UC Davis

UC Davis started life as the state of California’s agricultural college and became amalgamated into the University of California in 1959. Its historical roots can be seen to this very day, since it is ranked No 1 in veterinary medicine, globally.

Its Department of Viticulture is credited with making California’s wine industry among the best in the world. It is a large university, with over 31,000 undergraduates and 9,000 postgraduates, 16 per cent of whom are international students. Situated 15 miles west of Sacramento, it enjoys a wonderful west coast climate, and the community feel which comes with living in a college town.

Davis itself is the typical, relaxed student town, known for being friendly and peaceful. Both the town and the university are green, and sustainability is well on the road to being achieved on campus. Within a short drive of UC Davis, you can find yourself walking in forests, or enjoying beach life. Sacramento offers everything we have come to expect from a big city, in terms of nightlife, shopping, performing arts, exhibitions, a historic waterfront and multiple dining experiences. As the state capital, Sacramento is a lively, historic centre and San Francisco is only another 100 kilometres away.

Academic life

The university offers 100+ undergraduate majors and 90 research programmes, which have gained Davis the R1 classification – very high research output. Its veterinary medicine course is ranked No 1 in the world, and it has a very strong reputation for its work in:

  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Business Management
  • Plant sciences

Among other notable and highly-rated programs are the following:

  • Agricultural economics
  • Entomology
  • Ecology
  • Plant biology
  • Animal science
  • Comparative politics
  • Psychology
  • Plant pathology
  • Soil science
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics

Overall, Davis is second in the world rankings for its courses in Agriculture and Forestry. The university has its own farm on campus, run by the Department of Animal Sciences. It produces its own crops of olive oil and has a 100-acre arboretum. As you can see from the above list, UC Davis has not moved far from its original roots and is the ideal university for applicants who wish to study various types of biology, medicine and veterinary studies. Forbes (2022) states that UC Davis is the fourth-best public university in the USA. While US News and World report (2022) ranks it tenth overall.

Davis is the only UC campus, apart from Berkeley, to have a nuclear laboratory.


Agriculture in California, USA

Campus Life

Davis is a college town and students can use the many bike trails which cross-cross between the main buildings within and out of campus. There is also a system of tunnels which links departments, although many have false exits and entrances just to keep students on their toes.

The campus symbol is Gurock the Mustang and both undergraduates and postgraduates are known as “ Aggies”, presumably referring to the university’s agricultural origins. Some 23 halls of residence can accommodate over 11,000 students, while 8 per cent of the student body prefer to live in the 21 fraternity and 11 sorority houses. In addition, it is possible to live in a supportive residence community or sign up for one of the 14 polyurethane domes, which comprise a student co-housing cooperative and accept 26 residents. The campus prides itself on making great strides towards sustainability. It has signed up to the Dark Skies Ordinance to prevent light pollution, is about to ban plastic bags and has introduced the cool roof initiative, which aims to reflect sunlight back into the sky and prevent overheating.


UC Davis loves bicycles and is home to the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, as well as the Bike Barn, where students can get their machines overhauled and repaired.

When it comes to food, students run a very popular coffee shop and there are many retail outlets, including food trucks, all across the campus. There is also a large weekly farmers’ market on site.

UC Davis has over 500 clubs and societies and has produced 10 Olympians. There is a large number of sports available, including frisbee, rock climbing, swimming, football, rowing, basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse and track and field. Students are very proactive on campus and organise and run the double-decker Unitrans bus service and KDVS radio.

Picnic Day is a major annual event. It attracts over 50,000 visitors, and offers dachshund races, sheep dog trials and 150 other activities.

The Celebrate Davis free festival is equally popular, with its wine and beer garden, music, Storytime session, lots of stalls, zip lines, pony rides, fireworks etc. The Whole Earth Festival is a student-run arts and music festival which usually takes place in May and runs for three days. The festival highlights zero waste, sustainable living and environmental harmony and is family-friendly. It offers a mixture of good, organic food, nonviolence training, and uses art to teach visitors about wellness and activism. It is a free entry event and combines what you would expect to find at a holistic retreat with great catering and a warm atmosphere

If you are interested in a more structured event, then you can sign up for the Davis Art Walk, which lasts from one to two hours on the second Friday of every month. It is a self-guided tour which takes you to many of the campus’ important installations.


The average admission rate for UC Davis is 39.5 %. Only 2.8 percent of applicants to the school of medicine are successful in gaining a place.


You can apply to as many UC campuses as you like with only one application. UC colleges are not part of the Common App, and you will need to use their own application system to submit your documents. In addition, you will have to submit a Statement of Purpose, a Personal History and a Diversity Statement  – each essay cannot exceed 4000 characters. International applicants must also submit proof of language proficiency (IB, IELTS, TOEFL), along with three letters of recommendation, school transcripts and grades and a breakdown of their school record.

For detailed guidance on how to maximise your chances of being successful when applying to UC Davis, contact Elab, whose experienced team of US consultants will guide and walk you through the process.

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