Uc San Diego Admissions Essay

Undergraduate Admission

[ advanced placement (AP) credit chart (PDF) ]
[ international baccalaureate (IB) credit chart (PDF) ]
[ intersegmental general-education transfer curriculum (IGETC) ]

Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools
Fourth Floor Student Services Center  (858) 534-4831
http://www.ucsd.edu/admissions

UC San Diego is a popular campus with an international reputation for excellence. Each year the campus receives more applications from eligible students than can be accommodated and, as a result, is highly selective. Successful applicants must exceed the minimum UC admission criteria. The campus does not admit students on the basis of academic major or choice of UC San Diego undergraduate college.

Applying for Admission

To apply for admission to UC San Diego, complete the UC Application for Admission and Scholarships. Find the application online at the University of California website. Admission at UC San Diego begins with fall quarter.

One application is used for the nine UC campuses with undergraduate programs. Students apply to one UC campus for a nonrefundable application fee; an additional fee is charged for each additional campus.

When to Apply

The application filing period is November 1–30 of the prior year; the application is available online beginning August 1.

Definition of an Undergraduate Applicant

You are an undergraduate applicant if you are a student who wishes to complete a program of study leading to a bachelor of arts degree, a bachelor of science degree, or a combination degree offered to undergraduates.

Entrance Requirements

The university’s minimum undergraduate admission requirements, which are the same for all UC campuses, are based on three principles. They are

  1. the best predictor of success in the university is high achievement in previous work
  2. the study of certain subjects in high school gives a student good preparation for university work and reasonable freedom in choosing an area for specialized study
  3. standardized assessment tests provide a broad base for comparison and mitigate the effects of differing grading practices

Academic preparation is the principal basis for gaining admission to UC San Diego. Students are encouraged to pursue the most rigorous academic curriculum possible, including honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, in order to prepare for the university experience. High test scores are necessary in conjunction with strong performance in classes and a consistent pattern of courses. Applicants who have not had the opportunity to take AP or IB courses or who have not taken exams for these courses will not be disadvantaged.

The academic requirements for admission are minimum entrance standards. Students admitted to UC San Diego are chosen from a large number of highly competitive applicants, most of whom will have greatly exceeded the minimum requirements. Selection, therefore, depends on additional factors. For details see http://admissions.ucsd.edu.

Reapplication

An application for admission is effective only for the year for which it is submitted. If you are ineligible for admission, or if you are admitted and do not enroll in classes for that admission term, you must file a new application to be considered for a different year. The selection criteria in effect for the new term must be met.

If you were admitted to the university, enrolled and paid tuition, but did not attend, you need to contact your undergraduate college to withdraw from the university. Contact the Registrar’s Office for information on refunding your tuition.

Second Baccalaureate/Limited Status Applicants

UC San Diego does not accept applications from students who have earned a four-year degree.

Admission as a Freshman Applicant

Definition of a Freshman Applicant

You are a freshman applicant if you are a student who is currently enrolled in high school and will graduate at the end of the current academic year. You are also considered a freshman applicant if you have graduated from high school and have not yet completed UC-transferable courses during a regular term at any accredited college-level institution. This does not include attendance at a college summer session immediately following high school graduation.

Minimum Requirements for Freshman Applicants

To be eligible for admission to the university as a freshman you must meet the examination requirement and the subject requirement as described below.

You must also have earned a diploma from a high school in order to enter the university as a freshman. In lieu of the regular high school diploma, the certificate of proficiency (awarded by the California State Department of Education upon successful completion of the high school proficiency examination), proficiency tests from other states, or the General-Education Development (GED) certificate, will be accepted.

If you were educated outside the United States, see the international diploma equivalents webpage.

Examination Requirement

To apply as a freshman, you must submit the following test scores:

  • ACT Assessment plus ACT Writing Test

or

  • SAT Reasoning Test with critical reading, mathematics, and writing scores

All applicants for admission to UC San Diego who apply for the fall term must take these tests no later than December of their senior year, preferably earlier. Students who take the ACT must take all components including writing in the same sitting.

Review the UC guidelines for the examination requirement.

Subject Requirement

You must complete a minimum of fifteen college-preparatory courses with at least eleven of the courses finished prior to your senior year in high school. These are called “a through g” courses (“a–g”) and include:

  • History/Social Science—two years
  • English—four years
  • Mathematics—three years (four years recommended)
  • Laboratory science—two years (three years recommended)
  • Language other than English—two years (three years recommended)
  • Visual and performing arts—one year
  • College-preparatory electives—one year

The approved courses for high schools in California are specific to each high school and lists are available through your high school’s counseling office and on the University of California Doorways web page.

The requirement may also be satisfied by completing college courses or earning particular scores on SAT, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. See the UC web page for “a–g” courses.

For detailed information about the content of acceptable “a–g” courses, refer to the UC admissions web page for freshman a–g requirements.

You must earn a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher, or 3.4 or higher if you are a nonresident applicant. See “Freshman Admission Requirements.”

Applying as a Nonresident Student

You are considered a nonresident applicant if you are a student who lives outside the state of California. You will be required to present higher academic credentials than California residents in order to be eligible for admission to the university, in addition to paying the nonresident tuition.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and UC-transferable college courses are the only courses considered honors courses for admission purposes for non-California resident applicants. For additional details about freshman requirements, please see the UC web page for out-of-state students.

Details about residency for tuition purposes can be found at the Registrar’s Office website.

Applying as an International Student

International applicants must meet the same requirements for admission as any other applicant with the exception of English proficiency. See the international pages on the UC Admissions website.

If you were educated outside the U.S. where the language of instruction is other than English, you will be screened for a level of English language proficiency. Rather than relying on a single factor for identifying English language proficiency for non-native speakers of English, the Office of Admissions applies a more comprehensive approach to assess proficiency.

  • Standardized tests considered for proficiency include the TOEFL and IELTS as well as the SAT and ACT.
    • For UC San Diego selection, the minimum recommending scores are 83 for TOEFL and 7 for IELTS.
    • For freshman applicants, English Writing scores on the SAT or ACT will also be reviewed.
  • Additional indicators of English language proficiency are:
    • Advanced Placement (AP) exams or International Baccalaureate classes showing an acceptable result
    • AP English exam—score of 3 or better
    • IB English A—6 or better for Standard Level, or 5 or better for Higher Level
  • Along with the standardized measures, the student’s UC-transferable college courses are reviewed.
    • Any such course work needs to include two courses in English composition.
    • The student must have received a grade of B or better in both courses.

In addition to an adequate English-language background, international students must have sufficient funds available to cover all fees, living and other expenses, and transportation connected with their stay in the United States. The Explanation of Registration Fees web page describes the types of fees.

Additional Credit

Advanced Placement (AP)  

The university grants credit for all College Board Advanced Placement Tests on which you score 3 or higher. This may be subject credit, graduation credit, or credit toward general-education or breadth requirements. Credit is expressed in quarter units. For details, see the Advanced Placement credit chart for both campuswide and college-specific requirements

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The university grants credit for International Baccalaureate exams. Only Higher Level Exams are accepted for credit by UC; Standard Level Exams are not given credit. The IB credit limit at UC San Diego is thirty units. For details, see the International Baccalaureate credit chart for both campuswide and college-specific requirements.

College Courses

Many high schools have arrangements with nearby postsecondary institutions, allowing you to take college-level courses while you are still in high school. These courses may be accepted by the university exactly as they would be if you were a full-time college student. If you are admitted to UC San Diego, you must provide a transcript of all courses taken, including those at the college level.

No matter how many college units you earn before graduating from high school, you will still be considered a freshman and apply as such.    

Admission as a Transfer Applicant

Definition of a Transfer Applicant

You are a transfer student if you enrolled in a regular session (fall, winter, or spring) at a college or university after high school, other than a summer session immediately following high school. As a transfer applicant, you may not disregard your college record and apply for admission as a freshman.

Applying as a Transfer Student

To be eligible for admission to UC San Diego as a transfer student, you must meet certain requirements. The acceptability of courses for transfer credit is determined by the Office of Admissions. For details on transfer admission requirements, visit the transfer admission web page.

Minimum Requirements for Transfer Applicants

The following are minimum eligibility requirements for the University of California. Because the San Diego campus has been unable to accommodate all minimally eligible applicants, in order to be considered for admission you must exceed these requirements:

  • Achieve junior-level standing (a minimum of ninety UC-transferable quarter units/sixty semester units) by the end of spring term, prior to fall admission
  • Maintain a competitive GPA in UC-transferable courses and be in good academic standing.*
  • Meet UC eligibility by completing these UC-transferable college courses:
    • Two: English composition
    • One: mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning
    • Four: courses from at least two of the following:
      • Arts and humanities
      • Physical and biological sciences
      • Social and behavioral sciences
    • Strongly recommend completion of all lower-division preparation for your major as well as completing all lower-division breadth and general-education requirements (B/GE) prior to transfer.

*Nonresidents may be held to a higher GPA.

California Residents

If you are a transfer student who was classified as a resident of California at your previous school, do not assume that you will be classified as a California resident for tuition purposes at UC San Diego. Details about resident status for tuition purposes can be found on the Registrar’s Office web page for residency.

Definition of a Domestic Nonresident Applicant

You are considered a nonresident applicant if your course work was completed outside the state of California. Additional details about residence for tuition purposes can be found online.

Definition of an International Applicant

You are an international applicant if you are a student who holds or expects to hold any nonimmigrant visa.

International Transfer Requirements

International applicants must meet the same requirements for admission as any other applicant with the exception of English proficiency. All applicants educated outside the U.S. where the language of instruction is other than English will be screened for a level of English language proficiency. Rather than relying on a single factor for identifying English language proficiency for non-native speakers of English, the Office of Admissions applies a more comprehensive approach to assess proficiency.

  • Standardized tests considered for proficiency include the TOEFL and IELTS as well as the SAT and ACT.
    • For UC San Diego selection, the minimum recommending scores are 83 for TOEFL and 7 for IELTS.
  • Additional indicators of English language proficiency are:
    • Advanced Placement (AP) exams or International Baccalaureate classes showing an acceptable result:
    • AP English exam—score of 3 or better;
    • IB English A—6 or better for Standard Level, or 5 or better for Higher Level.
  • In lieu of standardized measures, UC-transferable college courses are reviewed.
    • any such course work needs to include two courses in English composition; and
    • the student must have received a grade of B or better in both courses.

In addition to an adequate English-language background, international students must have sufficient funds available to cover all fees; living and other expenses; and transportation connected with their stay in the United States (see “Fees and Expenses”).   

Credit from Other Colleges

The university gives unit credit to transfer students for courses they have taken at other accredited colleges and universities, including some extension courses. To be accepted for credit, the courses must be equivalent to those offered at the University of California, as determined by the Office of Admissions. UC San Diego admits transfer applicants at the junior level only; applications from students who have more than 135 quarter units (ninety semester units) of transfer credit will not be considered for admission.

For information on senior standing, see the Admissions website for transfer requirements.

UC San Diego does not give credit for CLEP examinations.

Military Credit

UC San Diego will grant transfer credit, postadmission, for military training when there is an equivalent course taught at a UC campus. In most cases, when applicable, elective credit will be awarded for course work deemed UC transferable. Students will be required to submit their Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART), Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS), or equivalent military transcript to the Office of Admissions.

Transfer Agreement: UniversityLink

UniversityLink provides guaranteed admission to high school seniors and first-year college students who sign an agreement and successfully complete academic and program requirements at a participating community college. Because the UniversityLink program and its requirements are reviewed each year and subject to change, interested students should check the Admissions web pages for transfer preparation information and the latest UniversityLink updates.

IGETC (Intersegmental General-Education Transfer Curriculum)

Transfer students from California community colleges can fulfill the UC lower-division breadth and general-education (B/GE) requirements by completing the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). Completion of IGETC will satisfy the lower-division/GE requirements for the following undergraduate colleges: Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, Sixth, and John Muir. For Eleanor Roosevelt or Revelle College, courses completed prior to transfer will be applied toward the college’s own lower-division requirements. Please refer to individual college websites for more information.

Transfer students should obtain the IGETC certification from their community college and submit it to the Office of Admissions. Students must provide this certification prior to the start of classes at UC San Diego.

It should be noted that completion of IGETC is not a requirement for transfer to UC nor is it the only way to fulfill the lower-division general-education requirements of UC prior to transfer. IGETC certification is not available to freshman applicants.

UC Transfer Reciprocity Agreement

Transfer students who have attended any campus of the University of California and satisfied lower-division breadth and general-education (B/GE) requirements at that campus prior to transfer may consider the requirements satisfied for the following undergraduate colleges: Earl Warren, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Sixth, and John Muir. For Revelle College, courses completed prior to transfer will be applied toward the college’s own lower-division requirements. Please refer to individual college websites for more information.

Articulation

UC San Diego has major-preparatory agreements with California community colleges for all majors. These agreements can be found at the ASSIST website, which shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

UC San Diego Undergraduate Colleges

When filling out the UC application, rank all the colleges in order, starting with your first preference. Although there are no guarantees, the Office of Admissions makes every effort to place students in one of their top choices, as enrollment quotas permit. Applicants who do not indicate any college preference or alternate choices, will be assigned to a college.

Read about UC San Diego’s six colleges on our website; you will also want to look at the individual college websites linked from that page.

Notification of Admission

UC San Diego communicates with applicants and admitted students by e-mail. Make sure the e-mail address we have for you is current. Application decisions are posted on UC San Diego’s application status portal, MyApplication. If you are a freshman applicant and you filed your application on time, UC San Diego will notify you between mid-March and March 31. If you are a transfer applicant and you submitted your application on time, UC San Diego will notify you between mid-March and April 30.

Accepting the Offer of Admission

To accept UC San Diego’s offer of admission, complete and submit the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) and the online Statement of Legal Residence (SLR) through the application status portal, MyApplication. The $100 nonrefundable deposit accompanying your SIR (if required at that time) is applied toward payment of tuition.

MyApplication guides you through the steps online. If needed, you can print out the SIR and mail it to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. If you do not submit (or have your SIR postmarked) before the deadline, you will be denied enrollment due to space limitations. The deadlines for return of your SIR and SLR are:

May 1—freshmen
June 1—transfer students

Official Documents

If you are admitted and you accept UC San Diego’s offer of admission, you must arrange to have final, official transcripts sent to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions between May 1 and no later than July 1. Other documentation is due by July 15. Request transcripts from your school(s). If you attended school outside the United States, see additional information below.

AP/IB Exam Results: If you took AP or IB exams, you must arrange to have your official exam results sent to UC San Diego.

Transcripts and other documents that you submit as part of your application become the property of the university; they cannot be returned to you or forwarded in any form to another college or university.

Applicants Who Have Attended School Outside the United States

In the United States, the academic record is called a transcript. In other countries, it may be called by another name—such as leaving certificate, maturity certificate, bachillerato, or baccalauréat. See the admissions web page showing US high school diploma equivalents.

The Office of Admissions may have made a preliminary evaluation of your application based on the information you provided. Once you are admitted, however, we must receive an official* academic record directly from each institution you attended, beginning with grade nine, and up to and including the school or college/university you currently attend. Each academic record must list

  • dates you attended the institution
  • titles of courses and examinations you completed
  • grades (marks) you received
  • credits, hours, or units earned
  • any degree or diploma you may have received

*Official record means an original transcript sent from the institution in a sealed envelope. Photocopies or opened envelopes are invalid records and may jeopardize your enrollment until you can provide an official record.

The university recognizes that it may be difficult to obtain international records in the event of political upheaval or natural disaster; however, these situations are rare. Failure to provide official records may jeopardize your enrollment at the university.

US Air Force ROTC Program

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a three- or four-year program designed to equip students with leadership skills and commission officers for tomorrow’s air force. Required course work includes lectures, a leadership laboratory practical component, panel discussions, dialogues, problem solving, and physical training. All course work is completed on-site at or near San Diego State University (SDSU), with the exception of a four-week summer field training encampment conduced on a military base between the student’s second and third year. UC San Diego does not have a ROTC program; however, under the provisions of a special agreement, students may participate in the ROTC program hosted at SDSU. Students may enroll and attend ROTC classes at SDSU by contacting the SDSU Department of Aerospace Studies at (619) 594-5545. Scholarships may be available for qualified cadets. The credits in these classes may be transferred as electives to meet degree requirements. Upon successful completion of the program and all requirements of a bachelor’s degree, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants and serve a minimum of four years in the active duty air force.

http://www.airforce.com/

Fees and Expenses

The exact cost of attending UC San Diego will vary according to the personal tastes and financial resources of the individual. It is possible to live simply and to participate moderately in the life of the student community on a limited budget. The university can assist the student in planning a budget by indicating certain and probable expenses. For planning and budgeting purposes, sample budgets are available and are subject to change.

Financial Assistance

For information regarding student employment, loans, scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid at UC San Diego, see the finances web pages and the website for the Financial Aid Office.

Statement of Purpose


The Statement of Purpose is an important part of the online application and is given careful consideration in the selection process. Be concise and specific in preparing your statement: give information that will aid the selection committee in evaluating your potential for completing a graduate program of study at UCSD. Check the department directory listing for specific content requirements.

The online application allows you to upload your Statement of Purpose file. This file must be in PDF format and no larger than 2MB in size.

Content

Focus your Statement of Purpose on the reasons you are interested in attending a specific graduate program at UCSD. Check the department requirements for the Statement of Purpose. The statement should be well organized, concise, and completely free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Before submitting the statement, seek constructive comments and criticism from friends and advisors.


Five primary topics to cover in your statement of purpose:

  1. How did you become interested in this field? Establish that you have had a long-term interest in the field and that you have taken positive steps in pursuing your interest. Give the committee members a sense of your particular talents and abilities and their relevance to your academic interests.
  2. What experiences have contributed toward your preparation for further study in this field? Demonstrate your interest by providing examples of research experiences, internships, work experience, community service, publications, or life experiences. Briefly describe what you did in each experience. Also, make sure to articulate what you have learned about the field and how those lessons stimulated you to pursue an advanced degree.
  3. What are your future goals? Specifically state your degree objective (Master's or Ph.D.) and specify what subdisciplines you are interested in pursuing. For example, if you are applying in political science, the committee needs to know whether you are pursuing American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory. Let the reader know that you are planning a future career as a university professor, researcher, or consultant, or in public service or private practice (or whatever your goal happens to be).
  4. What are your research interests? Within your subdiscipline, you should be able to identify one or two topics that are of interest to you. When possible, be specific about your research agenda. Remember that you will be working with professors in research; therefore, your research interests should parallel those of the faculty. (You will usually not be expected to know exactly what you want to research; faculty know that initial interests often change.)
  5. How are you a "match" for the program to which you are applying? Explain what attracts you most to the institution/program to which you are applying. Align your research interests with those of one or more of the affiliated professors. The better the "match" with the program/professors, the better the chance that you will be admitted.

Other factors to weave in (remember these are secondary factors):

  • Give examples of personal attributes or qualities that would help you complete graduate study successfully.
  • Describe your determination to achieve your goals, your initiative and ability to develop ideas, and your ability to work independently.
  • Describe background characteristics that may have placed you at an educational disadvantage (English language learner, family economic history, lack of educational opportunity, disability, etc.).
  • Leave the reader believing that you are prepared for advanced academic work and will be successful in graduate school.

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