University of California-Santa Cruz


Located in sunny and beautiful Santa Cruz, CA, the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) is a research-intensive, NCAA Division III school that offers bachelors, master’s and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates. There is financial aid available to assist with the cost of attendance and there are numerous sports and recreational activities available to students at several different athletic levels. Because the area offers so many recreational activities, students who love the outdoors will never be bored.

UCSC offers many unique programs and opportunities for research so that students have the opportunity to learn hands-on. Some of these include the the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, the Lick Observatory, the Keek Observatory and the Long Marine Laboratory. Although UCSC’s University Library is the largest research library between Santa Barbara and Stanford, it is the smallest general library in the University of California school system.

There is student housing available on campus should students choose to live at the university. A unique program that students participate in requires that they be a part of one of several different “colleges” that organize student activities, recreation and other social events. Students are placed in these “colleges” according to request or assignment; majors of study have no bearing on placement so that students interact socially with many other students that they wouldn’t normally encounter in classroom settings.


Information Summary

Ranks 26th in California and 295th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 90.6
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $36,217
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 32 / 1400
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 29 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 88% / 25%
Enrollment Total (all students) 19,700


Undergraduate Programs

The University of California Santa Cruz offers over 60 undergraduate programs in more than 30 fields in the areas of Art, Physical and Biological Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences and Engineering. Many students pursue interdisciplinary educations and benefit from the researchers and highly trained faculty members in several different areas. The school offers traditional majors such as biology, physics, math and several branches of engineering but also offers relatively unusual programs such as marine biology, cognitive therapy, informatics and astrophysics.

Because the school is a highly-respected research institution, students often have the advantage of working with hands-on, real-time projects that enable them to make contributions to their fields even while studying and learning. There are also several programs available to assist students who plan to pursue graduate educations after graduation.

Graduate Programs

UCSC offers over 30 graduate fields with nearly 50 areas of concentration and encourages graduate students to pursue the link between their chosen areas of study and other related fields by taking an interdisciplinary approach to their educations. Students may earn both master’s and doctoral degrees in areas of study that include Art, Humanities, Physical and Biological Sciences and Social Sciences. Students have the opportunity to earn degrees in such areas as visual art, earth and planetary sciences, history, linguistics and environmental studies. Some rather unusual programs include astronomy and astrophysics, ocean sciences, social documentation and history of consciousness.

Most Popular Fields of Study


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Undergraduate Admissions

Because the University of California Santa Cruz is a research-intensive institution, admissions requirements are high. The admissions committee uses a 14 point selection process that considers such things as ACT or SAT scores, GPA, honors courses, other undergraduate courses, academic accomplishments and academic improvement. Prior to being considered for acceptance to UCSC, all students must meet the admissions criteria of the University of California. This does not guarantee admission to UCSC, though.

Students may gain admission to UCSC in one of four ways but regardless of acceptance method, all students are required to take rigorous courses including history, english, laboratory science, math, foreign language, visual arts and college-preparatory electives. Students must also meet high GPA requirements although residents of California don’t need to quite as high a GPA as non-residents of the state.

The first of the three ways to gain admission is via qualifying in the statewide context. Students accepted via this method must meet minimum testing, curriculum and GPA requirements. The second way that students may gain admission is by qualifying in the local context. Students that are in the top four percent of their California school graduating class may utilize this method. All students that qualify for this will receive a letter of notification in their senior year. Students may also qualify by test scores alone. This requires extremely high ACT or SAT scores only. Finally, to a very small percentage of students, UCSC grants admissions by exception. This entry method is applied to students who do not meet the minimum admissions requirements. UCSC considers other academic accomplishments, special circumstances, socioeconomic background, community contributions and a handful of other extenuating circumstances that signify that a student may succeed even though the grades or scores may not be quite up to par.

Graduate Admissions

Students may apply to only one UCSC graduate school per academic year and will need to submit the online application and fee, official transcripts to all undergraduate or graduate institutions attended, three letters of recommendation and any other supplemental materials that may be required by the individual graduate school to which the student is applying. In order to meet all deadlines and application requirements, prospective students should contact the graduate school of interest because there may be separate requirements.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available at the undergraduate level in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs. Financial aid is available for graduate students in the form of loans. More than half of the students that attend UCSC receive some type of financial aid.

To start their financial aid application process, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that is available online beginning in January.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4614th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


The University of California Santa Cruz offers several different athletic opportunities to students. There are intercollegiate, club and intramural sports, as well as physical fitness and recreational programs for people who would just like to stay fit and have fun. The goal of UCSC is to introduce as many students as possible to a lifetime of fitness and health.

The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs participate at the intercollegiate level in men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball. Women also have the option of playing golf. The school is the only NCAA Division III school in the system and as such places a high value on the fact that athletics are an integral part of the student athlete’s educational experience. In addition to promoting academics within the athletics experience, UCSC also encourages gender equality and cultural diversity.

Students have the opportunity to participate in more than 20 club sports including water polo, rugby, lacrosse, equestrian, cycling and ping pong. Intramurals include basketball, dodgeball, flag football, soccer, volleyball and softball among several others and run in fall, winter and spring quarters. For students who wish to participate in the outdoor recreational activities that Santa Cruz has to offer, there is equipment rental available so that students may have access to tents, backpacks, surf boards, wet suits and numerous other items that would be too costly for many people to buy.


  • University of California Santa Cruz. University of California Santa Cruz. 2011. Web. 13. July 2011.
  • UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs: The Official Athletics Website. University of California Santa Cruz Athletics. 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.
  • SOAR Student Organization Advising & Resources and UC Santa Cruz. Student Organizing Advising & Resources at the University of California. 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.

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