The University Context

An Informal Summary of University Policies, Procedures, and Resources for Undergraduate Instruction

OID: Faculty Consultation

The University Context

California public higher education

The California system of public higher education has three branches: the ten-campus University of California (UC) system, the 23 California State Universities and Colleges, and the 109 community colleges. These three branches operate under the “California Master Plan for Higher Education,” which aims to ensure appropriate educational opportunities for all qualified students. The Master Plan assigns to UC the major responsibility for post-graduate education in the arts and sciences, and the exclusive responsibility in the professions. UC is also designated as the state’s primary research institution.

In accordance with the emphasis on research and research training, UC has higher admission standards than the other branches. The minimum requirements for entering freshmen are complex, but, for the most part, the UC system requires incoming students to be at least in the upper one-eighth of the state’s high school graduates, while the State Universities and Colleges require them to be in the upper third, and community colleges are open to all high school graduates.

The minimum admission requirements for students transferring to UC from other colleges are more complicated. A major point in the admissions philosophy permits students who did not meet admission standards from high school to transfer to UC as juniors if they achieve at least a B or higher GPA record at community or other colleges. It should be noted, however, that in recent years, there are many more applicants at both the freshman and transfer level than can be accommodated. The caliber of applicants actually admitted to UCLA is therefore much higher in reality than the minimum standards.


The University of California

The University of California is dedicated to a three-part mission of teaching, research, and public service. The 10 campuses span the state and have a combined enrollment of over 209,000 students, more than 95 percent of them California residents. About 20% of these students study at the graduate level.

The University of California system is governed by a Board of Regents, whose regular members are appointed by the Governor. The Board of Regents also includes ex officio members, including the Governor and other major elected officials. The Regents set broad general University policy, make budget decisions, and appoint the President of the University, the ten chancellors, and the major administrative officers on the various campuses. A system-wide administrative structure oversees the ten campuses.

The Office of the President is the administrative authority governing all ten campuses. Each campus, however, is unique not only in physical appearance and architecture, but in administrative organization, curricular offerings, doctoral programs, and research. Authority and responsibility for guiding the academic mission of each campus rests with the Academic Senate of each campus, the administration, and to a considerable extent on a day-to-day level, the academic department.

University of California and diversity

The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State Laws and University Policies, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, medical condition (cancer and genetic characteristics as defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities.

The UCLA Administrative Context

UCLA has the largest enrollment and the smallest physical campus of the ten UC campuses. In 174 buildings on 419 acres, UCLA serves more than 38,000 students.

The Academic Senate

The Board of Regents has delegated authority in academic matters to the Academic Senate, which determines academic policy for the University as a whole. The University has a long tradition of extensive faculty participation in educational administration through the Academic Senate. The Senate, composed of all tenure track and tenured faculty and many major campus administrators, determines the conditions for admission and the granting of degrees (subject to Regent approval), authorizes and supervises courses and curricula, and advises University administrators on budgets and faculty appointments and promotions.

The following Academic Senate committees are involved in guiding the undergraduate academic programs and course offerings at UCLA: Undergraduate Council; Teaching; Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools; Education Abroad; Graduate Council; Council on Academic Personnel; and Academic Freedom. The remaining Academic Senate committees and councils affect the instructional mission in less direct ways. The UCLA Academic Senate website contains a description of all Senate committees:

UCLA’s Organizational Structure: The College and Professional Schools

The College of Letters and Science (The College); School of the Arts and Architecture; Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; School of Nursing; and School of Theater, Film, and Television offer programs leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The other professional schools—the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies; School of Law; John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management; School of Public Affairs; and in the health sciences, the School of Dentistry; David Geffen School of Medicine; and School of Public Health— offer graduate programs exclusively.
Each of UCLA’s schools has a dean as its chief administrative officer. The College of Letters and Science is headed by an executive dean, with a dean for each of six academic divisions (humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, honors and undergraduate programs, and the international institute).

Academic department responsibilities

UCLA is organized along traditional academic lines. The instructional program revolves around academic subject-matter departments. Faculty are appointed to a department, courses are offered by departments, and most majors are set up within departments. The primary responsibility for curriculum development, curricular innovation, instructional evaluation, and teaching in general, is located within individual departments.

The requirements of the UCLA undergraduate program

To obtain an undergraduate degree, students must satisfy University-wide requirements, College or School requirements, and departmental or interdepartmental major requirements. In addition, there are unit, scholarship, and residence requirements. For detailed information on specific requirements see the UCLA General Catalog, The University-wide requirements are Entry-Level Writing or English as a Second Language and American History and Institutions. College or School requirements can include Writing I and II, Quantitative Reasoning, Foreign Language and General Education.

The College and Schools with undergraduate degrees require a general education curriculum that is grouped into three areas or Foundations of Knowledge: Foundations of the Arts and Humanities, Foundations of Society and Culture, and Foundations of Scientific Inquiry. The Foundation courses are designed to reveal to students the ways that research scholars in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences create and evaluate new knowledge. The courses introduce students to the important ideas and themes of human culture and foster an appreciation for the many perspectives and diverse voices that may be heard in a democratic society. The number of courses required varies by College and School.

Students can choose from a wide variety of departmental or interdepartmental majors. Admission to a major often requires completion of a set of lower-division courses known as Preparation for the Major courses. The number of upper-division units required in a major varies by discipline, but the minimum number is 36 upper-division units. Students choose a degree objective based on their interests, abilities, and career goals. There is an array of counseling services to assist students in making their choice of major.

The College and Schools have minimum progress regulations that require students to graduate within a certain number of units. Undergraduates in The College have Expected Cumulative Progress (ECP) guidelines that have been designed and approved by the faculty to provide important guideposts for academic progress. ECP processes increase counseling opportunities for students, and students are encouraged to work one-on-one with an academic counselor in their College advising units. By meeting ECP guidelines, students are able to graduate in a timely manner. The College Academic Counseling office has more information for students on ECP guidelines:


Classificaiton of courses

Undergraduate courses are classified as lower-division or upper-division. Lower-division courses (numbered 1-99) are often survey courses offering preliminary introductions to the subject field. They are designed primarily for freshmen and sophomores, although upper-division students may enroll in them for unit and grade credit. Upper-division courses (numbered 100-199) are open to all students who have met the prerequisites indicated in departmental requirements or the course description. Preparation generally includes at least one lower-division course in the subject or two years of college-level work.


The UCLA Student

Profile of UCLA undergraduate students

The UCLA undergraduate student population is extremely diverse, offering students and faculty a wealth of perspectives, resources, and talents from which they may draw to enhance their education experience. The following information summarizes the demographic and academic characteristics of the students whom instructors will find in their classes.

Age distribution

The undergraduate population at UCLA is predominantly composed of students who entered the University directly out of high school. In the fall of 2006 the average of new freshmen was 18 while the average age of new transfers is 22.

Financial profile

In 2006 14,143 students applied for need-based financial aid. Of those, 12, 140 were awarded some need-based scholarship or grant aid, and 5, 035 had their calculated need fully met. The average financial aid package was $14,036, and the average need-based scholarship and grant award was $10,888.


The diversity of UCLA’s student population yields the wide range of opinion and perspective essential to a great university. In fall of 2006 women made up 59% of first-time freshmen while men made up 41%.

Ethnic minorities constitute over one half of the undergraduate student population. As of Fall 2006, the UCLA undergraduate student body, excluding transfer students, was 44% Asian American, 31% White, 13% Chicano/Latino, 2% African American, less than 1% Native American, 3% International, and 7% Other/Unknown.

Geographic origin

Undergraduates come from all 50 states and many different countries to study at UCLA, although most students are from California. In the fall of 2006, 92% of freshmen came from California, 6% came from states outside of California, and 1% were from International countries. Ninety-four percent of transfer students came from California, 1% came from states outside of California, and 5% were from international countries.

GPA and test scores of freshmen

The high school fully weighted GPA of new freshmen averaged 4.14, and their SAT scores (25th to 75th percentile) ranged from 1770 to 2080 in fall 2006.

Educational background

Of the entering freshmen in 2006, 78% came to UCLA from California public high schools, 12% arrived from California private high schools, and 9% were out-of-state or international students. Of students transferring into UCLA with advanced standing (60 semester/90 quarter units completed by the time of transfer), 92% came from California community colleges, 4% from other UC campuses, 1% from California State University campuses, 1% from in-state private universities or colleges, and 2% were out-of-state or international students.

Profile of UCLA graduate students

Age distribution

UCLA graduate students range in age from 18 to over 70, but the majority are in their 20s; in the Fall of 2006, the average age of a graduate student was 29.

Ethnic diversity

UCLA graduate students are less ethnically diverse than their undergraduate counterparts. In the Fall of 2006, the UCLA graduate student body was 47% white, 23% Asian American, 10% Chicano/Latino, 4% African American, 0.6% Native American, and 9% other.

Geographic origin

The graduate student body represents a greater geographic diversity than the undergraduate student body. In the Fall of 2006, 65% of UCLA graduate students came from California, 21% came from states outside of California and a full 14% came from International countries.

Financial profile

A great proportion of graduate students (70%) received financial support, in the form of fellowships, grants, loans, or work-study in 2004, and nearly 40% worked for the University as Teaching or Research Assistants. Many graduate students both work and receive financial assistance.