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University of California–Davis

the basics
Location
One Shields Avenue
Davis CA 95616
Undergrad Enrollment
24,000
Type
Public
Setting
Suburban
In-State Tuition
$ 9,000
Out-of-State Tuition
$ 29,000
Room & Board
$ 12,000
5 reasons it’s cool
  • Students flock to UC–Davis for its top-ranked programs in the biological sciences, including agriculture and veterinary science.
  • This is top research school offers big-time research opportunities for students.
  • At 5,500 acres, the university’s sprawling, rural campus is the largest in the University of California system.
  • The performing arts thrive at the new Mondavi Center, home to the university’s Symphony Orchestra.
  • Bikes are the preferred method of transportation. The city of Davis, in fact, is home to approximately forty thousand bikes, the highest per capita of any U.S. city.

Studying until the cows come home

A Learning Environment

UC–Davis has four undergraduate colleges: Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. Over one hundred majors are offered, the most popular of which are psychology, biological sciences, economics, and communications. The university boasts major research opportunities for undergrads and sponsors summer-, semester-, and yearlong projects. Undergrads apply for awards and grants to help subsidize their costs and are encouraged to present their work formally during the annual Davis Undergraduate Research Conference. Various honors programs for ambitious students include the Davis Honors Challenge, the freshman Integrated Studies Honors Program, and the Chemical Engineering and Biochemical Engineering Honors Program. As students reach upper-division courses, large lectures tend to give way to smaller class sizes, and it’s easier to get face time with professors. Students who seek out professors and research projects find that there are ample opportunities to advance their prospects for grad school and their careers.

A Perfect Day for a Picnic

Over fifty thousand people gather at the UC–Davis campus every year to check out Picnic Day, the student-run open house that’s the biggest event of its kind in the nation. Students orchestrate over 150 events, including hamster ball races, a parade, cow and goat milking, departmental displays, and sporting events. The Chemistry Department’s magic show, in particular, is always a real crowd pleaser. Picnic Day has been canceled only four times in its nearly one-hundred-year history. One of those times was in 1924, when there was an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease among the local cowherds.

Large and Laid-Back

UC–Davis’s student body is pretty darn big—we’re talking twenty thousand students. Students tend to be a conservative though laid-back bunch, as befitting the laid-lack lifestyle of the university’s hometown of Davis. Fraternity and sorority life has a strong presence (one sorority was even featured on the MTV reality show Sorority Life). On-campus parties are easy to come by on Thursdays, but many students buckle down and study or just take it easy on the weekends. Most freshmen live on campus, while most upperclassmen move off campus, where affordable apartments are plentiful. The new Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (named for wine magnate Robert Mondavi) has become a showcase for a variety of world-class performances. The university’s athletics program has recently transitioned from NCAA Division II to I-AA. Football games are popular, spirit-filled events. The Aggie Pack, the nation’s largest student-run spirit organization, leads the crowd in cheering, while Band-Uh!, the university’s official marching band, provides ear-splitting musical accompaniment.

Let’s Take This Outside

Because of the campus’s huge size—5,500acres, and all of it flat—bikes are the favored mode of transportation for most UC–Davis students. Davis itself is a laid-back college town that’s known for its environmental friendliness. Students have access to free or low-cost public transportation, including a fleet of London-style double-decker buses. Nature lovers will have a field day, every day: The UCñDavis Arboretum is home to more than four thousand species of trees and plants, and the bucolic fields and forests of the area also function as living laboratories. The city of Sacramento is eleven miles away, and San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada are also easy to reach by car.