California First Year Student Requirements

Information for California Residents

We encourage all eligible students to apply. All applicants who meet the following requirements will be considered:

  • GPA is 3.0 or better, based on the completed “a-g” courses, as described below in calculating your GPA.
  • You have already taken the required examination or will take it by December of your senior year.

Admission Requirements

Required Examination: You are expected to complete these exams as early as possible, but no later than December of your senior year.

Either the ACT plus Writing Test OR SAT Reasoning Test

University of California campuses share scores. If you have your official test results sent to one UC campus, it will be available to sister campuses where you’ve applied as well.

Optional Examinations: 
The SAT Subject Tests are not required.  However, you are welcome to submit scores if you would like to:

  • Use Subject Tests to satisfy “a-g” subject requirements.
  • Show your mastery of a particular subject or set of subjects.

Courses You Must Complete: 
Complete a minimum of 15 college-preparatory courses, with at least 11 finished prior to the beginning of your senior year. These courses must be completed with grades of C or better. Be sure that the classes you take are on your school’s “a-g Course List.” Obtain your school’s list from your counselor, or University of California a-g Course Lists.

The 15 courses are:

a. History/Social Science – TWO YEARS REQUIRED
One year of world history, cultures and geography; and one year of U.S. history or half a year of U.S. history and half a year of civics or American government.

b. English – FOUR YEARS REQUIRED
College-preparatory English that includes frequent writing and reading of classic/modern literature. No more than one year of UC Merced-approved ESL-type course can be used to meet this requirement.

c. Mathematics – THREE YEARS REQUIRED, FOUR YEARS RECOMMENDED
At minimum: Mathematics courses that include the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry.

d. Laboratory Science – TWO YEARS REQUIRED, THREE YEARS RECOMMENDED
Laboratory science in at least two of these three foundational subjects: biology, chemistry and physics.

e. Language Other than English – TWO YEARS REQUIRED, THREE YEARS RECOMMENDED
At minimum: Two years of the same language other than English. Courses should emphasize speaking and understanding, and include instruction in grammar, vocabulary, reading, composition and culture.

f. Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) – ONE YEAR REQUIRED
A yearlong arts course from a single VPA discipline: dance, drama/theater, music or visual art.

g. College-Preparatory Electives – ONE YEAR REQUIRED
Approved electives include advanced or additional courses chosen from the subjects listed above or another course approved by the university.

Calculating Your Grade-Point Average:
The grade-point average used to determine admission decisions is computed on grades earned in your “a-g” courses from the summer after ninth grade through the summer before 12th grade. Your grade-point average should be 3.0 or better.

A Word About Paths to Admission for California Residents:

Local Path - If, when you submit your application, you discover you are designated in the top 9 percent of your class, submit an application to our campus. Being designated in the top 9 percent of your class is a factor we value.

Statewide Path - Complete a minimum of 15 college-preparatory “a-g” courses, with at least 11 finished prior to the beginning of your senior year. Be sure that the classes you take are on your school’s “a-g Course List.”  Obtain your school’s list from your counselor, or University of California a-g Course Lists. Meeting the statewide path is a factor we value.

Alternate Paths - Meeting the criteria for “admission by examinations alone” and “admission by exception” are alternate paths. Factors we consider in determining admission via an alternate path are mentioned in the next section, First Year Student Selection – Factors we consider.

Other Factors We Consider - In our application review process we use all the information listed above on this page and additional factors. 
See additional factors considered.