September 27, 2022
By AdmissionSight


Which college is the best fit for you?: USC vs UCLA

Trying to decide between USC or UCLA? The similarities between these two outstanding educational institutions are numerous and extensive. To name just a few examples, they both enjoy the same picture-perfect climate, have achieved remarkable success on the athletic field, and have produced an impressive roster of famous graduates. Learn more about USC VS UCLA.

On the other hand, there are a great many distinctions between the two, such as the fact that one is a private school and the other is a public institution.

Choosing between the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) can be difficult if you have your heart set on attending college in sunny and celebrity-studded Los Angeles, California, but you may find yourself torn between the two schools.

Both have solid college rankings, both are known for sunshine and school spirit, and both boast a boatload of athletic achievements and notable alumni. How exactly do you determine which of the many schools in the Los Angeles area is the best fit for you? What’s the difference between the two?


The campuses of USC and UCLA can be found in Los Angeles, which is the second-largest city in the United States. More than four million people make their homes in this metropolis, which is widely regarded as the global center of the entertainment industry. Additionally, it is well-known for its pleasant climate, which features more than 300 days of sunshine per year.

To be more specific, the University Park campus of USC is located in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. The campus of the Health Sciences department, on the other hand, is located to the northeast of the central business district of Los Angeles. Both campuses are located within walking distance of a variety of nightclubs, bars, trendy restaurants, and some of the best shopping in the world.

Meanwhile, although the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is also located in the city of Los Angeles, it can be found in the community of Westwood, which is found in the western region of the city. It’s in close proximity to some of the most famous neighborhoods in the city, like Bel Air and Beverly Hills.

Two students walking in the school campus.

Students at UCLA also have convenient access to a wide variety of well-known dining establishments, retail establishments, and entertainment venues. In addition to that, the Pacific Ocean can be reached in just a quick drive of five minutes!


Because it is a private institution, the tuition at USC is significantly higher than that of its counterpart, the public UCLA. USC charges a total of $59,260 for the cost of tuition for one academic year (two semesters).

In contrast to state schools, the University of Southern California does not provide in-state students with a reduced tuition rate. The cost of tuition is the same for both people who live in California and people who do not live in California.

In-state students at the public university UCLA pay approximately $13,240 per year in tuition, while students from outside of California pay $42,994 per year.

The University of California, Los Angeles is the option that will save you the most money, regardless of where you live. In point of fact, Forbes magazine placed it in the top five of the country’s universities that offer the best value.

Financial Aid

Both USC and UCLA have admissions policies that do not consider financial needs. In the process of reviewing college applications, they do not take an applicant’s financial capability into account, and they collaborate with the families of admitted students to ensure that all of their monetary requirements are met.

Both of these schools offer financial aid packages that include grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans in addition to aid that is need-based and aids that is not based on financial need. The funding comes from the federal government, state governments, and universities.

The website for the University of Southern California states that 75 percent of the financial assistance provided by the university comes in the form of “gift aid,” which refers to money that does not have to be repaid. Two-thirds of students who will start college in the fall of 2020 will receive some kind of financial assistance, and 21 percent of those students will receive a merit-based scholarship from the institution.

Moreso, according to the information provided on the website of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 45% of the university’s undergraduate students are awarded grants and scholarships, and 55% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The typical amount given as a gift is $18,808.


The total number of students enrolled at USC is approximately 46,000. This includes approximately 19,500 students enrolled in undergraduate programs and 26,500 students enrolled in graduate and professional programs.

On the other side, the total number of students enrolled at UCLA is 45,742. This includes 31,543 students enrolled in undergraduate programs and 14,199 students enrolled in graduate and professional programs.

Two students reading in a bench.

Both UCLA and USC have roughly the same number of total students enrolled at their respective institutions. The primary distinction between the two universities is that UCLA enrolls a significantly larger number of first-year students, while USC has a larger number of graduate and professional students.


A total of 126 unique undergraduate degrees are available to students at USC. Business/Management/Marketing, Communications/Journalism, Engineering, Social Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts are the most common majors that students choose to study at this institution.

The graduate programs that the university offers in Public Affairs, Physical Therapy, Engineering, Education, Business, Law, Health Care Management, Computer Science, and Nursing are the ones that receive the highest overall rankings from the academic community.

In addition, the film program at USC is extremely well-known, and notable alumni include people like George Lucas and Will Ferrell.

On the counterpart, more than 125 academic programs can be pursued at UCLA. Biology, business economics, political science, psychology, psychobiology, and economics are the subjects that are chosen the most frequently.

The fields of psychology, business, education, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, biological sciences, chemistry, computer sciences, earth sciences, economics, English, history, mathematics, physics, political science, public affairs, public health, and sociology are all represented among the top 20 graduate programs.

Other fields that make the list include Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Physics, and Sociology. It holds the number one spot in the country for Clinical Psychology as well as Fine Arts.

Student Bodies

Both UCLA and USC are strongly committed to diversity and have taken significant steps in recent years to become more welcoming to people of all backgrounds. Both of these schools have a relatively diverse student body, with a significant number of first-generation, low-income, and/or international pupils among their enrollment. Despite the fact that California is one of the most culturally and racially diverse states in the country, a large percentage of students at both schools call California home.

Social Scene

Both USC and UCLA provide students with a rich and diverse selection of on-campus activities, extracurricular opportunities, and events. On both campuses, there are over a thousand student organizations that are active.

In addition, both are found in areas that are conveniently close to a rich variety of shopping, dining, and nightlife options. Both of these schools are well known for their competitive athletic teams, but especially for the spirited students that attend them.

At USC and UCLA, there is a good chance that you will be able to engage in whatever it is that you enjoy doing in your spare time. You’ll most likely find some new interests and hobbies for yourself as well!

Residential Experience

Freshmen at USC are required to find housing on the university’s main campus. The good news is that there are a number of different options available, such as apartments, suites, and freshman residence halls.

In addition, there are communities that cater to specific demographics and interests, such as the Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American Leadership Community; the Latinx Sol y La Luna Floors; the Women in Science and Engineering Floor; the Rainbow LGBTQ+ Community; and Somerville Place, which seeks to cultivate an understanding of and respect for Black culture while also fostering a sense of family and community.

Two students wearing a backpack while walking in a campus.

After completing their first year of college, students have the option of either moving off campus or into one of the on-campus undergraduate apartments. After their first year, approximately 70 percent of students choose to live off campus.

Meanwhile, housing on campus is guaranteed for first-year students at UCLA for a period of three years. Although living on campus is not a prerequisite for first-year students, virtually all of them opt to do so anyway.

After their first year, approximately half of all undergraduates choose to continue living on campus. The institution provides a selection of different configurations, including plazas, suites, and classics. The housing options available to students include triples, doubles, and singles.

Living and learning communities are available on the housing floors of special interest at UCLA, much like they are at USC. The Creative Collective, Sustainability, Global Health, First to Go (which is for students who are the first in their families to attend college), the Afrikan Diaspora, and Gender, Sexuality, and Society all have their own special interest housing at UCLA.

When compared to other educational institutions, both the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles (USC and UCLA, respectively) are distinguished by the quality of their residential facilities as well as the breadth and depth of the range of opportunities available, which may include accommodations catering to the most notable distinction is that first-year students at USC are required to live on campus, whereas first-year students at UCLA are not.

After their first year of college, the vast majority of students at USC move off campus. In contrast, approximately half of UCLA’s undergraduates choose to remain on campus, where housing is guaranteed through their junior year.

USC vs UCLA: Athletic Program

Both USC and UCLA place a significant emphasis on athletics as an important component of campus life. Both schools are members of the Division 1 Pac-12 Conference, in which they compete against one another. Students have a lot of school spirit, and they enjoy rooting for both the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans (USC).

USC is the most dominant school in terms of athletics, in case you were wondering which university holds that title. There have been 11 national championships won by the football team, seven winners of the Heisman Trophy, and 288 alumni who have won Olympic medals as a result of their participation in the sport. That is a higher number than any other college in the country!

Male student preparing for a sprint.

However, despite its reputation, UCLA is not a weak link in the athletic department. The University of California, Los Angeles men’s basketball team, along with the University of Southern California football team, holds the record for the most national championships won by any college team, with 11. The men’s and women’s water polo teams are equally dominant, having won 11 and seven national championships, respectively. The men’s team has won 11 of these titles.

If you are interested in attending a school that is known for its strong athletic programs and its school spirit, then you should consider applying to either USC or UCLA.

USC vs UCLA: Admission and Acceptance Rates

The acceptance rate for the University of Southern California for the class of 2020 was 16%, while the acceptance rate for the class of 2020 at UCLA was 14%.

The admissions process at UCLA was more competitive than that of USC for the most recent freshman class. In general, USC has a reputation for being a little more selective than other universities. Both of these institutions are on nearly equal footing in terms of their prestige and the competitiveness of their admissions processes.

USC vs UCLA: Software

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is what USC uses. The Common Application is the application system that is used the most, and it is accepted by 900 different colleges and universities, including all of the institutions in the Ivy League.

UCLA, being a part of the University of California (UC) system, makes use of the UC application. The University of California application can be used to submit applications to multiple schools within the UC system all at once. On the other hand, you will be required to pay an application fee of $70 to each University of California school to which you submit your application.

USC vs UCLA: SAT Score

Students who are accepted to USC typically have SAT scores in the range of 1440. On the other hand, the average score on the SAT for a student admitted to UCLA is 1405.


The average grade point average (GPA) of admitted students to USC is 3.79 while the average GPA of admitted students to UCLA is 3.9.

USC vs UCLA: Best Fit

At USC, there is a strong emphasis on providing an education that is both interdisciplinary and student-centered. Additionally, if you are interested in the traditional Greek experience and having a dominant sports team to cheer for on the weekends, this is an excellent option to consider.

Because it is not a California state university and does not provide in-state students with a tuition reduction, the University of Southern California (USC) may give applicants from other states an advantage in the admissions process.

Moreover, students at UCLA are known to be diligent workers who have a deep concern for the communities in which they live and the wider world in which they live. Students who have an open mind and are interested in learning about other people’s experiences and perspectives do particularly well at the University of Southern California (USC), which, like UCLA, is a model of diversity and inclusion.

UCLA is the school for you if you live in California and are looking for an option that is less expensive. Additionally, it is well known for having a campus that is both attractive and secure.

Young man studying in front of his laptop.

Students who are able to thrive in the hectic, buzzing environment of a college campus have a greater chance of being successful at either school. If you prefer to be part of a smaller, more intimate community, USC and UCLA might not be the best choices for you because of their larger student bodies.

It is difficult to compare UCLA and USC due to the fact that both institutions excel in all aspects, including academics, athletics, and outcomes.

Both of these Los Angeles-based rivals have a lot to offer, whether it be in the realms of academics, athletics, or even the pleasant weather. It doesn’t matter which school you pick—USC or UCLA—you won’t go wrong!

Regardless of which university you choose, it is best if you make yourself well prepared for its admission. As both require really high SAT scores, AdmissionSight’s SAT private tutoring can guarantee great help and support to you. Don’t hesitate to contact us and feel free to book your initial consultation with us today.


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