USC vs UCLA : A Comprehensive Comparison in 2024


Location USC is located in University Park, South Los Angeles, a more residential area that provides a quieter setting for students. Situated in Westwood, West Los Angeles, UCLA is surrounded by a bustling neighborhood offering a multitude of dining and entertainment options.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio USC offers a more intimate 8:1 ratio, which can lead to more personalized attention and closer relationships with professors. With a ratio of 18:1, UCLA’s larger size can contribute to a more diverse set of perspectives in the classroom.
Undergraduate Enrollment USC has an undergraduate enrollment of 21,000, fostering a smaller, close-knit community. UCLA’s larger undergraduate enrollment of 31,600 contributes to its vibrant campus life.
Acceptance Rate USC’s slightly higher acceptance rate of 9.9% still indicates a highly competitive admissions process. UCLA’s acceptance rate of 9% reflects its highly selective admissions process.
Number of International Students With 5,586 international students, USC also boasts a richly diverse student body. UCLA hosts 5,400 international students, adding to the cultural diversity of the campus.
Number of Applicants (Freshmen) USC receives around 80,790 freshman applications annually, which also demonstrates its appeal to prospective students. UCLA typically receives over 169,800 freshman applications each year, reflecting its popularity among students.
Mid-50% SAT/ACT Scores of Admitted Students USC’s mid-50% SAT scores range from 1410 to 1540 and ACT scores range from 32 to 35. UCLA’s mid-50% SAT scores range from 1290 to 1520 and ACT scores range from 27 to 34.
Average Tuition (Undergraduate Studies) USC’s average tuition for undergraduate studies is $66,640. UCLA’s in-state tuition is $14,478, and out-of-state tuition is $47,052.
US News Ranking USC, ranked #25 by US News, is also widely regarded as a top-tier institution. Ranked #20 by US News, UCLA is recognized as one of the top universities in the country.
Mission/Vision USC’s mission is the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit. It emphasizes teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice, and selected forms of public service. UCLA’s mission is rooted in the advancement of knowledge and its broad dissemination, promotion of rigorous inquiry, commitment to free and open exchange of ideas, and dedication to the service of society.

Admissions Requirements


Requirement Description
GPA and Completed Courses Applicants should be in the top 10% of their class with an unweighted GPA between 3.82 and 4.0. Encouraged to take advanced courses (IB or AP).
SAT / ACT Scores Optional. If submitted, the highest scores will be reviewed.
Essay and Short Answers Two or three essays, plus short answers to specific questions on the application
Letters of Recommendation One required from a school counselor or teacher; two required for School of Cinematic Arts applicants.
Additional Application Items Some programs require a resume, writing sample, or portfolio.


Requirement Description
GPA and Completed Courses Minimum GPA of 3.0 (for CA residents) or 3.4 (for non-CA residents). Encouraged to pursue AP-level courses.
SAT / ACT Scores Not considered for freshman applications but used as alternative evaluation method or for future course placement after enrollment.
Personal Insight Questions Applicants must answer four out of eight personal insight questions.
Letters of Recommendation Not required for freshmen applications.
Additional Application Items Certain faculties may require supplemental application or portfolio.

Factors to Consider


Number of Majors Over 150 Over 125
Known For School of Cinematic Arts, Marshall School of Business Law School, David Geffen School of Medicine
Notable Facilities 23 libraries, study abroad in 50 cities UCLA School of Theater, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
Popular Majors Film, Business, Arts, Dance Undergraduate biology, Psychobiology and Political science

Class Profile

Average Class Size 26 students Varies, 2 out of 3 classes have less than 30 students
First-Generation Students 23% 27%
International Students Mostly from China, India, UK, Canada, Mexico and Iran, Represented by 63 countries

Costs and Financial Aid

Tuition $66,640 In-State: $14,478, Out-of-State: $47,052
Financial Aid Over 22% received a USC Merit Scholarship, about two-thirds received financial assistance from the school through grants, scholarships, and loans Flexible housing and meal plans, Tuition Stability Plan

Sports and Extracurriculars

Number of Student Organizations Over 1,000 Thousands
Sports 134 national championships, sports include lacrosse, baseball, water polo Second most NCAA championship titles, sports include basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, rugby, track and field, tennis
Notable for Student-led volunteer initiatives serving the greater Los Angeles area Not mentioned in the article


Campus Feel USC’s campus is smaller and has a more intimate, close-knit feel. The university is known for its strong sense of community and school spirit, with a high level of student involvement in campus life and traditions. UCLA’s campus is larger and has a more urban feel due to its location in the bustling neighborhood of Westwood. This offers students numerous off-campus activities, dining, and entertainment options within walking distance.
Surrounding Area USC is located in the University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, which is more residential and less affluent. While the immediate vicinity of the campus has been revitalized in recent years, some students may find the surrounding area less appealing. UCLA is located in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Westwood, which is known for its safety, upscale amenities, and proximity to other popular areas like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Accessibility USC’s central location in Los Angeles makes it highly accessible from various parts of the city. However, its proximity to downtown means that traffic can be heavy, particularly during peak hours. UCLA’s location in West Los Angeles offers easy access to the beach, the Santa Monica mountains, and numerous cultural attractions. However, Westwood can also be congested, and parking can be challenging.
Community Engagement USC has a strong commitment to community engagement and service, with numerous initiatives aimed at improving the surrounding community. Some students appreciate the opportunity to make a positive impact in their local area. UCLA’s location in a more affluent area may offer fewer opportunities for community service and engagement, but its larger size and urban location offer a wide variety of cultural experiences and networking opportunities.

Remember, the “best” location depends on what you’re looking for in your college experience. Some students may prefer a smaller, close-knit campus community, while others may be excited by the opportunities offered by a larger, urban campus.

Additional Points:

  • USC seeks worldly, curious risk-takers who want to change the world or their communities.
  • UCLA looks for applicants with strong leadership skills, creativity, a drive, and a need to help others.
  • Both USC and UCLA have produced award-winning researchers, actors, politicians, and artists.
  • USC offers seminars known as Fiat Lux (“Let There Be Light”) that allow students to discuss specific topics in small classroom settings.
  • UCLA has a diverse class profile, with 63 different countries represented in its most recent freshman class. USC also boasts a culturally diverse student body, with many international students coming from China, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Iran, Indonesia, and other countries.
  • USC has an impressive athletic history, having won 134 national championships over the years, while UCLA boasts the second most NCAA championship titles of any college in the US, next to Stanford.
  • Both USC and UCLA offer thousands of student-run organizations catering to various interests.
  • UCLA is renowned for its world-class research facilities and offers affordable tuition costs compared to other top-ranking national universities.

How to Choose?

Here’s a simple decision tree to help you make a decision between USC and UCLA:

  1. Consider your academic interests and career goals.
    • If your interest aligns with the School of Cinematic Arts or the Marshall School of Business, consider USC.
    • If your interest aligns with law, medicine, biology, political science, or psychobiology, consider UCLA.
  2. Consider the cost of tuition and your financial situation.
    • If you are able to afford a higher tuition cost or if you are able to secure a USC Merit Scholarship or other financial aid, USC may be a viable option.
    • If you are a California resident or if you value the Tuition Stability Plan (which keeps tuition flat for undergraduate classes during their enrollment), consider UCLA.
  3. Consider the class size and student-to-faculty ratio.
    • If you prefer smaller class sizes and a lower student-to-faculty ratio, USC may be a better fit.
    • If varying class sizes don’t bother you or if you value having large and diverse classes, consider UCLA.
  4. Consider the extracurricular activities and student organizations.
    • Both USC and UCLA have a wide range of student organizations and sports programs. If you have a specific interest in a sport or extracurricular activity, you may want to consider the university that offers that.
  5. Consider the application process and acceptance rates.
    • Both universities are highly selective. However, if you feel your application aligns more with the admissions requirements of one university over the other, you may want to consider that university.

Student’s Views

USC Pros: One of the things I love about USC is our college sports scene, it’s currently superior and there’s always so much energy around it. Being a private school, USC offers a high-quality education with smaller class sizes which makes learning more personal and engaging. Plus, it’s easier to schedule classes due to the better flexibility. The campus is flat, which makes getting around quite convenient. The “Trojan Network” is really impressive, it’s great to be part of such a supportive community. And honestly, the school pride and egos here are infectious!

USC Cons: However, USC isn’t without its drawbacks. The high cost of attendance can be a burden. Although the location has improved in some aspects, crime is still an issue. There’s a fair share of legacy and affluent individuals, which can sometimes make the atmosphere feel a bit exclusive. I wish there were more food options nearby. We don’t have a quarterly undie run like some other universities, which could have been fun! Some campus buildings are quite aged and could use a bit of renovation. Also, be prepared to develop a superiority complex here!

Shared Traits: Like many other universities, we’ve shifted to Zoom University mode due to the pandemic. On the brighter side, USC is filled with attractive individuals! We also enjoy great LA weather, an active bar scene, and a prevalent Greek society which means lots of partying. Rent can be quite expensive, with around $1k per month for a double room and over $2k per month to live alone. Nonetheless, USC offers a great undergraduate and graduate education. There’s a noticeable presence of wealthy students, and a general work hard/play hard attitude. USC also has a growing startup ecosystem and offers a competitive education, so if you’re ambitious, you’ll fit right in!



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