Background paper: Admissions
UCLA seeks to enroll exceptional students who demonstrate academic excellence, strong social involvement and problem-solving skills and who have taken full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.
Our undergraduate admissions process, like those of all University of California campuses, is guided by the UC Board of Regents Policy on Undergraduate Admissions, which specifies that the university should "enroll, on each of its campuses, a student body that, beyond meeting the University's eligibility requirements, demonstrates high academic achievement or exceptional personal talent, and that encompasses the broad diversity of cultural, racial, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds characteristic of California." In addition, campuses have the flexibility to admit and enroll out-of-state and international students with similar credentials after they have met enrollment targets for California residents.
Because the applicant pool varies greatly among UC campuses, each campus has the freedom to adopt its own selection procedures consistent with the Board of Regents policy.
UCLA's selection process
As the most applied-to campus in the country, each year UCLA considers many more excellent applicants for freshman admission than it can admit. The goal of the campus's admissions review process is to single out, from a large and growing group of academically exceptional applicants, those extraordinary students who have demonstrated the intellectual curiosity, tenacity and commitment to service expected of UCLA graduates.
Criteria used in the review of applicants
Comprehensive review defines the principles and measures by which all students who apply to UCLA are evaluated for admission. The comprehensive review policy consists of 14 academic and non-academic criteria that all UC campuses use in reviewing applicants. These include traditional academic measures, such as grade-point average and admissions test scores, and other factors, such as exceptional talents and personal achievements.
The process is designed to identify applicants who, based on a thorough and qualitative comprehensive review of their academic and non-academic qualifications, are most deserving of admission and who will make the greatest contribution to the campus's intellectual and cultural community.
Freshman applicants receive their admissions notices in March and have until May 1 each year to submit their statement of intent to register.
How each application is scored
While comprehensive review spells out the factors we take into consideration in making admissions decisions, the actual process of reviewing students for admissions is known as holistic review. First implemented in fall 2007, holistic review consists of a thorough, individualized review of each applicant that results in a single score; the review considers a wide range of academic and non-academic achievements, in the context of the opportunities available to and the challenges faced by each student. It is the application review method used at the most selective, elite institutions in the nation.
At UCLA, the individualized review of each application is always conducted by two or more carefully trained and well-monitored readers and includes a series of quality-control checks to ensure the proper rating of each applicant.
UC's admissions policies are reviewed annually by the system-wide Academic Senate. The reviews are submitted to the UC Board of Regents so policies may be revised with the goal of moving toward more nuanced approaches of evaluating applicants' qualifications.
In addition, to ensure that UCLA's holistic review process is working as intended by the faculty, UCLA's Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools (CUARS) commissioned an independent review of the process, which was released on May 17, 2012. This study, which covered the 2007 and 2008 admissions cycles, confirmed that UCLA's admissions process continues to give the highest weight to the academic merit of applicants while simultaneously considering the full array of their personal challenges and achievements. CUARS has asked that the review of UCLA's holistic admissions process be expanded to include the 2009, 2010 and 2011 admissions cycles. Like most universities, UCLA periodically reviews its admissions process to identify areas that might need improvements or refinements.
Despite the independent review's conclusion validating the transparency and fairness of UCLA's admissions process, an October 20, 2012, report by a UCLA law professor alleged that race had been a factor in the campus's holistic review admissions process, in violation of Proposition 209, which banned the use of race in admissions at public colleges and universities. Two external reviews of those claims, however, have found serious problems with the scholar's methodology and have disputed the validity of his conclusions.