A Glance at UCLA Computer Science Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

UCLA metal singnage

A Glance at UCLA Computer Science Program

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public research university situated in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. It is one of the 10 campuses of the University of California (UC) system and is the second oldest of the group. Since its establishment in 1919, UCLA has evolved to become a beacon of academic excellence, innovation, and diverse culture. Particularly notable is the UCLA Computer Science program, housed under the Samueli School of Engineering.

This program is globally recognized for its outstanding curriculum, cutting-edge research, and distinguished faculty. It consistently ranks among the top computer science programs worldwide, according to prominent ranking organizations such as QS World University Rankings and U.S. News & World Report.

The program is well-regarded for its comprehensive and rigorous coursework that covers the foundational principles and the latest developments in computer science, as well as for its research that advances the frontiers of the field. Graduates of UCLA’s Computer Science program are sought after by top technology companies and research institutions, reflecting the high caliber of education provided by the university.

UCLA Undergraduate Program for Computer Science

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to UCLA’s Computer Science undergraduate program, applicants need to meet certain requirements. Firstly, a strong high school GPA is necessary, with a particular emphasis on excellence in mathematics and science courses. The university looks for a rigorous high school curriculum filled with honors, AP, or IB courses.

UCLA at night

Secondly, while UCLA  has decided not to consider SAT or ACT scores for admissions due to the pandemic, applicants should check the latest policies as they may vary from year to year. As part of the application process, prospective students need to submit the UC application, which includes personal insight questions.

These are an opportunity for students to highlight their experiences, activities, and how they align with the qualities UCLA seeks in its students. Additionally, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and community service are also valuable parts of a strong application.

It’s important to note that UCLA’s admission process is highly competitive, so meeting these requirements does not guarantee admission, but rather it makes a student eligible for consideration.


The curriculum for the UCLA Computer Science undergraduate program is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in the fundamentals of computer science while allowing flexibility to explore various subfields. The required core courses cover topics such as data structures, algorithms, computer organization, operating systems, software engineering, and programming languages.

In addition to these core courses, students can select from a broad array of elective courses that span diverse topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, data science, computer networks, and more. This allows students to deepen their understanding of areas of their interest or explore new ones.

The program culminates with a capstone project or thesis, depending on the track the student has chosen. The capstone project is typically a team-based, real-world software development project that integrates the knowledge and skills learned throughout the program.

On the other hand, the thesis option, which is often pursued by students interested in research or further academic study, involves an in-depth investigation of a specific problem in computer science under the guidance of a faculty advisor.


At UCLA, the Computer Science program offers various specializations to allow students to delve deeper into specific areas of interest. The Artificial Intelligence specialization focuses on the design and application of computer systems capable of tasks that usually require human intelligence. This may include machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, and computer vision, among others.

UCLA campus

The Software Engineering specialization is structured to equip students with the principles and best practices of designing, implementing, and managing large-scale software systems. This includes areas such as software design, software testing, and software project management. In the Cybersecurity specialization, students are trained to design systems and protocols to protect digital information from cyber threats.

They gain a comprehensive understanding of topics like network security, cryptography, and computer forensics. The Data Science specialization offers students an interdisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes the tools and methods used to manipulate, analyze, and visualize data.

It merges concepts from statistics, computer science, and data analysis to help students extract insights from large, complex data sets. Each of these specializations prepares students for a variety of careers and helps them become adept in their chosen field.


The UCLA Computer Science program provides a wealth of opportunities for students to broaden their academic and professional horizons. One of the key strengths of the program lies in its robust research opportunities. Students are encouraged to engage in groundbreaking research under the mentorship of distinguished faculty, often as early as their freshman year.

This provides a hands-on, immersive experience in cutting-edge areas of computer science. Internships are another key component of the UCLA experience. The university’s location in Los Angeles, a vibrant tech hub, allows students access to a wealth of internship opportunities at both emerging startups and established tech giants.

These internships provide invaluable industry experience and often lead to full-time job offers. Additionally, UCLA has a strong study abroad program. Computer Science students have the opportunity to study at partner universities across the globe. This allows students to gain international experience, learn about different cultures, and broaden their perspectives while continuing to progress in their computer science studies.

UCLA Graduate Program for Computer Science

Admission requirements

To apply for the Computer Science graduate program at UCLA, applicants must meet certain prerequisites. Firstly, they should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably in computer science or a closely related field. Candidates with degrees in other disciplines but with strong computational backgrounds can also be considered.

Secondly, while the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) had been a traditional requirement, as of my last knowledge update in September 2021, UCLA had waived the GRE requirement for the Computer Science graduate program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, applicants should confirm the current requirements as policies may have changed.

Lastly, letters of recommendation are an integral part of the application process. These should ideally come from professors or professionals who can attest to the applicant’s academic abilities, research potential, and personal qualities that would contribute to their success in the program. It’s important to note that admission into the UCLA Computer Science graduate program in Computer Science is highly competitive, so meeting the minimum requirements doesn’t guarantee admission, but rather makes an applicant eligible for consideration.


The curriculum of the graduate Computer Science program at UCLA aims to provide students with a profound understanding of advanced computer science concepts, enabling them to innovate in the field. Required core courses vary based on the student’s focus area, but they generally cover advanced topics in areas such as algorithms, operating systems, computer networks, databases, and artificial intelligence.

Teenage boy writing an essay using computer sitting by desk in room alone.

Students also have a wide range of elective courses to choose from, which allows them to tailor their education to their interests and career goals. These elective courses cover a wide array of topics, from machine learning and data science to cybersecurity and quantum computing. As part of their degree requirements, students are usually expected to complete a thesis or a comprehensive project.

The thesis track generally involves undertaking a substantial research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor, culminating in a written thesis that contributes to the body of knowledge in the field. On the other hand, the project track typically involves a more practical application of computer science concepts, often in collaboration with industry partners. Both tracks provide students with the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired during their studies.


In the UCLA Computer Science graduate program, students have the opportunity to specialize in several areas based on their interests and career aspirations. The Machine Learning specialization focuses on the study and design of algorithms that can learn from and make decisions or predictions based on data. This involves deep learning, reinforcement learning, and statistical methods.

In the Computer Networks specialization, students learn the theoretical and practical aspects of designing, implementing, and managing computer communication networks. This includes a deep understanding of network protocols, wireless networks, network security, and distributed systems. The Bioinformatics specialization is an interdisciplinary field that combines computer science, biology, and statistics.

It involves the development and application of computational tools and techniques for analyzing and interpreting biological data, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. Each of these specializations is designed to provide students with a deep understanding of the chosen area, as well as practical skills to solve real-world problems.


The UCLA Computer Science graduate program offers numerous opportunities for students to gain practical experience and enrich their academic journey. Research opportunities are plentiful, with many faculty members leading groundbreaking projects in diverse areas of computer science. Students can collaborate with these professors, contributing to innovative research that pushes the boundaries of the field.

Teaching assistantships are also available, giving students a chance to deepen their understanding of the subject matter, improve their communication skills, and gain teaching experience. These positions often come with tuition waivers or stipends, making them a valuable form of financial aid as well. Finally, UCLA maintains strong partnerships with numerous industry leaders in technology and beyond.

These partnerships often lead to collaborative projects, internships, and even job opportunities for students. They allow students to apply their academic knowledge in real-world settings, gain industry experience, and build professional networks, all of which can significantly enhance their career prospects post-graduation.

UCLA Faculty for Computer Science

Brief overview of faculty

The faculty at UCLA’s Computer Science Department is composed of a diverse group of internationally recognized scholars and educators. They come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, bringing a wealth of expertise and perspectives to the program. Many of them are leading figures in their respective fields, contributing to the advancement of knowledge through their innovative research.

These faculty members are not only dedicated researchers but also committed educators, invested in the academic growth and success of their students. They provide mentorship, research opportunities, and career advice to students, shaping the next generation of computer scientists. They are recipients of numerous prestigious awards and honors, including but not limited to memberships in the National Academy of Engineering and the Association for Computing Machinery.

a computer scientist reporting in front of his colleagues

Their combined expertise spans across all major areas of computer science, from artificial intelligence and machine learning to cybersecurity, computer networks, and bioinformatics, among others. Their dedication to teaching and research excellence significantly contributes to the high ranking and global reputation of the UCLA Computer Science program.

Notable faculty members and their contributions

The Computer Science Department at UCLA is home to many notable faculty members whose contributions have had a significant impact on the field. For instance, Professor Leonard Kleinrock is a distinguished computer scientist known for his seminal research on packet switching, the technology underpinning the internet. His work on queuing theory was instrumental in the development of modern communication networks.

Another eminent faculty member is Professor Judea Pearl, recipient of the Turing Award – often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science”. He is renowned for his work in the fields of artificial intelligence and statistics, particularly in the development of Bayesian networks and the calculus of causation.

Professor Eleazar Eskin has also made substantial contributions in the field of bioinformatics, developing computational methods to understand the genetic basis of human disease. These faculty members, along with others, have not only contributed to the body of knowledge in computer science, but have also enhanced the educational experience for students at UCLA by bringing cutting-edge research and real-world applications into the classroom.

UCLA Research for Computer Science

Overview of Computer Science research at UCLA

The UCLA Computer Science Department is recognized globally as a hub of groundbreaking research, pushing the frontiers of knowledge in numerous areas within the field. Its research spans a wide spectrum of areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, computer networks, bioinformatics, software engineering, and data science, among others.

The department fosters an environment of innovation and collaboration, encouraging faculty, graduate students, and even undergraduate students to participate in cutting-edge research. This dynamic research ecosystem is supported by state-of-the-art facilities and labs, providing the necessary resources for exploration and discovery.

The department’s research not only contributes to the academic field but also has significant real-world impact, often leading to technological advancements and innovative solutions to complex problems. This commitment to pioneering research, combined with a deep focus on solving societal challenges, solidifies UCLA’s position as a leading institution in computer science research.

Major research areas

UCLA’s Computer Science Department is renowned for its research spanning numerous areas in the field. In the realm of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, faculty, and students are developing advanced algorithms and systems that can learn from data, make predictions, and automate decision-making.

This includes research in deep learning, reinforcement learning, and natural language processing. Another significant area of research is Cybersecurity, where the focus is on developing secure systems, cryptography, privacy-preserving technologies, and understanding the implications of cyber threats. In the area of Computer Networks, research involves designing efficient and reliable communication protocols, understanding network behavior, and optimizing network performance.

a computer science professor demonstrating

Bioinformatics is also a major UCLA Research area, combining computer science, biology, and statistics to analyze and interpret complex biological data. Other prominent research areas include Software Engineering, focusing on improving the processes of designing, implementing, and maintaining large software systems; and Data Science, which involves extracting insights from large, complex datasets.

Notable research projects

Several notable research projects have emerged from the UCLA Computer Science Department, reflecting the breadth and depth of its research endeavors. For instance, the Networked and Embedded Systems Lab led a project on Internet of Things (IoT) security, focusing on developing robust defenses for IoT devices against cyber-attacks.

Another noteworthy project is the development of advanced machine learning algorithms for predicting disease outcomes, led by the Computational Genetics Lab. This project has important implications for personalized medicine and healthcare.

In the realm of artificial intelligence, a significant project involved the development of a novel AI system capable of understanding and generating human language in a more natural and sophisticated manner, pushing the boundaries of natural language processing.

The Cryptography and Security Lab has been leading projects on post-quantum cryptography, aiming to develop cryptographic systems that can withstand attacks from quantum computers. These are just a few examples of the pioneering research projects underway at UCLA, all of which highlight the university’s commitment to advancing the field of computer science.

Research facilities and labs

UCLA’s Computer Science Department houses numerous state-of-the-art research facilities and labs, each dedicated to a specific area of computer science. These facilities serve as vital hubs of innovation and discovery, supporting faculty and students in their research endeavors. Among these is the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which focuses on machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics.

The Networked and Embedded Systems Laboratory offers resources for research in IoT, computer networks, and cloud computing. The Bioinformatics Laboratory provides computational resources for the analysis and interpretation of complex biological data.

The Security and Privacy Research Lab is dedicated to research in cybersecurity, exploring topics such as cryptography, network security, and privacy-enhancing technologies. Each of these facilities is equipped with cutting-edge technology and provides a collaborative environment that fosters innovation and interdisciplinary research. These resources are instrumental in driving the high-quality research that the UCLA Computer Science Department is known for.

Now that you know about UCLA, you should have an easier time deciding if you will attend this university. Wherever you might want to enter, you can get help with AdmissionSight with the help of our world-class guidance. With the help of experts, choosing the best university that suits you best shouldn’t be hard with AdmissionSight. You can talk to us today to get started.

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