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University of California: Colleges, Top Majors, Admission Requirements & Supplemental Essay Topics

UC System Colleges, Top Majors, Requirements and Application Essays

The University of California is a large public research university that consists of 9 undergraduate colleges with more than 38,000 students and 190,000 faculty and staff. Teaching, Research, and Public Service are the 3 missions of the UC’s.  


University of California (UC) Colleges


UC System Colleges

  1. UC Berkeley
  2. UCLA
  3. UC Santa Barbara
  4. UC San Diego
  5. UC Davis
  6. UC Irvine
  7. UC Santa Cruz
  8. UC Riverside
  9. UC Merced
  10. UC San Francisco (Graduate school only)



UC Berkeley


It’s is a vibrant college town, which is highly rated with an enrollment of 29,570 undergraduate students. Admissions are extremely competitive, and the acceptance rate is 15%. It has 14 schools and colleges. Some of the popular majors at Berkeley are Engineering, Computer Science, Economics, and Cellular Biology.
To know more about admission requirements, visit

The most iconic tower of UC Berkeley is the Campanile which is the third tallest clock bell in the world and is 307 feet tall. It is also called the Sather Tower.





It is in Westwood which is an upscale area of LA and is a highly ranked university with an enrollment of 31,009 undergraduate students. Admissions is extremely competitive as the acceptance rate is 14%. They offer 130 undergraduate majors in 7 academic divisions. The College of Letters and Science, School of the Arts and Architecture, Samuel School of Engineering, School of Music, School of Nursing, School of Public Affairs, School of Theater, Film, and Television.
To know more about admission requirements, visit


In 1969 the Internet started at UCLA and the first Internet transmission was sent from UCLA to Stanford University.



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UC Santa Barbara


is a highly rated large university with an enrollment of 22,601 undergraduate students. Admissions is fairly competitive as the UC Santa Barbara acceptance rate is 32%. Popular majors include Sociology, Economics, and Research and Experimental Psychology. 
To know more about admission requirements, visit

UCSB has six Nobel Prize winners working on campus



UC San Diego


It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,491 undergraduate students. Admissions is fairly competitive as the acceptance rate is 30%. Popular majors include Computer Science, Economics, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
To know more about admission requirements, visit

There are approximately 220,000 Eucalyptus trees in the campus and the beach is a 5-minute walk from the campus.



UC Davis


UC Davis is a highly rated university located in Davis, in the Sacramento Area. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,967 undergraduate students. Admissions are competitive as the UC Davis acceptance rate is 41%. They offer 102 undergraduate majors Popular majors include Research and Experimental Psychology, Economics, and Managerial Economics.
To know more about admission requirements, visit

UC Davis ranks 9th worldwide for sustainability and 29 percent of food bought for the dining commons is sustainably grown within the city.



UC Irvine


It is a large highly rated university with an enrollment of 29,251 undergraduate students. Admissions is competitive as the UC Irvine acceptance rate is 29%. UCI offers 92 undergraduate degree programs, as well as 59 master’s Popular majors, include Social Psychology, Biology, and Computer Science.
To know more about admission requirements, visit

The campus has its own pub Anteater Pub and Grill, which serves delicious burritos, sandwiches, beer, and wine. You can go inside to watch games and eat food but you must show your valid I.D. to order drinks if you are under 21.



UC Santa Cruz


It is a highly rated university with an acceptance rate of 47%. The popular majors are Computer Science, Psychology, and Economics. The student-faculty ratio is 19:1.
To know more about admission requirements, visit

The school is hidden in a forest. It has a very calming effect on the mind and feels like living in the wilderness.



UC Riverside


It is a large institution with an enrollment of 20,210 undergraduate students. Admissions is fairly competitive as the UC Riverside acceptance rate is 51%. Popular majors include Business, Biology, and Research and Experimental Psychology.

To know more about admission requirements, visit

UC Riverside is listed as the top 50 green colleges. From compostable utensils used for dining on campus to the solar panels that supply 100% renewable energy, sustainability is a way of life at UCR.



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UC Merced


It is the first American research university of the 21st century. It’s is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 7,813 undergraduate students with an acceptance rate of 66%.  It has 3 schools- Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.  The popular majors are Biology, Psychology, and Business. 

To know more about admission requirements, visit 

On-campus students can participate in a reusable-container program which reduces packaging waste and helps the campus stay green.



Editor’s Note: UC San Francisco is a graduate and professional school only. Other ninb colleges within the UC system offer both undergraduate and graduate education. This blog post is specifically meant for the prospective undergraduate students.



How to Apply to University of California Colleges


UC’s have their own application platform and there is one application for all 9 campuses. The application opens on Nov 1st and the due date is Nov 30th.
When applying one just needs to check the campus they are interested in.
To create an account and get started click on the link
Due to COVID -19 the UC system of schools will go test optional for all students who are applying for 2021 admissions.

UC’s require 4 out of 8 supplement essays. The word limit is 350 words or less.



UC Essays Topics


1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. 

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. 

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? 

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?


Book an Online Consultation Session with Ruchi Saran


Image result for parent tip images

Start early and recheck your form to avoid common mistakes. Tell your story through your essays and don’t make it sound like your resume.



Featured Image Source: UC IT Blog


Author: Ruchi Saran

Ruchi specializes in counseling students from Grade 8 – 12 for College Admissions to the US. She has spent her last 8 years understanding the college admissions process and firmly believes that the key is to start early. Having lived both in India and the US in the last 25 years, she understands the education system very well in both places.

She has a BA in Psychology and an Associate Degree in Interior Design, Graphic Design, and Child Education and has worked with kids ranging from 5-18 years. She was instrumental in setting up the GEMS Modern Academy School in Gurgaon. She strongly believes in giving back to the community and is an active volunteer in a couple of NGOs. She is also on the board for Udayan Care USA.

Currently, she is residing in California, USA with her husband and 2 sons. One is a graduate from UC Berkeley and the other has just joined UC Berkeley as a freshman.


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