UCLA vs Harvey Mudd: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

smiling woman inside university

UCLA vs Harvey Mudd: A Comprehensive Analysis

As high school seniors navigate the complicated process of selecting the right college, there are many factors to consider. For intellectually curious students interested in pursuing a rigorous education on the West Coast, UCLA and Harvey Mudd College are two top schools worth exploring. Although both colleges have much to offer, there are core differences in mission, academics, campus culture, and extracurricular activities that make each of them better suited for different types of students. In this comprehensive article, we analyze the similarities and differences between UCLA vs Harvey Mudd College, to help students better assess which one is a good fit for them.

Location and Campus Features of UCLA and Harvey Mudd

The first and most obvious difference between these two colleges is their location. UCLA is situated in the heart of Los Angeles, California, a bustling city that attracts students who crave the excitement of urban living. Harvey Mudd is located in Claremont, California, a quaint and quiet suburb. UCLA has a sprawling campus, with 419 acres and 164 buildings. Harvey Mudd, on the other hand, has a much smaller campus, with 33 acres and six academic buildings. UCLA’s campus features iconic landmarks such as Royce Hall and the Janss Steps, while Harvey Mudd boasts the beautiful Jacobs Science Center, designed to encourage collaborative learning.

Another notable difference between these two colleges is their academic focus. UCLA is a large public research university, offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines. Harvey Mudd, on the other hand, is a small, private liberal arts college that specializes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This means that Harvey Mudd students have access to cutting-edge research facilities and opportunities for hands-on learning in their chosen fields. Additionally, Harvey Mudd has a unique partnership with the other Claremont Colleges, allowing students to take classes and participate in activities at the other colleges in the consortium.

Admission Statistics at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd

Admission to both UCLA and Harvey Mudd is highly selective. For this academic year, UCLA’s acceptance rate is 11%, while Harvey Mudd’s is around 10%. UCLA has an enrollment of around 45,000, while Harvey Mudd enrolls approximately 800 students. Harvey Mudd College has a higher percentage of women and students of color, while UCLA’s student population tends to be more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and national origin. Both colleges require high standardized test scores and strong academic records to be considered for admission, but Harvey Mudd also emphasizes the importance of a student’s passion for STEM.

Two people using a laptop to view a college report.

Another factor that sets Harvey Mudd apart from UCLA is its focus on undergraduate education. Harvey Mudd is a small liberal arts college that exclusively offers undergraduate degrees in STEM fields, while UCLA is a large research university that offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Harvey Mudd’s small class sizes and emphasis on hands-on learning provide students with personalized attention and opportunities to conduct research with faculty members. Additionally, Harvey Mudd has a strong alumni network that provides students with internship and job opportunities in STEM fields.

Academic Programs at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd

At UCLA, students can choose from over 125 majors, ranging from art to engineering, humanities, social sciences, and beyond. Harvey Mudd, in contrast, offers fewer majors, but all of them center around STEM fields such as computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Harvey Mudd also has a unique joint major program with four other Claremont colleges, which allows students to pursue interdisciplinary studies across fields. Both colleges have excellent faculty and resources, but Harvey Mudd prides itself on the quality of its teaching, offering smaller class sizes and personalized attention.

Despite the differences in the number of majors offered, both UCLA and Harvey Mudd provide students with ample opportunities to engage in research and hands-on learning experiences. UCLA has a strong research focus, with numerous research centers and institutes across various disciplines. Students can participate in research projects as early as their freshman year, working alongside faculty members and graduate students. Harvey Mudd, on the other hand, emphasizes experiential learning through its Clinic Program, where students work in teams to solve real-world problems for industry sponsors. The program has been recognized as one of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the country.

Another notable difference between the two colleges is their approach to general education requirements. UCLA has a comprehensive general education program, which requires students to take courses in various disciplines outside of their major. Harvey Mudd, on the other hand, has a more focused curriculum, with a strong emphasis on STEM courses. However, Harvey Mudd students are also required to take courses in the humanities, social sciences, and arts, ensuring that they receive a well-rounded education.

Faculty and Student Body at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd

UCLA and Harvey Mudd College have different student-to-faculty ratios. UCLA’s ratio is 18:1, which is high for a national research university. Harvey Mudd, however, has a low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, which means that students receive more direct guidance and mentoring from their professors.

Students working with their teacher in the classroom.

Both colleges boast top-notch faculty members who are experts in their fields. UCLA has over 3,800 full-time faculty, while Harvey Mudd has around 144 tenure-track faculty members. Both institutions have a diverse group of scholars, researchers, and educators who contribute immensely to the intellectual life of their respective campuses.

Campus Culture: The Social Scene at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd

UCLA has a lively and diverse campus culture, with many student organizations, clubs, and events that cater to different interests and backgrounds. From sports teams to music ensembles, UCLA students can find a community that suits them. Harvey Mudd, being a smaller college, has a more intimate and tight-knit campus culture. Students often form strong bonds with each other and their professors through collaborative research, unique clubs, and engaging events. While both colleges emphasize academic rigor and intellectual curiosity, Harvey Mudd students tend to be more collaborative, while UCLA students enjoy a more competitive social life.

However, despite the differences in social scenes, both UCLA and Harvey Mudd offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and make a positive impact on society. UCLA has a strong tradition of volunteerism, with many students participating in service projects through organizations like UCLA Volunteer Center and UCLA Community Service Commission. Similarly, Harvey Mudd students are encouraged to use their technical skills to address real-world problems through programs like Clinic, which pairs students with industry sponsors to work on engineering projects that benefit the community.

Extracurricular Activities at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd

Both colleges offer a variety of extracurricular activities. UCLA is home to over 1,000 student organizations, including clubs for community engagement, sustainability, and cultural identity. Harvey Mudd, although smaller, still provides ample opportunities for students to engage in extracurricular activities, ranging from academic clubs like the Computer Science Club to social clubs like the Great Glass Elevator and Paws for a Break.

Additionally, both UCLA and Harvey Mudd offer opportunities for students to participate in intramural sports and recreational activities. UCLA has a state-of-the-art recreation center that includes a rock climbing wall, a swimming pool, and fitness classes. Harvey Mudd has a smaller gym on campus, but still offers intramural sports like basketball and volleyball. Both colleges also have outdoor recreation programs that allow students to explore the surrounding areas through activities like hiking and camping.

Career Services at UCLA vs Harvey Mudd: Which College Offers Better Opportunities for Graduates?

Both UCLA and Harvey Mudd offer strong career services and connect students with top employers in various industries. UCLA has a larger alumni network, with many successful graduates in fields such as entertainment, business, and science. Harvey Mudd’s small size may give students the advantage of a more tightly-knit alumni network. Due to Harvey Mudd’s focus on STEM-centered majors, students are often in high demand, and Harvey Mudd graduates are known for their perceived expertise in computer science and engineering.

A career service office guiding a student

Additionally, UCLA’s career services offer a wide range of resources for students, including career fairs, workshops, and networking events. The university also has a strong presence in the tech industry, with many graduates working at companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple.

On the other hand, Harvey Mudd’s career services focus heavily on preparing students for graduate school and research opportunities. The college has a high percentage of students who go on to pursue advanced degrees in STEM fields, and the career services team works closely with students to help them achieve their academic and career goals.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid at UCLA and Harvey Mudd

Both UCLA and Harvey Mudd are private, not-for-profit institutions, which means that tuition and fees can be costly. However, UCLA’s tuition is lower than Harvey Mudd’s, due to its status as a public university. UCLA also offers more need-based financial aid, while Harvey Mudd provides more merit-based financial aid. Harvey Mudd’s small size may allow for more individualized financial aid packages, as well. While both colleges are also known for providing a quality education worth the cost, UCLA’s status as a public institution may appeal more to prospective students with concerns about the cost of attendance.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance at both UCLA and Harvey Mudd goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students must also consider the cost of housing, textbooks, and other living expenses. UCLA offers a variety of housing options, including on-campus dorms and off-campus apartments, while Harvey Mudd guarantees housing for all four years. However, Harvey Mudd’s housing options are limited due to its small size, which may result in higher housing costs for students.

Additionally, both UCLA and Harvey Mudd offer various scholarship opportunities to help offset the cost of attendance. UCLA has a wide range of scholarships available, including those for academic achievement, leadership, and community service. Harvey Mudd also offers merit-based scholarships, as well as scholarships for underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students. Prospective students need to research and apply for these scholarships to help make their college education more affordable.

Alumni Network: How Can Graduates Benefit from Their Affiliation with UCLA or Harvey Mudd?

UCLA and Harvey Mudd have strong alumni networks that provide lifelong career and social opportunities. UCLA’s alumni are spread across the world and can be found in every industry. Harvey Mudd’s alumni network is smaller but highly respected in the STEM field. Both colleges take pride in their alumni and strive to maintain a close relationship with them. UCLA has an active alumni association, which provides networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and resources. Harvey Mudd’s resourceful alumni provide internships and job opportunities for current students.

a male adult stacking wooden cubes

Additionally, alumni from both UCLA and Harvey Mudd have access to exclusive events and programs. These events range from professional development workshops to social gatherings, allowing alumni to connect and stay involved with their alma mater. Furthermore, alumni can also take advantage of career services offered by the colleges, such as job search assistance and resume reviews. By staying connected with their respective alumni networks, graduates can continue to benefit from the resources and support provided by their college long after graduation.

Future Outlook: Which College is Poised for Success in the Coming Years?

Both UCLA and Harvey Mudd have strong foundations and are poised for continued success. UCLA’s status as a public university provides a unique opportunity for expansion and growth. Harvey Mudd is investing in renovating several of its academic buildings to provide state-of-the-art resources for students and faculty. Both colleges have strong support from their respective communities and are dedicated to providing an excellent education to their students. The future of both institutions is bright, and graduates from these colleges will continue to be leaders and innovators in their respective fields.

Looking ahead, UCLA is planning to expand its research capabilities and increase its partnerships with industry leaders. This will provide students with more opportunities to gain hands-on experience and make valuable connections in their fields of study. Additionally, UCLA is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion on campus, with initiatives aimed at recruiting and supporting underrepresented students.

Harvey Mudd is also focused on innovation and growth, with plans to expand its curriculum to include more interdisciplinary programs and partnerships with other colleges and universities. The college is also investing in sustainability initiatives, to become carbon neutral by 2030. These efforts will not only benefit the environment but also provide students with opportunities to learn about and contribute to important global issues.


Choosing the right college is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of many factors. In comparing UCLA and Harvey Mudd College, it’s clear that each college has a unique identity and strengths that appeal to different types of students.

UCLA’s sprawling campus and diverse offerings make it a good choice for students who want to explore many different academic fields while enjoying a bustling social life.

Meanwhile, Harvey Mudd’s smaller size and focus on STEM fields make it an environment where students can learn deeply about their chosen field, form close relationships with peers and faculty, and flourish in jobs that demand skills in the computer science and engineering industries.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer when deciding between UCLA and Harvey Mudd College, both colleges have much to offer, and students are fortunate to have a wealth of options when selecting a top university to attend.



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