UC San Diego (UCSD) Out-of-State Acceptance Rate

Offering more than 140 undergraduate majors, 500 student organizations, and an award-winning faculty, the University of California at San Diego is one of the best public colleges in the United States. 

Many out-of-state students apply to UCSD for a chance to engage in a rigorous college curriculum while experiencing the West Coast lifestyle. 

Additionally, UC San Diego operates scores of exceptional study abroad programs – nearly one in three students will study abroad at some point in their undergraduate career.

UC San Diego currently comprises eight colleges – each with its own staff, traditions, and residence facilities. 

First-year students from in-state and out-of-state traditionally live at their college and then move off campus in subsequent years. Seventh College and Eighth College were established in 2019 and 2022, respectively. 

Seventh College is charged with innovating tools to confront an evolving planet, while Eight College focuses on community engagement.

UCSD was officially established in 1960. Initially attracting students in biology, engineering, and marine science, the university is still renowned for its science programs today. 

Many undergraduates at UCSD will take advantage of the chance to conduct innovative research in some of the world’s finest labs. 

Other opportunities for students exist through outlets like the Academic Internship Program (AIP), where students can get connected with internship placements or faculty mentors who can assist them in drafting research projects or leading complex projects. 

Through the Dine/Coffee with a Prof program, undergraduates can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal with their professors while asking more pointed questions about their major or area of specific interest.

If your ideal school is large, diverse, and well-integrated with the town in which it is situated, UC San Diego is well worth further investigation. UC system schools are predicted to become even more competitive for out-of-state applicants in the next few years, and we’ll review acceptance rates and tuition information in the following sections. For now, be encouraged to know that the application grants significant space to present a dynamic depiction of your many talents and interests.

UC San Diego Out-of-State Acceptance Rate

UC San Diego
RightCowLeftCoast, Scripps Institute of Oceanography Monument Sign, CC BY-SA 4.0

The most recent publicly available information we are able to find on out-of-state acceptance rate for UC San Diego was in 2018, where the out-of-state acceptance rate was 51%, according to Forbes.

Like many other UC campuses, UCSD received an unprecedented number of applications from candidates hoping to apply in the fall of 2022: 131,226, to be exact. 

In the face of such high demand, UC San Diego offered admission to nearly 10,000 fewer potential first-year students than it did for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

The total acceptance rate was 23.8%, which is ten percentage points lower than it was just one year ago. 1,633 fewer California residents and 4,852 fewer candidates from other states in the U.S. received admission offers, in addition to 2,971 fewer international applicants.

Out-of-state students interested in applying to UC San Diego can expect the out-of-state acceptance rate to diminish further in the next five years, as the institution has been charged with reducing non-Californian undergraduate enrollment by 4% (from over 22% to 18%). This means that there will be approximately 4,500 fewer spaces for out-of-state hopefuls.

The state legislature has pressured campuses like UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UCLA to add more California-based students to their accepted cohorts, insisting that the campuses have been undermining California residents by favoring out-of-state or international applicants (who pay higher tuition).

With that said, out-of-state high school seniors should not despair. Many advocates argue that out-of-state enrollment benefits the overwhelmingly-Californian UCSD campus, as a whole, since they pay significantly more tuition

Other networks like the UNC system have faced similar quandaries and are attempting to find the ideal balance between providing opportunities for in-state residents and welcoming the demonstrated talent and dedication of international and out-of-state candidates.

UC San Diego Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state tuition to attend UC San Diego is $48,387 annually as of the 2022-2023 year. This number is more than twice the figure of $17,361 that in-state residents will pay each year. 

Other expenses associated with attending college at UCSD include housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation, and other personal expenditures. 

All in all, non-California residents can expect to pay a total cost of $60,576 per year to attend UCSD, compared to $29,550 for in-state admitted students. 

This figure may fluctuate depending on the type of housing where the out-of-state student elects to reside. UCSD estimates that housing and meals will cost a few thousand fewer dollars than they would if students lived on campus.

UCSD has a reputation for a solid commitment to providing financial aid assistance to those in need. Like all other UC system institutions, UCSD prompts applicants to apply for aid as they complete their application package. 

In 2021-2022, the school awarded over $342 million in federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants, and many more millions in work-study placements, need-based loans, and non-need-based athletic awards.

Of those first-time first-year admitted students who applied for financial aid in 2021-2022, just over 68% were determined to qualify for need-based assistance. UC San Diego met 83% of need-based aid requests with an average financial aid package of $25,036.

UC San Diego Requirements and Tips for Out-of-State Students

UCSD Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute
TritonsRising, Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute building, CC BY-SA 4.0

The UC system shares the same set of minimum credits required of high school applicants: 15 units that heavily focus on core subjects like English language arts, laboratory sciences, mathematics, and history. 

While two foreign language credits are required, three are looked upon more favorably. While only 15 credits are needed, those accepted from out-of-state will likely boast an academic record including more credits from rigorous course options.

High school seniors in and out of state are encouraged to apply to as many of the UC system’s nine campuses within a single application. An additional fee is charged per each institution to which a student applies, but these fees can be waived for up to four campuses upon demonstrating financial hardship. Applications open on August 1, and the filing period runs from November 1-30.

It can be overwhelming when looking through UC San Diego’s 13 criteria for admission to try to figure out what is most important. 

Let’s be clear – the best way to impress the admissions team is through high achievement in rigorous coursework

If your high school offers honors, AP, IB, or dual-enrollment options, you’ll have wanted to not only enroll in those classes but to excel in them. UCSD sees such exceptional performance as a sign that applicants will thrive on their college campus.

Unique to UC campus application cycles, hopefuls from out-of-state or in California are not required to submit letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, or official transcripts. The first two items will not be considered, and students are only asked to submit official copies of their transcripts upon offer of admission.

Besides the rigor of one’s academic record, the most essential application materials are the reported GPA and personal essay responses. In 2021-2022, 96.5% of admitted students had a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher. 

While California residents must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, non-California residents and international applicants are held to a minimum standard of a 3.4 GPA. No grade on an applicant’s academic record, regardless of origin, should be lower than a C.

There are eight potential essay prompts; out-of-state applicants may respond to four, with answers limited to 350 words each. Personal essays represent the best opportunity to stand out among other high-achieving candidates. 

The admissions office at UCSD has stated that they are looking for innovators, risk-takers, idea-sharers, and open-minded people. Your essays are a great space to convey how you embody those traits and behaviors.

As a final note, first-year applicants will be charged with ranking UC San Diego’s colleges on the UC application – this is not the same as declaring a major, though it is recommended that you select the college you are most interested in attending, rather than choosing one that you believe will give you a better chance of admission.

Is UC San Diego Right for You?

UC San Diego has garnered a position among the top 25 public universities in the world through several publications, and the U.S. News & World Report declares it as the #6 top public college in the United States. 

One reason out-of-state students may gravitate toward the UCSD campus is because of the option to pursue an interdisciplinary degree; in fact, of all the degrees conferred in the previous year, 16% were in multidisciplinary studies.

If you’re looking for exceptional engineering and sciences programs, UC San Diego is a great institution to explore in further depth. Its bioinformatics and computer sciences program was ranked #1 in the United States, while it has claimed the #3 position for microbiology worldwide. 

For the most recent graduating class, the biological and life sciences represented the most degrees conferred, with 18.2% of all students pursuing a degree in that subject. 

Another element that sets UCSD apart from peer institutions is that it allows students the flexibility to enroll in 12 to 22 credits per term (while most school cap the maximum at 18 credits). 

UC San Diego also runs on a quarter system, so students may have the chance to enroll in more classes than they might be able to at other schools. A typical class has a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1, and while the campus population continues to boom, 76% of classes contain fewer than 50 students.

Finally, if you’re searching for sunny skies and a beautiful temperate climate, San Diego is known for its “300+ days of sunshine.” 

The average temperature is 77 degrees year-round, so there are plenty of ways to get outside and socialize with friends in the winter. 

Embarking on hikes, attending concerts, and exploring the delicious culinary offerings of Gaslamp Quarter and Old Town are some exciting activities you’ll find UCSD students engaging in weekly.

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