How to Get Into UCLA Undergrad: Requirements and Strategies — Shemmassian Academic Consulting (2022)

How hard is it to get into UCLA? Discover the UCLA acceptance rate and admissions requirements to improve your odds of getting accepted

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: UCLA admissions requirements

Part 3: 2022–2023 UCLA personal insight questions

Part 1: Introduction

If your child is an exceptional student and dreams of attending a prestigious school in sunny Southern California, it’s likely you’re already considering the University of California, Los Angeles. Widely considered a top public university, UCLA is the ideal place for your student if they dream of becoming an innovative leader and making their mark on the world.

Founded in 1919, UCLA is one of ten institutions belonging to the reputable University of California system. Created primarily to educate California students, UC schools also welcome some of the best and brightest applicants from around the world, giving every ambitious student the opportunity to join the impressive UC alumni network that spans the globe and contains over two million members.

UCLA’s tri-fold mission of education, research, and service is deeply integrated into its world-class curriculum and campus community. UCLA has long stood as a beacon for discovery and innovation, but equally important to its values is the emphasis on preparing students to impact global communities. Through medical, educational, environmental, and social justice-based community programs, UCLA students contribute to the diverse communities around Los Angeles and develop lifelong commitments to public service.

In the classroom, UCLA fosters its students’ intellectual curiosities and career aspirations through 125 undergraduate majors and 90 minors. Every student has the opportunity to explore and pursue their passions across UCLA’s twelve professional schools and the College of Letters and Science. Internships, research, experiential learning opportunities, and the senior capstone project are strategically used to bridge theory and practical application, preparing students to successfully enter and impact the workforce.

Getting into UCLA means joining a world-class community of learners and leaders. On any given day, a UCLA student might lead an early-morning beach cleanup, attend an astronomy lecture delivered by a MacArthur genius, march for worker’s rights with the UCLA Labor Center in Downtown LA, and guide a group of underprivileged teens through the latest exhibit at the LA Museum of Modern Art.

And after UCLA? Graduates join an elite group of alumni who are reshaping the world using the skills, knowledge, and optimism imparted to them by the UCLA experience. UCLA grads increase the accessibility of education, design a more sustainable future, promote health to all communities, and bring people together through arts and culture.

If you feel your excitement about UCLA growing, you’re not alone. Over 100,000 hopeful students apply to UCLA every year, making it the most applied-to college in the nation. With competition this fierce, you must be wondering how to get your child into UCLA. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the UCLA acceptance rate and who gets admitted. We’ll show you how to ensure your child meets UCLA’s admissions requirements and writes strong personal insight questions to increase their chances of getting accepted to UCLA.

UCLA ranking

  • Forbes: 6

  • Niche: 24

  • U.S. News & World Report: 20

  • Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education: 27

(Suggested reading: The Best UC Schools: UC Rankings)

Where is UCLA located?

UCLA is located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westwood, ideally nestled between iconic Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Westwood offers UCLA students many opportunities for entertainment, including coffee shops, museums, a diverse range of restaurants, and a historic movie theater that reflects the old-fashioned glamor of Hollywood.

Living in one of America’s largest cities has many cultural and educational advantages. Students can frequent one of LA’s many famous museums, which often have discounted admission prices for students. Or they can attend concerts and events held at the stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Students studying the arts, as well as those who enjoy it as a pastime, have no trouble finding inspiration in the LA area.

Not surprisingly, students within UCLA’s Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media take advantage of UCLA’s close proximity to Hollywood by gaining experience in the film and TV industries. But due to the many thriving industries in LA—including fashion, business, real estate, technology, and medicine—students from every major have a plethora of internships available to advance their future careers.

UCLA setting

UCLA is located on an urban 419-acre campus in a densely populated area. Surprisingly, it is both the second-smallest UC campus in size, but the largest in student enrollment. Despite its relatively small space—in comparison to other UC schools—UCLA still boasts a world-class conference center, plentiful student housing, an expansive student fitness center, and multiple sports arenas for its NCAA Division I teams.

Sitting just 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean at the base of the Santa Monica mountains, UCLA students could easily surf in the morning, attend a few classes, then take an evening hike to view the sunset over the ocean.

Because of its unique setting in a highly populated and highly visited area, UCLA’s campus seems to blend into the community rather than remain insulated, which is to the advantage of its students. They uphold UCLA’s mission of service by regularly engaging in and contributing to the surrounding communities, which are diverse both culturally and socioeconomically.

UCLA student population

  • Undergraduate students: 32,119

  • Graduate students: 14,300

UCLA acceptance rate

Let’s review the admissions statistics for the class of 2026:

  • Applications: 149,813

  • Acceptances: 12,825

  • Matriculants: ~6,500

  • Acceptance rate: 8.6%

UCLA’s acceptance rate for transfer students is 23%.

UCLA tuition and scholarships

The 2022–2023 cost of attendance (i.e., tuition, room, board, and fees) at UCLA is $37,448 for California residents and $68,474 for non-residents.

64 percent of UCLA undergrads receive need-based financial aid, and the average need-based award is $21,526. 45 percent of students pay no tuition at all. UCLA also offers merit-based scholarships; the average merit-based award is about $6,300.

Who gets into UCLA?

UCLA students are academically accomplished, typically ranking in the top 10–15 percent of their graduating high school class.Let’s take a closer look at the class of 2025:

  • UCLA average weighted GPA:

    • 25th percentile: 4.21

    • 75th percentile: 4.33

UCLA has not yet released student demographics for the class of 2026, but we can still take a look at the most recent demographics from their website:

  • First-generation students: 31%

  • California residents: 75%

  • International students: 10%

  • Asian American students are the most largely represented ethnic group with 33% of the class, followed closely by Chicano/Latino students at 21%. White students make up 26% of the class, and African American or Black students comprise 5%.

Along with the other UC schools, UCLA no longer accepts standardized test scores. Accordingly, there is no testing data for the most recently accepted class. Below we’ve provided the average ACT and SAT scores for UCLA’s class of 2023:

The most popular majors offered at UCLA are (in order): biology, political science, psychology, business economics, sociology, psychobiology, economics, biochemistry, computer science, and English.

Part 2: UCLA admissions requirements

Now that we’ve offered a description of the type of students who have been successfully accepted to UCLA in the past, let’s examine how to get into UCLA as it relates to your high-achieving child.

UCLA considers three main components of a student’s high school history: academic rigor, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. These three areas offer an opportunity for your child to show alignment with UCLA’s mission of education, research, and service. We can evaluate each one in turn.

UCLA “A-G” course requirements

The UC system has established 15 academic preparatory courses all freshman applicants must take in order to be considered for admission at any UC institution. If your child attends a California high school, they should be automatically on track to fulfill these “A-G” requirements. If you’re not a California resident, it’s worth knowing which courses are required and which are recommended for your student.

  • (A) History/social science: Two years required

    • One year of world history, cultures or geography

    • One year of U.S. history OR half a year of U.S. history and half a year of U.S. government

  • (B) English: Four years required

  • (C) Mathematics: Three years required, but four years recommended

    • One year of geometry

  • (D) Laboratory science: Two years required, but three years recommended

    • Must include two of the following: biology, chemistry, and physics

  • (E) Language other than English: Two years required, but three years recommended

  • (F) Visual and performing arts: One year required

  • (G) College preparatory electives: One year required

    • Can be additional A-F courses in excess of requirement

    • Other approved courses: psychology, speech or debate, computer science, economics, etc.

If you’re new to the A-G requirements, you might observe this is a fairly standard high school curriculum. Your child might already be on the path to meet these minimum academic standards, which is important because failing to satisfy any of these categories can disqualify them from getting accepted.

However, UCLA looks for students who push themselves to take rigorous courses beyond the basic requirements. Your child should be taking advantage of the AP or IB classes available to them through their high school, particularly in the area of their major to show their commitment to that field. If your child’s school doesn’t offer many AP and IB classes, you might consider enrolling your child in dual enrollment courses to prove their ability to succeed in college-level coursework.

UCLA extracurricular requirements

Your child’s choice of extracurricular activities is an opportunity to demonstrate their fit for UCLA’s mission of education, research, and service. Consider how they might educate others and serve their community while pursuing their passions, or incorporate their interests into research experiences. For example, say your child is passionate about playing the cello. They might teach music classes to young children, serve others by performing at assisted living centers, and volunteer or assist with research examining the effect of early musical experiences on child development. Taken together, these activities display their passion for music and show your child’s potential to engage in education, research, and service at UCLA.

Remember, it’s preferable to do one or two activities exceptionally well than to make a mediocre effort in many different activities. Prioritize extracurriculars that demonstrate your child’s commitment, leadership, creativity, and initiative in order to make them stand out as a competitive applicant to UCLA.

(Suggested reading: How to Write an Impressive UC Activities List)

UCLA application requirements

After following a rigorous academic plan and demonstrating greatness in a small number of extracurricular activities, your child might be ready to apply to UCLA.

Here are UCLA’s undergraduate admissions requirements:

  • University of California application

  • Optional: AP or IB test results

  • A high school transcript is needed to input grades into the online application system but is not submitted until after an offer of acceptance is given.

  • If your child is applying to one of the following schools or majors, they will need to submit supplemental application materials:

    • Architectural Studies

    • Art

    • Dance

    • Design | Media Arts

    • Ethnomusicology

    • Film and Television

    • Music

    • Musicology

    • Nursing

    • Theater

    • World Arts and Cultures

Part 3: 2022–2023 UCLA personal insight questions

You may have noticed in the above admissions requirements that UCLA does not require or accept any letters of recommendation or admissions interviews. This means your child’s responses to the personal insight questions are the only insights the UCLA admissions committee will receive to understand them as a unique individual. The pressure is on to make every word in these essays count.

Every applicant to a UC school must answer four personal insight questions in under 350 words each, with eight question prompts to choose from. Students send the same application to all the UC schools they apply to, so they don’t have the option to change their essays for each university. So for instance, your child won’t want to write “UCLA is perfect for me” if their essays will also be read by the UC Berkeley admissions committee.

However, your child can tailor their personal insight questions to UCLA by exhibiting the types of qualities it looks for in its students, such intellectual curiosity and an interest in personal development. Your child will want to demonstrate how they can contribute to the diversity, cultural life, and intellectual vitality of UCLA.

We’ve broken down each UC personal insight question and shared high-quality essay examples in our comprehensive guide: How to Write Great UC Essays. Your child can use this premier resource to understand the purpose of each question, choose which questions to answer, and craft outstanding responses that impress the UCLA application readers.

Final thoughts

As the top-rated public research university in the nation, UCLA is a reach school for every high achieving student. Now that you understand how to get into UCLA, you can guide your child to pursue their academic and extracurricular passions, demonstrate their fit for UCLA’s mission, and craft an outstanding UCLA application to increase their chances of seeing their UCLA dreams come true.


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