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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 fourth 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

  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist Charles David Keeling was the first to confirm the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. His precise measurements, which he began calculating in 1958, produced a data set now known widely as the “Keeling Curve,” a benchmark of global warming studies.
  • UC San Diego’s Shake Table
    The Jacobs School of Engineering is home to the world’s first full-scale outdoor shake table, designed to create realistic simulations of the most devastating earthquakes on record to advance seismic safety.
  • 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.
  • In 1986, UC San Diego established the world's first cognitive science department, which has become one of the leading centers of this field.
  • 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
    Geisel Library at UC San Diego is the chief repository for the work of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), holding more than 8,000 original drawings, sketches, books and other memorabilia valued at $2.3 million.
  • San Diego’s first biotechnology company, Hybritech, was started in 1979 by a UC San Diego professor. Since then, UC San Diego faculty, staff and alumni have spun off more than 150 local companies, including more than one-third of the region’s biotechnology companies.
  • The first direct evidence of how a cancer gene works was achieved by UC San Diego biomedical researchers, including Russell Doolittle, who discovered the first cancer gene.
  • UC San Diego was one of the first universities in the nation and the first UC campus to found a privately-funded commercialization center—the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center.
  • 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

30,310 Total campus enrollment (as of Fall 2013)
73,356 Freshman applicants for 2014
4.11 Admitted freshman average high school GPA
$3.4 billion FY2012 revenues; 29 percent of this total is revenue from contracts and grants, most of which is from the federal government for research
6.6% Total revenue 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
67% Percentage of students that received financial aid (2012-2013 academic year)
$1 billion Total research funding for the fiscal year ending June 30, an increase of about $50 million over the previous year
8,287 Number of degrees conferred in 2013:
74.5% received a bachelor's degree
25.5% received a graduate degree
51.5% men
48.5% women
154,000+ Number of UC San Diego alumni worldwide; 28 percent live in San Diego County, contributing income, payroll, property and sales taxes to the region
73% live in California, with the highest percentage (28 percent) in San Diego
20% live in the United States (outside of California)
1% live abroad
6% 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 (90), National Academy of Engineering (26) and Institute of Medicine (45).

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
$25.7 billion Total estimated annual sales of active UC San Diego-related companies, including those utilizing licensed technology
29,200 Direct jobs attributable to active UC San Diego-related companies
#1 Our campus is the largest employer based in San Diego County

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.
$643 million Total combined endowment for the campus, managed by the UC San Diego Foundation and the UC Regents. For more information or to offer support, visit giving.ucsd.edu
$150.3 million A total of 30,289 donors helped to continue UC San Diego’s legacy of achievement in  fiscal year 2013. Our donors, including a growing number of alumni, are coming forward in unprecedented ways to strengthen this institution.

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.
14th Best University in the World In the prestigious 2013 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. In 2013, UC San Diego was ranked 20th best university in the world by the Center for the World University Rankings and 40th best in the world according to Times Higher Education’s 2014 “World Reputation Rankings.".
15th in the World for Scientific Impact UC San Diego was named 15th best research university in the world by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies of Leiden University’s 2013 list that measured scientific impact of universities worldwide.
9th Best Public University in the Nation For more than a decade, our campus has been listed among the nation’s top 10 public universities by the U.S. News & World Report 2013 Best Colleges Guidebook. Our university is 38th among the nation’s top 281 universities. The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering’s undergraduate program is ranked 23rd for their engineering doctorates program and garnered a 5th place spot in the Biomedical/Biomedical Engineering category.
6th Best for Happiest Freshmen UC San Diego is ranked 6th in the nation for public universities with the “happiest” freshmen by CBSnews.com’s “Top 25 State Universities with the Happiest Freshmen” rankings for 2013.
Best High School in the Nation The Preuss School UCSD, a charter middle and high school located on the campus of UC San Diego, has been named the top transformative high school in the nation by Newsweek magazine in their 2013 “America’s Best High School” issue released in May. Preuss is also ranked best high school in San Diego County by the U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 list of “Best High Schools,” 4th best high school in California, 7th best charter school in the nation and 30th overall in the nation.
1st for Positive Impact In 2013, for the fourth 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.
5th in Research Funding UC San Diego ranks 5th among top U.S. universities in total research and development expenditures by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for fiscal year 2012.
1st Division II Sports The 2013 National Collegiate Scouting Association’s Power Rankings once again ranks UC San Diego 1st place among Division II colleges and 17th place overall, based on student-athlete graduation rates, academic strength and athletic prowess.

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 The UC San Diego Health System is recognized as 1st among San Diego’s adult hospitals and 5th in California by the 2013-2014 U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals” issue, and ranked among the best in the nation in ten specialty areas including cancer, cardiology, geriatrics, neurosurgery, urology, gastroenterology, diabetes and more.
Top 100 The UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest was named among the top “100 Great Hospitals in America” by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2014. Becker’s also included the UC San Diego Health System in their “100 Hospitals with Great Women’s Health Programs” as well as the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center among the top “100 Hospitals with Great Heart Programs” in 2014. In addition, the UC San Diego Health System was named among Becker’s 2013 list of “100 Hospitals with Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs.”
National Achievement Award UC San Diego Health System received the 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer for excellence in providing quality care to cancer patients.
“Top Docs” San Diego Magazine named 122 UC San Diego Health System physicians as “Top Docs” in 2012.
15th in the Nation The School of Medicine is ranked 15th in research-intensive programs among 126 medical schools with the primary care program is ranked 39th out of 114 medical schools. Also, the AIDS program in the primary care category is ranked 8th by the U.S. News and World Report “America’s Best Graduate Schools, 2012 Edition.”
First Comprehensive Stroke Center 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 in 2012.

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.
14th Best Value Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks UC San Diego the 14th best value public university in the nation in its 2014 top 100 list. The university was also ranked among the nation’s top best value public colleges for 2014 by The Princeton Review.
15th Best Return on Investment The 2014 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 having the 10th best ROI, out of 434 public colleges, for mid-career (15 year of experience) alumni who earn on average more than $100,000 annually.

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 Graduate programs at UC San Diego continue to rank highly as noted in the “America’s Best Graduate Schools” guidebook, 2015 Edition, released by U.S. News Media Group, publishers of U.S. News & World Report.
  • Jacobs School of Engineering is ranked 14th out of 212 engineering schools; the biomedical/bioengineering program within the engineering school is ranked 3rd in the nation.
  • The UC San Diego School of Medicine is ranked 14th in research-intensive programs among 128 medical schools.
Although not all newly ranked this year, UC San Diego’s other graduate programs ranking in the top 20 in the 2014 and 2015 editions of “America’s Best Graduate Schools” include:
  • The Sciences: neuroscience/neurobiology (2), discrete mathematics and combinations (3), physics specialties/plasma (5), biochemistry (10), biological sciences (14), computer science (15), physics (16), earth sciences (16), chemistry (21), mathematics (23)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: behavioral neuroscience (1), cognitive psychology (3), econometrics (4), international politics (5), American politics (6), comparative politics (6), sociology of culture (6), experimental psychology (7), political science (8), political methodology (8), psychology (14), economics (15)
  • Arts and Sciences: master of fine arts in art and design (13)
7th in the Nation The Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at the College of William and Mary ranked UC San Diego 7th in the Top 10 International Relations Ph.D. Rankings of 2012.
17th in the World for Faculty Research The Rady School of Management at UC San Diego has been ranked 17th in the world for faculty research and 8th for alumni entrepreneurship in the Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings 2014, out of more than 700 full-time MBA programs surveyed worldwide. Among business schools in California, Rady ranks 1st for percentage of female students, 2nd for value, 2nd for career progress and 3rd for percentage of international students. The Rady School earned accreditation in 2011 from the prestigious AACSB International – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – one of the youngest in the nation to achieve recognition.
8th in the Nation for Study Abroad UC San Diego was ranked 8th in the nation among doctoral institutions for the number of students who study abroad for a full academic year, by the Institute of International Education (IIE) Open Doors 2013 report.
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 country, two more are among the top four in their disciplines, and 60 percent of UC San Diego’s programs are among the top 20 in their fields nationwide according to the results of the 2010 National Research Council (NRC) Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs, conducted every ten years.

Additional Rankings

Named the best school 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.
Best Algae Biofuel Research in the Nation UC San Diego is home to the top two algae biofuel research programs in the nation, ranked by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) in 2014. Scripps Institution of Oceanography biofuel research team led by Mark Hildebrand ranked first, while the UC San Diego Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (CAB-Comm), led by Stephen Mayfield, took the number two spot. Both laboratories work to develop renewable fuels and bio-products from algae and promote sustainable energy resources.
Top English Language Institute The English Language Institute (ELI), which is led by UC San Diego Extension, was ranked 2nd in the world and first in the U.S. in 2014 by Ryugaku Journal—a Tokyo-based publication affiliated with Japan’s largest study-abroad program. Japanese students who have studied abroad provided survey input, giving outstanding marks for ELI’s variety of programs, improvement gained as well as international student services support.
#1 Best Surfing School in the Nation In 2013 the global Web site Surfline ranked UC San Diego as the #1 campus in the nation for surfing based on our proximity to the world-renowned Black’s Beach, nationally ranked surf team, lively student life, affordable educational costs and extensive offering of surf classes.
Top School for Peace Corps Service UC San Diego ranks 4th among large California universities and 12th nationally on the Peace Corps' 2014 list of “Top Colleges and Universities.” There are currently 54 UC San Diego undergraduate alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers.
Top Internet Clout The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has ranked UC San Diego 19th in the nation for the most “buzzed about” university on the Internet.
Best Apps USA Today included UC San Diego in its 2012 list of “5 Colleges with Great Mobile Apps.”
Best Vegan-Friendly School In 2012, UC San Diego was ranked 1st in the nation as the most vegan-friendly university by peta2, a youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Top Sustainable School UC San Diego is one of only 10 campuses in the United States and Canada to earn a “gold” sustainability-performance rating in the prestigious Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) 2011 survey.
Incomparable Art Collection Mary Beebe won the 2011 Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Award for her work as director of the Stuart Collection, a unique program of site-specific works by leading artists on the campus of UC San Diego.

More information about university rankings

Current 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).
Grammy Award Susan Narucki, (2000).
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); Francis Crick, physiology or medicine (1962); Maria Goeppert-Mayer, physics (1963); George Palade, physiology or medicine, (1974); Renato Dulbecco, physiology or medicine, (1975); 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).