If you’re a high school student considering where to apply to college, then you’ve probably heard about UCLA’s Computer Science Program. It has consistently ranked among the top CS colleges globally, and its alumni include some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known names. This review will examine how good UCLA’s Computer Science program is with respect to three critical criteria: admissions standards, course quality, and job prospects after graduation.
The Reputation of UCLA (University of California, Los Angels) Computer Science Program
UCLA is one of ten campuses in the University of California system. It is based in Westwood, a neighborhood within Los Angeles, and it offers degrees from 14 schools and colleges that enroll about 40,000 students per year.
The school has gained fame for its strong athletics program and diversity among faculty and student body. It ranks highly for research universities by U.S. News & World Report and #1 for a public university, and tied for 10th overall among national universities.
In terms of graduate studies, UCLA ranks #2 in biological sciences and #7 in chemistry. In addition to its academic achievements, UCLA has produced numerous successful alumni who have made their mark in the business and technology industries. This review will cover all aspects of the UCLA computer science program, including admission requirements, career opportunities after graduation, etc.
Admission Requirements at UCLA’s CS Program
To enroll in UCLA’s computer science programs, students must have taken specific classes in their high school curriculum. The classes required for admission vary based on whether you apply as a first-year or transfer student.
For instance, if you apply as a first-year student and do not have an associate’s degree (or its equivalent), you must have completed the following:
- Five years of math, including courses in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
- Four years of science.
- Three years of English.
- Two years of history.
- One year each for foreign language and fine arts, and one additional year for social studies and humanities.
Suppose you apply as a transfer student; your coursework must be comparable to fresh applicants. If you don’t meet these requirements, it doesn’t mean your application will automatically be rejected. However, it does mean that your application will go through further review by admissions staff, who will determine whether other factors could make up for deficiencies in your academic record.
These factors include standardized test scores, work experience related to your intended major, and extracurricular activities related to your intended major or career goals.
The Admission Process At UCLA
At UCLA, applicants are given a holistic score from a five-member admissions committee. To get into computer science, you’ll need to excel in academics and extracurriculars. To achieve admission, computer science majors have to be in at least the top 10% of their high school class; the top 15% for athletes and music students; or the top 25% for all other applicants.
Most students apply during their junior year, and each application must be accompanied by two recommendation letters. The actual interview process takes place on campus between November and February.
If admitted, students will receive an acceptance letter with instructions on how to enroll in classes for the fall quarter. The general enrollment period is August 1st and October 31st, with priority enrollment periods between July 1st and August 31st.
An estimated 90% of fresh applicants who submit applications by November 30th will receive a decision before March 1st. Those who wait until January 2nd have an estimated 60% chance of receiving an offer before April 1st.
Majors and Curriculum Offered at UCLA
The BA in computer science program offers a comprehensive set of courses covering all the major subjects you would expect:
- Artificial intelligence.
- Computer graphics.
- Computer hardware and architecture.
Additionally, classes that focus on a more specific aspect of computing, such as bioinformatics applications to medicine, are also available for those who want to focus their study.
The CS department at UCLA has good connections with many industries and employers. It regularly brings in speakers to speak about game development and other aspects of computing.
There are opportunities for students to take part in internships through campus resources or professional organizations outside of campus. Some students may be able to work full-time during school if they can secure one.
Internship and Job Placement Program at UCLA
Not only does UCLA offer an excellent internship and job placement program for computer science students, but it’s a popular choice among companies looking to hire young talent. Even more impressive, however, is how competitive these jobs are.
According to LinkedIn, of all university computer science graduates hired in 2015, 20% went to work at Microsoft, while 14% chose Google. Furthermore, several large tech companies recruit exclusively at UCLA. With its tremendous resources and top-notch graduates, not to mention its location in one of America’s hottest industries, UCLA deserves high marks for computer science education and training programs. Their CS programs will help you land a top tech job after graduation or during your studies.
As if that weren’t enough, as we mentioned earlier, the alumni network and career support offered by UCLA through CS Career Services are highly regarded by students. 95% of 2016 graduates surveyed said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall experience on campus (91% said they would recommend their major), and 92% agreed that they felt prepared for life after college.
That’s an astounding number given how early most people graduate nowadays (around 23 years old). It also means grads are likely to get real hands-on experience before hitting the workforce full time.
The pros of studying at UCLA
Even without looking at any specific department, it’s easy to see that there are many reasons UCLA is a great school. For starters, there’s its location. Los Angeles has a prosperous cultural life and one of the best climates in America. In addition, students can take advantage of many opportunities right outside their dorm room.
Museums are scattered all over Westwood, and several national parks, including Yosemite National Park. But while it may be sunny most days of the year, it can get freezing at night (that may sound trivial, but winter in LA can be downright depressing if you aren’t prepared).
Another reason why studying at UCLA is such a good idea is because it’s not too large. With around 40,000 students enrolled each year, enrollment isn’t as big as some other universities (the University of Florida enrolls around 50,000 every fall).
The smaller student body means that professors know who you are – or they will know after your first week on campus. They won’t just be teaching hundreds of different people; they’ll actually care about your academic performance. It’s also worth noting that many startups have come out of UCLA.
The cons of studying at UCLA
In any academic setting, it’s important to acknowledge both pros and cons of your school. So how does UCLA stack up for computer science students? UCLA offers a fantastic program, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
For example, during an internship or full-time work experience in California, you may miss out on some East Coast or overseas opportunities. You also should be aware that finding internships or jobs after graduation isn’t easy—especially if you want to work at a startup.
The chances are good that you’ll need to relocate to San Francisco or Silicon Valley if you want a job as a software engineer. Finally, it’s worth noting that many grads end up working for big companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple.
As exciting as those companies are, there are tradeoffs when working for them. It can be hard to stand out from so many other intelligent engineers; sometimes, they don’t offer much room for advancement, and often their products aren’t as innovative as startups’.
Consider joining a smaller company if you’re looking for more creative freedom (and higher pay).
What other schools are like UCLA?
It’s good to research other schools, especially if you’re a transfer student. If you’re not sure what schools are similar to UCLA, look at the info about its ranking, reputation, and costs of attendance. You can also read reviews from other students on College Choice or College Prowler for more insight.
Also, see how it stacks up against universities like Cornell and the University of Southern California. More prominent schools have better resources and more funding, but they may be less intimate, and your experience may feel less personalized.
Smaller schools will likely have fewer resources, but they’ll also give you more attention from professors. They might even offer individualized programs that cater specifically to your interests.
The Final Word
UCLA offers quality education to graduates prepared to enter an exciting and competitive industry. Students are given various tools for their professional endeavors with vital computer science and computer engineering programs.
When you look at some of their course options (such as human-computer interaction), it’s clear that these students receive a well-rounded education, allowing them to think on multiple levels about their future career paths. Schools will always have stronger reputations than others and more extensive alumni networks. Still, UCLA offers exceptional computer science opportunities, both inside and outside of class.