Today, University Place functions as a mixed business and residential area near the waterfront of Puget Sound. In comparison to the adjoining cities of Tacoma and Lakewood, University Place (along with Fircrest and Steilacoom) is relatively affluent and enjoys lower crime rates than most of its neighbors. The town is home to Curtis Senior High School and the Charles Wright Academy.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (21.9 km²), of which, 8.4 square miles (21.7 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.83%) is water.
Based on per capita income, University Place ranks 81st of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked.
The racial makeup of the city was 75.87% White, 8.74% African American, 0.72% Native American, 7.47% Asian, 0.56% Pacific Islander, 1.35% from other races, and 5.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.84% of the population.
There were 12,149 households out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,287, and the median income for a family was $60,401. Males had a median income of $42,452 versus $30,045 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,544. About 6.0% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.