What Does it Take to Get Into UC Irvine?

Strategies by School
July 9, 2020
UC Irvine Is The Newest Public Research University Among The University Of California Network Of Colleges…

This public research university on the Pacific Coast has been ranked by Forbes as one of the top five Best Value colleges in America next to schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton. UC Irvine’s curriculum and research practices sit at the same table as prestigious Ivy League schools, yet it boasts affordable tuition, accessible professors, and the classic California college experience.

Keep reading to find out how to get into UC Irvine, and how your student can prepare their application for this one-of-a-kind school.

What You’ll Find In This College Guide:

UC Irvine's Ideal Student

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

  • GPA: 3.92
  • SAT: 1300
  • ACT: 29

Among all the colleges in California, UC Irvine is among the top ten for the highest average GPA and test scores among incoming freshmen. Most students who gain admission into UC Irvine graduate around the 25th percentile of their class. In fact, around 96 percent of applicants alone graduated in the top 10 percent of their class, so students are encouraged to take challenging courses to boost their GPA.

UC Irvine’s requirements are strategically designed to highlight a student’s academic history while opening doors to the questions about their inner life. As important as it is to have a strong academic foundation, UC Irvine understands that students are so much more than their test scores, so they want to see their individuality shine through every bit of the application!


UC Irvine is an incredibly competitive college when it comes to academics. Their applicants have some of the best grades among California high schools, so students should try to match this level of ambition with their history of classes. Being a research university, UC Irvine also looks for students who are passionate about using research tools in the classroom.

  • What was the most challenging course you took in high school and why? Did you finish?
  • How far would you like to go with your education?
  • How did you make the most out of your school’s opportunities for challenging courses?
  • Did you take an AP, IB, or honors classes?


UC Irvine wants to read authentic applications, and more importantly, they want to see what makes each applicant unique and how that would benefit UC Irvine’s campus.

  • What’s a part of your individuality that you’re particularly proud of?
  • Why do you think you will be a good fit for UC Irvine?


Next to academic goals and pride in individuality, UC Irvine wants to see a little bit into an applicant’s past. Students should try to be open and honest on their application about a certain event or time in their life that challenged or changed them. They should try to bring it back to academics, and focus on how that hardship affected their schoolwork and drive to keep pursuing their goals.

  • Describe a time in your life that may have stopped your momentum in achieving your goals. How did you overcome this hardship?


Students should be ready to explain why they chose Irvine’s campus as their top choice. After all, there are nine other UC campuses, so why UC Irvine? They should be specific and honest about why they were drawn to UC Irvine, and explain how they want to make the most of their four years.

  • Why is UC Irvine your top-choice school?
  • How do you plan on utilizing UC Irvine’s resources to achieve your goals?
  • How will you contribute to UC Irvine’s campus culture?


For multiple years running, UC Irvine has been ranked #1 in the U.S. for best college and best value, and their top academic programs follow suit:


UC Irvine’s ideal student thrives in a challenging academic environment. They seek out new opportunities for personal and academic growth, and are eager to find new solutions to long-standing problems through research.

Students applying to UC Irvine should try to highlight their unique individuality on their application, and explain why this campus is their top-choice. The more they can connect their future goals with what UC Irvine has to offer, the more confident their application will come across to UC Irvine admissions.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into UC Irvine

Because of the University of California’s network of colleges, students may notice that the application requirements are quite similar for each college. This is because UC schools use their own application platform where applicants can specify the campuses they’re interested in.

While, at its foundation, the University of California is a web of schools, each campus tries to emphasize their unique qualities through their applications so students can get a better idea of the campus they want to attend.


Students will want to use the University of California application platform to begin their college application process. Once students create an account and open the application, they can select UC Irvine as their top choice and get started!


UC Irvine has a set of required courses they’d like to see on each of their applicant’s class history. They call these the “Academic Subject Requirements,” or “A-G Requirements.”

  • 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 (1)


The University of California college network works together to find the ideal students for their campus, and the way each campus does this is by giving the same eight question options for their applicant’s essay section. Technically, the writing section of the UC Irvine application isn’t an essay, it’s a grouping of short answer responses which shouldn’t exceed 350 words each.

Students must choose four prompts out of the eight options they have; they should pick the questions that inspire them and feel most natural to answer. This is the section of the application where students can let their individualism shine; applicants should use their sense of humor, draw attention to any hardships they faced in their lives, and why they chose UC Irvine as their top school.


Any extraneous material like letters of recommendation or artwork samples shouldn’t be included in a student’s application. UC Irvine admissions has stated that none of these materials will be reviewed, so if students include extra documents, they will be thrown away.

If an applicant is accepted to UC Irvine, the admissions office will request these supplementary materials at that time.


Next, students will want to send their standardized test scores to UC Irvine admissions. UC Irvine accepts scores from the SAT and ACT, and don’t prefer one over the other.


The application fee for UC Irvine is $70, and fee waivers are available through the application. There are no special deadlines, but students are encouraged to submit their UC Irvine applications during the month of November each year.


Students need to remind themselves that UC Irvine wants to hear from them! With each application UC Irvine admissions opens, they’re hoping that each student will be their ideal candidate. This is great news for students; they should feel free to be themselves, speak openly and honestly about their worldview, goals, and past experiences, all without fear of judgment! UC Irvine is looking for students who have a strong academic background, big goals, and an individuality that would benefit UC Irvine’s campus culture.

UC Irvine's Campus Life

UC Irvine excels in their academic pursuits, but their campus life is unprecedented. The amount of opportunities students find in Irvine are countless, whether they want to grow in a skill they already have or learn a new one, UC Irvine’s campus culture is all about growth and having a good time while they’re at it.


UC Irvine’s campus is close to the beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Disneyland, so students should definitely take advantage of this while they’re at Irvine. When they’re not going off campus and enjoying California, UC Irvine offers students over 600 campus organizations where they can spend their time, make new friends, and learn new skills.

UC Irvine’s student organizations range from cultural and political causes to music and visual arts, and everything in between, so there’s something for every student. The UC Irvine administration strongly believes that the sooner an incoming freshman expresses interest in joining a group, the better; social and leadership skills are born out of UC Irvine’s campus culture - plus, it’s super fun!


The Irvine Anteaters are well-known for their unique mascot and national titles; in 9 of their 18 competitive sports, teams have won 28 national championships. That’s not including the 56 students who have gone on to compete in the Olympics, or the 500 All-American student athletes. Without question, UC Irvine is a fantastic college for student athletes; they will have amazing connections to professionals in their sport, and receive the training and accountability they need to achieve their athletic goals.

Students who enjoy sports but don’t like to get competitive have access to seasonal intramurals, club sports, and The Anteater Recreation Center, which offers impressive equipment and facilities for students to socialize and workout. The campus recreation program also runs outdoor adventure trips for students who enjoy hiking, camping, and beach sports!


UC Irvine’s campus is gorgeous, and their residential dorms are a huge reason why. In fact, over 14,000 students choose to live on campus because of the tight knit community facilitated by the housing program.

There are two freshmen-only residence halls on UC Irvine’s campus, which helps new students connect and adjust to their new home. These dorms have their own dining halls, fitness center, and a lounge for studying or socializing.

UC Irvine’s dining program focuses on food sustainability, providing healthy choices for their students, and making it as easy as possible for students to get food, wherever and whenever they need it. Students will find UC Irvine-specific dining halls and cafeterias where they can use their meal plan in addition to retail locations like Starbucks, California’s famous In-N-Out, plenty of coffee shops, and their very own pub where they serve alcohol and bar food to students of the legal drinking age.


You’ve probably seen UC Irvine in some blockbuster films like Ocean’s Eleven, The Hangover 3, and Poltergeist. Even one of the original Planet of the Apes spin-offs was filmed right in the heart of campus. Rumor has it that if the campus is being used as a backdrop for film scenes, the production team waits to shoot until the middle of the night, weekends, or even holidays so there are less students walking around. Either way, it’s pretty cool for students to know that they’re walking the same halls that Hollywood actors did at one point - and it’s all on film!

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

UC Irvine has an impressive amount of rankings regarding value, affordability, and sustainability efforts. In 2017, The New York Times said that UC Irvine was the #1 U.S. university “doing the most for the American dream.” It’s clear that UC Irvine is in the business of helping students accomplish goals they never thought they could; they give students the resources and connections they need to cross new thresholds and achieve what they set out to do with a degree.


As students are working on their UC Irvine application, they should try to highlight exactly what they’re bringing to the table, whether that be their strengths, perseverance through a past hardship, or why UC Irvine is the only school that can help them accomplish their specific goals. The more honest and specific a student is about why they want to go to UC Irvine, the more likely they’ll come across as UC Irvine’s ideal student.


Students have the opportunity to provide four short answer responses on their application instead of the usual long-form essays. They should choose the questions that spark the most inspiration and invoke the most honest responses; the more a student can write clearly, authentically, and with their sense of humor, the better off this section of the application will be. Students should remember that this is one of their only chances to show their personality to UC Irvine admissions, so they should spend an ample amount of time on these pieces.


While they’re attending UC Irvine, students should dive right into the vibrant campus culture by joining clubs, trying out new dining halls, and checking out nearby California hot spots. Students need to remember that four years of college goes by quickly, and UC Irvine provides them with an abundance of opportunities to grow in their skills, so they should take advantage of these resources as much as possible!


Remember all those rankings we mentioned regarding UC Irvine’s affordability, accessibility, and overall school quality? The data that UC Irvine’s Career Center collects supports these rankings very well, as they show where students thrived during their time in Irvine, and how they immediately utilized their degree.

In 2019:

  • Over 60 percent of students had a job secured at graduation
  • Nearly 80 percent of graduates already had plans to continue their education by pursuing a Master’s or Doctorate
  • One-third of graduates finished their time at UC Irvine with no student debt

Your Future At UC Irvine

UC Irvine is one of the best schools in the nation, and there’s plenty of evidence to support their impressive rankings and exceptionally high student ratings. If a student is preparing to apply for UC Irvine, they’re in for a very positive experience. UC Irvine’s administration is dedicated to a student’s overall growth, including academics, leadership skills, and personal interests.

If your child needs any assistance finalizing their UC Irvine application, this exactly what WeAdmit’s professional counselors are passionate about. We can help students draw the connecting lines between their passions and skills to what UC Irvine is looking for in their incoming freshmen, so don’t hesitate to contact us!



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.