What is life like as a student at UC Davis

University of California Davis


I'm studying Theoretical Physics and I did my first year of Masters at UC Davis. I actually ended up in Davis by chance because studying at my dream university didn't work out. When I had to find an alternative university at very short notice, because of the relaxed life in California, the good reputation of UC Davis and des simple application process viaCollege Contact for UC Davis. In retrospect, I'm also very happy that I studied in Davis.

Application and enrollment

Big compliments to College Contact, because the application was so simple! I only applied in June and started in Davis in mid-September. All the necessary application forms can be filled out in a few hours. I am not properly informed about language proficiency because I had a TOEFL test and therefore did not have to submit any further language certificates or take language tests. You should definitely plan 4 weeks and $ 250 for the visa. The registration at the UCD was done quickly and me had no bureaucratic difficulties all year round.

One should know that UC Davis Extension many different programs offers! Basically, the UC Davis Extension Center, which incidentally is a bit remote from the campus, only offers English courses that I have not taken. That's why I was never at the UC Davis Extension Center except for enrollment and a few counseling sessions. Instead, I completed the 'Open Campus Program', which enables you to study on the normal UCD campus. However, this program was recently changed and I am not sure how the new version is regulated. (Note from the CC editors: The program is now called "Global Studies Program" and the application process has changed a bit, but it is still possible to apply through us for a term abroad at UC Davis.)

In principle, it's just a matter of finding a program that allows you to study on the whole campus, but still be enrolled at the Extension Center. Although this does not give you an official degree, you pay significantly less tuition fees.

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Studying at UC Davis

First of all: It is very expensive to study in Davis! Tuition about $ 5600 per quater, Housing and Living about $ 700-1000 per month! There are also some unexpected costs; for example, every quater has to buy books for the lectures (math / physics books are very expensive at graduate level!).

Then you can study very well and more pleasantly than in Germany (LMU Munich)! This is not surprising, since American students pay an insane amount of tuition fees and therefore expect a lot from their university. Unrestricted access to computers, printers and books in the entire UC system, many library spaces, a huge range of sports facilities and organizations, and the very best: Very good contact with the professorswhat is especially important in the master’s program! In addition, UC Davis stands out as a very large campus university with lots of green spaces, various food stands and the special flair of a student city out.

The lectures are a little different, but in my opinion better structured than here in Germany. In Davis, employees in projects, doing homework and midterm tests are required and graded, but at the end of the quater you usually don't have a big exam. Say, instead of relaxing during the lecture period as in Germany and taking an important exam at the end, The workload in Davis is evenly distributed over the entire trimester and thus appears much more relaxed.

Regarding the Physics Department, it should be said that although it cannot keep up with UCB, UCLA and UCSB, it still has some very well-known professors. However, the Mathematics Department (also includes the String Theory Department) is very good and very well known even in Germany!

There are many international students at UC Davis, but they come mainly from Asia and less from Europe. That's why I spent almost all of my time in Davis with Americans and Asians. This is different from other universities in California where you could probably only speak German most of the time.


Housing in Davis is a major problem in Davis due to the large number of students. American flat shares are usually dirty and have too many people. Single apartments are very expensive (around $ 1000 per month) and difficult to find. In general, the university can be reached in less than 30 minutes from anywhere in Davis thanks to the many cycle paths and the relatively good bus system.

I I opted for the relaxed and actually inexpensive variant and lived with a host family. My tip: James - www.DavisHousingServices.com. However, host families should also be treated with caution. I was lucky and was able to live with a super nice American family and get to know Thanksgiving and other special features of the American lifestyle.


While the city of Davis doesn't have too many attractions or nightlife options, it is Davis an attractive location as a starting point for travel. The UC Berkeley Shuttle takes you quickly and cheaply to San Francisco, which I personally consider to be the most beautiful city in the United States. Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park are also within 3 hours. We recommend cruising the California coast with stops in Monterey, Santa Barbara, LA and San Diego. This can also be combined well with a visit to Las Vegas. I didn't like Sacramento, 20 minutes away, though.

There are many opportunities for such excursions. On the one hand you can go on an excursion with other exchange students and on the other hand you can take part in organized trips of the UC Davis Outdoor Adventure Center.

Within Davis, joining a student organization is advisable as most Americans spend their free time in university organizations. You get to know a lot of new people and have a lot of fun. I have in the UC Davis Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh! Trumpet played and must say, that was probably the best thing I've done in America!


If you are looking for a great starting point for excursions, the typical American student life at a renowned campus university and want to experience sunshine almost every day, UC Davis is the place for you. I had an unforgettable time in California and can definitely recommend UC Davis!

By the way: You can swim in the sea in California without a wetsuit only in the summer in San Diego and maybe LA ...