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University of California – San Diego


The University of California – San Diego is a branch of the University of California with a large campus in San Diego. Also called UC San Diego and UCSD, the history of this campus dates back to the 1960s. The Regents of the University of California approved plans for the establishment of a new campus in the city and worked to secure the necessary land and funding. Classes met in a nearby oceanography institute until the university finished construction on its own campus. Though the university initially focused on research programs like engineering, math and science, it now offers courses and programs in many other topics, including education, criminal justice and social work.

Its campus grew over the years to cover more than 700 acres of land, which now includes a number of public art pieces as well as buildings designed to house, students, classes and offices. Washington Monthly ranked UC San Diego as the nation’s fourth best university, but Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and ARWU all ranked the university on their own lists. ARWU, QS, U.S. News & World Report and Times all ranked UCSD as one of the world’s best colleges too. Some of its grad programs that rank among the best include those in business, medicine, engineering and education.

University of California – San Diego Accreditation Details

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredited the UCSD business programs, is just one of the professional agencies that granted this university specialized accreditation. It also has specialized or program accreditation for its medicine program from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and for its pharmacy education program from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Other specialized accreditation comes from the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET), American Speech, Language Hearing Association and Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.

Regional accreditation is especially important for undergrads, and UC San Diego gets its from the Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WACS). Not only does WACS accreditation apply to all the degree programs offered by the university, but it also allows students to more easily transfer to another college or to enroll in graduate school after completing an undergrad program. The WACS requires that UC San Diego apply to renew and maintain its accreditation every decade.

University of California – San Diego Application Requirements

Though the University of California – San Diego is a public university, it is a Public Ivy League, which means that it’s more selective than other public schools. This branch of UC admits less than 37% of all the students who apply each year. Those it does admit are those who have a strong educational background and interests outside of school. Students must meet curriculum requirements in high school that include taking four English classes, three to four math and life science classes, two years of history or social science classes and a foreign language and at least one art class. Prospective undergrads must also take either the ACT or SAT and submit their scores, and some programs require that students take one or more of the SAT subject tests too.

In addition to the UC application, which is available on the university’s website, applicants will receive eight questions and must answer four of those questions. These questions cover different topics, but students must respond in 350 words or less. Those majoring in art, history or performing art subjects must also submit a portfolio to the university that includes samples or examples of their work. The university will use that portfolio and all other work to determine an applicant’s admission status.

Tuition and Financial Aid

UC San Diego offers budgeting help for students concerned with tuition costs. It recommends that students create a budget before enrolling to determine how much financial assistance they need. The basic cost, which includes tuition and all miscellaneous fees, is around $13,700 a year for California residents. Nonresidents will pay closer to $40,000 a year, which includes a supplemental rate of more than $26,000 a year. The university estimates that students living on campus will pay around $30,000 a year as a California resident and around $57,000 a year as a nonresident. This figure includes personal expenses, transportation costs and educational supplies.

Once a prospective undergrad fills out the FAFSA and files it, the university will receive a copy, look at the student’s family contribution and then determine how much aid the student should get. It typically takes a few months or less for students to receive a financial aid package. This package may include subsidized student loans, a parent PLUS loan, federal grants, state grants and acceptance into the university’s work-study program. Incoming freshmen can apply for one of the university’s 30 scholarship programs too. Some of these are continuing scholarships that cover all four years the students remains enrolled in UC San Diego.

Student Experience

UC San Diego is just 15 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, and many of its students like taking breaks to study or relax on the beach. The university offers a number of more traditional and unique degree programs as well as unusual concentrations within select majors. Its anthropology program offers concentrations in archaeological, sociocultural and biological anthropology. The university encourages students to do internships and spend a semester abroad to learn more about specific cultural groups.

This is one of the only schools in the nation with a major available in critical gender studies. This program includes core courses on gender and institutions, social movements, feminist theory, queer theory and reproductive rights. Students learn more about the role of gender in society and how people identify with different genders.

Those with a passion for literature will find a number of literature programs available from UCSD. They can study a specific area of literature such as English, German, Spanish, Russian or Italian literature, or they can major in literature and writing, which is best for those with an interest in creative writing.

There is also something called a composite major available from the university. A composite major allows a student to pick a major in one area and study other areas at the same time. While similar to an interdisciplinary major or a general fine arts major, this program requires that students take more classes in one specific subject before graduating from the University of California – San Diego.