University of California San Diego Review (31)

University: University of California San Diego

City: San Diego

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: computer science

Study type: semester abroad

University of California San Diego Review (31)

I’ve wanted to study on the west coast of the USA for a long time, because a lot of IT technologies were developed there and almost all the big IT companies are based there. I found out from a fellow student that MicroEdu, a counseling agency, places students at universities in California and serves as a point of contact. I took advantage of this offer and can only recommend it, as the application documents are checked and then forwarded. I then chose UCSD because the university is among the best in the world in rankings, mostly top 20, a large computer science department and because San Diego, right on the Pacific Coast, has good weather all year round. See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In University of California Davis.


The requirements include proof of English language skills with an IELTS of over 7.5 or a TOEFL with over 90 points. I was able to take the IELTS test as part of the MWP engineering language course in London in the summer of 2016. In addition, proof of very good academic performance is required, which is provided in the form of transcripts of grades or, as in my case, the bachelor’s certificate. We also have a “personal statement”, i.e. a letter of motivation required by setting out the decision to apply to UCSD. This information should be available on the Collage Contact website. In addition, after approval, medical proof of freedom from tuberculosis is required, which requires a test by a pulmonologist. I applied in January 2017 for the fall trimester (Sept.-Dec.) and would recommend it to others. The language test must be completed beforehand.


The University of California San Diego (UCSD) offers a so-called UPS program (University and Professional Studies) to which you can apply for one or more terms abroad. This is organized by a separate institute, the UCSD Extensions. When you apply, you have to specify twelve courses that you might want to attend. However, this selection has nothing to do with the actual courses, since this information is taken from past trimesters. I suppose it’s just a preoccupation with the expected course offerings to avoid surprises. MicroEdu will provide the instructions including all deadlines for the student visa. The issuance of the visa includes a visit to the embassy in Munich after filling out endless forms. This visa allows a four-week stay before the course starts and a six-week stay after the course ends in the USA. After the end of the course, however, the country may only be left once.


UCSD offers on-campus housing on. However, these are only available for “undergrads”, i.e. regularly enrolled bachelor students. Exchange students and master’s students have to look around on the regular housing market. Rents in San Diego and especially in La Jolla, the northern district around the university, are very expensive by German standards. The university recommends the private landlord “Anatolia Corporate Housing”. This offers single or double rooms near the university. I booked a shared bedroom for $2740 for the trimester. In addition, a reservation fee of $250 will be charged. My room was a six minute bus ride from the university and I had a roommate from Singapore who I got along with very well. The bus ticket can be purchased for $140 and used 24 hours a day. Alternatively, you can look for a room in the Pacific Beach party district and accept a longer journey to the university. Then, however, a rental car would be recommended, since public transport is not really developed.


The main difference between the course is the graded homework, which usually has to be submitted weekly in each subject. These can then account for up to 50 percent of the final grade. The remainder of the grade is determined by tests during the trimester (midterms) and at the end (finals).

At the beginning of the semester, as a UPS student you have some disadvantages because you cannot participate in the online allocation of places, but have to ask the professor for a signature and the faculty for a place. This means that places in particularly popular lectures (especially in computer science ) have already been taken. The commitment for a place can last until week three, which is particularly unpleasant because you have to attend more courses than planned in order to ultimately get your three courses. For example, I couldn’t take the computer vision course, which annoyed me quite a bit. UCSD Extension also offers its own courses, but I wanted to take part in the normal master’s courses offered by the faculties take part. There are three courses with four units each in each trimester. I got places in the following courses:

  • CSE240A Computer Architecture : Computer architecture for students with experience in the field. Topics such as branch prediction and multithreading are dealt with intensively.
  • CSE237C Validation and Prototyping of Embedded Systems : An introduction to Vivado HLS, i.e. synthesis with a C-like high-level language. Grades are collected through two-week projects and a large final project including elaborations.
  • ECE253 Digital Image Processing : Image processing starting from the pixel through filters to transformations. A good course for students with little experience in the field, although the professor could update his slides.

I’m not sure I’d replace the 240A course with another in hindsight as I was already familiar with a lot of the concepts. Nevertheless, it was an instructive trimester with many international contacts. About 50 percent of the students at the UCSD are from Asia and, especially in computer science, also from India.


Contact with Americans is therefore best possible through one of the many student clubs. In the first few weeks there are many information stands from the clubs along the central squares to recruit new members. I was with the Triton Rocket Club, which develops a small rocket and tries to break altitude records. In most cases, however, long-term members are sought.

The campus is quite large and also has some surrounding institutes. It takes up to 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The futuristic library is roughly in the middle of the campus. In addition, there is a center which contains various grocery chains and a small supermarket. This is the “replacement” for a canteen, which can become quite expensive in the long run.


The university offers a paid program for almost every conceivable type of sport. I took a weekly surfing course which I highly recommend as the university is about a kilometer from the Pacific and the waves are very beginner friendly (see picture below). There is also a bouldering hall, swimming pools and soccer fields. And of course one of the beaches is always worth a little trip. The “Outback Adventures” rent equipment and organize trips into nature. I took part in a trip to Mexico over the Thanksgiving holiday. The districts Downtown or Pacific Beach are suitable for partying and are best reached with the taxi apps Uber or Lyft.


In addition to the $7800 tuition, there is a $200 application fee and a $350 service fee. In addition, health insurance of $590 must be obtained from the university. Depending on the offer, the flight costs around €800. Most of this is covered by the MWP’s foreign funding. The visa costs around $360 in total. After that, the above-mentioned rent and living costs are to be expected, which are likely to be significantly higher than in Germany. The time before and after the semester is of course also suitable for a holiday. I was able to take a road trip from San Francisco to San Diego in the three weeks leading up to the start of the semester. theNational parks in the area are definitely worth a trip.


UCSD is a good university with many opportunities in sunny San Diego. I recommend this destination to anyone who wants to experience a challenging student life in a big city right on the Pacific coast.

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