Located in the heart of the city, the University of California, Los Angeles, also known as UCLA, continues to be one of the most well-known colleges in the world. With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, storied sports programs and a huge selection of degree programs, it’s not hard to understand why this college remains so popular and is one of the most applied to colleges in the world.

When Was UCLA Founded

When you think of such a popular institution as UCLA, you never stop to consider when UCLA was founded or the history of UCLA. Mainly because you believe it’s always been around, and it has been. UCLA was founded 100 hundred years ago, in fact exactly one hundred years ago in 1919. Since it’s very beginning, it’s been an incredible learning institution for thinkers, entertainers, athletes, scientists and many others.

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Where Did the Name UCLA Come From?

Before UCLA became known as the nationally recognized institution that it is today, it was originally known as the “Southern Branch” of the University of California located on Vermont Avenue. The small university, at the time, only offered a two-year undergraduate degree program geared toward teacher training. Just a few short years later, with the opening of new buildings the name of the university officially changed. In 1927, the UCLA full name University of California, Los Angeles, was adopted, and the rest is history.

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History of UCLA

UCLA was founded on many premises, but its main purpose has been to make a difference, and it has. During the history of UCLA, many amazing things have transpired on its campus and because of its graduates. At the UCLA Medical Center, the first open-heart surgery in the western half of the United States took place in 1956. More medical advancements happened later, when an alumnus who was also a faculty member made the medical discovery of a test that helped make organ transplants possible.

Not only are medical advancements a huge part of the history of UCLA, but so are the scientific advancements that happened as well. They include multiple faculty members being awarded Nobel Prizes in fields such as chemistry and physiology. Other major accomplishments for faculty members include winning the Nobel Prize in economics, achieving global notoriety for achievements in mathematics and creating FDA approved medical treatments.

The history of UCLA includes other important achievements such as the University hosting gymnastic and tennis competitions during the 1984 Olympic Games.

UCLA Sports History

Known globally for its scientific and medical achievements, UCLA is also known for its sports achievements. UCLA can proudly proclaim it is the first university to have more than 100 NCAA team championships under its belt.

These championship teams have introduced the world to sports icons like Troy Aikman, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe. Many of these players elevated UCLA’s position in sports when they lead their future teams to the Super Bowl, NBA wins and other impressive titles. UCLA can also proudly share that the athletics program has produced 261 Olympic medals in sports that span gymnastics, track and field and more.

UCLA’s Hollywood Impact

With Hollywood right in its backyard, UCLA has produced an impressive list of graduates who grace the stage, the movies and the small screen. They are actors, comediennes and influential directors. Songbird, songwriter and now Broadway star Sara Bareilles also sang her way through UCLA and even earned a communications degree while on campus.

Jaleel White, better known for his portrayal of Steve Urkel is also a Bruin after earning a degree in film and television. Other actors who chose UCLA to earn their degrees include actress Gabrielle Union who earned a sociology degree with honors, veteran actor Mark Harmon who also earned a communications degree, and sisters Kay and Danielle Panabaker. It's pretty clear that UCLA has been able to mold some pretty talented individuals even though their degree doesn't highlight what they ultimately decided to do. UCLA was able to prepare them very well to take on the world or better yet, Hollywood.

Often overlooked due to his attendance at many other colleges during his educational career, UCLA counts Jim Morrison of the Doors as a pretty famous alumni. Morrison participated in student films while there and later graduated from UCLA's film school. Other notable alumni include James Dean, Carol Burnett, Francis Ford Coppola, who has been an awarded an Academy Award for his work, and actress and neuroscientist, Miyam Bialik.

UCLA's Notable Not Quite Alumni

UCLA had quite a few notable celebrities who have been seen on the court, field, stage and in political arenas. There are just as many influential people who count UCLA as a very important part of their lives, even though they didn't walk across the stage in a cap and gown.

Almost alumni include actresses Heather Locklear, Mariska Hargitay and Kristen Stewart of the Twilight movie franchise. Both Steve Martin, Jack Black and Ben Stiller most likely laughed or made the student body laugh through most of their classes while attending UCLA. Olympic gymnast Jordyn Weiber counts herself as an almost alum who made a huge impact as a student.

UCLA Famous Faculty

Not only are future celebrities born at UCLA, it's not at all surprising to be taught by celebrity professors. While many professors have received high honors such as Nobel Peace Prizes for their achievements making them celebrities in that world, there are also Hollywood celebrities in the classrooms like actor James Franco. Franco has been known to teach a few film classes when he's not busy appearing in films himself.

Who Can Attend UCLA?

While some may look at the history of UCLA and all its accomplishments and believe it’s because it’s a private institution, they would be wrong. UCLA’s success and notoriety are all of that of a very well-regarded public university. With a large undergraduate enrollment of more than 31,000, UCLA is a big institution.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in California, in-state tuition and fees can be affordable at a little over $13,000 a year. The price jumps significantly, and students from out-of-state can face tuition and fee costs of $41,000.

It’s important to note that while UCLA has a very large undergraduate population and sizable campus, the acceptance rate for new students makes it extremely low. Due to its history and reputation around the world, UCLA is a very competitive university, so students must have good grades and test scores to be considered.

Are You Ready to Be a Bruin?

If you answered yes, it’s important to know exactly what a Bruin is. A Bruin is the mascot for the University of California, Los Angeles. A bruin is a type of bear, which just happens to be on the California state flag, and the mascot for the state of California is the grizzly bear. In its earlier years, the mascot for UCLA was always a variation of a bear.

They were originally the UCLA Cubs, but grew tired of the name because Cubs signified they were little in their division, and they knew they were bigger than that. They later called themselves the UCLA Grizzlies but because another college used the name Grizzlies, they later adopted the Bruins.

Now 100 years old, it’s difficult to imagine the mascot for UCLA being anything but the UCLA Bruins.

How to Have School Spirit

It’s easy to have school spirit at a powerhouse like UCLA since the campus is alive with a diverse population of people from California and around the world. Bruins come together by cheering for fellow Bruins on and off the court, on stage and in the classroom. Make sure you wear your blue and gold everywhere, so everyone knows which team you’re rooting for.

Student Life at UCLA

If you decide to start or continue your education at UCLA, be prepared to be amazed and educated by one of the 4,000 highly-trained faculty members and guests. With more than 109 academic departments that inspire over 3,800 courses, you’ll have ample opportunities to discover who you want to be and other opportunities to help inspire your world.

Never worry about your on campus accommodations because there is plenty of living space for everyone. From traditional residence halls to apartment like settings, living on campus at UCLA is very enjoyable. So enjoyable that 97 percent of all freshmen live on campus.

Dining is also tasty on campus because the choices are endless and all eating styles and dietary restrictions are accommodated. Not interested in eating at a traditional residence hall? There are plenty of other on-campus dining selections like quick service dining and takeout.

Why Students Choose UCLA

Between its Southern California location, which puts it close to all of the action and its fascinating history, it's not hard to see why UCLA continues to be at the top of every student's list. Not simply known for its California coolness, UCLA's academic programs are pretty top notch as well.

UCLA offers more than 125 undergraduate majors and more than 90 minors. Of these majors, the most popular among new students are biology, business economics, political science, psychology, psychobiology and economics. With this many offerings, students are hard pressed not to find their passion in the classroom.

For students who have already received their undergraduate degrees and are looking to further their education at UCLA, the school offers almost 150 graduate degrees to choose from. UCLA has also been celebrated year after year for hosting 40 of the top doctoral programs in the country.

UCLA has also made a concerted effort to ensure that every student with diverse backgrounds and goals has an opportunity to learn at UCLA. Many students are able to engage with the world-renowned school due to the UCLA Extension program. The UCLA Extension programs allow students from every corner of the world to earn a certificate in their preferred field all online, morning, noon or night.

Programs available through the UCLA Extension program include everything from architecture to health care to journalism and science. UCLA also offers a wide-range of conferences and boot camps to businesses and companies who need to offer their employees the latest and best in education.

With its storied history and reputation, UCLA will always be at the forefront of innovation and creating tomorrow’s leaders. It’s legacy will continue to be known around the world and will remain the first choice university for many aspiring world-changers.

About the Author

As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.