22,048 undergradute and 5,073 graduate students enrolled in Fall 2007 and the university awarded 6,802 degrees in 2005/06. The university is organized into six undergraduate colleges and six graduate divisions and offers 125 undergraduate majors, 52 masters degrees, 51 doctoral programs, and four professional degrees. The four year, full-time undergraduate program is classified as "more selective, higher transfer-in" by the Carnegie Foundation and was ranked 35th and "most selective" among national universities by U.S. News & World Report and 7th in the nation among public schools by the same publication. The university was ranked 14th internationally in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The university employs 7,566 faculty members including eight Nobel Laureates, eight MacArthur fellows, three National Medal of Science laureates, and two Fields medallists. UCSD has a very high level of research activity and total research funding for 2006/07 was $714 million. The university operates the UC San Diego Medical Center and is affiliated with several regional research centers, such as the Salk Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and The Scripps Research Institute. The university was admitted to the Association of American Universities in 1982.
In 1957, an undergraduate curriculum was planned as part of the general science curriculum, and Roger Revelle, Director of Scripps, was named dean of the new school. UC San Diego was the first general campus of the UC to be designed "from the top down" in terms of curricular and research emphasis. Stellar faculty were recruited as they became available as opposed to the dictates of a pre-planned curriculum or academic schedule. The graduate division of the school opened in 1960, when it had 20 faculty in residence, with instruction offered in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry and earth science. Classes initially met in the Scripps Institute.
Before the selection of San Diego was made final, however, the Regents requested an additional gift of of undeveloped mesa land northeast of Scripps, as well as 500 acres (2 km²) in Camp Matthews, a United States Marine Corps rifle range adjacent to the site. The city voted in agreement to its part in 1958, and the UC, convinced that all its other conditions would be met, approved construction of the new campus in 1960. Herbert York was designated its first chancellor, and he worked out the planning of the main campus according to the "Oxbridge" model, relying on many of Revelle's ideas.
By 1963, new facilities on the mesa been finished for the School of Science and Engineering, and new buildings were under construction for Social Sciences and Humanities. Ten additional faculty in those disciplines were hired, and the whole site was designated the First College of the new campus. The campus accepted its first undergraduate class of 181 freshman in 1964, and was designated Revelle College the next year.
The undergraduate program is a full-time, four-year program offering 125 art, science, and professional majors. There is a high graduate coexistence and the graduate instructional program is classified as a comprehensive. Courses and programs at UC San Diego are organized into four disciplinary divisions including: Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Graduate and professional schools include the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, the Rady School of Management, the School of Medicine, and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
UC San Diego's six colleges are: Revelle College, founded in 1964 as First College, which has highly structured requirements; John Muir College, founded in 1967 as Second College, which emphasizes a "spirit of self-sufficiency and individual choice" and offers loosely structured general-education requirements; Thurgood Marshall College, founded in 1970 as Third College, which emphasizes "scholarship, social responsibility and the belief that a liberal arts education must include an understanding of [one's] role in society"; Earl Warren College, founded in 1974 as Fourth College, which requires students to pursue a major of their choice while also requiring two "programs of concentration" in disciplines unrelated to each other and to their major; Eleanor Roosevelt College, founded in 1988 as Fifth College, which focuses its core education program on a cross-cultural interdisciplinary course sequence entitled Making of the Modern World; and Sixth College, founded in 2002 with a focus on "historical and philosophical connections among culture, art and technology."
UCSD has total annual research funding of more than $600 million. The National Science Foundation has ranked UC San Diego first in the UC system and sixth in the nation in terms of Federal research expenditures. Some 200 San Diego companies have been founded by UCSD faculty and alumni, and over 40% of the people employed in the San Diego biotechnology industry work in UCSD spin-offs. Science Watch ranked UCSD the eighth most cited institution during the period 1995 to 2005 in the field of molecular biology and genetics.
Sixteen UC San Diego faculty members have won the Nobel Prize, nine of whom are currently on the faculty. UC San Diego faculty also include nine MacArthur Fellows and 146 Guggenheim Fellows. UCSD ranks sixth in the nation in terms of National Academy of Science membership. UC San Diego has a total of 12 Nobel Laureates affiliated with it.
In 1995, the National Research Council ranked UC San Diego faculty the 10th-best in the nation, and ranked numerous graduate programs among the top ten in the United States in terms of quality: neurosciences (1st), oceanography (1st), bioengineering (2nd), physiology (2nd), pharmacology (3rd), theatre and dance (3rd), genetics (6th), geosciences (6th), cell and developmental biology (7th), anthropology (9th), biochemistry and molecular biology (2nd), political science (2nd), aerospace engineering (10th), and mechanical engineering (10th).
UC San Diego also counts among its research centers the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.
UC San Diego's biological science related research, aided by a strong local biotechnology sector, is especially well-respected.
UC San Diego is ranked as the 7th best public university in the United States according to the 2009 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, and it is ranked 35th among all universities in the United States by the same publication. In 2007, The Times Higher Education Supplement ranked UC San Diego as 58th in the world overall, 11th in the world for biomedicine, and 27th in the world for natural sciences. The 2007 Academic Ranking of World Universities released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked UC San Diego 12th in the United States and 14th in the world based on achievements and publications of the faculty. The Graham-Diamond report ranks UCSD 8th overall in the country, including top-10 rankings in biological sciences (3rd), economics (5th), social and behavioral sciences (7th) and physics (9th). In the 2006 Newsweek Magazine review, "America's 25 Hottest Colleges," UC San Diego was selected as the "Hottest for Science," noting the school's location, research grants, tradition, and diverse topics of study as key points. In its 2007 annual college rankings, The Washington Monthly ranks UC San Diego fourth nationally with criteria based on research, community service, and social mobility. In its 2008 report on best values in public colleges, Kiplinger ranked UC San Diego 11th in the nation for in-state value and 17th in the nation for out-of-state value. UC San Diego has been called a Public Ivy by Greene's Guides.
In the Biological and Physical Sciences, according to the US News and World Report rankings of graduate programs, the UC San Diego biology program is ranked 2nd in neuroscience and neurobiology, 6th in genetics and genomics, and 10th in cell biology. In 2008, US News and World Report ranked the graduate School of Medicine as 14th in the nation for medical research and 35th for primary care. UC San Diego's graduate program in behavioral neuroscience was ranked second in the nation while its cognitive psychology program was ranked third. The UC San Diego physics program is ranked 6th in plasma and 10th in condensed matter and low temperature physics. UC San Diego chemistry program is ranked 7th in biochemistry. UC San Diego's earth sciences program is ranked 5th in geophysics and seismology. In the Social Sciences, the UC San Diego Economics department is ranked 10th in the nation; Econometrics, a subdiscipline of Economics, is ranked 2nd in the nation, right below Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Department of Political Science is ranked 7th overall. UCSD is also ranked among the world’s elite universities in Life and Agriculture Sciences (14th); the Natural Sciences and Mathematics (19th); Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy (25th); and the Social Sciences (26th).
The Jacobs School of Engineering overall was ranked 11th in the nation. All five of the Jacobs School's academic departments were ranked in the top 20: The Department of Bioengineering, ranked 2nd in the nation for biomedical engineering behind Johns Hopkins. The department has ranked among the top five programs in the nation every year for the past decade. The Jacobs School of Engineering is also the 10th best in the world for engineering/technology and computer sciences, according to an academic ranking of the top 100 world universities published online in February 2008 by the Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), ranked highly in all categories surveyed: computer systems (9), computer science (13), theory (14), programming language (17) and artificial intelligence (19). The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, ranked 16th in mechanical engineering and 19th in aerospace engineering; the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), ranked 16th in electrical engineering and communications, and 17th in computer engineering; and the Department of Structural Engineering, ranked 17th in the specialty of civil engineering. The interdisciplinary Bioinformatics program, which is offered jointly by eight UC San Diego departments including the Jacobs School's bioengineering and computer science and engineering departments, ranked 6th in the nation.
UC San Diego received 47,407 freshmen applications of which 19,010 students were offered fall admission for the Fall 2008 quarter, making the admission rate 40.1%. Also, the number of students applying to UC San Diego makes it the third most popular UC campus, after UCLA and UC Berkeley. Admitted students attained a mean weighted high school GPA of 4.07 and average SAT scores of 630, 671, and 642 for Critical Reading, Math and Writing, respectively. The average ACT Composite Score is 28. Of the 19,010 freshmen that were admitted, 99% were in the top ten percent of their high school class. The top four overlapping schools for applicants are: UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, and Stanford respectively.
31% of admitted students receive federal Pell grants.
Graduate admissions are largely centralized through the Office of Graduate Studies. However, the Rady School of Management, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) handle their own admissions.
UC San Diego extension is the continuing education and public program branch of the university. As part of their goal, Extension strives to combine local impact with national reputation and global reach. Extension has been recognized for linking the community to expert professionals and the knowledge resources of the university.
Approximately 20,000 students per year are enrolled into the university-level professional courses. Extension provides over 100 certificate programs and over 25 specialized study programs. Most courses are held evenings and weekends for the convenience to working adults at one of the four locations; UC San Diego main campus in La Jolla, the Extension Sorrento Mesa Center, the Extension Rancho Bernardo Center, and the Extension Mission Valley Center.
The campus's undergraduate population is represented by a formal student government, known as the A.S. Council The A.S. Council also funds three quarterly festivals during the year: FallFest, WinterFest, and Sun God. The Sun God Festival, named after the statue created by artist Niki de Saint Phalle, is the best-known of the three festivals. During the event, there are day long series of concerts, performances, free items, and celebration before the final free concert takes place in the evening.
The main student hub is the UCSD Price Center located in the center of campus, just south of Geisel Library. The Price Center offers a variety of services, places, and spaces geared to the needs of students including restaurants, the central bookstore, movie theater, and various student organizations. In the Spring of 2003 a Student Referendum was passed to expand the Price Center to nearly double the original size. The expansion is currently open but not yet complete.
Two other popular campus events include the Pumpkin Drop and the Watermelon Drop, which take place during Halloween and at the end of the third (Spring) academic quarter, respectively. The Watermelon Drop is one of the campus's oldest traditions, famously originating in 1965 from a physics exam question centering on the velocity on impact of a dropped object. A group of intrigued students pursued that line of thought by dropping a watermelon from the top floor of Revelle's Urey Hall to measure the size of the resulting splat. A variety of events surround the Watermelon Drop, including a pageant where an occasionally male but generally female "Watermelon Queen" is elected. In 1979 the Queen rode to Urey Hall in a theatrical-prop sedan chair that had been knocking around the Revelle dorms for years. The Pumpkin Drop is a similar event celebrated by the dropping of a large, candy-filled pumpkin from 11-story Tioga Hall, the tallest residential building on the Muir college campus.
Each of the undergraduate colleges focuses on enhancing student life through various programs and organizations as well as through residential life programs. Upon admission to UC San Diego, each undergraduate student is assigned to a college. Currently there are six colleges--Revelle, Muir, Marshall, Roosevelt, Warren, and Sixth College (not yet named). The college a student is assigned to determines their General Education requirements. Each college also has a unique college specific writing class that all students must take.
The campus's graduate population is represented by a separate formal student government, known as the Graduate Student Association (GSA). The Association's membership comprises representatives from each of the graduate departments. The number of representatives is proportional to the number of graduate students within that particular department. Additionally, graduate students who serve as teaching or research assistants are represented by the UC-wide union of Academic Student Employees, UAW Local 2865.
There are also three campus centers that cultivate a sense of community among faculty, staff, and students: the Cross-Cultural Center, the Women's Center and the LGBT Resource Center. UC San Diego was the last UC campus to have such centers. All three centers, especially the Cross-Cultural Center that was created first, were founded in the mid-1990s and were the result of student movements that demanded change despite opposition by the campus administration.
One of the more controversial aspects of student life at UCSD is the student-run comedy paper, The Koala, a satirical paper often criticized for its provocative articles and drawings, which is also funded by the A.S. In 2005, the student council made national news over a controversy regarding pornography broadcast over the A.S.-funded television station by members of The Koala.
The campus newspaper, operated independent of student funds, is the UCSD Guardian. The campus also hosts a small independent radio station, KSDT, which no longer broadcasts over the airwaves, but still operates online. There is a music venue on the campus grounds of some fame called The Che Cafe, a collective organization serving multiple functions as an underground music venue, vegan food collective, center for grassroots organizations such as Food Not Bombs, and similar groups and activities. Prominent local San Diego bands such as The Locust and Pinback, and national tours such as Mates of State and Dillinger Escape Plan have given the Che Cafe some fame and praise as a radical vegan collective despite its small size (it fits a few hundred people) and limited sound equipment.
More than a dozen public art projects, part of the Stuart Collection, decorate the campus. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Sun God, a large winged creature located near the Faculty Club. Other Stuart Collection art includes a collection of Stonehenge-like stone blocks, a large coiling snake path, a building that flashes the names of vices and virtues in bright neon lights, and three metallic Eucalyptus trees, the Music Tree, the Literary Tree and the Third Tree commonly referred to as the Silent Tree. One of the newest additions to the collection is Tim Hawkinson's giant teddy bear made of six boulders located in between the newly constructed Calit2 buildings. Another notable campus sight are the graffiti tunnels of Mandeville Hall, a series of corridors that have been tagged with graffiti by generations of students over decades of use. Students in the university's visual arts department also often create temporary public art installations as part of their coursework. The university is also sponsoring a $56,000 performance art project to develop a sense of community at the sprawling campus.
UC San Diego offers student participation in a wide range of sports including swimming, water polo, soccer, volleyball, crew, track and field, fencing, basketball, golf, cross country, softball, baseball, and tennis, many of which have become perennial strengths. UC San Diego participates at the NCAA's Division II (DII) level in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, although water polo, fencing, and men's volleyball compete at the Division I level. Before joining DII in 2000, the school participated at the Division III level and won numerous national championships.
Until the 2007-2008 school year, UC San Diego was the only DII school that did not offer athletic scholarships. In 2005, the NCAA created a rule that made it mandatory for DII programs to award athletic grants; a measure was proposed to begin offering US$500 "grants-in-aid" to all 600 intercollegiate athletes in order to meet this requirement. In February 2007, a US$78 fee referendum was passed in the largest vote in UC San Diego history. This fee increase put the UCSD athletic department budget on par with rival DII schools for the first time since the transition. The new monies will go primarily to bringing talented coaching staff salaries up to competitive levels.
In 2006-2007, UC San Diego's best season since moving to DII, 19 of 23 athletic programs qualified for post-season competition, including 17 to the NCAA Championships. Eight of those teams finished in the top-5 in the nation.
UC San Diego fields a number of club sports teams. The UC San Diego surfing team has won the national title six times and is consistently rated one of the best surfing programs in the nation. The UC San Diego triathlon team is continually one of the top triathlon teams in the nation. In 2008, the women's triathlon team won the US collegiate national championship and UCSD athlete Amanda Felder was the Overall Nation Champion. UC San Diego also has sport clubs in badminton, cycling, dancesport, dance team, equestrian, ice hockey, lacrosse, roller hockey, rugby union, sailing, soccer, snow skiing, table tennis, ultimate, volleyball, water polo, and water skiing.
The National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) 2007 Collegiate Power Rankings rate colleges and universities comprehensively based on student-athlete graduation rates, academic strength and athletic prowess of the university. The institutions posted in the 2007 Power Rankings represent less than 6% of colleges and universities across the nation. UC San Diego placed 4th on the overall ranking list, trailing behind Williams College, Amherst College, and Duke University, and first on the Division II list.