University of California, Irvine

From Academic Kids

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The University of California, Irvine is a public, coeducational university situated in suburban Irvine, California. It is one of ten University of California campuses and is commonly known as UCI or UC Irvine.



UCI's school year is divided into three quarters of ten weeks of instruction and one week of finals with each quarter requiring a minimum of 12 quarter units of courses and a maximum of 20 units, although the maximum can be exceeded by petition or by enrollment in the honors program. Courses offered are usually worth between 1 to 5 quarter units.

In total, at least 180 quarter units are required to graduate. Many of the units come from the graduation requirements of a certain major but a substantial amount come from the general education requirement called the "breadth requirement" at the university. The breadth requirement consists of seven subject categories:

  1. Writing
  2. Natural Sciences
  3. Social and Behavioral Sciences
  4. Humanistic Inquiry
  5. Mathematics and Symbolic Systems
  6. Language Other Than English
  7. Mulicultural Studies and International/Global Issues

The sixth category, Language Other Than English, is usually fulfilled through taking four years of a foreign language in high school, passing an AP test on a language other than English with a 4 or 5, or scoring a 620 or better on an SAT II exam on a language other than English. The seventh category, Mulicultural Studies and International/Global Issues, contains two subcategories, Mulicultural Studies and International/Global Issues.

UCI's most popular undergraduate majors are Biological Sciences (545 degrees awarded in 2004), Economics (412), and Information & Computer Science (388). In 2003 the university awarded a total of 4633 bachelors degrees, 907 masters degrees, and 282 doctorates.

Rankings and Distinctions

UCI is generally considered to be in the middle part of the top tier of U.S. universities. It is one of 60 elected members of the Association of American Universities. In the 2006 U.S. News & World Report survey (, UCI is ranked 5th among public universities in California, 12th among all public universities in the U.S., and 43rd among all universities in the U.S., public or private. UCI is fifth in applications received in the UC system, behind UCLA, UCSD, UCSB and Berkeley, and was the tied with UC Davis as the fifth most selective UC school in freshman admissions for Fall 2005.

Three researchers from UCI's faculty received the Nobel Prize during their tenures at UCI: Frank Sherwood Rowland (Chemistry, 1995), Frederick Reines (Physics, 1995) (deceased), and Irwin Rose (Chemistry, 2004). UCI's faculty are also members of the following U.S. learned societies:

One of UCI's most highly regarded programs is its Master of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing, which is ranked 6th nationally and has graduated such authors as Richard Ford, Michael Chabon, and Alice Sebold.


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A picture of the School of Social Sciences from the roof of the Engineering Tower
  1. Claire Trevor School of Arts
  2. School of Biological Sciences
  3. The Henry Samueli School of Engineering
  4. School of Humanities
  5. Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
  6. The Paul Merage School of Business
  7. School of Physical Sciences
  8. School of Social Ecology
  9. School of Social Sciences
  10. College of Medicine in the city of Orange, 13 miles to the north

Campus and surroundings

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UCI and surrounding areas. Aldrich Park is the green circle in the center

The campus is primarily composed of 1960s Modernist/Brutalist buildings set in a circle around a large central park. Satellite parking lots lie in another circle outside the main circle of buildings. The park is completely encircled by a pedestrian walkway known as Ring Road. Each school at UCI is located on its own segment of the ring (except for the School of the Arts and the Medical School). Starting from the Main Library and Administration building and going clockwise, Ring Road passes through Social Sciences, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Humanities. Due to this unconventional circular design, there are plenty of stories about tourists and new students who unknowingly walk several times around Ring Road before realizing that they were going in circles.

Popular legend holds that the campus was designed in an era of student protest, and the campus's circular design was meant to discourage student contact and congregation, and thus minimize protests and rioting. Students were meant to drive into a building's parking lot, walk to class, then later walk back to their cars and drive home. Therefore, most social contact would be with others studying in the same major. Adding to this legend is the existence of underground tunnels linking the buildings, supposedly for the emergency evacuation of faculty and administrators and to facilitate the movement of police. (In reality, the tunnels simply contain steam and utility lines.) Most likely, the design of the campus is simply representative of mid-60s urban design, favoring large open spaces and decentralized facilities over the dense layout of older campuses.

Irvine itself is one of the largest planned communities in the United States. Local residents are stereotyped as upper-income, conservative professionals, who stay at home and raise families. The housing market is extremely expensive. On campus, however, there is residence hall space for about only 3,200 undergraduates, and some on-campus apartment housing.(Note: As of Fall 2004, Vista del Campo opened providing an additional 1,500 beds for both Undergraduate [approx 1,200 beds] and Graduate students. A second, larger phase is scheduled to open fall term of 2006). The local economy is vibrant, and provides jobs in all ranges of skills and earnings, from unskilled service work to skilled professions. Although Christian denominations predominate, religious organizations of all types exist on-campus, in Irvine, and in the surrounding communities. In recent years Middle Eastern philisophies have become prevalent.

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The UCI mascot is the Anteater.

Public transit consists of on-campus shuttle buses, campus bikeways, and free use of OCTA buses via the U-Pass program. Most students do not need a car, and university parking is difficult despite large parking structures. Traffic jams on the local freeways are commonplace. Since the climate is warm, many students find a motorcycle or motorscooter convenient.

Despite the suburban environment, a variety of wildlife inhabits the University's central park and wetlands. The university had wolves up until 1985, and still has hawks, rabbits, raccoons, owls, skunks and coyotes. The University of California, Irvine, Arboretum hosts a fine collection of plants from California and Mediterranean climates around the world.


Due to the facts that the city of Irvine is very suburban and that UCI students have little social motivation to secure on-campus housing, the majority of students are commuters. Additionally, dorming freshmen can purchase residential parking permits. These factors have created a huge daily volume of cars, creating a severe parking shortage called "UCI Parking"; methods such as stack parking have had limited success to alleviate the situation. The usage of bikes and the student run shuttle service has done little help as the majority of the users of these are non-commuters, residents of on-campus or near campus housing.

On a trivial note, the parking permits that exist are:
R - Residential
S - Student Commuter
C - Staff Commuter
AR - Reserved (these are similar to commuter, but have special allocated parking spaces)
There are also permits/spaces for motorcycles, special staff, and service vehicles. A special permit called "Nobel Parking Pass" is only given to Nobel Prize recipients and has access to any parking space on campus, except for possibly the service vehicle or disabled parking spaces.

Cars are the most popular form of transportation, as well as a smattering of motorcycles and scooters. Bicycles are used mainly by residents of on-campus or near campus housing. Public transportation is used by a few students to commute, which is provided free of charge to the surounding areas. The student run shuttle service is used by students to travel between the distantly located parts of campus; certain routes of the shuttle service cater to on-campus residents who live in communities located on the fringe of campus.

Ground public transportation connecting is provided by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA); all the bus routes are available to the students for free. In this case, the student ID is used as an unlimited bus pass. This service is paid for by parking tickets at UCI, and, considering the volume of traffic and the resulting parking need that occurs at the campus daily, this is an easily workable arrangement. Other forms of transportation are available around UCI. UCI is located close to John Wayne Airport, a major Southern California hub. Although the city of Irvine has a train station that provides a link to both Amtrak and Metrolink trains, there are no direct bus routes to it. As a result, the Santa Ana Depot is the closest train station (in terms of total travel time).

UCI is close to three freeways, the 405, a major artery, the CA 55, and the CA 73, initially a freeway which splits off from the 405 to the south and becomes a toll road after passing the university. The proximity of the freeways and the large area of UCI both help to create situations where either freeway can be a faster route, depending on the on-campus point of origin. The streets of Irvine have speed limits that range from 45 to 55 mph, making them conveniently fast during their non-peak hours. Traffic is notoriously endemic in the region, with peak hours consuming most of the late-afternoon and early night.

Student life

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Residence Halls at the Middle Earth undergraduate housing complex (for freshmen) are named after places and characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books.
Graduate students are housed at the Verano and Palo Verde apartments. Freshmen are typically assigned to live in either the Middle Earth or Mesa Court residence halls, while non-freshmen undergraduates live in the Campus Village, Arroyo Vista, or Vista Del Campo housing complexes, or in one of the many apartment complexes off-campus. Because of increasing enrollment in recent years, on-campus housing is not guaranteed for non-freshmen students, besides transfer students. However, plans for two-year guaranteed housing are in motion due to the opening of the latest on-campus housing complex, Vista Del Campo, and the construction of another housing complex, Vista Del Campo Norte.

Due to its location in a preplanned suburban community, general student apathy, reputation as an academic or commuter school, and lack of emphasis on athletics, UCI has had a reputation as a quieter college town. While it is true that life at UCI can be said to be somewhat different from the traditional idea of American college life, there is still plenty of entertainment and recreation on campus and in the area. With just a short car ride to any of the many surrounding changes the night life drastically. Newport Beach, which is less than 10 minutes away, is home to a vibrant night life.

The recently completed Anteater Recreation Center boasts several new recreational and sporting facilities and is popular among students (and some faculty). The campus is within driving distance of local attractions such as the Irvine Spectrum, and South Coast Plaza shopping malls, as well as some of Southern California's most popular beaches and surfing spots at Newport and Huntington Beach.

Also popular among those who know where to find it is the only pub on campus: the Anthill Pub and Grille, a self proclaimed "swill-free zone" which is run by the Associated Graduate Students. Located on the third floor of the Student Center, the Anthill boasts an impressive collection of microbrew beers, ciders, and wine as well as a knowledgeable staff. The pub has become a favorite location for students and some faculty to have a drink while talking, watching TV, or shooting pool between or after classes. A pint of beer typically runs $3, while a pitcher costs around $8. Somewhat fitting for UCI's sober reputation, the Pub is not open on weekends or during the summer. As of March 23rd, the pub has been closed due to reconstruction of the student center. As of March 28th, there are no plans to provide a temporary home for the pub during the time of the reconstruction, although there has been some talk about serving a limited selection of beer at one of the eateries, the Phoenix grill (unconfirmed).

UCI also holds a medieval theme fair known as Wayzgoose in April, which includes (among other things) student booths, live bands, (lots of) food, a car show, and students dressed in cardboard armor whacking each other with fake swords. The event is open to the public and also functions as an open house for incoming and prospective students.

Because UCI does not offer a program in journalism (its literary journalism program focuses on creative nonfiction, not hard news reporting), its student newspaper, the New University, is only published weekly. But UCI has a vibrant alternative media program. There are two ideologically oriented student magazines, the Irvine Review and The Irvine Progressive, as well as a Muslim student paper and other independent publications.


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UCI sign at Crawford Hall - the athletic complex.

UCI's sports teams are known as the Anteaters. (The unusual mascot was chosen by student vote, in the non-violent and anti-establishment spirit that was popular in the school's early years.) They participate in the NCAA's Division I-AAA, as members of the Big West Conference and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. While some UCI's of sports teams (especially basketball) have developed a following in recent years, the student body remains generally apathetic towards athletics. However some students have taken it upon themselves to change this by forming a cheerleading squad/club known as CIA (short for Completely Insane Anteaters), which has seen some limited success. The UCI Men's basketball team has had 3 20 win seasons in recent years, and 4 in all. They have made it into the Division 2 NCAA Tournament 2 times, and the Division 1 NIT tournament 4 times. In 1986, they swept UNLV. The UC Irvine Women's basketball team has had one Division 1 NCAA Tournament appearance, in 1995, when they were champions of their conference, and won the conference tournament; however, they lost in the first round.

Notable members of faculty

Notable alumni and students

Humor & Trivia

  • The acronym UCI has often been jokingly claimed to stand for "Under Construction Indefinitely" (due to the recent surge of growth and construction activity on campus), or "University of Chinese Immigrants" (due to UCI's exceptionally high number of Asian American, more specifically Chinese, students). It has also been said to stand for "University of Civics and Integras" because of the predilection for these two types of cars among the highly Asian student population.
  • Because of UCI's lack of a football team and general apathy towards athletics, some students enjoy making sarcastic comments about how "Anteater football remains undefeated!".
  • A popular chant among UCI students during athletic events is "Zot"... the sound made by the tongue of the anteater in the comic strip B.C. as it flicks out to catch an ant.
  • The school was featured in the 2001 production of Ocean's 11. In the movie, the building where the crew steals the EMP device is actually the Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility located in the College of Medicine.
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The UCI Science Library
  • The floor plan of the Science Library closely resembles the Enterprise from Star Trek. However, some believe that the Science Library and the design on the plaza directly in front of it represent the human reproductive system, a theory lent credence by the fact that both are located in the School of Biological Sciences.
  • Blizzard Entertainment, a PC game developer, has its headquarters on UCI land. Its facilities are purported to be nondescript.
  • Broadcom Corporation, one of the top technology companies in the world, will be relocating its Irvine operations to UCI's University Research Park. (2005)
  • One of the on-campus eateries is named "B.C.'s Cavern on the Green", this is most likely named in honor of the comic strip B.C.

External links




University of California
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UC seal

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