How to Get Into UCSD: Acceptance Rate and Strategies

June 12, 2023

Berkeley and UCLA used to be the two clear-cut crown jewels of the University of California system. While that remains the case in 2023, many other branch campuses have become highly-selective universities in their own right, with an ever-increasing degree of admissions difficulty. UC San Diego is the top example as it is now a place where 100% of admitted students hail from the top 10% of their high school class and the average GPA is over 4.0. Not shockingly, the UCSD acceptance rate has been on the decline in recent cycles.

Prospective Tritons now face a test-blind admissions process that requires near-perfect grades in a rigorous curriculum and exceptional essays. Given this tall order, the intent of this article is to provide future UCSD applicants with:

  • UCSD acceptance rate 2023
  • SAT, ACT, GPA and class rank of accepted UC-San Diego applicants
  • Admissions trends
  • The demographics of current UCSD undergraduates
  • UC-San Diego’s yield rate
  • How UC-San Diego’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying
  • How to assess whether applying to UC-San Diego is even worth the $70 application fee (for you)

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

UC-San Diego: Acceptance Rate – 2023

UCSD received 130,830 applications for the Class of 2027, but they have yet to release official acceptance rates for this cycle. This is very close to the 131,226 applications received the previous year. The Class of 2026 UCSD acceptance rate was 23.7%. We expect the Class of 2027 figure to be very similar.

In previous years, the UC San Diego acceptance rate was as follows:

  • Class of 2025: 34%
  • Class of 2024: 38%

UC San Diego Admissions – Grades & Class Rank

The University of California System has adopted a test-blind policy. Therefore, SAT and ACT scores are not considered. For the Class of 2026, the mid-50% GPA range was 4.12-4.30. Typically, every single entering student placed in the top 10% of their high school cohort.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • 84,910 applications to the Class of 2027 came from California residents.
  • 23,951 applications were from non-resident American students.
  • 21,969 applications were from international students.
  • UCSD remains test-blind for the foreseeable future.
  • The number of applications declined for the first time in 20 years in the 2022-23 cycle.

Who Gets Into UC-San Diego?

Let’s look at the demographics of UC-San Diego undergraduates:

Most UCSD Diego students hailed from the Golden State and paid in-state tuition. The total geographic breakdown is as follows.

  • Percent from other U.S. States (non-residents) – 9%
  • Percent from other countries (non-resident, international) = 16%
  • Percent from San Francisco/Bay Area: 12%
  • Percent from San Diego County: 23%
  • Percent from Los Angeles/Orange Counties: 34%
  • Percent from Other California Counties: 6%

UCSD Acceptance Rate (Continued)

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the entire Triton student body is as follows:

  • Asian American: 38%
  • Hispanic: 21%
  • African American: 3%
  • International: 16%
  • Caucasian: 19%

The breakdown by gender reveals an almost perfectly even split between male and female students.

  • Male: 48%
  • Female: 51%

The top fields of study among current students were as follows:

  • Biology: 18%
  • Economics: 7%
  • Psychology: 8%
  • Cognitive Science: 6%
  • Mathematics: 7%

UC-San Diego’s Yield Rate

UC-San Diego’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 17%. This is far lower than many other elite public institutions, UT-Austin, UNC Chapel Hill, UGA which are above 40%.

How UCSD Rates Applicants

There are only three factors that UC San Diego ranks as being “very important” to their process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, and application essays. Factors are rated as “important” are: talent/ability character/personal qualities, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, and state residency.

As mentioned previously, UC San Diego, along with all other UC campuses are now test-blind. This makes the traditionally holistic review process at UC San Diego even more pronounced. Every application “is reviewed by a minimum of 2 individuals.”

UCSD Acceptance Rate 2023 (Continued)

In the admissions office’s own words: “Our goal is to identify and admit students who are fully prepared to excel in our challenging academic environment. We’re looking for students who represent strong academic achievement, exceptional personal talent and the broad diversity of abilities, personal experience and backgrounds characteristic of California.”

It definitely helps if you are recruited as an athlete to join one of UC San Diego’s 23 Division I sports teams. A great number of incoming students are designated as “recruited athletes” each year and there are almost 600 total varsity athletes.

Tips for Applying to UC-San Diego

If you plan on joining the 130,000+ Triton hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • While a holistic process, UC San Diego does not offer interviews.
  • UC San Diego does not consider “demonstrated interest” in the admissions process.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays required by UC San Diego. There are eight total prompts. Applicants respond to 4. Each response in limited to maximum of 350 words.

1) Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

2) Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side. 

3) What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? 

4) Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

UCSD Acceptance Rate (Continued)

5) Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6) Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

7) What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? 

8) Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

The best approach here is to select the four prompts that are the best fit for you and elicit the most compelling and personal responses. For more, read our blog: How to Master to UC Personal Insight Essays.

UCSD Acceptance Rate 2023 – Final Thoughts 

Getting into UCSD has never been more a challenging endeavor, as it now requires near-perfect (or perfect) grades in 10+ honors/AP/IB courses. Even in-state applicants need to have pristine academic transcripts and other compelling attributes. As such, all students need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in collaboration with an admissions professional who is aware of the latest trends and strategies associated with your prospective colleges.