University of California, Irvine

American Dream

From the Chancellor

For too long, elite higher education has primarily served the privileged few. At UCI we make a world-class education available to all talented, hardworking students, regardless of background. In so doing, we remind the country that great universities can reinvigorate the American dream by becoming the most powerful engines of social mobility ever created.

— UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman

Chancellor Gillman

Money Magazine - #1 Best College

Money infographic

UCI is #1 best college in the U.S.

"I am delighted to see UC Irvine become the first-ever public university to score the top spot. What an impressive feat!" - UC President Janet Napolitano

In 2019, Money magazine named UCI No. 1 on its annual list of the nation’s “Best Colleges,” making it the first public university to achieve the top spot. The ranking acknowledges UCI’s continued commitment to providing accessible, high-quality education and fostering alumni success. The campus scored well across the board but especially in the measures of low-income and Pell Grant enrollment and favorable graduate outcomes – reflecting UCI’s role in advancing upward social mobility and doing the most for the American dream.

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I can dream

UCI — Advancing the American dream

One of the thorniest problems in society is the vanishing American dream. It’s no secret that a college degree is the best way for young adults to catapult themselves from a disadvantaged past to a better future. But that path is increasingly elusive.

Too many of America’s best colleges and universities enroll more students from the wealthiest 1 percent of families than from the bottom 60 percent. This imbalance damages the U.S. economy, widens the gulf between rich and poor, and goes against a fundamental mission of universities: to empower and expand opportunities for everyone.

UCI has won national praise for its success in breaking this pattern and creating an educational “big tent.” This website highlights some of the personal student stories, national rankings, diversity outreach programs and other elements of UCI’s quest to make the American dream more attainable for all.

Forbes Highest Upward
Mobility Rates

Average Mid-career salary by institution. Data: The Equal Opportunity Project, PayScale
InstitutionAverage Mid-career salary
New Jersey Institute of Technology $119700
University of California, Irvine $118800
UCLA $114800
Stony Brook University $108800
California State Polytechnic University $108300
CUNY Baruch College $103000
CUNY Queens College $95200
CUNY Brooklyn College $94800
CUNY City College $90400
CUNY Hunter College $87500
Top 100 Best Value Colleges Average $113200

Read Article Forbes ranks UCI 4th in nation for ‘best value’ Download Chart

Doing the most for the American dream

For the second consecutive year, UCI tops The New York Times’ College Access Index of U.S. universities based on their commitment to economic diversity. The ranking takes into account the number of low- and middle-income students that a college enrolls and the price it charges them.

We’re thrilled to once again be recognized as the leading campus in the United States providing access to all qualified students, no matter what their background.
UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman

Why UCI?

When it comes to getting the most bang for your tuition buck, UCI is tough to beat, as evidenced by a few of our national rankings.

#1 University doing the most for the American dream
#1 Best College
#1 Best Value
Top 10 Public University in the U.S.
Top 10 College providing a diverse learning environment
85% of Pell Grant students graduate within six years (compare to 49% nationwide)

UCI students shine brighter

Achieving success and making a difference. Here’s a tiny sampling of stories about UCI students mastering the American dream.

Jesus Chavez

Jesus Chavez
public health sciences

Kimberly Escalante

Kimberly Escalante

Laura Estrada

Laura Estrada
political science

Johnny Garcia

Johnny Garcia
biological sciences

Rosetta Hanako Pendleton

Rosetta Hanako Pendleton
computer science