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UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is the second built of California’s flagship UC campuses, opened in 1919, and its largest by enrollment and applications received. The campus was constructed to extend the UC system to better serve Southern Californians as the state grew rapidly after the First World War.

UCLA is considered one of the Public Ivies, a prestigious and elite public university with excellent research and teaching programs across a broad range of disciplines and fields. It is also well known for its high-performing NCAA Division I athletics programs, whose teams compete as the Bruins in several sports. Notably, the home stadium for its football team is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

UCLA enjoys several distinctions among the UCs and universities more broadly. It is the only UC to offer a four-year on-campus housing guarantee, and is considered to have the best on-campus dining of any university in the country. The UCLA Medical Center at the south entrance to campus, along with its satellite locations around LA, is widely recognized as one of the best hospitals in the state and country. UCLA’s campus is beautiful and parklike, with extensive green space and consistent red-brick architectural styles bringing visual harmony to many of its buildings—particularly around Dickson Plaza at the original heart of campus.

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Students who thrive

UCLA is a very large university, where most first- and second-year students will take a majority of classes in large lectures with up to hundreds of other students, before transitioning to smaller lectures and seminars with a couple dozen other students or fewer in their third and fourth years. Because UCLA uses the quarter system, and expects its students to be capable of performing at a very high level, lower-division courses typically move very fast once the quarter begins, sometimes giving midterm exams as early as the second or third week of school. There is little time to catch up if students fall behind. As a result, students who do well at UCLA are prepared for the anonymity, self-direction, and very fast pace of their lower division coursework.

UCLA students are also capable of navigating the large campus bureaucracy and its various requirements and procedures, as well as seeking out and finding academic and social support without much guidance. Like in the postgraduate world, succeeding at UCLA requires tremendous deliberate effort in a high-stakes, high-pressure environment. As one Niche.com reviewer put it, “self advocacy is essential for survival at this school.” For students who are ready to take the lead in their academic and social exploration and development, UCLA can be a great fit.

One of UCLA’s greatest benefits is its four-year on-campus housing guarantee, unique in the UC system. See “Housing” below for more. Students who specifically want to attend a large public university, but also want to be sure that they won’t have to stress about finding a place to live each year, will be well-served at UCLA. As well as guaranteeing on-campus housing, there are other options for students who think they may want to move off-campus at some point.

UCLA’s athletic programs, including notably its football and basketball teams, are strong and successful, and UCLA students tend to have lots of campus spirit and pride. Game days are busy and fun, and UCLA graduates share an alumni bond that can last a lifetime. But campus social life is also varied and full of opportunities for students of all kinds. For independent-minded students who are willing to forge their own path and put in a little extra work, there is a place for everyone.

Being in LA, the campus enjoys warm, sunny weather year-round. It is also relatively close to the beach, for students interested in surfing or sunbathing. It unfortunately is not especially close to explorable wilderness areas for anyone without a car, so students who do well at UCLA are those who can take advantage of the urban opportunities available on and around campus.

Janss Steps at UCLA
Janss Steps, the original entrance to campus, at UCLA. Student leaders and campus administrators are considering a proposal to change the name to Kuruvungna Steps, after the name of the Tongva village on whose land UCLA was built.

Students who may have challenges

As discussed above, a UCLA undergraduate education is very rigorous and fast-paced. Students who need extra time to process new information may be better served by a school that uses a semester system, rather than quarters. Although UCLA does offer academic support, including tutoring and advising (see “Academic support”, below), resources can be limited and difficult to secure due to high demand. The campus is also very large, and social support is limited. So students who want or need personalized academic and social support, are less mature, or who want a more intimate academic and social environment, are likely to experience challenges at UCLA.

UCLA’s location on LA’s Westside means that off-campus housing can be very expensive and difficult to come by. Although UCLA offers four years of guaranteed on-campus housing for first-years and two years for transfers, many students may want to live in private apartments or houses with friends off-campus, particularly after the second year. The limited off-campus housing options may be disincentivizing to those students. See “Housing” below for more.

Some recent graduates have criticized UCLA on Niche.com for a lack of academic support for students of color. Like other California public universities, UCLA cannot evaluate applicants’ race or ethnicity as a way of increasing diversity, causing enrollment from historically marginalized communities to drop in the years after 1996. Some students of color may, as a result, want to think carefully about how they will navigate a campus that may offer limited resources for students like them. That being said, UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program (AAP) exists specifically to offer extra academic support to students from historically marginalized communities, including first-generation students and students of color.

Successful applicants

First-Years

Students admitted to UCLA are among the top performing high school students in California and around the world, in academics, extracurriculars, and self-expression, as well as maturity. Successful admits not only have a strong academic record, but can write and talk about their growth, motivations and goals coherently and effectively. Application essays (Personal Insight Questions—PIQs), alongside compelling extracurricular experiences, are a core and critical part of a successful UCLA application. Admitted students typically have an unweighted high school GPA of about 3.93. UCLA, along with all UCs, does not consider SAT or ACT scores, and evaluates applications holistically. As a result, and although strong grades are important to all applications, exceptional personal or life circumstances demonstrating growth, resilience, maturity and motivation can sometimes make up for limited academic deficiencies, relative to students who narrowly excel in academics without offering much more.

UCLA outlines its top considerations when evaluating applications:

  • Intended college (and sometimes major)
  • strong academic performance in a rigorous high school program;
  • special talents, awards, or accomplishments;
  • meaningful insights offered through PIQs;
  • leadership and involvement outside the classroom;
  • life experiences and circumstances.

Transfers

UCLA gives priority to students transferring from California Community Colleges (CCC) with junior standing, per the California Master Plan for Higher Education. The master plan requires that UC and CSU campuses “establish a lower division to upper division ratio of 40:60 to provide transfer opportunities to the upper division for Community College students, and eligible California Community College transfer students are to be given priority in the admissions process.”

Transfer admission to UCLA is competitive, with an average of 20% of transfer applications being accepted. This rate varies dramatically, however, depending on the type of institution the student is transferring from and the intended major. UCLA accepts 27% of applications from California Community Colleges, 17% from other UCs, 6.5% from CSU campuses, and only 5.6% from other universities.

The median GPA of admitted transfers is 3.9, with the middle 50% in the range of 3.74 to 4.0. Transfer students also must complete various course requirements to be eligible for admission.

UCLA evaluates transfer admission for the following factors:

  • Intended major (see next section for more information)
  • Type of college or university transferring from
  • Employment while in school
  • Family responsibilities
  • Military service
  • Involvement in campus organizations and community service
  • Significant improvement in academic performance over time
  • Other opportunities or challenges that shaped one’s educational experience
Kerkhoff Hall at UCLA
Kerkhoff Hall, home of the UCLA student government, student activities and a cafe, at UCLA

How the application process handles majors

First-Years

For freshman applicants to the College of Letters & Science (“the College”), “your choice of major will neither enhance nor diminish your prospects for admission”. Students have the opportunity to identify a likely or preferred major in the UC application, but many choose to apply undeclared.

For applicants to other schools, admissions evaluation varies. The School of Arts & Architecture, the Herb Alpert School of Music, the School of Nursing, and the School of Theater, Film & Television admit students directly into a chosen department. The Samueli School of Engineering admits students into the school as a whole. Students to these schools and their programs must identify their chosen programs and demonstrate preparedness for their programs in their applications.

Some schools also require prospective students to submit supplemental applications as part of the admissions process. These include the School of Arts & Architecture, the Herb Alpert School of Music, the School of Nursing, and the School of Theater, Film and Television.

Students who are interested in programs at the Luskin School of Public Affairs must first apply into the College and complete the pre-major before applying into the major during the winter quarter of sophomore year. Successful applicants to the School of Education & Information Studies are first admitted to the pre-major in order to complete 45 lower-division prerequisites before being admitted into the major.

For more information, see “Majors” on UCLA’s undergraduate admissions website.

Transfers

Major plays a large role in transfer admissions. Unlike freshman admissions, in which applicants are most typically being evaluated for admission to the college that houses their intended major, transfer applicants are evaluated for admission to their chosen major. The selectivity of majors varies widely, from single-digit admissions for the most popular majors, like computer science, to more than 50% for some under-enrolled majors.

Powell Library at UCLA
Powell Library at UCLA

Academics

UCLA’s academic offerings are extremely broad. Students can major in everything from Aerospace Engineering and Data Theory to Ethnomusicology and Global Jazz Studies. For the complete UCLA Major Catalog, click the button below.

UCLA’s most popular undergraduate degree fields are the Social Sciences, with 25% of degrees, Biological and Life Sciences with 16%, Psychology with 11%, Math & Statistics with 8%, and Engineering with 7%. Some of the most popular specific majors are Economics, Sociology, Biology, Poli Sci, Psychology, Computational & Applied Mathematics, and Computer Science. The campus also has strong art, dance and film programs, with ties to Hollywood, theatres, and museums throughout the Los Angeles area. Its Department of Education in the School of Education is highly ranked, and the School of Engineering is in the top ten globally.

UCLA is an excellent choice for pre-med students. Its biological and life sciences programs are highly ranked, and because of UCLA Medical Center’s close proximity on campus, students have the relatively rare opportunity to complete patient engagement requirements for successful medical school applications during the normal course of their undergraduate program.

Although many UCLA students’ classes during the first two years are large lecture courses, first-years have the option of taking any of the 200 Fiat Lux freshman seminars on offer. Each one is a narrowly-focused course enrolling 10-20 students. Taking one or more of these seminars can be a good way for new students to ease into the fast pace and rigor of a UCLA education.

For reviews of professors, as well as off-campus apartments, check out bruinwalk.com, a site run by the staff of the student newspaper, the Daily Bruin.

UCLA offers a few different honors programs for eligible students, including the College Honors, College Scholars, and Departmental Scholar Programs. The Honors Collegium is the set of courses offered specifically to students enrolled in an honors program. Any student can also choose to design their own major, or run their own seminar for other students on topics they’re knowledgeable in. Because of the extra work and dedication these last opportunities require, students who take advantage of them are also considered to be participating in an honors program.

As a research university, UCLA students can find many opportunities to engage in original research, or join professors on existing research projects. Up to 40% of undergrads assist with faculty research while enrolled at UCLA. Because of high demand and the very many strong applicants to choose from, undergraduate research opportunities can be very competitive and difficult to secure.

The Fowler Museum of Cultural History, home to the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, is an anthropological and archaeological museum nestled at the bottom of Janss Steps, just west of Royce Hall. The museum is a quiet refuge from the bustle of campus and LA heat—and offers free admission to its exhibits—as well as teaching space for upper-division and graduate classes in anthropology and archaeology. Motivated undergrads in these fields may be able to secure research appointments alongside professors at the Cotsen Institute.

UCLA offers over 100 study abroad programs for interested students. Through UCEAP and other programs, students can take a summer, quarter, or year abroad at a partner university anywhere in the world. Students often have unique opportunities to do research, language immersion, and other location-specific programs while abroad.

UCLA also hosts several unique on-campus and LA-based summer immersion programs for specific fields, as well as professional institutes for career development, in addition to traditional summer sessions. High school students have the option to sign up for one of UCLA’s Pre-College Summer Institutes.

Fowler Museum at UCLA
Fowler Museum at UCLA

Academic support

Academic advising at UCLA is organized into different programs for the campus’s different schools. The primary point of contact for most undergrads will be the Center for Academic Advising in the College (CAAC), because most students are enrolled in the College of Letters & Science. Students enrolled in other schools can find a list of advising offices here.

The CAAC offers academic counseling, academic mentoring, peer counselors, a First-Year Scholars Program, and remote advising through a program called REACH. Academic counseling offers professional advising as CAAC’s primary service. Academic mentoring pairs undergraduates with graduate students in their field for help navigating the academic challenges of their degree program, while peer counselors are undergrads who assist new students with understanding and navigating campus procedures and policies, including deadlines and requirements. The First-Year Scholars Program specifically advises first-generation students in the social sciences or humanities.

First-generation students from historically marginalized and low-income backgrounds can also make use of specialized advising through the Academic Advancement Program (AAP). The AAP offers peer tutoring, academic programs, academic and career counseling, postgraduate mentoring, scholarships, research opportunities and stipends, program opportunities, and a dedicated computer lab.

Some recent graduates have noted that UCLA’s academic support offerings are often impacted, and may not be available immediately due to high demand and limited supply. Because it can take a long time to connect with staff and set up initial appointments, students who expect to need academic support services are encouraged to reach out or sign up as soon as their first quarter begins, or at the earliest sign of needing such services.

Support for disabilities & learning differences

UCLA’s disability support services have a rating of Coordinated Services (mid-tier) in the K&W Guide. Its Center for Accessible Education (CAE) has a large full-time staff and offers a robust list of accommodations. Uncommonly, qualified UCLA students can receive assignment deadline adjustments as an academic accommodation, which many universities explicitly refuse to offer. UCLA does not, however, offer academic coaching, or specific programs or services for students with ASD or ADHD.

Students with ASD can find peer support through the student organization Autism Advocacy at UCLA, with a dedicated staff advisor. Students with ADHD or who suspect they might have ADHD can receive assessment and treatment at Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS).

UCLA also offers several counseling and advising programs through the CAAC, AAP and some other campus units (see “Academic support”, above).

Kaufman Hall at UCLA
Kaufman Hall and Dance Theater at UCLA

Financials

As a public university, UCLA offers a more affordable education, at least for California residents, at the cost of more limited options for financial aid. Unfortunately, students facing financial hardship may not be able to find sufficient aid through the university. The university does, however, offer the merit-based UCLA Regents and Alumni Scholarships for exceptional applicants, and the University Student Aid Program Funds for students with financial need. Additional scholarship opportunities can be found through the Scholarship Resource Center.

Students who wish to apply for financial aid must complete the FAFSA, and students qualifying under the DREAM Act should also submit a DREAM Act application. Recent graduates have attested that UCLA offers several flexible, relatively easy to secure, on-campus employment options, which can make up some of the difference in the cost of attendance.

According to the New York Times Upshot, UCLA is the most economically diverse elite university in the nation. It enrolls the highest proportion of students from families with incomes in the bottom 60% nationwide, as well as the lowest number of students from the highest 20%, 10% and 1% of income brackets. It is also the top-ranking elite university for the economic mobility of its graduates.

Housing & transportation

The UC system has recently faced enormous difficulty in providing adequate affordable housing for its students. UCLA has bucked the trend by building and guaranteeing four years of on-campus housing to incoming first-year students, and two years to transfer students. Although some students and recent graduates have criticized UCLA’s on-campus housing options as being somewhat expensive, the price is comparable to housing at most other California universities and offers students housing security while enrolled.

Thanks to the housing guarantee and limited off-campus options, nearly 100% of first-year students live on campus, and increasing numbers of continuing students choose to live on campus as well. Transfer students have the option to live in transfer-only dorms, or in mixed dorms with continuing four-year students. The northwestern area of campus where student dorms are located is called “the Hill”.

UCLA’s dining halls have been recognized as the best college food in America by Niche.com and Business Insider for multiple years in a row. Students have praised the varied options catering to different needs and interests, including vegan specialties.

Off-campus housing is primarily made up of dorms in Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods, or in fraternity and sorority housing for pledged members. See “Social Life” below for more on UCLA’s Greek life. Off-campus apartments around UCLA are heavily impacted and can be very expensive, as the campus is surrounded by some of the most expensive cities in the United States, including Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Hills. The campus newspaper, Daily Bruin, operates bruinwalk.com, where students can read about and review local apartments.

Transit

Public transportation is fairly limited around UCLA. Students can take LA Metro buses or Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses (BBB) to get around, but due to heavy traffic on the Westside, such trips can be very slow. The only meaningful alternative is ridesharing through apps like Uber and Lyft, which can get expensive for college students according to reviewers on Niche.com. As a result, some, particularly third- or fourth-year, students will want to bring cars to campus with them. UCLA offers parking in structures among the dorms and in several other large lots on and under campus, but parking rates and passes are expensive.

In 2027, LA Metro is expected to complete Phase III of the Purple Line extension, which will connect UCLA and Westwood to the LA Metro Rail network. Upon completion, students will be able to take the line to Downtown to connect with lines to Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Monica, and East LA.

Students on Bruin Walk at UCLA
Students on Bruin Walk outside Kerkhoff Hall at UCLA

Social life & recreation

UCLA students have no shortage of activities, clubs and organizations to join and take part in. Click the button below to search through the full list of orgs and clubs.

Westwood, the student village on the south side of campus, may be best known for its historical Fox Theatre (now a Regency Theater), which has served as a movie premiere theatre for decades. The theatre remains an attraction for movie buffs and provides a fun night out for UCLA students. In addition, Westwood has many excellent eateries, a Whole Foods Market, and other amenities.

Students interested in the arts can join the Student Committee for the Arts (SCA), a division of the Center for Art & Performance (CAP), or any of the numerous student groups that the SCA funds. Melnitz Movies is a student-run repertory cinema program for film students and hobbyists. Aspiring broadcasters or writers can join Campus Radio or the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s award-winning student newspaper. Daily Bruin staff also operate the student magazine PRIME, a quarterly on culture and lifestyle, Stack, a data-journalism blog, and bruinwalk.com, which reviews professors and apartments.

UCLA’s largest and most popular student group is the Undergraduate Business Society, with over 5000 members. One of its most impactful is the UCLA Volunteer Center, which coordinates volunteering efforts among student and community organizations. Politically-interested students have lots of campus organizations to join, including the UCLA Bruin Democrats and Republicans, and USAC, the student government.

The Fowler Museum of Cultural History is an anthropological and archaeological museum nestled at the bottom of Janss Steps, just west of Royce Hall. The museum offers free admission and is open most days; it’s a calm, air-conditioned refuge from the LA heat where visitors can view beautiful works of culture from around the world. For more information, see “Academics”, above.

UCLA also has an active Greek community, home to a “rad party scene”, according to one graduate. Fraternity and sorority houses lie close to the Hill, where UCLA’s on-campus housing is located.

Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC are offered on campus.

Students also have numerous recreational and competitive sport opportunities at UCLA. See the next section for more.

Athletics & campus spirit

UCLA is home to several strong NCAA Division I teams, including football and basketball. Click here for a full list of UCLA’s teams. The campus is a member of the Pac-12 until 2024, when it will controversially join the Big Ten Conference along with USC.

The Bruins’ home football stadium is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a 45-minute drive from campus without traffic. UCLA charters buses to transport students from UCLA to the Rose Bowl and back for games. The distance can make it difficult for students to get to football games, since most home game days require dedicating an entire day to the event. Still, many students enjoy supporting their team at the Rose Bowl and participate in game days ritually, particularly to support the Bruins against their historic rivals, the USC Trojans.

UCLA offers a very large number of competitive club sports, including 11 men’s teams, 10 women’s teams, and 32 co-ed teams, including such sports as Quidditch, archery, dragon boat, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and equestrian.

The campus also offers 16 intramural sports every year, with quarterly offerings varying by sports season. Students can also make use of several athletic and fitness facilities operated by UCLA Recreation.

Pride in UCLA’s campus, logo, colors, and Bruins athletic teams runs strong in student communities. The campus community celebrates its high academic rankings, as well as its strong athletic programs, beautiful campus and public mission.

Josh Rosen of UCLA passing against Virginia, 2015. Photo by Eric Chan. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Health

UCLA students are required to carry health insurance, and must purchase UCSHIP unless they choose to waive it in favor of a private plan offering equivalent care. Students who waive SHIP can sign up for a program called BruinCare, which supplements their private insurance and gives prepaid access to certain on-campus health services.

UCLA is known for offering excellent student healthcare services through the Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center. The Ashe Center assigns every student an on-campus primary care provider, and offers comprehensive healthcare services. Among others, students can access gynecology, optometry, acupuncture, dental care, vaccine and lab services, pregnancy and postnatal care, nutrition, physical therapy, PrEP and sexual healthcare, and specialized care for queer, trans and nonbinary students.

The Ashe Center is also home to Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), UCLA’s student mental healthcare center. CAPS offers individual and group therapy, psychiatry for in-state students carrying SHIP, specialty services, satellite clinics, workshops and training, and drop-in services.

For non-emergency services that can’t be provided through the Ashe Center, students are typically referred to UCLA Medical Center specialists for treatment, a more affordable and accessible option than seeking treatment at a private hospital elsewhere. UCLA Medical Center is located at the south entrance to UCLA’s campus adjacent to Westwood.

All of UCLA’s major healthcare centers, including the Ashe Center, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, and UCLA Medical Center, have been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as LGBTQ+ Healthcare leaders.

Graduation requirements

The UC system has two graduation requirements that all students must fulfill: either Entry Level Writing or English as a Second Language, and American History & Institutions. Visit the link to learn more.

Each college, department, and major at UCLA also has its own graduation requirements. You can find these requirements in the UCLA General Catalog at the link below. Click on the college you’re interested in, then scroll to the bottom of the next page and click “College Requirements” or “Department Requirements”.


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UCLA colors

Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Est. 1919
Motto: Fiat Lux
(Let there be light)

Bruins
Mascot: Joe & Josephine Bruin
NCAA Division I Pac-12

Public research university
Quarter system

11% admission rate

32,000 undergraduates
15,400 graduate students
2,400 full-time faculty
18:1 student-faculty ratio
65% of classes under 30 students

283 acre campus size
Urban setting
Campus Tours

Mediterranean climate with hot summers, warm winters, and mostly sunny days

First-Year Admissions Evaluation

Evaluates

High school course rigor
High school GPA
Application essays
Extracurricular involvement
Talent or ability
Volunteer or work experience
Character or personal qualities
First-generation student status
Geography & state residency

Does not evaluate

Class rank
Interview
Letters of recommendation
Test scores (SAT/ACT)
Demonstrated interest
Religious affiliation
Race or ethnicity
Legacy status

Transfer Admissions Evaluation

Requires

College transcript(s)
Essay or personal statement

May require

High school transcript

Does not require

Interview
Test scores (SAT/ACT)
Statement of good standing from prior college

Application Deadline

November 30

First-year admission
Transfer admission
Submission accepted Oct 1 – Nov 30

Finances

$37,500 / year
California resident total cost

$68,500 / year
Non-resident total cost

CA resident tuition:
$13,800 / year

Non-resident tuition:
$45,000 / year

Housing & meal plan:
$17,200 / year

Additional costs:
~ $2,600 / year

UC Student Health Insurance Plan:
Addt'l $2,900 / year if not waived

Financial Aid

80%

Percent of financial need met (average)

$6,100 / year

Amount of merit aid awarded to students without financial need (average)

7%

Percent of undergraduates without financial need receiving merit aid

Notable Majors & Programs

Aerospace Engineering
American Indian Studies
Ancient Near East & Egyptology
Asian Languages & Linguistics
Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Central/Eastern European Languages & Cultures
Computational & Systems Biology
Data Theory
Design Media Arts
Education & Social Transformation
Ethnomusicology
European Languages & Transcultural Studies
Global Jazz Studies
International Development Studies
Jewish Studies
Labor Studies
Linguistics & Computer Science
Materials Science & Engineering
Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
Nordic Studies
Nursing
Portuguese & Brazilian Studies
Public Affairs
Study of Religion

Complete Major Catalog

 

Equity & Inclusion

Transfer Support

  • Transfer housing guaranteed 2 years
  • Separate transfer housing available
  • Transfer admission rate: 20%
  • CCC transfer admission rate: 27%
  • Transfer matriculation rate: 60%
  • Accepts ACE transfer credits
  • Does not accept CLEP, DSST transfer credits
  • Transfer Student Center
  • Transfer student orgs

 

Disability Support

 

Racial Equity

 

LGBTQ+ Equity

 

Other Equity

After Graduating

Career Center services for undergrads, grad students, and alumni

Startup UCLA’s 10-week Summer Accelerator

Top: Janss Steps and Royce Hall across the lawn at UCLA.
Bottom
: Royce (left) and Hanes Hall, two of the original campus buildings, at UCLA.
All images by Matthew Enger, except where otherwise noted.