In addition to UCI receiving the most in-state freshman applications of all UC campuses for fall 2019, almost half of them were from first-generation students. Here, enthusiastic Anteaters at the New Student Convocation celebrate the start of the 2018-19 academic year. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 29, 2019 — With its distinctive combination of quality, accessibility and affordability, the University of California, Irvine has for the first time become the most popular UC campus for the state’s college-bound high school seniors.

A total of 70,540 aspiring in-state freshmen applied to attend UCI this fall, more than applied to any of the other eight UC undergraduate campuses. Additionally, UCI was the top choice for first-generation students and those from low-income families and underrepresented groups – all of whom have not historically had access to a world-class university education.

“This exciting news is a result of what we have set out to achieve: sending the message to California residents of all cultural and economic backgrounds that an exceptional education is not only available but affordable at UCI,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Twice The New York Times has selected UCI as the college ‘doing the most for the American dream,’ and these applicants exemplify our continued commitment to inclusive excellence.”

By the numbers

A diverse group of 117,330 students, both incoming freshmen and transfers, applied to UCI for fall 2019 – a campus record. This placed UCI third – behind only UCLA and UC San Diego ­– for total applications, which also includes out-of-state and international student bids.

Since 2015, overall applications to UCI have increased by 32 percent.

In addition to receiving the most applications of all UC campuses from first-year, underrepresented-minority California residents (29,606), UCI topped the UC for the most Chicano/Latino (25,794) and Asian American applicants (27,611). And almost half of its in-state, first-year applicants (48 percent) were first-generation students.

UCI placed second among UC campuses for community college transfer applications (19,306), with the second-largest number from underrepresented groups. Fifty-four percent of these applicants were first-generation students.

Diversity and opportunity for lower-income students

The applications data validates UCI’s recognition as a Hispanic-serving institution, a federal designation the campus first received in 2017. It’s awarded to universities with more than 25 percent Latino undergraduates. It also builds on UCI’s status as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution, demonstrating the school’s dedication to providing a superior education to every qualified student.

UCI also continues to receive praise for providing educational opportunities to students from lower-income families. Last month, a report issued by the American Talent Initiative – a collection of more than 100 of the nation’s top universities dedicated to increasing the enrollment of talented low- and moderate-income students by 50,000 – showed that UCI leads all other highly rated U.S. universities in using community college pipelines to boost socioeconomic diversity.

Among the top-ranked U.S. universities, UCI has one of the highest numbers of federal Pell Grant recipients (who come from lower-income families). The campus welcomes more of these students than the entire Ivy League combined. And UCI’s Pell Grant students succeed, with a remarkable 85 percent six-year graduation rate, more than 35 percentage points higher than the national average.

Overall, UCI has been recognized as one of the best public universities in the U.S. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, it’s rated as the nation’s seventh-best public university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges evaluation. This ranking came on the heels of Money putting UCI third on the magazine’s 2018 list of the “best colleges in the U.S.” for its stellar blend of accessible, high-quality education and alumni success.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit Additional resources for journalists may be found at