Washington University in St. Louis and UC Irvine: A Closer Look

July 17, 2023
By AdmissionSight
One young smiling caucasian man, student in glasses sits on floor with laptop isolated on yellow studio background.

Washington University in St. Louis and UC Irvine: A Closer Look

If you’re in the process of choosing a university, you’re probably looking for a comprehensive comparison of your options. This article aims to provide important details about two notable universities: Washington University in St. Louis and UC Irvine. Below, we go over various aspects of the universities that students would want to know about before making a decision on which to attend.

Location and Campus

Washington University in St. Louis is located in St. Louis, Missouri, while the University of California, Irvine is located in Irvine, California. Both universities have beautiful campuses, but they offer distinct experiences.

The Washington University campus spans 169 acres and features Gothic architecture that makes for a picturesque learning environment. In comparison, UC Irvine’s campus spans over 1,500 acres and offers a modern, suburban feel.

Despite their differences in size and style, both universities offer a variety of amenities to their students. Washington University boasts state-of-the-art research facilities, a world-class art museum, and a thriving student life scene. UC Irvine, on the other hand, is known for its commitment to sustainability and offers students access to a botanical garden, a nature reserve, and a beach just a few miles away from campus.

Admission Requirements and Process

When it comes to admission requirements, both universities have similar standards. Students applying to Washington University in St. Louis or UC Irvine will need strong academic records, standardized test scores, and extracurricular achievements.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Admissions processes differ between the two schools, however. Washington University offers an application portal where students can submit their materials online, whereas UC Irvine uses the Common Application.

It is important to note that both universities also consider factors beyond academic achievements in their admissions decisions. Washington University values demonstrated leadership, community involvement, and personal character, while UC Irvine places a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. Both schools also offer opportunities for students to showcase their unique talents and experiences through optional essays and interviews.

Once applications are submitted, the review process can take several weeks to several months. Washington University typically releases decisions in mid-December for early decision applicants and late March for regular decision applicants.

UC Irvine releases decisions on a rolling basis, with most applicants receiving a decision within 4-6 weeks of submitting their application. Regardless of the outcome, both universities provide resources for students to navigate the college admissions process and make informed decisions about their future.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a university. As of 2021, both universities have similar tuition rates. In-state students at UC Irvine pay approximately $14,000 per year for tuition, while out-of-state students pay approximately $43,000.

At Washington University, tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students comes in at around $57,000 per year. Both universities offer financial aid to students who qualify based on their family’s income and other factors.

It is important to note that tuition rates may increase each year, so it is important to budget accordingly. Additionally, both universities offer various scholarships and grants to students based on academic merit, athletic ability, and other criteria. These awards can significantly reduce the cost of tuition and make attending these universities more affordable for students.

Furthermore, students can also apply for federal financial aid, such as grants and loans, to help cover the cost of tuition and other expenses. It is recommended that students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for these types of aid. Both universities have financial aid offices that can assist students with the application process and provide guidance on other funding options.

Student Life and Culture

Student life is an important factor when considering where to attend university. Washington University in St. Louis and UC Irvine both have diverse student populations with varied interests. Students at Washington University have access to over 300 organizations, including performance groups, cultural organizations, and religious groups. At UC Irvine, students can join over 600 organizations, including cultural associations, service clubs, and special interest groups.

Multiracial students talking while walking.

Aside from the numerous organizations available, both universities offer a vibrant campus life. Washington University in St. Louis has a strong Greek life presence, with over 25% of students participating in fraternities and sororities. UC Irvine, on the other hand, has a thriving arts scene, with a state-of-the-art performing arts center and a renowned art museum on campus.

Furthermore, both universities prioritize diversity and inclusion. Washington University in St. Louis has a Multicultural Center that provides resources and support for underrepresented students, while UC Irvine has a Cross-Cultural Center that promotes cultural awareness and understanding. Both universities also have LGBTQ+ centers that offer a safe and welcoming space for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Academic Programs and Departments

Both universities offer a range of academic programs across many departments. Washington University is known for its strong biomedical engineering and psychology departments, while UC Irvine is known for its strong political science and computer science programs. Both universities prioritize STEM fields and offer research opportunities to students looking to explore a diverse range of fields.

Washington University also offers a highly regarded business school, the Olin Business School, which is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the country. UC Irvine, on the other hand, has a renowned School of Medicine, which is known for its innovative research and cutting-edge medical facilities.

Both universities also have strong liberal arts programs, with a wide range of majors and minors available. Washington University’s College of Arts & Sciences offers majors in fields such as anthropology, art history, and philosophy, while UC Irvine’s School of Humanities offers majors in fields such as English, history, and philosophy. Students at both universities have the opportunity to explore a variety of academic interests and pursue interdisciplinary studies.

Faculty and Research Opportunities

The quality of faculty and research opportunities is often a deciding factor for students when selecting a university. Both universities have highly qualified faculty members who are recognized in their fields.

Close-up of serious student holding ampoule in front of eyes and examines contents.

Washington University has over 3,000 faculty members, and UC Irvine boasts over 1,100 full-time faculty members. Both universities offer many research opportunities to students, with Washington University’s research budget coming in at $725 million and UC Irvine’s at $436 million.

Additionally, both universities have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research, allowing students to collaborate with faculty members from different departments and fields of study. Washington University has several interdisciplinary research centers, including the Institute for Public Health and the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. UC Irvine also has numerous interdisciplinary research centers, such as the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the Institute for Future Health.

Facilities and Resources Available on Campus

Facilities and resources play an important role in the overall university experience. Washington University has state-of-the-art facilities, including a new athletic complex, medical school, and library. UC Irvine has a new student center, state-of-the-art classrooms, and cutting-edge laboratories. Both universities have ample resources available to students, such as career centers, health centers, and extensive libraries.

In addition to the facilities and resources mentioned above, both universities also offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. Washington University has over 300 student organizations, including academic clubs, cultural groups, and sports teams.

UC Irvine has over 600 clubs and organizations, ranging from community service groups to music ensembles. These activities provide students with opportunities to explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and make connections with their peers.

Student Organizations and Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are an important aspect of university life. Both Washington University and UC Irvine have active student communities with numerous organizations and activities available to students. From Greek life to cultural associations, musical groups to debate teams, there is a diverse array of extracurricular activities at both universities to complement academic pursuits.

Group of students walking in the campus.

At Washington University, students can participate in a variety of community service organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. These organizations provide opportunities for students to give back to the community and make a positive impact outside of the classroom. Additionally, the university has a strong athletic program, with many students participating in intramural sports and varsity teams.

UC Irvine also offers a range of extracurricular activities, including a thriving arts community with theater productions and art exhibitions. The university also has a strong focus on sustainability, with many student organizations dedicated to environmental activism and education. Students can also participate in research projects and internships, gaining valuable hands-on experience in their fields of study.

Career Opportunities and Job Placement Rates

Preparing for a career after university is a high priority for many students. Fortunately, both universities have robust career centers that provide students with resources for career exploration, job applications, and networking.

Washington University boasts a high job placement rate of over 90% for its graduates, while UC Irvine has a placement rate of over 85%. Additionally, both universities have alumni networks that can provide job opportunities and mentorship to new graduates.

Furthermore, both universities offer a variety of internship and co-op programs that allow students to gain practical experience in their chosen fields. These programs often lead to job offers upon graduation and provide students with valuable connections in their industries.

In addition to traditional career paths, both universities also offer resources for students interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship and UC Irvine’s Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides students with mentorship, funding opportunities, and access to resources to help them launch their own ventures.

Alumni Network and Donor Support

Strong alumni networks and donor support can offer tangible benefits and opportunities to students. Washington University has a large and active alumni network that supports the university through alumni giving and contributions to research.

UC Irvine also has a strong donor base that supports the university’s research and academic initiatives. Both universities offer ample opportunities for students to connect with alumni and form valuable mentorship relationships.

Additionally, alumni networks and donor support can also provide students with access to internships, job opportunities, and career advice. Many alumni are eager to give back to their alma mater by offering internships or job opportunities to current students.

Donors may also fund specific programs or initiatives that can provide students with unique learning experiences and skill-building opportunities. By staying connected with alumni and donors, students can gain valuable insights into their chosen fields and make important connections that can help them succeed in their careers.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

Both universities prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on their campuses. Washington University has an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to support underrepresented groups, while UC Irvine is home to many centers and institutes that promote inclusive excellence. Both universities have policies in place that prioritize diversity and inclusion and are committed to fostering a welcoming and supportive campus environment for all students.

Students smiling at the camera together.

Washington University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offers a variety of programs and resources to support underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. These include mentorship programs, diversity training workshops, and cultural events that celebrate the university’s diverse community. The office also works closely with student organizations to promote diversity and inclusion on campus.

UC Irvine’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its many centers and institutes that focus on issues related to underrepresented groups. These include the Center for Black Cultures, Resources, and Research, the LGBT Resource Center, and the Disability Services Center. The university also offers a variety of programs and initiatives to support first-generation college students, low-income students, and students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Study Abroad Programs Available

Studying abroad can offer students a unique and enriching experience. Fortunately, both universities offer many study abroad programs for students interested in exploring new cultures and learning abroad.

Washington University partners with over 50 universities in 30 countries, while UC Irvine offers over 700 study-abroad programs in over 70 countries. Both universities are committed to providing students with opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom.

One of the benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn a new language. Both universities offer language immersion programs that allow students to fully immerse themselves in the language and culture of the country they are studying in. These programs can greatly enhance a student’s language skills and cultural understanding.

In addition to traditional study abroad programs, both universities also offer service-learning programs. These programs allow students to engage in meaningful service projects while also learning about the local community and culture. Service learning programs can be a great way for students to make a positive impact while also gaining valuable skills and experiences.


Overall, both Washington University in St. Louis and UC Irvine offer strong academics and ample opportunities for personal and professional development. Depending on the preferences of the individual student, each university has strengths that could be weighted differently. By considering the factors laid out in this article, students can make a well-informed decision on which university to attend.

Segue to AdmissionSight

At AdmissionSight, we firmly uphold the conviction that every student is entitled to the chance to pursue their dreams at their preferred college. Our mission is to equip you with the expert advice and unwavering support you need to secure a place at the schools you aspire to attend.

Don’t let your future hinge on uncertainty. Reach out to AdmissionSight today to arrange a complimentary consultation and embark on the journey toward realizing your dreams. With our expert mentorship and steadfast support, the sky’s the limit.

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