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Defining the Future of the Public Research University

The University of California San Diego is a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public institution that provides opportunity for all. Recognized as one of the top 15 research universities worldwide, a culture of collaboration sparks discoveries that advance society and drive economic impact. Our students, who learn from Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows and National Academy members, are committed to public service. For the sixth consecutive year, UC San Diego has been ranked first in the nation based on research, civic engagement and social mobility. We are one campus with multiple pillars of excellence, a top ten public university that is transforming lives, shaping new disciplines and advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

Points of Distinction

  • UC San Diego’s Geisel Library is the world’s largest repository of the original work of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), holding more than 10,000 original drawings, sketches, books and other memorabilia. The UC San Diego Library is recognized as a leader in digitization and digital preservation, and is collaborating with the Library of Congress and other partners in developing best practices for large-scale digital preservation.
  • UC San Diego’s Shake Table
    Surgeons at UC San Diego Health have performed more pulmonary thromboendarterectomies (PTE) – a lifesaving surgery to clear the lung’s arteries of scar like tissue that robs patients of their ability to breathe – than any other institution in the world. Pioneered in 1970 by Kenneth Moser and Stuart Jamieson, the UC San Diego PTE program has a mortality rate of less than 1 percent for over 3,000 surgeries to date, the lowest known postoperative mortality rate worldwide.
  • UC San Diego is unique among other UC campuses—our university offers undergraduates the “small college” concept patterned after those at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Each of the six undergraduate colleges has its own residence halls, student services, traditions and even graduation ceremonies. While the undergraduates remain part of one university, they also develop a sense of identity within the smaller family of their chosen college.
  • The Office of Research Affairs oversees the university’s $1 billion annual research enterprise, helps guide 20 multidisciplinary Organized Research Units and ensures that UC San Diego research produces maximum scientific and societal impact.
  • The San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego is home to Gordon, one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, with 4 petabytes of disk storage, 64 terabytes of random access memory and 300 terabytes of flash memory. Gordon has the ability to tackle the most vexing data-intensive challenges, from mapping genomes to creating ultra-detailed simulations of earth quakes.
  • Geisel Library
    In 1985 Extension took the leadership role in creating CONNECT, the first innovation-business accelerator of its kind, which since then has assisted in the formation of 3,000 companies in the San Diego region. The highly praised program has been modeled in more than 50 regions around the world. In 2006 to broaden its mandate to include public advocacy, CONNECT spun out to become a trade association with Extension as a member and sponsor.
  • Recognized by Newsweek as the top transformative high school in the nation for three years in a row, The Preuss School UCSD is a unique charter middle and high school for low income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. Preuss graduates are consistently accepted to four-year colleges and universities at a rate of more than 90 percent, and almost 100 percent go on to some form of higher education.
  • Sustainability is part of UC San Diego’s institutional DNA. More than 30 campus structures are equipped with solar panels and more than a dozen buildings are LEED certified; wireless sensors are situated across campus to determine the best time to gain and expend energy; and more than half of the campus community utilizes alternative transportation.
  • An outstanding faculty is the hallmark of a great institution. Our students learn directly from leading scholars, including 16 Nobel laureates who have taught at UC San Diego in the past five decades. Additionally, Professor Emeritus Yuan-Cheng Fung and current Professors Shu Chien and Terrence Sejnowski are members of all three of the prestigious National Academies—National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. Our university has been shaped and led by leading innovators such as former faculty member Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm Inc. and National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient, as well as passionate educators including former University of California President and UC San Diego Chancellor Richard Atkinson, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Education.
One of the first universities in the nation to establish a department of nanoengineering, UC San Diego students work to develop innovative solutions to energy production, medical treatments and more.

By the Numbers

#1 UC San Diego enrolls the largest number of students among colleges and universities in San Diego County.
33,735 Total campus enrollment (as of Fall 2015)
84,198 Freshman applicants for 2016
4.14 Admitted freshman average high school GPA
$4.3 billion Fiscal year 2014-15 revenues; 22% of this total is revenue from contracts and grants, most of which is from the federal government for research.
8% Total educational appropriations from the State of California; yet a small investment in UC San Diego results in significant impact to the region’s economy, workforce and businesses
59% Percentage of undergraduate students who received financial aid in the 2014-15 academic year.
$1.012 billion Research funding secured during fiscal year 2014-15 to support research in all fields. One of the nation’s 10 largest centers for science, engineering and medicine, UC San Diego’s research funding has surpassed $1 billion four times in the past six years.
7,700 Number of degrees conferred in 2015:
73% received a bachelor's degree
27% received a graduate degree
51% men
49% women
170,000+ Number of UC San Diego alumni worldwide; 26 percent live in San Diego County, contributing income, payroll, property and sales taxes to the region
67.7% live in California, with the highest percentage (26%) in San Diego
6.9% live in the United States (outside of California)
<1% live abroad
24.9% address data unavailable
16 Number of Nobel laureates who have taught on campus
161 Memberships held by current and emeriti faculty, including Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, in one or more of the three prestigious National Academies; the National Academy of Sciences (84), National Academy of Engineering (27) and National Academy of Medicine (50).

Economic Impact

Sustainability is part of UC San Diego's institutional DNA. Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, seen here during a visit to Sapphire Energy, prioritizes clean energy initiatives to enable our campus to function more efficiently.
650+ Companies launched by and/or utilizing technology produced by UC San Diego faculty, staff and alumni, including many San Diego biotech and technology firms.
200+ Number of active local UC San Diego-related companies.
3,000+ At fiscal year-end 2014, the UC San Diego Office for Innovation and Commercialization managed more than 3,000 innovations and approximately 439 active license agreements. During this period, 16 new start-up companies were formed with licensed UC San Diego technology.
Top Patent Producer According to the 2014 UC Technology Commercialization Report, University of California researchers submitted 1,769 inventions—an average of nearly five a day, 365 days a year. UC San Diego generated 233 U.S. and foreign patents and was top among all UCs in terms of total active inventions (3,009), total active U.S. patents (859) and total active foreign patents (886).
$32.4 billion Total estimated annual sales of active UC San Diego-related companies in San Diego County, including those utilizing licensed technology.
$80 million The amount of wages that our region’s algae biotechnology industry generates each year according to a 2014 study conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The industry, which is integrally tied to collaborative research drive by UC San Diego’s California Center for Algae Biotechnology, has fostered approximately 1,020 jobs, contributing over $175 million to the San Diego economy.
29,200 Direct jobs attributable to active UC San Diego-related companies.
#1 Our campus is the largest employer based in San Diego County.
29,986 Total number of full and part-time academic and staff employees at UC San Diego (as of June 2015).
26th in the World for Alumni Venture Capital Funding UC San Diego is ranked 26th among the top 50 universities in the world for producing venture capital-backed business founders. The ranking by Pitchbook Data, Inc., a venture capital data provider, is based on funding acquired between 2009 and 2014 – during that time, 91 UC San Diego alumni entrepreneurs received $740 million in investment capital.
Click here for the current annual financial report of the University of California, San Diego.

Private Support

As state funding continues to decrease, private support becomes increasingly vital to ensure access for all outstanding students, funding for innovative academic initiatives and recruitment of top graduate students and faculty.
$177.5 million UC San Diego celebrated a record-breaking year of private support. The campus raised 20% more during fiscal year 2014-15 compared to the previous year, with over 43,000 gifts and grants.
$951 million Total combined endowment for the campus as of fiscal year 2014-15, managed by the UC San Diego Foundation and the UC Regents.

Global and National Rankings

UC San Diego is consistently ranked at the top in prestigious national and world rankings, including scientific impact and public service, as well as return on investment for graduates.
1st for Positive Impact In 2015, for the sixth consecutive year, UC San Diego is ranked 1st in the nation by the Washington Monthly’s College Guide based on the positive impact the university has had on the country in terms on enabling social mobility, research productivity and civic engagement.
Top 10 High School in California The Preuss School UCSD, a charter middle and high school located on the campus of UC San Diego, was named the 9th best high school in California in U.S. News and World Report's 2016 “Best High Schools” list. 
Top Research Output UC San Diego was ranked 6th in the nation and 13th in the world for total research output by the journal Nature in their 2014 index. The university also currently ranks 5th in total research and development expenditures by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Top 10 Best Public University in the Nation For more than a decade, U.S. News & World Report has included UC San Diego among the nation’s top 10 public universities. In the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges guidebook, UC San Diego ranked 9th best public university in the nation and 39th best university in the U.S. among more than 200 public, private and for-profit institutions. The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering’s undergraduate program was ranked 23rd in the category for engineering schools that award doctorates.
16th in the World for Scientific Impact UC San Diego was named 16th best research university in the world by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies of Leiden University’s 2015 list that measured scientific impact of universities worldwide.
Among the Top 20 Best Universities in the World In the prestigious 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities released by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong, UC San Diego was ranked the 14th best university in world for the third consecutive year. U.S. News and World Report named UC San Diego the 19th best university in the world in 2015 for research, global and regional reputation, international collaboration as well as number of highly-cited papers and doctorates awarded. In addition, the Center for the World University Rankings named UC San Diego the 21st best university in the world, 16th in the U.S. and fourth best public university in the nation in 2015.

Transforming Health Care

At the UC San Diego School of Medicine students are ahead of the curve when it comes to learning groundbreaking techniques to solve complex medical challenges, including training wth robotic surgery equipment designed for minimally invasive surgery procedures.
Best Hospital in San Diego UC San Diego Health was recognized as 1st among San Diego’s adult hospitals and 5th in California by the 2015-2016 U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals” issue, and ranked among the best in the nation in twelve specialty areas.
Top 10 for Residency Training UC San Diego School of Medicine was named one of the nation’s top residency training programs in the “2015 Top Medical Residency Programs” report by Doximity. Specialties placed in the top 10 for residency training in the West include internal medicine, anesthesiology, dermatology, obstetrics & gynecology, orthopaedic surgery, otolaryngology, pediatrics, psychiatry, radiology (diagnostic) and surgery.
Top 15 in the Nation The UC San Diego School of Medicine was ranked 14th in research-intensive programs among 128 medical schools with the primary care program is ranked 38th out of 114 medical schools in the U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools Guidebook, 2015 Edition.
“Top Docs” More than 100 physicians from UC San Diego Health System were named “Top Docs” in the 2015 San Diego Magazine “Physicians of Exceptional Excellence” annual survey. These physicians represent 41 diverse specialties from family medicine and oncology to obstetrics and surgical care.
Top 100 In 2016, the UC San Diego Medical Center was named among "100 Great Hospitals in America" by Becker's Hospital Review. The Medical Center is also included on top 100 lists by Becker's for programs in heart and oncology as well as neurosurgery and spine.  
First Comprehensive Stroke Center In 2012, UC San Diego Medical Center-Hillcrest is one of five facilities in the country—and the only center in San Diego County—to be recognized as one of the first Comprehensive Stroke Centers, the newest level of certification for advanced stroke care awarded by The Joint Commission.

Unmatched Value

At the Qualcomm Institute at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, students and researchers have access to some of the most cutting edge technologies, such as immersive 4D virtual reality spaces and high-tech simulation screens.
10th Best Earning Potential Graduates of UC San Diego were ranked 10th for salary earning potential in the 2013-2014 PayScale.com report measuring top state schools across the nation. UC San Diego was also ranked 4th best public university for its return on investment for alumni who are California residents in the 2012 College Salary Report by Payscale.com.
15th Best Return on Investment The 2015 college salary report by Payscale.com ranks UC San Diego the 15th best public university for its return on investment (ROI)––what students pay to attend versus what they get back in lifetime earnings––for alumni who are California residents. UC San Diego also is listed as the 11th best public university in the U.S. for mid-career (15 years of experience) salary of alumni, which averages $102,100 annually.
20th Best Value Public University in the Nation In 2015, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named UC San Diego the 20th best value public university in the nation based on its academic quality and affordability, including high four-year graduation rates, low average student debt at graduation, the availability of financial aid and overall great value.
Among "Best Bang for Buck" In 2015, UC San Diego was named 12th in the West in Washington Monthly’s new book, “The Other College Guide,” which ranks schools with the best value based on net price, graduation rates and whether alumni earn enough to pay off their loans.

Graduate Programs

Art practice and theory merge at the UC San Diego visual arts department, one of the top programs in the nation for research in contemporary art, where undergraduates, MFA and Ph.D. scholars dialogue and collaborate across disciplines.
Graduate Programs Ranked Top 25 in the Nation Graduate programs at UC San Diego continue to rank highly as noted in the 2017 “America’s Best Graduate Schools” guidebook, released by U.S. News Media Group, publishers of U.S. News & World Report.
  • Fine Arts: time-based media/new media (3rd), fine arts (13th)
  • Engineering: biomedical/bioengineering (4th), best engineering school (17th)
  • Health Sciences: drug and alcohol abuse research (10th), School of Medicine research program (18th), primary care (21st), pharmacy (25th)
  • Sciences: neuroscience/neurobiology (2nd), discrete mathematics and combinations (3rd), plasma physics (7th), biochemistry (10th), computer science systems (11th), condensed matter physics (13th), biological sciences (14th), computer science theory (14th), computer science (15th), physics (16th), earth sciences (16th), chemistry (21st), mathematics (23rd)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: behavioral neuroscience (1st), cognitive psychology (3rd), econometrics (4th), international politics (5th), political science (8th), public finance (9th), comparative politics (11th), microeconomics (12th), Latin American history (12th), American politics (14th), psychology (14th), economics (15th)
5th Best Drama School in the Nation In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter ranked UC San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance 5th in the nation among drama schools with an MFA program. The program also ranked 6th in the world.
#1 Executive MBA Program in San Diego In 2015, UC San Diego Rady School of Management’s Executive MBA Program was ranked 1st in San Diego, 2nd in California and 33rd globally by The Economist.
International Relations Programs Top World Rankings Foreign Policy Magazine's 2015 rankings named UC San Diego's undergraduate international relations program and master's program for policy careers in international relations 13th best in the world.

Additional Rankings

Named among the top schools for surfing in the nation, UC San Diego is situated within walking distance to Black's Beach where sun and surf attract visitors all year round.
World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds Twenty-two UC San Diego scientists and physicians are among the 2015 listing of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds,” an annual compendium of “Highly Cited Researchers” by Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information company.
Top School for Peace Corps Service UC San Diego ranks 14th nationally on the Peace Corps’ 2016 list of “Top Colleges and Universities,” marking the sixth consecutive year that UC San Diego has been named in the top 15. There are currently 36 UC San Diego undergraduate alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers; in total, the campus has produced 807 volunteers.
4th in the Nation for Economic Diversity The New York Times named UC San Diego 4th in the nation for providing access to low-income students in their 2015 College Access Index. The report assesses economic diversity based on the number of and graduation rate of students who receive Pell grants and the net cost, after financial aid, colleges charge both low and middle-income students.
Top 10 LGBTQ-Friendly University UC San Diego has been named 9th among the top 23 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning (LGBTQ) friendly universities in the nation, according to a new 2015-16 report by Affordable Colleges Online—a website that helps students and their families identify affordable higher educational opportunities.
Top 10 “Coolest School” Sierra magazine named UC San Diego the 7th “Coolest School” in the nation in 2015 for displaying a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues and encouraging environmental responsibility.
Doctoral Programs Ranked 1st in the Nation Three doctoral programs offered at UC San Diego—Biological Sciences, Bioengineering and Scripps Institution of Oceanography—are ranked 1st in the nation according to the results of the 2010 National Research Council (NRC) Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs, conducted every ten years. Additionally, biomedical sciences was ranked 2nd, neurosciences 4th and linguistics 9th in the nation, while 60% of all UC San Diego's doctoral programs are among the top 20 in their fields nationwide.
Top Teach For America Contributor UC San Diego was named 12th in the nation among schools contributing the most graduates to Teach For America in 2015. Corps members commit to teaching for at least two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity.
Top Academic Surfing School in the Nation In 2015 UC San Diego was ranked 2nd nationally among “Top Academic Surf Schools” and “Core Surf Schools” by The Inertia, a website that focuses on surfing news and lifestyle. Criteria included average student incoming freshman GPA and SAT scores as well as access to high quality surf. UC San Diego’s surf team has won six national championships.

More information about university rankings

Active Faculty Honors

From left: Medal of Science recipient Shu Chien, Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien and Medal of Science recipient Marye Anne Fox
Nobel Prize Harry Markowitz, economics (1990); Mario J. Molina, chemistry (1995); Roger Tsien, chemistry (2008). The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former vice president Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose roster of researchers lists nearly two dozen Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists including Mario Molina, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Richard Somerville and Lynne Talley.
Fields Medal Michael Freedman, mathematics (1986); Efim Zelmanov, mathematics (1994).
National Medal of Science Margaret Burbidge, astrophysics (1983); Walter Munk, geophysics (1983); Craig Venter, pharmacology (2009); Marye Anne Fox, chemistry (2010); Shu Chien, bioengineering (2011).
Presidential Medal of Freedom Mario Molina (2013).
Pulitzer Prize Roger Reynolds, music (1989); and Rae Armantrout, poetry (2010).
Kyoto Prize Walter Munk, geophysics (1999).
MacArthur Fellows Edwin Hutchins, cognitive science (1985); Nancy D. Cartwright, philosophy (1993); Kun-Liang Guan, pharmacology (1998); Guillermo Algaze, anthropology (2003); and Carol Padden, communication (2010).
Tony Award Judith Dolan, theatre and dance (1997).
Academy Award Henrik Wann Jensen, computer science and engineering (2004).
Wolf Prize George Feher, chemistry (2007); and Roger Tsien, medicine (2008).

Notable Former Faculty and Alumni Honors

From left: MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems; Tony Award winner Paloma Young; Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Sally Ride; and National Medal of Technology and Innovation winner Irwin Jacobs.
Nobel Prize Harold Urey, chemistry (1934); Linus Pauling, chemistry, (1954); Francis Crick, physiology or medicine (1962); Linus Pauling, peace, (1962); Maria Goeppert-Mayer, physics (1963); Robert Holley, physiology or medicine, (1968); Hannes Alfven, physics, (1970); George Palade, physiology or medicine, (1974); Renato Dulbecco, physiology or medicine, (1975); Roger Guillemin, physiology or medicine, (1977); Susumu Tonegawa, ’68, physiology or medicine, (1987); Paul Crutzen, chemistry, (1995); Sydney Brenner, physiology or medicine, (2002); Robert Engle, economic sciences, (2003); Clive Granger, economic sciences, (2003); and Bruce Beutler, ’76, physiology or medicine, (2011).
National Medal of Science Harold Urey, chemistry (1964); Linus Carl Pauling, chemistry (1974); Roger Guillemin, medicine (1976); Margaret Burbidge, astrophysics (1983); George Palade, medicine (1986); Michael Freedman, mathematics (1987); Roger Revelle, oceanography (1990); Marshall Rosenbluth, physics (1997); Yuan-Cheng Fung, bioengineering (2000); Charles David Keeling, geosciences (2001); Andrew Viterbi, electrical and computer engineering (2007); Craig Venter, ’72, pharmacology (2008).
National Medal of Technology and Innovation Irwin Jacobs (1994).
Pulitzer Prize Bernard Rands, music (1984).
Balzan Prize Roger Driscoll, political science (1986); Roger Revelle, oceanography (1986); James Freeman Gilbert, geophysics (1990); Wolfgang Berger, geosciences (1993); and Harmon Craig, geophysics (1998).
Tony Award Jefferson Mays, ’91, (2004); and Paloma Young, ’06, (2012).
Emmy Award Larry Groupe, musical composition (1999, 2008).
Presidential Medal of Freedom Sally Ride (2013).
Fields Medal Michael Freedman, mathematics (1986); and Shing-Tung Yau, mathematics (1982).
MacArthur Fellows Elizabeth Bates, cognitive science (1983); Ramon Arturo Gutierrez, ethnic studies (1983); Richard Schoen, mathematics (1983); Michael Freedman, mathematics (1984); Arnold Mandell, psychiatry (1984); Shing-Tung Yau, mathematics (1985); David Rumelhart, psychology (1987); Michael Schudson, communication (1990); Patricia Smith Churchland, philosophy (1991); Russell Lande, biology (1997); George Lewis, music (2002); Emily Ann Thompson, history (2005); and Carrie Mae Weems, photography and video art (2013).
Nebula Award Greg Benford, ’67 (Best Novelette, If the Stars Are Gods, 1975; Best Novel, Timescape, 1980); Kim Stanley Robinson, ’74 and ’82 (Best Novella,The Blind Geometer, 1987; Best Novel, Red Mars, 1993); and David Brin, ’78 and ’81 (Best Novel, Startide Rising, 1984).