What Does it Take to Get Into UC Davis?

Strategies by School
June 25, 2020
UC Davis Is One Of Ten University Of California Campuses…

While each individual University of College campus owns their own vibe and culture, all campuses offer students a competitive application process with extremely rewarding outcomes. In fact, UC Davis is arguably one of the best colleges in the country for their application process and accessibility.

Students who are interested in applying for UC Davis should do adequate research using WeAdmit’s helpful resources and discover all the ways they can make their application stand out from the rest.

What You’ll Find In This College Guide:

UC Davis's Ideal Student

The average GPA and standardized test scores for incoming UC Davis freshmen are:

  • GPA: 3.9
  • SAT: 1280
  • ACT: 28

When UC Davis admissions conducts its application reviews, they look for students who graduated in the top 29 percent of their class. While UC Davis has a higher acceptance rate than many California colleges, they’re still considered a challenging school to gain acceptance into for their GPA requirement. Standardized test scores are lower for UC Davis’s requirements, but GPAs are highly regarded by the admissions team. UC Davis is ranked #26 for lowest acceptance rate, but they’re also ranked #4 for the highest GPA required for acceptance.

UC Davis admissions believes this contrast allows them to find students who may be extremely valuable additions to the classroom, regardless of whether they are a strong test-taker or not. Sometimes test scores aren’t the best judges of how great a student is, and UC Davis strives to dive deeper into a student’s application, past their test scores and into who they are and what they can offer as a unique member of the UC Davis family.


When UC Davis admissions reviews a student’s application, they’re looking for any specific ways they branched out and tried new things during high school. To locate the diversity in their education, students should ask themselves these questions:

  • Did you join any clubs that required a skill you weren’t naturally good at?
  • Did you sign up for a class that challenged you?
  • In what ways did you round out your education, whether that be class registration, clubs focused on diversity or learning a new skill?


Next, UC Davis admissions needs students who will contribute to their classes and campus. Applicants should try to identify how they gave back to their school and their communities. This will show UC Davis that the student knows how to take initiative.

  • Describe an assignment or class project that required you to serve others and help your school improve.
  • Were you involved in any community service projects?
  • How do you plan on contributing to UC Davis’s campus?


Like most colleges, UC Davis doesn’t want to just raise good students; they want to train leaders who will improve their future communities and workplaces. Leadership will look different for every student, so applicants should try to be honest about how they see themselves as a leader, regardless of how insignificant the description seems.

  • Did you ever take point on a group project?
  • Were you involved in any student groups that required you to organize meetings or help set up events?
  • How did you lead your fellow classmates, whether that be directly or indirectly?


Lastly, UC Davis seeks utmost honesty from their applicants. If a student experienced a particularly difficult circumstance during high school, whether that be the loss of a family member or job, a low income situation, or even a disability, they should consider including some of this information on their application. Applicants should explain how they persevered with their education despite the hardships they were facing.

  • Describe a time when you had an important assignment to complete at an inconvenient time, due to a personal hardship.


UC Davis’s programs hold substantial rankings against some of the best colleges in the U.S. They also have a vast range of academic programs, giving students a well-rounded curriculum to work with. Here are some of UC Davis’s best programs:


Overall, UC Davis is looking for students who are diligent and consistent with their academic goals, and know how to transfer their skills over to a community-oriented perspective.

Students should strive to highlight their diverse high school experience, whether that be through challenging classes or extracurricular activities. They should also identify the ways they brought their gifts into their school and community to serve others and help solve problems.

Lastly, any ways that the applicant to UC Davis can showcase their gift of leadership and ability to persevere through hardship will help their application immensely.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into UC Davis

UC Davis has an acceptance rate of 40%; last year, 78,022 students applied and 32,046 were accepted. With this in mind, applicants can learn how the UC Davis admissions process is laid out to prepare themselves to apply.

Applicants should adhere to all of UC Davis’s requirements for their application process; each step is there for a reason, so when a student pays attention to what UC Davis admissions is looking for and submits their application before their chosen deadline, they’re giving UC Davis everything they need to learn about what kind of student they are and whether or not they’ll be a good fit for UC Davis.


Students can use the UC Application to fill out their required documents for consideration to UC Davis admission. This application platform works for all of the University of California’s campuses, and students can specify that they want to apply for UC Davis once they open an account and start filling out the application.


Next, the applicant needs to select an academic department that is closely related to what they want to study at UC Davis:

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • College of Biological Sciences
  • College of Letters and Sciences
  • College of Engineering

Even if a student is unsure of what they want to major in, they can select “Undeclared” after choosing an academic department.


UC Davis requires their applicants to have completed certain credits during high school, and they request to see these courses and grades recorded on the student’s application:

  • History/Social Sciences (2 years/credits)
  • English (4)
  • Mathematics (3-4)
  • Lab Science (2-3)
  • Foreign Language (2-3)
  • Visual or performing arts (1)
  • College prep elective (1)

Applicants are also encouraged to include any AP, IB, honors, or college level courses on their application. The student’s list of high school courses are the core of their application; admission officers build off of this information in order to reach an admissions decision, so applicants should take this section seriously.


Instead of one essay, UC Davis admissions gives applicants eight short answer prompts, of which they must choose and answer four. Each response shouldn’t exceed 350 words so students are encouraged to keep their answers succinct, straight-forward, and polished.

UC Davis fashioned these questions in a way to get to see into a student’s background and experiences, so applicants should try to be as honest as they can. They should experiment with different ways to find a balance between submitting a well-written batch of answers that are also accurate to their personality and sense of humor.


UC Davis admissions requests that students do not include any kind of extra material like letters of recommendation, samples of creative work, awards, or transcripts on their application.


UC Davis accepts scores from either the SAT or ACT, and they don’t prefer one over the other. The only stipulation is that students are prohibited from self-reporting scores; when they take their standardized test, they should list UC Davis as the college they want their scores automatically sent to.


The application fee for UC Davis is $70, and fee waivers are available through the UC Application platform. UC Davis doesn’t accept any Early Decision applications, so applicants are required to submit their application any time during the window of November 1-30 each year.  


It’s clear that UC Davis handles the admissions process differently from other U.S. colleges. The University of California is their own network of schools, therefore, they handle incoming applications the best suitable way for them.

Students who are applying to UC Davis should familiarize themselves with all requirements and restrictions to avoid presenting themselves in a way that could affect their admissions decision.

UC Davis' Campus Life

Even as students are being productive with their UC Davis application, it would serve them well to educate themselves on what life in Davis, California is like. They may even consider scheduling a visit to campus to get a better idea of what UC Davis’s campus culture is all about.


Students at UC Davis have over 800 student organizations to choose from, covering a variety of interests, worldviews, and hobbies. Checking out volunteer opportunities and considering joining Greek Life are also highly encouraged by UC Davis admissions.

UC Davis has a special appreciation for arts and culture; on campus, students can find three art museums as well as a campus-wide art installation disguised as a scavenger hunt. UC Davis also has various facilities like swimming pools, nature trails, theaters, and farmer’s markets.


UC Davis has a great athletic program which provides contrast to the arts and culture-centric opportunities for students. UC Davis has 25 Varsity sports teams that compete in NCAA Division I conferences. In addition to these core sports, UC Davis offers its students 39 club sports and 29 intramural athletic programs.

Combine all of these options for getting involved with athletics with their impressive recreational facilities, and it’s easy to see that students won’t have a problem finding something physical to do after a long day in class.


UC Davis’s housing program focuses on versatility and sustainability. In fact, one of UC Davis’s residence halls was recently recognized as the top national college dorm for sustainability. Freshmen are highly encouraged to live on campus to get integrated with UC Davis’s campus culture, but after a student’s first year, they can choose to live on or off campus.

Returning students have the option to stay in any of UC Davis’s 29 residence halls, varying in size, amenities, and distance to the main part of campus. UC Davis students get to have their pick of dorm each year to get the college experience they need. Returning students are also encouraged to utilize UC Davis’s Community Housing Listing to check out rental apartments and houses near campus.

Much like their housing program, UC Davis’s dining programs are focused on diversity and sustainability. They offer students the UC Davis dining commons, food trucks, catering services, produce markets, and plenty of coffee shops. Students also have access to retail restaurants both on and off campus with their UC Davis dining plan.


UC Davis is truly a one-of-a-kind college. Students can opt to live in UC Davis’s very own yurt community; it’s fondly known by students as “Baggin’s End”, referencing Bilbo Baggins, and functions completely by sustainable resources.

UC Davis also has a special affinity for wine and wine-making; so much that they have an entire major dedicated to the study of growing grapes and making wine called Viticulture and Enology. To back that up, UC Davis has a wine cellar that’s filled with unopened wine bottles dating all the way back to 1937.

From Application To Career: What You'll Experience At UC Davis

The University of California network has created an extremely smooth and streamlined application process for all students, regardless of the University of California campus they’re interested in. UC Davis, specifically, is among the top national schools for application experience and campus life.

While UC Davis admissions technically only handles admitting students, they ensure that each student begins their time at UC Davis strong, confident, and ready to become a part of their unique community.


A student’s application should adhere to all that UC Davis admissions requests. Students need to be open and honest about their high school experience, including everything from AP or IB classes to special extracurricular activities. UC Davis admissions is looking for students who aren’t afraid to take initiative and be active members of their community, whether that be through community service, athletics, the arts, science and politics.

Overall, UC Davis’s ideal student will thrive on campus by staying true to their passions and being open to new experiences.


When students are answering UC Davis’s personal insight questions, they should first choose questions that light their inspiration. Applicants should want to answer the questions they choose, so they need to pay attention to their instincts.

Then, all students need to focus on is being honest and using their natural voice in short, polished responses.


While attending UC Davis, students have a whole world of opportunities and new experiences to look forward to each year. With the vast amount of student activities and clubs offered year-round, students are free to learn new skills, grow in an old one, and foster lifelong relationships.

Students should go outside their comfort zone at UC Davis; they can try living off-campus one year, join a club they wouldn’t normally be attracted to, and explore Davis, California whenever they aren’t enjoying all that campus has to offer.


The UC Davis Internship and Career Center works with all students, regardless of whether they’re a freshman or senior, to get plugged into job opportunities.

In recent years:

  • 58 percent of students graduated between two and four years
  • 85 percent of students graduated between three and six years
  • The average starting salary for UC Davis graduates is $44K

Your Future At UC Davis

UC Davis students work towards their degree on a stunning campus, surrounded by supportive faculty, staff, and fellow classmates. From the moment a student begins their UC Davis application to the day they hope to graduate, the UC Davis administration has their back and wants to see them succeed in everything they do.

A great way for a student interested in applying to UC Davis to start is by reaching out to one of WeAdmit’s professional counselors. Our counselors can help students customize their application to UC Davis’s requirements and increase their chances advancing in the admissions process.



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.