Here are the most common questions we get from students who are considering UCLA.
Q: How DO I APPLY?
A: Fill out and submit the University of California (UC) application.
Q: When should I apply?
A: Fall quarters (which begin in late September): the usual deadline is November 30 of the prior year.
- UC Application site
The deadline to apply to Fall Quarter 2017 has passed. The next opportunity to apply will be for Fall Quarter 2018; the application will be available in August.
Winter quarters: UCLA is not open to new students for winter quarters.
Spring quarters: UCLA is not open to new students for spring quarters.
(more info on applying)
Q: What are the average GPA and test scores for freshmen admitted to UCLA?
A: These statistics and many more are available on our Freshman Profile page.
This is often the first question prospective freshmen ask us. Many students instinctively focus on GPA and test scores without fully understanding how these numbers are used in our admission process. These statistics are only two of the elements we use in our academic review; we carefully balance many factors to gain a complete sense of an applicant's achievements.
Here are some of the additional criteria we will use to evaluate your application:
- The quality, content, and level of college prep courses you have taken throughout your entire high school program, especially coursework completed beyond the minimum University of California subject requirement.
- The strength of your senior year coursework.
- The number of and performance in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), school-designated honors, and college courses you have taken, particularly in your junior and senior years.
- The degree to which you have challenged yourself within the context of your own high school.
So you can see that GPA and test scores are just two of the elements we will examine within the larger context of your academic achievements.
(more info on our review of freshman applicants)
Q: Which counts more in admission decisions--grades or test scores?
A: GPA--combined with the quantity and level of your high school courses--is of primary importance (a strong GPA, for instance, on an academic program that lacks honors level courses or does not include courses well beyond those that meet the basic UC subject requirement, will not likely result in admission). That being said, test scores are still an important element.
First and foremost, you should take the most challenging courses you are able to handle. This is also the best way to prepare for your standardized tests. It is also a good idea to be prepared to take the tests more than once--in other words, don't wait until your senior year. That way, if you do not perform your best on some tests, you have a chance retake them in the fall of your senior year.
We also find academic strength in AP exams with scores of 3 and above (and IB exams with scores of 5 and above).
It should be noted, however, that because UCLA does not use a mathematical formula when evaluating applicants, there is no fixed numerical weight attached to either GPA or test scores.
Q: Is it easier to be admitted to UCLA as a freshman or as a transfer student?
A: To be admitted as a transfer student is not necessarily harder or easier than being admitted as a freshman; the two paths are different. For freshman applicants we look primarily at the performance in high school and on the standardized tests, whereas transfer applicants do not provide information about their high school curriculum and are not required to take standardized tests. For transfer applicants, the degree of preparation for the major and the college GPA are crucial considerations; strong preference is given to students ready for upper division coursework in their major. Some majors at the transfer level are highly competitive, and preparedness and GPA are even more important for applicants to these majors.
(more about transfer admission)
Instead of thinking of freshman vs. transfer admission in terms of "easier" or "harder," we encourage you to reflect upon your own personal circumstances and preparedness for university work when deciding which path to UCLA is more appropriate for you.
Q: What's the difference between Meeting UC admission requirements and being competitive?
A: The University of California (UC)'s admission requirements depend upon whether you are a freshman or transfer applicant and whether you are a California resident.
Applicants who meet the UC's admission requirements have at least met the minimum academic preparation necessary for admission to the one of the campuses in the UC system. However, since several UC campuses, including UCLA, receive far more applications from qualified applicants than we have room to accept, students who apply here must exceed these criteria to be a likely candidate for admission. This brings us to the next term--competitive:
Students who are admitted usually have academic achievements far higher than the minimum requirements. So, to gain admission, an applicant must also be "competitive," or among the strongest achieving students to apply. Last year, UCLA admitted approximately 18% of the freshmen who applied.
Q: Does my choice of major have an impact on my chances for admission?
A: For freshmen applying to a major in UCLA's College of Letters and Science (L&S), choice of major will neither enhance nor diminish their prospects for admission. In fact, a large number of freshman applicants apply as "undeclared." Major is a factor for freshmen applying to non-L&S schools at UCLA (Arts and Architecture; Engineering; Nursing; Theater, Film and Television).
For transfer students, major choice is extremely important for all applicants. Our evaluation of transfer applications is based largely on students' preparation for the major they select and their GPAs in the completed preparatory courses. We give preference to applicants with strong academic records who will be ready to begin upper division coursework in their major when they enter UCLA.
All applicants--freshman and transfer--should be aware that applicants to majors in the School of the Arts and Architecture; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the School of Nursing; and the School of Theater, Film and Television are evaluated differently than applicants to the College of Letters and Science:
Auditions and/or portfolios are critical components in the selection processes of the School of the Arts and Architecture, School of Music, and the School of Theater, Film and Television.
The majors in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science are very competitive--especially Bioengineering. All engineering applicants will be expected to have especially strong performances in math and science courses.
The School of Nursing has a separate application in addition to the general UC application that all applicants to the school must complete.
Q: What tips can you give me about answering the personal insight questions?
A: The personal insight questions provide an opportunity for you to tell us more about yourself, your life experiences, and your personal qualities so that we can have a clearer idea of your personal and intellectual development. Applicants must choose four out of eight questions to answer. They give students flexibility and control in what personal stories they want to tell. You should use the personal insight questions to give us a more complete picture of you by augmenting—not repeating—the information elsewhere in the application. The tips we have to offer you are surprisingly straightforward and based on a lot of common sense—the sort that is easily lost under the pressure of the application process.
(You can link here for more information.)
Q: How can I find out more about the different majors at UCLA?
A: Students are attracted to UCLA for its wealth of distinguished academic and research programs. Six exceptional schools on campus offer undergraduate instruction leading to a Bachelor's degree. We encourage you to investigate all of them.
Q: Is it better to take a regular-level course and get an A or take an AP course and get a B?
A: We are looking for students who are taking advantage of the opportunities available to them at their schools. IF you have the opportunity to take advanced courses, take them.
The University of California adds extra "weight" to grades received in UC-certified honors, AP/IB, and transferable college courses. (For more information about how letter grades are assigned point values in calculating GPAs, refer to the UC's page on calculating your GPA.
At UCLA we recognize that honors, AP/IB, and college courses are more rigorous and require high levels of commitment and effort. By choosing the most advanced courses for which you are prepared-and by doing well in them-you can send a powerful message about your desire to challenge yourself in an academic environment and about your preparation for the demands of UCLA's academic programs.
Q: Which is better to take: honors, AP/IB, or college courses?
A: UC-certified honors, AP/IB, and transferable college courses are equally meritorious in the sense that they are all challenging courses, and they all add extra weight to an applicant's GPA.
(For more information about the definition of honors-level courses, refer to the UC's document on honors courses.)
The benefit of an AP/IB course is that it is part of a nationally standardized program culminating in an exam that, if passed, can earn college credit. Similarly, satisfactory grades received in transferable college courses will also earn credit at UCLA. High school honors courses, in contrast, will not earn college credit. If you are still in high school and are interested in completing college courses, you can access a list of UC-transferable courses offered at California community colleges at www.assist.org.
Q: I am getting involved in a lot of extracurricular activities and sometimes I can't keep up with my classes. Won't my activities make up for any drop in my grades?
A: Of course, a strong academic performance combined with sustained, meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities is the ideal. But if it comes down to a choice between excelling in your coursework or your extracurricular activities, choose your academics.
Q: What are the best extracurricular activities to be involved in?
A: We do not consider any one kind of extracurricular activity inherently "better" than another. What is important is that students select activities that are truly meaningful to them and that they really get involved with them. We look for long-standing dedication and significant time commitment to an activity, and we notice students' progression to positions of leadership or recognition of achievement.
Q: Do you have limits on the number of students you can accept from a given high school or community college?
A: No. There is no limit on the number of students UCLA can accept from a given school. Each student is evaluated on the basis of his or her individual achievements and potential for contributing to UCLA. We evaluate freshman applicants in the context of their individual high schools as well as in the context of the applicant pool as a whole. We evaluate transfer applicants based on their preparation and performance within the pool of applicants to their majors as well as in the context of the entire transfer pool. Students should take advantage of all the academic and intellectual opportunities available to them in their schools and communities.
Q: How many out-of-state and international students apply to UCLA, and how many are admitted?
A: UCLA received almost 35,000 freshman applications from out-of-state and international freshman applicants for the fall 2015 term. Over 6,500 of them were admitted. Since UCLA is a state-supported institution, the vast majority (about 90%) of our undergraduates are California residents. UCLA, however, enrolls students from all 50 states and from over 100 countries.
(more information for out-of-state applicants)
(more information for international applicants)
Q: How can I get on UCLA's admissions mailing list?
A: You can sign up to receive e-mails for prospective students here. We also maintain a General Information Library which contains PDF versions of all our print publications.
The essay questions can be found within the MFE Essays section of the Graduate Division online application and are as follows:
Financial engineering requires a combination of mathematical/quantitative abilities and creative thinking. Describe a project you worked on, either as a student or professional, that demonstrates your analytical and creative problem-solving skills. Tell us why this project was interesting to you. (maximum 750 words)
Why does a career in quantitative finance appeal to you? Based on your abilities and what you know about careers in financial engineering, why do you think this is the right career path for you? (maximum 750 words)
Feel free to provide any other information you think would help us evaluate your potential to succeed in the program. (maximum 375 words)
Reapplicants to the MFE Program do not need to resubmit the two "required essays" if the last application was submitted within the past two years. They are, instead, asked to complete and submit an essay answering the following question:
Please describe your academic or career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals. (750 words)
Please upload essays in .pdf format.
It is important that applicants respond to essay questions candidly and completely. Essays that fall significantly below the required word count will hurt your overall application.
Essays must be written by the applicant. If it is determined that an essay submitted has been written by anyone other than the applicant, the applicant will be denied admission.
PLEASE NOTE: When filling in the application do NOT submit a writing sample, a statement of purpose, a diversity statement, a personal history statement, or a fellowship application. Those items are part of the generic Graduate Division application, and are NOT required for the MFE program. Make sure you fill out the Master of Financial Engineering (considered the MFE supplemental) section which will appear in the application after you have selected your graduate plan of study as "MANAGEMENT MFE - MASTER OF FINANCIAL ENGINEERING."