management
Public domain photo by Simon Cobb via Wikimedia Commons

With an acceptance rate of 19%, UCLA definitely accepts transfer students from other schools. However, just because you could apply to transfer to UCLA doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.

Unfortunately, nobody but you can decide if you should transfer to UCLA. But as you make your decision, it’s important to keep a few points in mind. 

Not only does UCLA accept transfer students, but they include resources to help those transfer students get used to their new school.

The admissions office at UCLA provides a full set of transfer tools for students who need them. One of the best tools is the ASSIST Planner, which students can use to determine which credits will be accepted by UCLA and count toward their degree. 

Using UC Tap, you can find the classes that will be best for you as you join a new institution.

Underpinning all of this information is the fact that UCLA is one of the most respected schools in the nation. Even if you’re already at a good college, very few live up to the standard set by UCLA. By transferring to UCLA, you’ll have a better chance at earning a degree that carries a lot of weight.

That said, with an acceptance rate of just 19%, there’s always a risk of rejection. Even if you spend all the time needed crafting a perfect application with strong answers to the insight questions, you still might be rejected. For some people, the amount of work is not worth the risk.

To be sure, the benefits of transferring are real. But so are the risks. While this article doesn’t make your decision for you, it does give you the information you need.

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to UCLA

To wrap up, let’s go over the vital information.

UCLA does accept students who want to transfer from their current institution. 

Although UCLA gives priority to students at a California community college or a University of California branch, it also has a 19% acceptance rate, which tends to be much higher than many other schools of the same quality. The right students have a great chance of transferring to UCLA.

That said, UCLA doesn’t just take everyone. In fact, students who apply must have at least a 3.5 GPA in the classes they take during their freshman and sophomore years. 

Even with grades this high, UCLA wants to see strong answers in the insight questions it asks of all students to gauge their personal perspective.

In addition to grades and insight questions, UCLA also looks at letters of recommendation sent from professors at your current institution. 

If you can secure a good relationship with a professor, you’ll be more likely to get an excellent letter, which will help your application stand out.

Even though UCLA takes in 19% of its transfer applicants, it will still reject 8 out of 10 of those who apply. By following the suggestions listed above, you’ll have the best chance of being among that lucky accepted number.

To be sure, it’s intimidating to leave a school where you’re already comfortable. Any application runs the risk of rejection, even if you put in a lot of time and effort. But it might be worth it to go to a great school like UCLA.