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University of California is an exchange destination for University College Utrecht students in the State of California, USA. University of California has a total of ten campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco (only graduate), Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. 

University of California is interesting for all kinds of fields of study. Refer to the UC Majors webpage.

Please note: Students must have a 3.2 GPA (minimum) in order to apply for this destination. 

Most campuses of the University of California work with a quarter system. Exchange in Fall semester may result in credit shortage (7,5 ECTS).

Acclaimed subjects

Life Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, and Geography

Number of places available

20 students per semester across all campuses.

The University of California has a total of ten campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco (only graduate), Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. You can list your preferences when you sign up for the University of California, but you might not be placed at your first choice.

Academic Calendar

All campuses, except for UC Berkeley and UC Merced, operate on the quarter system, where an academic year is comprised of 3 terms: Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. Similar to UCU, an academic year at UCB and UCM is comprised of two semesters.
Plan your exchange with the quarter or semester system in mind.

Language of instruction

*with the exception of foreign language courses.

Application deadlines

Fall quarter/Fall semester: February 10;
January (Winter quarter/Spring semester): August 1. 

Course offerings

Check the individual campus’ Course Catalog for information on courses. See the Schedule of Classes to see current and past course offerings for each UC.

At UC, students enroll in 14-17 units per term, a combination of major and general education course units. UC major courses are intense and students should plan to take no more than two courses in the major per term. Students at UC are not limited to selecting courses in their major only. They may enroll in courses in other majors, if they meet course prerequisites and space in class is available. Enrollment in specific courses cannot be guaranteed, but often UCEAP Reciprocal Exchange students take the opportunity to enroll in courses they would not otherwise have had the chance to take. 

Course levels

At UC, undergraduate students generally take lower- division courses (numbered 1-99) in their first two years of university study, then take more advanced, upper-division courses (numbered 100-199) in their last two years of study. UCU students are only allowed to take upper-division courses. Students must meet prerequisites to enroll in upper-division courses. Undergraduate students may only enroll in graduate- level courses (numbered 200 and above) with the instructor’s permission.

Credit system

In Berkeley/Merced, you’ll take 16 ‘ semester units’ in a semester. These units are comparable to UCU 30 ECTS credits and workload. At the other UC campuses, the ‘units’ are worth less: 16 units is the equivalent of 22,5 ECTS. As 16 quarter units (=22.5 ECTS) is considered a full course load for one quarter at UC California, you’ll have a deficiency of one course if you go in fall quarter, for which you need to make up prior to your exchange. Please note: Students who will study at UC for two quarters beginning in January (Winter quarter) will need to complete two learning agreements, one for each quarter. 

Grade system

The University of California works with the A-F scale like UCU.


As a UCEAP reciprocal exchange student, you are eligible to apply for university on-campus housing. Housing is not guaranteed. Make sure to read information on on-campus and off-campus housing options pertaining to your UC.


Students must document sufficient cost of living expense funding for the duration of their UC exchange to be issued a DS-2019 certificate of eligibility which you will need to apply for the J-1 visa. This is usually a couple thousand dollars, so keep in mind that you have to account for all that money before you go on exchange to the US.


Each host UC campus international students’ office requires attendance of a mandatory orientation program (either in person or online) and check-in upon your arrival. More information about planning for your exchange at your host UC campus will be communicated after your UC campus placement has been determined.

Student experiences

A general note on the academic aspects of the University of California, except for the excellent quality and the very motivated students, is: be active in getting into your preferred courses! Mostly, exchange students are not given the first choice when the places are divided. By attending all kinds of classes during the first week (when people can still add or drop courses) you can find out which alternatives are interesting for you; sending a mail to a professor and convincing him/her that you ‘need’ to do a specific course will also often be successful. Be prepared that public transport in California can be of low quality. On several campuses, such as UCSD, students are strongly recommended living in the I-House, as usually also American students have a room there, which gives a nice mix of internationals and Americans. However, not all campuses have a designated I-House. Be prepared to share a room. The experiences with other kinds of residences are equally positive; especially for students that were able to live in “co-op” housing described it as a great experience.

More information

For information about the requirements for studying abroad, the application procedure and more, go to UCU's Study abroad page. 

You can browse through all UCU exchange destinations and UU exchange destinations in the exchange catalog.