UIUC vs UC Davis: A Comprehensive Overview

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students lounging around the building in Urbana-Champaign.

UIUC vs UC Davis: A Comprehensive Overview

When it comes to choosing a university to attend, there are numerous factors to consider. If you are considering between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), you have come to the right place. This article will provide you with a comprehensive comparison of these two universities across various academic and social aspects, helping you make an informed decision.

UC Davis

Before delving into the comparison, let us first understand a bit about each university. UC Davis is a public research university located in Davis, California. Established in 1905, it is the third-largest university in the University of California system and offers over 100 undergraduate majors and 96 graduate programs across diverse areas of study.

UC Davis is known for its strong programs in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and environmental science. The university is home to the largest veterinary school in the United States and is a leader in sustainable agriculture research. In addition, UC Davis has a strong commitment to community service and is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the country for its contributions to social mobility and public service.

UC Davis has a vibrant campus life, with over 800 student organizations and a thriving arts and culture scene. The university is home to the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts a variety of concerts, theater productions, and dance performances throughout the year. The campus also features a number of museums and galleries, including the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which showcases contemporary art and design.

View of UC Davis sign

Academic Programs and Majors Offered at UIUC and UC Davis

One of the most crucial aspects to consider when selecting a university is the academic programs and majors offered. Both UIUC and UC Davis offer a wide range of programs, spanning across different fields.

UIUC, one of the most reputed universities in the United States, offers over 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate programs across 16 different colleges. Some of the popular majors include computer science, engineering, business, and psychology.

On the other hand, UC Davis offers a diverse range of undergrad and graduate programs, including programs in medicine, law, engineering, and agriculture. Some of the most popular majors at UC Davis are biological and biomedical sciences, agriculture, and psychology.

UIUC is particularly well-known for its engineering programs, which are consistently ranked among the top in the country. The College of Engineering at UIUC offers a wide range of programs, including aerospace, civil, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Additionally, UIUC is home to the Gies College of Business, which is highly regarded for its undergraduate and graduate business programs.

UC Davis is renowned for its agricultural programs, which are among the best in the world. The university’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers a variety of programs, including animal science, sustainable agriculture, and viticulture and enology. UC Davis is also home to the School of Medicine, which is ranked among the top 50 medical schools in the country.

Admission Requirements for UIUC and UC Davis

If you are planning to apply to UIUC or UC Davis, you need to meet their admission requirements. Both universities have somewhat different admission criteria, ranging from test scores and grades to essays and extracurricular activities.

UIUC’s admission process emphasizes the importance of academic performance, test scores, and essays. The acceptance rate for UIUC is around 62%, with the middle 50% ACT range being 28-33 and the SAT range being 1330-1500.

UC Davis, on the other hand, considers factors such as academic performance, test scores, essays, and extracurricular activities while reviewing applications. The acceptance rate for UC Davis is 43%, with the middle 50% ACT range being 25-33 and the SAT range being 1170-1440.

It is important to note that both UIUC and UC Davis also consider other factors such as letters of recommendation, personal statements, and demonstrated interest in the university. Additionally, UIUC offers early action and regular decision application options, while UC Davis offers a rolling admissions process. It is recommended that applicants thoroughly research the admission requirements and deadlines for each university and submit a well-rounded application that showcases their strengths and achievements.

Student Life at UIUC and UC Davis: A Comparative Analysis

When it comes to social life and campus culture, both UIUC and UC Davis have unique features and offer an enriching college experience.

UIUC has a vibrant campus life, with over 1,200 student organizations ranging from academic and professional organizations to performing arts and media groups. The university also hosts a range of events throughout the year, including music and cultural festivals, art exhibits, and sports events. Additionally, the university has state-of-the-art facilities for fitness and recreation.

UC Davis is known for its strong sense of community and environmental consciousness. The university has numerous student organizations focused on sustainability, and the campus features various green spaces. Students can participate in various recreational activities, such as intramural sports, outdoor adventures, and fitness programs. The university’s location in the heart of Sacramento also provides students with access to various local attractions.

Another aspect of student life at UIUC is the diverse range of dining options available on campus. From traditional dining halls to food trucks and cafes, students can choose from a variety of cuisines and dining experiences. The university also offers meal plans that cater to different dietary needs and preferences.

At UC Davis, students have the opportunity to participate in research and innovation through various programs and initiatives. The university is home to several research centers and institutes, and students can work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge projects. Additionally, the university has a strong entrepreneurship culture, with resources and support available for students interested in starting their own businesses.

Front view of university of Illinois

Cost of Attendance: UIUC vs. UC Davis

College can be quite expensive, and understanding the cost of attendance is an essential aspect to consider when selecting a university. Factors that determine the cost of attendance include tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other fees.

UIUC’s estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is about $36,226 for in-state and $54,398 for out-of-state students. In contrast, UC Davis’s estimated cost of attendance is approximately $35,913 for in-state and $66,172 for out-of-state students.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance can vary depending on the program of study and the individual student’s financial situation. Additionally, both UIUC and UC Davis offer various financial aid options, such as scholarships, grants, and loans, to help offset the cost of attendance. It is recommended that students research and compare the financial aid options available at each university before making a final decision.

Housing and Accommodation Options at UIUC and UC Davis

Another crucial aspect of college life is housing and accommodation. Both UIUC and UC Davis offer a range of options for students to live on or off-campus.

UIUC offers various residence halls and apartments for students to choose from. These options feature different amenities, such as fitness centers, dining areas, and communal spaces. Students can also choose to live off-campus in their apartments or houses in the Champaign-Urbana area.

UC Davis offers both residence hall and apartment-style living options. The university has ten residence halls, each with its unique features, and several apartment complexes situated on or near campus. Students can also opt to live off-campus in the city of Davis or nearby in Sacramento.

It is important to note that both universities have different policies and procedures for housing applications and assignments. UIUC has a priority deadline for housing applications, and students are encouraged to apply early to secure their preferred housing option. UC Davis, on the other hand, uses a lottery system for housing assignments, and students are randomly assigned to a residence hall or apartment complex based on their preferences.

Additionally, both universities offer resources and support for students who are looking for off-campus housing options. UIUC has an Off-Campus Community Living office that provides information on rental agreements, landlord-tenant laws, and safety tips. UC Davis has a Community Housing Listing Service that connects students with available rental properties in the Davis and Sacramento areas.

UIUC vs UC Davis: Faculty and Student Ratio

Having access to dedicated and experienced faculty is essential to succeed in college. Therefore, it is essential to consider the faculty and student ratio while choosing a university.

UIUC has an average class size of 32 students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1. This means that students have access to a diverse range of professors and can engage in dynamic learning opportunities.

UC Davis has an average class size of 30 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1. The university’s faculty comprises renowned researchers and teachers who contribute to the university’s academic and research excellence.

However, it is important to note that while both universities have the same student-to-faculty ratio, UIUC has a larger faculty size than UC Davis. This means that UIUC students may have more opportunities to work closely with professors and receive individualized attention. On the other hand, UC Davis may offer a more personalized learning experience due to its smaller class sizes.

four students lounging on the steps outside

Student Organizations, Clubs, and Extracurricular Activities at UIUC and UC Davis

Joining student organizations, clubs, and participating in extracurricular activities is an excellent way to discover students’ interests and hobbies, develop new skills, and meet new people.

UIUC offers over 1,200 registered student organizations, ranging from academic and professional organizations to performing arts and media groups. Students can also participate in various cultural and diversity programs, leadership programs, and community service initiatives.

UC Davis has over 800 registered student organizations, including adventure and outdoor recreation clubs, academic organizations, and cultural and diversity groups. The university also has a strong Greek life network, and students can participate in various campus events throughout the year.

Additionally, both UIUC and UC Davis offer opportunities for students to start their own organizations and clubs. This allows students to create a community around a shared interest or cause and develop leadership skills in the process. Students can also apply for funding and resources to support their organization’s activities and events.

Furthermore, participating in extracurricular activities can enhance a student’s resume and job prospects after graduation. Employers often look for candidates who have demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and a commitment to their community, all of which can be gained through involvement in student organizations and clubs.

UIUC vs UC Davis: Campus Safety Measures

Ensuring student safety and security is a top priority for universities. Both UIUC and UC Davis have comprehensive safety measures in place to ensure the well-being of their students.

UIUC has its own police department and provides emergency alerts and notifications, crime prevention programs, and safe transportation options to ensure student safety. The university has also implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan.

UC Davis also has its own police department, which provides safety services and education to the campus community. The university offers a range of safety and security resources, including emergency notifications, counseling services, and environmental health and safety resources, among others.

UIUC has also implemented a number of safety measures to ensure the safety of students living on campus. These measures include 24-hour security personnel, keycard access to residence halls, and security cameras in common areas. Additionally, the university has a robust system for reporting and addressing incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

UC Davis has also taken steps to address sexual assault and harassment on campus, including the implementation of a comprehensive sexual violence prevention program. The university also offers a range of mental health resources, including counseling services and support groups, to help students cope with the stresses of college life.

Career Opportunities after Graduation from UIUC vs UC Davis

One of the primary goals of attending college is to equip oneself with the knowledge and skills required for a successful career. Both UIUC and UC Davis have strong alumni networks and offer numerous resources and opportunities for students to prepare for their post-graduation careers.

UIUC has one of the most extensive career centers in the United States, offering a range of services, including career counseling, resume and cover letter writing, job search resources, and career fairs and events. The university’s alumni network and reputation help students land jobs in diverse sectors, including finance, consulting, technology, and research.

UC Davis also has a robust career center, offering career counseling, workshops, and job search resources. The university has a vast alumni network that provides valuable connections and insights for students looking to embark on their careers. UC Davis students land jobs in a range of fields, including healthcare, education, and business.

However, there are some differences in the career opportunities available to graduates of UIUC and UC Davis. UIUC is known for its strong engineering and computer science programs, which attract many tech companies to recruit on campus. This means that UIUC graduates have a higher chance of landing jobs in the tech industry, especially in software engineering and data science. On the other hand, UC Davis has a renowned veterinary medicine program, which opens up opportunities for graduates in animal health and agriculture-related fields.

Group of students walking in the stairs.

UIUC vs UC Davis: Research Facilities and Opportunities

Both UIUC and UC Davis are known for their academic and research excellence, with numerous research opportunities available for students.

UIUC is a major research institution, with over $642 million in research expenditures. The university offers students unique research opportunities, working with world-renowned scientists and researchers in various fields. Students can participate in research projects and have access to state-of-the-art research facilities, such as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

UC Davis is also a research-intensive university, with over $846 million in research expenditures. The university provides students with opportunities to collaborate on cutting-edge research, work with renowned researchers, and have access to diverse research facilities, such as the Center for Watershed Sciences and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Additionally, both universities offer students the chance to present their research at various conferences and symposiums. UIUC hosts the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where students can showcase their research to the campus community and beyond. UC Davis hosts the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference, which provides students with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience and network with other researchers.

Sports, Athletics, and Fitness Facilities at UIUC vs UC Davis

Sports, athletics, and fitness are an integral part of college life and help students develop physical fitness, teamwork, and leadership skills.

UIUC offers a range of fitness and recreation facilities, including a comprehensive Campus Recreation Center, varsity athletics programs, and club sports. The university’s varsity teams are known collectively as the Fighting Illini, and they compete in the NCAA Division I in the Big Ten Conference.

UC Davis also has a range of fitness and recreation facilities, including the Marya Welch Tennis Center and the Schaal Aquatics Center. The university’s varsity teams compete in various sports, including cross-country, soccer, and basketball, among others.

UIUC’s Campus Recreation Center is one of the largest and most comprehensive recreation centers in the country, spanning over 340,000 square feet. It includes a 35-foot climbing wall, a 50-meter swimming pool, and a 1/8-mile indoor track, among other amenities. The university’s club sports program offers over 40 different sports, ranging from ultimate frisbee to water polo.

UC Davis also has a strong focus on fitness and wellness, offering a variety of group fitness classes and intramural sports. The university’s Outdoor Adventures program provides opportunities for students to explore the outdoors through activities such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing. Additionally, UC Davis has a state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Center, which offers a range of services including medical care, counseling, and nutrition consultations.

UIUC vs UC Davis: Alumni Network

Having access to a robust alumni network is crucial for students as they graduate and embark upon their careers.

UIUC has an extensive alumni network, with over 650,000 alumni across the world. The university’s alumni hold leadership positions in diverse sectors and provide students with valuable connections and opportunities. The university also hosts various alumni events, workshops, and networking sessions throughout the year.

UC Davis has a strong alumni network, with over 250,000 alumni across the world. The university’s alumni hold positions in various fields, including healthcare, education, and technology. The university’s alumni association provides students with valuable connections and resources, including mentorship programs and alumni events.

One notable aspect of UIUC’s alumni network is its strong presence in the tech industry. Many UIUC alumni have gone on to work for major tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. This has led to the creation of various tech-focused alumni groups and events, providing students with unique opportunities to connect with industry professionals.

On the other hand, UC Davis has a strong focus on sustainability and environmentalism within its alumni network. Many alumni have gone on to work in fields such as renewable energy, conservation, and sustainable agriculture. The university’s alumni association hosts events and programs focused on sustainability, providing students with opportunities to learn about and engage with these important issues.

Happy students walking together.

Social Life in Champaign-Urbana (UIUC) vs. Sacramento (UC Davis)

Finally, let us compare the social life and local attractions in the cities hosting each university.

Champaign-Urbana, where UIUC is located, has a vibrant nightlife, with various bars, cafes, and restaurants lining the streets. The city also features various cultural attractions, such as museums and theaters, and hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as the Ebertfest film festival.

Sacramento, where UC Davis is located, is the capital of California and offers a range of unique attractions. The city features various museums, art galleries, and outdoor recreational spaces, such as the American River Bike Trail. The city also hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, such as the Sacramento Jazz Festival.

Additionally, Champaign-Urbana is known for its lively college town atmosphere, with many events and activities geared towards students. The university itself hosts various concerts, performances, and sporting events throughout the year, providing students with plenty of opportunities to socialize and connect with their peers.

On the other hand, Sacramento offers a more diverse and cosmopolitan social scene, with a range of neighborhoods and districts catering to different interests and lifestyles. From the trendy bars and restaurants in Midtown to the upscale shopping and dining in Downtown, there is something for everyone in this bustling city.


As you can see, both UIUC and UC Davis offer a comprehensive college experience, with unique features and strengths. Ultimately, the decision of which university to attend boils down to personal preferences and priorities. We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into these two excellent universities and helps you make an informed decision.

a line of graduates wearing their graduation gowns

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