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How to get into UCSD — General Information

The University of California – San Diego is a public research university located in San Diego, California. It was founded in 1960 and offers over 140 degree programs to approximately 31,842 undergraduates. UCSD believes in preparing students to become global leaders who will innovate and bring positive change to the world.

In this “How to Get Into UCSD” guide, we will cover:

  • The UCSD GPA requirements
  • Average UCSD SAT scores
  • Interpreting the UCSD acceptance rate
  • How to meet the UCSD application deadline
  • Writing effective UC Personal Insight Questions
  • UCSD application requirements and much more about the UCSD admissions process!

As you think about how to get into UCSD, you’ll probably research things like the UCSD acceptance rate or average UCSD SAT scores. These statistics can provide valuable insight into the USDC admissions process. However, the main thing you need to consider before starting a UCSD application is whether you meet the UCSD GPA requirements and subject requirements. If you do, then your “how to get into UCSD” game plan should center around crafting a top-notch UCSD application by the UCSD application deadline. This also means you should write strong responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions.

Figuring out how to get into UCSD takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Want to maximize your UCSD admissions odds? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

How do I get into the University of California – San Diego?

To craft a solid “how to get into UCSD” strategy, you’ll need to know the UCSD application requirements. That way, you can prepare your materials ahead of the UCSD application deadline. 

UCSD does not accept UCSD SAT scores or ACT scores, so don’t include them in your “how to get into UCSD” plan. Keep reading our “How to get into UCSD” guide to learn more about the UCSD application process and exactly what items you will need to prepare to submit in your UCSD application.

Is it hard to get into the University of California – San Diego?

According to U.S. News and World Reports, UCSD is ranked the fourth most competitive University of California school. This means, that is UCSD is relatively difficult to get into. However, if you invest time in your how to get into UCSD strategy, you can maximize your chances of admission. At the very least, you should strive to meet or exceed the UCSD GPA requirements and submit your materials by the UCSD application deadline. 

The UCSD acceptance rate is low—UCSD is a competitive school for both in-state and out-of-state students. Because of the UCSD GPA requirements and the average GPA of admitted students, you must have a stellar academic record. You must also show yourself to be a dynamic, thoughtful individual. You can do this in your responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions. 

What is the average GPA for UCSD?

As you begin your “how to get into UCSD” plan, you may wonder what the UCSD GPA requirements are, as well as the average UCSD SAT scores. 

The UCSD GPA requirements are as follows:

  • UCSD GPA requirements for California residents: 3.0 GPA (or higher) and no grade below a C.
  • UCSD GPA requirements for Non-California residents: 3.4 GPA (or higher) and no grade below a C.

Furthermore, the average GPA of admitted students is higher than UCSD GPA requirements. The 2020 first-year student cohort had an average high school GPA of 4.08, far exceeding the UCSD GPA requirements. In addition, approximately 76% of students had a 4.0 GPA or higher (including weighted GPAs that account for honors courses). Finally, the average GPA of fall 2021 students was between 4.07 and 4.29.

UCSD admissions does not factor in your UCSD SAT scores when reviewing your UCSD application. Therefore, your GPA will be the main indicator of your academic achievements. So make sure you’re on track to far exceed the UCSD GPA requirements. The UCSD acceptance rate is low, so you should do everything you can to strengthen your UCSD application.

Do not include test scores in your “how to get into UCSD” plan. Like the other UC schools, UCSD is test-free—they do not accept nor review UCSD SAT scores or ACT scores. The average UCSD SAT scores, therefore, should not hugely impact your application strategy. 

Want to know what the UCSD SAT scores were before UCSD went test-free?

The average UCSD SAT scores for the 2020 first-time first-year students cohort were:

  • Composite UCSD SAT scores for Reasoning: 1363
  • UCSD SAT scores for Critical Reading: 660
  • UCSD SAT scores for Math: 703

Once again, don’t get hung up on the average UCSD SAT scores, especially since the admissions landscape has shifted since UCSD went test-free. However, these scores might help you understand how you compare to accepted students. 

As you work on your UCSD application, remember that just meeting the UCSD GPA requirements is not how to get into UCSD. Focus on strengthening your whole UCSD application—your coursework, accomplishments, and responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions. 

What does the University of California – San Diego application require?

To make an effective “how to get into UCSD” game plan, start by looking at the UCSD application requirements for first-year students. In order to be eligible to submit a UCSD application, you must meet or exceed the UCSD GPA requirements and subject requirements.

If you know you’re eligible to apply, you can begin your UCSD application. There is only one UCSD application deadline and only one way to apply to UCSD. You must use the UCSD application portal—UC Apply—to submit your UCSD application. 

Our Understanding UC Apply Webinar provides tips for navigating the UCSD application portal and making your UCSD application stand out.

The UCSD application deadline is November 30th. UCSD admissions requires the following:

  • Subject requirements
  • Scholarship requirement
  • UC Personal Insight Questions

Students applying to Arts majors can submit an optional portfolio/audition video with their UCSD application.

You do not need to send UCSD SAT scores or ACT scores—UCSD admissions doesn’t consider them when reviewing your UCSD application. Although you don’t need to send UCSD SAT scores, you may send AP test scores to be used for course placement when you enroll.

In addition to the above UCSD application requirements, you must rank the seven UC San Diego colleges: Earl Warren, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Muir, Revelle, Seventh, Sixth, and Thurgood Marshall. Your ranking will not impact your major nor how your UCSD application is judged. So, while you gather your required materials ahead of the UCSD application deadline, spend some time researching the different colleges, too. Then, you’ll know how you’d like to rank them long before the UCSD application deadline!

Finally, you’ll need to submit UC Personal Insight Questions. We give you some top tips for writing strong answers to the UC Personal Insight Questions later in this “How to get into UCSD” guide. 

What extracurriculars does the University of California – San Diego like?

As you think about how to get into UCSD, you may wonder what types of extracurriculars UCSD admissions will look for in your UCSD application. Given the low UCSD acceptance rate, you should include extracurriculars in your UCSD application that showcase your dedication and commitment.

Leadership roles can show your maturity and willingness to innovate and take on responsibility. You can show leadership in many ways. Some ideas include serving as an executive in a club, mentoring other students, leading a sports team, or taking care of your family.

In addition, extracurriculars can showcase your passions and creativity. If your experiences have required you to practice, overcome obstacles, and grow as a person, they are worth including in your UCSD application. Also, you should definitely mention them if they relate to your intended major!

For more tips on how to use extracurriculars in an effective “how to get into UCSD” strategy, read this guide

What is the acceptance rate at the University of California – San Diego?

Anyone wanting to know how to get into UCSD will ask, “What is the UCSD acceptance rate?” 

The UCSD acceptance rate is 38%, making the University of California – San Diego a most selective school. In Fall 2021, 40,616 first year and 12,330 transfer students were admitted. The UCSD acceptance rate was 34.3%. The UCSD acceptance rate is similar to that of other UC schools, like UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

Keep the UCSD acceptance rate in mind as you work out how to get into UCSD before the UCSD application deadline. But if you love UCSD, don’t let the UCSD acceptance rate deter you from applying. 

For more help working out what the UCSD acceptance rate means for your UCSD application, read our guide.  

Tips on writing the Personal Insight Questions

One of the most important parts of your “how to get into UCSD” plan is how you answer the UC Personal Insight Questions, found in full here. To help UCSD admissions get to know who you are beyond your resume and academic achievements, you must select 4 UC Personal Insight Questions and respond to them in 350 words or less. You’ll find all eight UC Personal Insight Questions here

UCSD admissions considers each of the UC Personal Insight Questions equally. So, choose the questions that will allow you to show who you are in your own words. Your responses to the UC Personal Insight Questions are your chance to show UCSD admissions what kind of student, person, and thinker you are.

To make sure your answers are as strong as they can be, give yourself plenty of time to draft, revise, and edit them ahead of the UCSD application deadline. The UCSD acceptance rate is low, so it’s important to ace this part of your UCSD application. 

Check out our UC Personal Insight Questions guide for a breakdown of each essay prompt and tips for crafting strong responses.

What does the University of California – San Diego use to determine acceptance?

As you work out how to get into UCSD, it can be useful to learn about how UCSD admissions reviews applications

After the UCSD application deadline, two or more reviewers judge each UCSD application. UCSD admissions wants to identify students with a range of experiences who will excel academically. To that end, UCSD admissions evaluates applications for two characteristics: academic achievement and personal qualities.

UCSD admissions assesses academic achievement based on how far you exceed the UCSD GPA requirements. Additionally, they look at the number and type of courses you’ve successfully completed, including AP, IBHL, and honors courses. UCSD admissions does not look at test scores, so sending UCSD SAT scores or ACT scores will not impact your application. 

California residents who enter their senior year in the top 9% of their high school class are recognized as ELC (Eligibility in the Local Context) students. This achievement adds value to their UCSD application.

Your personal qualities, which you should highlight in your UC Personal Insight Questions, can include creative, intellectual, social, or professional achievements. They can also be seen in challenges, hardships, or unusual circumstances you’ve overcome.

UCSD admissions looks for students who are invested in their community and display certain characteristics, including:

  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Tenacity
  • Initiative
  • Originality
  • Creativity 
  • Intellectual independence
  • Responsibility
  • Maturity

Before the UCSD application deadline, make sure you highlight these qualities in your UCSD application, especially your UC Personal Insight Questions. This will help UCSD admissions see your value beyond your ability to exceed the UCSD GPA requirements. 

Will the University of California – San Diego consider my social media accounts?

You’re coming to the end of your “how to get into UCSD” strategy. You know the score on the UCSD application deadline, UCSD GPA requirements, UCSD acceptance rate, average UCSD SAT scores, and UC Personal Insight Questions. One question remains—will UCSD review your social media accounts as part of your UCSD application?

The school does not have an official policy about reviewing social media accounts. So, you don’t need to factor your social media accounts into your “how to get into UCSD” plan. 

However, just because UCSD admissions doesn’t consider your social media when they review your UCSD application doesn’t mean you should post carelessly. You should still be careful about what you share on your social media.

Anything you post online becomes public. And, if UCSD admissions did become aware of any inappropriate content, it could negatively impact your UCSD application. To protect yourself from future missteps, don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want a future peer, professor, or employer to see. 

Is the University of California – San Diego a good school for me?

Before you spend too much time thinking about how to get into UCSD, well before the UCSD application deadline, you need to decide if UCSD is the right school for you

UCSD is a top-rated university with a low UCSD acceptance rate. Forbes ranks UCSD #15 in Top Colleges 2021, #15 in Research Universities, #13 in America’s Best Value Colleges 2019, and #3 in Public Colleges.

Beyond UCSD’s ranking, consider factors like size, cost, and location. You’ll also want to know about the school culture. UCSD’s Why UC San Diego page will give you a good idea of the resources and experiences you’ll have at UCSD.

Additional tips to get into the University of California – San Diego

Do your research

Don’t limit your research to fast facts like the UCSD acceptance rate or simple answers to how to get into UCSD. Instead, learn about what UCSD has to offer academically, socially, and culturally. Take time to watch webinars hosted by alumni of UC Schools and think about why you want to apply to UCSD.

Stay on top of deadlines

Every school will have their own deadlines, and the UCSD application deadline is no different. Your “how to get into UCSD” game plan should include a personalized application timeline. This will help you submit your UCSD application long before the UCSD application deadline.

Get a second pair of eyes

Getting an outside perspective on your UC Personal Insight Questions can help you catch any errors and make sure your answers are as clear and concise as possible. Ask someone you trust to read your responses and share feedback before you finalize your UCSD application.

This guide was written by Stefanie Tedards. If you want to know how to get into UCSD, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.