An Overview of the UC’s Academics

An Overview of the UCs Academics

Right now, many seniors at LBHS wait in anxious limbo between applying to the University of California schools and receiving their decisions. While many students plan to attend college out-of-state or other in-state schools, plenty of seniors pray to be accepted into the UC system. Unfortunately, by the time the UC decisions are released, seniors will have barely a month to finalize their colleges by May 1st. Before the looming deadline approaches, it is worthwhile to thoroughly research which school will be best for you.

There are ten UCs; however, UC San Francisco only offers graduate programs. Although each school is labeled as part of the UC system, they all have their own academic strengths to be aware of. All the ranking information can be found in the updated 2024 U.S. News rankings. It should be noted that the cost of attendance may differ for each student, as each student has unique financial needs. Still, the fees listed below are the total costs for in-state residents planning to live on campus, including outside expenses.

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley is located in Berkeley, California, about 7 hours from LBHS. The total resident cost of attendance living in a residence hall is $46,168 per year. Renowned for its STEM programs, UCB ranks in the top 3 globally in computer science, psychology, economics, and business. Overall, UCB ranks as the best public university (tied with UCLA).

UC Davis

Situated on Northern California’s agricultural land within the city of Davis, UC Davis is 7 hours away from Laguna with a total cost of attendance of $41,389 per year. Unsurprisingly, UC Davis ranks within the top 25 globally for agriculture, life sciences, and medicine, with one of the best veterinary programs in the country. 2023 was also the 10th consecutive year the school has been ranked in the world’s top 5 most sustainable universities, emphasizing an excellent practice for those looking into environmental science and agricultural studies.

UC Irvine

The closest UC to Laguna Beach, UC Irvine is only 20 minutes away and costs $40,202 annually. The 10th best public school, UCI is also in the top 10 for game development and software engineering, with other vital business, cancer and neuroscience, and social science programs. UCI is known as a research university where undergraduate students can prioritize a more hands-on approach to learning.


Nestled in the neighborhood of Westwood in Los Angeles, UCLA is roughly an hour and a half from LBHS and annually costs $38,517. Tied as the best public university with UC Berkeley, many of UCLA’s programs rank in the top 20, including biotechnology, software engineering, nursing, psychology, and economics. As Hollywood is the epicenter for everything film, UCLA attracts many aspiring filmmakers and actors to their coveted film school. 

UC Merced

UC Merced is 5 hours away, located in the middle of California in Merced. Despite being very young, opening in 2005, UC Merced is recognized for its biological sciences and computer engineering, two of its most popular majors. The yearly cost of attendance is $40,742 and it ranks at the 28th-best public school in the country.

UC Riverside

In Riverside, California, UC Riverside is an hour away, costing $40,537 per year. UC Riverside boasts biological solid science, business, psychology, and information science programs, and takes the 36th spot for best public schools. 

UC Santa Barbara

Popular amongst surfers and beach lovers for its proximity to the beach, UC Santa Barbara lies on the coastline of Goleta, California, around a three-hour drive. The acclaimed research university costs $41,289 a year for in-state students. With top physics, chemical engineering, and social sciences programs, UCSB ranks as the 12th best public university.  

UC San Diego

Another coastal school, UC San Diego is only a few miles inland and is about an hour’s drive from Laguna, and costs $39,591 per year. Like many of the UCs, UCSD ranks highly in their STEM programs. Its computer science, economics, and biomedical programs are all among the country’s top 20 best programs. UCSD is the 6th best public school in the country. 

UC Santa Cruz 

Engulfed by redwoods, UC Santa Cruz is located in Santa Cruz, California, 7 hours away. Some of its best programs revolve around engineering, astronomy, and space science, with its game development program ranking 5th in the country. The 40th best public university, UCSC costs roughly $38,712 a year.  

To all seniors nervous about college, you will get into the best school for you, regardless of whether it is a UC school or not. When weighing college options, it is essential to look at every aspect of each school, not solely academics. You may love veterinary science, but if you do not love UC Davis, you will be unhappy, and the same is true for any school. Good luck, seniors!

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Olivia Lane, Opinions Editor

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