UC Davis vs Barnard: Which College is Right for You?

August 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight

UC Davis vs Barnard: Which College is Right for You?

Are you or someone you know torn between attending UC Davis vs Barnard College? Making a decision about where to attend college can be overwhelming, but fear not. In this article, we will compare and contrast the two schools in various areas to help you make an informed decision.

Location: Comparing the Campuses of UC Davis vs Barnard

When it comes to location, UC Davis is located in the city of Davis, California, approximately 15 miles west of Sacramento. The campus is situated on 5,300 acres and has a suburban feel, making nature an integral part of the college experience. In contrast, Barnard College is located in the heart of New York City, on the Upper West Side. The campus is integrated into the city, and students can take advantage of all that New York City has to offer.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Are you someone who enjoys the great outdoors and a quieter environment? UC Davis may be the right choice for you. However, if you crave the excitement and hustle and bustle of city life, Barnard may be the better choice.

Another factor to consider when comparing the campuses of UC Davis and Barnard is the weather. Davis has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. On the other hand, New York City has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and cold winters. This means that students at Barnard will experience more extreme weather conditions throughout the year, while students at UC Davis can enjoy a more consistent climate.

Additionally, both campuses offer unique opportunities for students to explore their surroundings. UC Davis is located in close proximity to the Napa Valley wine region, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, providing students with easy access to outdoor activities and cultural experiences. Meanwhile, Barnard is located near some of the world’s most famous museums, theaters, and landmarks, allowing students to immerse themselves in the arts and culture of New York City.

Student Life: A Look at the Social Scenes at UC Davis vs Barnard

UC Davis is known for its tight-knit community. With a campus population of approximately 39,000 students, UC Davis has over 900 student-led clubs and organizations. Students are encouraged to attend sporting events, concerts, and other extracurricular activities on campus.

Students sitting on the bench.

In contrast, Barnard College is known for its vibrant social scene. With an enrollment of approximately 2,600 students, Barnard College is a tight-knit community, too. Barnard students have access to a range of extracurricular activities, such as theater productions, art exhibitions, and guest lectures.

Both schools offer rich and engaging student experiences, but the social scene at each college is different. UC Davis offers students a multitude of options for involvement on campus, while Barnard College offers a unique city atmosphere with lots to explore.

At UC Davis, students can also participate in Greek life, which is a popular aspect of the social scene. There are over 60 fraternities and sororities on campus, providing students with opportunities to make lifelong connections and engage in philanthropic activities. Additionally, UC Davis hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, such as the annual International Festival, which celebrates the diverse backgrounds of the student body.

On the other hand, Barnard College is located in the heart of New York City, providing students with endless opportunities to explore the city’s vibrant culture. Students can attend Broadway shows, visit museums, and try new restaurants in their free time. The college also offers a unique program called “Beyond Barnard,” which connects students with internships and job opportunities in the city, allowing them to gain valuable experience while still in school.

Academics: UC Davis vs Barnard

UC Davis is known for its research opportunities, particularly in the sciences, engineering, and agricultural fields. However, the university also offers majors in humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Barnard College, on the other hand, was founded as a women’s college and continues to pride itself on an environment that empowers women. Barnard College offers a vast array of majors in the humanities and social sciences, as well as STEM fields.

The academic offerings at UC Davis and Barnard College are suited to students with different interests. If you are interested in research opportunities on a sprawling campus, UC Davis may be right for you. Alternatively, if you prefer to attend a more intimate and women-centered institution, Barnard may be the way to go.

It is worth noting that both UC Davis and Barnard College offer unique study-abroad programs. UC Davis has partnerships with universities around the world, allowing students to study in countries such as Japan, Australia, and Spain.

Barnard College, on the other hand, offers its own study abroad programs, including opportunities to study in Paris, Berlin, and Havana. These programs provide students with the chance to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain a global perspective on their education.

Admissions: Comparing the Application Processes of UC Davis vs Barnard

Admission to both UC Davis and Barnard College is highly competitive. UC Davis offers a holistic review of each applicant’s application. This means the admissions committee considers everything, from GPA and test scores to extracurricular activities and essays. In contrast, admissions to Barnard College is based on a holistic review of applicants, too. However, the college values activism, leadership, and community involvement.

Unknown student writing on her table.

While both institutions have different admissions criteria, each of their processes is highly selective. Students should ensure that they submit applications that highlight their strengths.

It is important to note that UC Davis and Barnard College have different application deadlines. UC Davis has a priority application deadline of November 30th, while Barnard College has a regular decision deadline of January 1st. Additionally, UC Davis offers early action and early decision options, while Barnard College does not.

Another difference between the two institutions is their approach to standardized testing. UC Davis is test-optional, meaning that students can choose whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores. In contrast, Barnard College requires students to submit either SAT or ACT scores, although they have temporarily suspended this requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campus Diversity: Analyzing the Student Body at UC Davis vs Barnard

UC Davis prides itself on being a diverse community, with over 28% of its student body made up of underrepresented minorities. Additionally, over 4,500 international students from 130 countries call UC Davis home.

Barnard College similarly values diversity and has a student population that represents a range of backgrounds and experiences. Approximately fifty percent of Barnard students identify as students of color or international students.

Diversity is essential to both UC Davis and Barnard College. Prospective students who value diversity and multiculturalism stand to be comfortable at either institution.

Both UC Davis and Barnard College have taken steps to ensure that their campuses are inclusive and welcoming to all students. UC Davis has a number of student organizations and programs dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Cross Cultural Center and the LGBTQIA Resource Center.

Similarly, Barnard College has a variety of resources and initiatives aimed at supporting students from diverse backgrounds, including the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Athena Center for Leadership Studies.

Student Support Services: A Comparison of Resources Available at UC Davis vs Barnard

Both UC Davis and Barnard College provide an array of support services to their students. UC Davis provides tutoring resources, peer mentoring, career counseling, and financial aid assistance. Likewise, Barnard College offers students career and academic advising, writing resources, and student-led organizations to support diversity initiatives.

Both schools go above and beyond to support their students academically and otherwise. Prospective students should be sure to research the specific services available to them at each institution.

UC Davis also offers a variety of mental health resources to its students, including counseling services, crisis intervention, and workshops on stress management and mindfulness. Barnard College similarly provides mental health support through its counseling center, which offers individual and group therapy sessions, as well as workshops on topics such as anxiety and depression.

In addition to academic and mental health support, both schools offer resources for students interested in community service and social justice. UC Davis has a Center for Community and Civic Engagement, which connects students with volunteer opportunities and service-learning courses. Barnard College has a Social Justice Initiatives program, which offers workshops, events, and funding opportunities for students interested in activism and advocacy.

Athletics: Which College Offers Better Sports Programs, UC Davis or Barnard?

UC Davis is known for its competitive Division I athletics program. The university has an extensive offering of sports programs, including basketball, football, baseball, and soccer, among others. Barnard College does not offer a Division I athletics program. However, students at Barnard have the unique opportunity to participate in the Barnard-Columbia varsity athletic program, which includes NCAA Division I teams at Columbia University.

Set of sports equipments placed near the wall.

If athletics are a key component of your college experience, UC Davis may be more suited to your interests. However, Barnard College still offers opportunities to be involved in sports, albeit in a different capacity.

It is important to note that UC Davis also has a strong focus on intramural and club sports. These programs allow students to participate in a variety of sports, regardless of their skill level. Additionally, UC Davis has a state-of-the-art recreation center, which includes a rock climbing wall, a swimming pool, and fitness classes.

On the other hand, Barnard College has a unique program called Athena Scholars, which combines athletics and academics. This program is designed for student-athletes who want to excel in both areas. Athena Scholars receive additional academic support and have the opportunity to participate in leadership and community service activities.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing Tuition, Room, and Board between UC Davis and Barnard

The cost of attendance at UC Davis and Barnard College varies greatly. Tuition and fees at UC Davis for in-state residents total approximately $14,500 a year and $43,150 for non-residents. This does not account for room and board, which can set students back an additional $15,546. In contrast, the total cost of attendance at Barnard College, including tuition, room, and board, is approximately $73,400 a year.

Students should consider the cost of attendance at each institution before making a decision. While UC Davis may be more affordable for some, Barnard College’s location and reputation may be worth the higher cost of attendance.

It is important to note that both UC Davis and Barnard College offer financial aid and scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance. Students should research and apply for these opportunities to help make their education more affordable.

Additionally, students should consider the potential return on investment for their education. Graduates from both UC Davis and Barnard College have high employment rates and competitive salaries, which may make the cost of attendance worth it in the long run.

Career Opportunities: UC Davis vs Barnard

Both UC Davis and Barnard College provide students with access to career services to help prepare them for the workforce. UC Davis offers career counseling, job fairs, and a range of job search resources. Barnard College offers similar services, along with a focus on preparing women to enter male-dominated fields.

Both schools similarly support students as they enter the workforce, providing similar resources to help them succeed in their chosen careers.

However, there are some differences in the types of career opportunities that each school may offer. UC Davis is located in California, which is known for its thriving tech industry. As a result, UC Davis may have more connections and resources for students interested in pursuing careers in technology.

On the other hand, Barnard College is located in New York City, which is a hub for finance, media, and the arts. Barnard may have more opportunities for students interested in these fields.

Additionally, UC Davis has a larger student body and alumni network, which may provide more networking opportunities for students. Barnard College, on the other hand, has a smaller, more tight-knit community, which may provide more personalized support and mentorship for students.

Extracurricular Activities: A Look at the Clubs and Organizations Available at UC Davis vs Barnard

Both UC Davis and Barnard College provide students with a vast array of extracurricular activities. UC Davis has over 900 clubs and organizations that students can join. These clubs range from academic organizations to cultural clubs and community service organizations.

Similarly, Barnard College has over 100 student-led organizations available to join, including film clubs, literary magazines, and dance clubs. Additionally, Barnard students have access to events at Columbia University.

Group of friends taking a selfie using a camera.


Prospective students should research specific extracurricular activities of interest to them before making a decision about where to attend college.

It is important to note that extracurricular activities can have a significant impact on a student’s college experience. In addition to providing opportunities for personal growth and development, involvement in clubs and organizations can also help students build valuable skills and connections.

For example, joining a professional organization related to a student’s major can provide networking opportunities and help them gain experience in their field of interest. Similarly, participating in a community service organization can help students develop leadership skills and make a positive impact on their community.

Faculty: Analyzing the Teaching Styles and Qualifications of Professors at UC Davis vs Barnard

The faculty at both UC Davis and Barnard College are highly qualified and equipped to provide students with an enriching educational experience. UC Davis has over 3,000 faculty members, many of whom are world-renowned researchers in their fields. Similarly, Barnard College has a faculty made up of scholars, artists, and professionals who are experts in their fields.

Ultimately, the faculty at both institutions are highly dedicated to providing students with an exceptional education. Students should take the time to engage with faculty while they are on campus to make the most of their educational experiences.

It is important to note that the teaching styles of professors at UC Davis and Barnard College may vary. Some professors may use a lecture-based approach, while others may incorporate more hands-on activities or group work. It is recommended that students research the teaching styles of their potential professors before enrolling in their classes to ensure that they align with their learning preferences.

Student Success Rates: A Comparison of Graduation Rates between UC Davis vs Barnard

The graduation rates at UC Davis and Barnard College are both high. Approximately 85% of UC Davis students graduate within six years, while over 90% of Barnard College students graduate within the same time frame.

Students who attend either UC Davis or Barnard College are sure to receive a quality education and high-level support throughout their college experience.

However, there are some differences between the two institutions that may affect student success rates. UC Davis is a large public university with a diverse student body, while Barnard College is a small, private women’s college in New York City. This may impact the level of individual attention and support that students receive.

Additionally, UC Davis offers a wide range of majors and programs, while Barnard College is primarily focused on liberal arts and sciences. This may affect the career paths and job opportunities available to graduates of each institution.

Alumni Networks: UC Davis vs Barnard

Graduates from UC Davis and Barnard College have access to robust alumni networks. UC Davis alumni have access to the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, which provides opportunities for networking, career development, and social events.

Similarly, Barnard College graduates have access to the Barnard College Alumnae Association, which provides opportunities to connect with fellow Barnard alumnae, attend events, and more. Regardless of which institution you choose to attend, you can be sure that you will be connected to a strong alumni network upon graduation.

Two students talking in the hallway of the school.

However, there are some key differences between the alumni networks of UC Davis and Barnard College. For example, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association has a strong focus on supporting the agricultural industry and promoting sustainability. This means that UC Davis alumni who are interested in pursuing careers in agriculture or environmental sustainability may find the network particularly beneficial.

On the other hand, the Barnard College Alumnae Association places a strong emphasis on promoting women’s leadership and empowering women in their careers. This means that Barnard graduates who are interested in pursuing leadership roles or advocating for women’s rights may find the network particularly valuable.


Choosing between UC Davis and Barnard College can be a difficult decision. However, students can use the information presented in this article to inform their decision-making process and choose the institution that best aligns with their goals, interests, and preferences.

Ultimately, both UC Davis and Barnard College offer impressive academic programs, diverse campus communities, and unique opportunities for student growth. Prospective students must weigh the pros and cons of each school to determine the best fit for them.

It is important for students to consider factors beyond academics when making their decision. Location, campus culture, extracurricular activities, and access to resources such as internships and research opportunities should also be taken into account. Additionally, students should reach out to current students and alumni of both institutions to gain a better understanding of the student experience and community at each school.

If you’re set on getting into a world-class college but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about what we offer.


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