The Easiest Colleges to Get Into in the UC System

Find out which schools are the easiest colleges to get into within the University of California college system.

The Easiest Colleges to Get Into in the UC System
Sean Sugai

Residents of California have plenty of colleges and universities to choose from when it comes to applying to college. Within the state of California alone, there are hundreds of institutions of higher education that offer bachelor’s degrees. But within those in-state colleges, there is a special group that belongs to the University of California college system.

The University of California (or UC) college system hosts several public four-year colleges. Some of them rank among the best colleges in the United States, according to several expert sources. Indeed, some of the colleges that comprise the UC system can be quite difficult to get into. At the same time, many of these UC colleges offer very affordable tuition costs to students whose permanent residence is in California.

In order to find out the easiest colleges to get into in the UC system, BrokeScholar analyzed all the schools in the UC system in terms of their admission rates. Read on to find out the easiest colleges to get into in the UC system.

How Many Schools Are in the UC System?

There are 9 schools in the University of California system that offer both undergraduate and graduate education. The UC schools are large public research universities. Not only that, the UC schools typically are considered to rank among the best public universities in the U.S. The UC system has nearly 300,000 students and close to 230,000 faculty and staff. The colleges and universities that make up the UC system include:

The Easiest Colleges to Get Into In the UC System

These 9 colleges have many shared characteristics, including a system-wide base tuition rate. However, the costs of tuition ultimately vary from university to university because of each school’s own additional required fees that must be paid along with tuition. And then, of course, students who are not residents of California, have significantly higher costs of tuition to pay than in-state students.

Below is a table ranked in order of UC colleges with the highest admission rate to the lowest. Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and individual college sites:

College

Percent Admitted

Undergraduate Population

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

2022-2023 In-State Tuition and Required Fees

2022-2023 Out-of-State Tuition and Required Fees

University of California, Merced

87%

8,321

19 to 1

$14,272

$45,298

University of California, Riverside

65%

22,868

24 to 1

$14,282

$44,036

University of California, Santa Cruz

59%

17,864

24 to 1

$14,640

$45,666

University of California, Davis

49%

31,657

21 to 1

$15,274

$46,300

University of California, San Diego

34%

33,343

19 to 1

$17,361

$48,387

University of California, Santa Barbara

29%

23,091

17 to 1

$14,985

$46,011

University of California, Irvine

29%

29,449

18 to 1

$14,339

$45,365

University of California, Berkeley

14%

31,814

20 to 1

$14,796

$45,822

University of California, Los Angeles

11%

32,122

18 to 1

$13,804

$44,830

Thus, the easiest college to get into among the schools in the UC system is the University of California, Merced, with an undergraduate acceptance rate of 87%. This is followed by the University of California, Riverside, which has an undergraduate acceptance rate of 65%. The hardest college to get into in the UC system is currently UCLA, which has an undergraduate acceptance rate of 11%. That’s even more selective than Berkeley!

When it comes to attention given to students by instructors, UC Santa Barbara has the lowest ratio of students-to-instructors at 17 to 1. The easiest college to get into in the UC system — UC Merced — has a students-to-instructors ratio of 19 to 1, which is better than many other UC system schools. At UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz, the ratio rises to 24 students to every 1 instructor. 

The Bottom Line on the Easiest Colleges to Get Into in the UC System

Three of the easiest colleges to get into in the UC system have undergraduate acceptance rates of 50% or more. Meaning, they accept more than half of applicants. Two schools in the UC system, on the other hand, have undergraduate admission rates of less than 20%, meaning that, less than a fifth of applicants get accepted: UC Berkeley and UCLA.

When it comes to choosing the college that's right for you, obviously considerations such as cost of tuition must be included. For California residents, the costs of tuition and required fees at most UC system schools are comparable and affordable. For out-of-state applicants, however, the costs of tuition rise substantially, with all 9 universities charging more than $40,000 per year from non-California resident students. Fortunately, BrokeScholar has a vast library of scholarships to help bring down the financial burden on students, whether they are in-state or out-of-state students.