University of California – Santa Cruz

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Innovative, Top-Tier West Coast Education at UCSC

The University of California – Santa Cruz appears in our ranking of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West.

Ranked 70th nationally by the U.S. News & World Report, the University of California-Santa Cruz is a public, research-based APLU member on Monterey Bay that delivers 56 bachelor’s, 24 master’s, and 37 doctoral degrees plus 28 certificates at a 19:1 student-teacher ratio for 90 percent retention. For example, the Earth Sciences B.S. plots a 180-unit, four-year sequence where undergrads can conduct W.M. Keck Isotope Lab projects, work at the SCZ Seismic Station, enter the STEM Diversity Program, and tour the Galapagos Islands. Advised by Dr. Deborah Gould, the 180-unit Sociology B.A. encourages Banana Slugs to minor in Latino Studies, participate in the Everett Program, intern at the Alzheimer’s Association, semester in Tokyo, and volunteer with the Warming Center.

At Jack Baskin Hall, the School of Engineering launched the United States’ first Serious Games M.S. in 2019 for an 11-course, five-quarter Silicon Valley curriculum that sharpens game programming skills with hands-on practice in the Augmented Design Lab and Expressive Intelligence Studio. Chaired by Dr. Marc Matera, the five-year Ph.D. in History offers an East Asia, Europe, or U.S. concentration with opportunities to attend the Licker Memorial Lecture, intern at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, and research for The Dickens Project. Other degrees include the Linguistics B.A., Neuroscience B.S., Robotics B.S., Legal Studies B.A., Mathematics M.A., Applied Finance M.S., Environmental Toxicology M.S., Music D.M.A., Feminist Studies Ph.D., Chemistry Ph.D., and Politics Ph.D.

About the University of California-Santa Cruz

The University of California-Santa Cruz originated in June 1965 when Chancellor Dean E. McHenry welcomed an inaugural class of 652 to the latest UC System branch. That Fall, Donald Clark opened the 75,000-volume University Library. In 1966, the Graduate Studies Division was launched by Dr. Karl Lamb for master’s and Ph.D. studies. In 1967, the Alan Chadwick Garden Project was started for horticulture apprenticeships. In October 1968, Governor Ronald Reagan visited the UCSC campus amid Vietnam War protests. In 1972, the Performing Arts Theatre debuted with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. In 1976, USCS notably won the Western Intercollegiate Fencing Championship. In 1987, UC-Santa Cruz formed the Center for Nonlinear Science. Five years later, alumnus Hector Tobar won the Pulitzer Prize at the Los Angeles Times. In 2013, the first free online Coursera class was organized.

Endowed for $188.7 million, the University of California-Santa Cruz now enrolls 16,983 undergrad and 1,822 post-grad Banana Slugs from 56 countries on its 2,001-acre seaside campus or at the Silicon Valley Extension with 150+ clubs like Hermanos Unidos. In 2012, UC-Santa Cruz accepted the APA Culture of Service Award in Psychological Science. In 2019, the University of California-Santa Cruz received a CASE District VII Excellence Award. UCSC had the 2019 Blue Marine Foundation Ocean Award for Innovation recipient too. Forbes named UC-Santa Cruz the 56th best public college. On Niche, UCSC boasts America’s 32nd best information technology, 62nd top photography, and 116th best history degrees. The Center for World University Rankings named UCSC 111th with the 45th best faculty. Money magazine declared Santa Cruz the 96th top value. The Princeton Review called UCSC the 16th greenest.

University of California-Santa Cruz Accreditation Details

On February 19, 2016, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission informed the University of California-Santa Cruz that the Level VI accreditation was satisfactorily reaffirmed through a 2025 review under the 11th chancellor, Dr. Cynthia Larive, who earned the J. Calvin Giddings Award for Education Excellence. Located 86 miles north via Route 17 in Alameda, this esteemed eight-territory Pacific Region accreditor is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and California Department of Education (CDE). Further, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has approved Santa Cruz since October 2002.

University of California-Santa Cruz Application Requirements

Entering the University of California-Santa Cruz is classified “very selective” by Peterson’s since only 27,014 of the 56,634 Fall 2018 applicants were okayed for 48 percent acceptance. First-year Banana Slugs must complete at least 15 preparatory A-G courses during high school with grades above C. California residents need a 3.0 GPA or top 9th percentile ranking. Out-of-state and international learners are held to 3.4 GPAs. Foreign learners must exceed the 6.5 IELTS, 550 TOEFL, or 560 SAT Reading mark. On average, freshmen achieve a 1263 SAT and 27 ACT score. Competitive transfers need 60+ semester units at GPAs above 2.4. Division of Graduate Studies entrants always need four-year baccalaureates from accredited colleges. Several Ph.D. programs consider a Master of Arts or Science prerequisite. Cohorts beginning each Fall need at least 3.0 GPAs and 310 GRE scores. Engineering majors admit an average 162 GRE or 48 GMAT Quantitative mark.

The University of California-Santa Cruz has an undergrad filing period of November 1st to November 30th. Only transfers can start during the Winter Quarter if they’ve applied by July 31st. The Division of Graduate Studies has a general deadline of January 10th, but program dates vary. Biomolecular Engineering & Bioinformatics Ph.D. cohorts must apply before December 1st. The Economics M.S. closes on March 1st. Incoming Computer Science Ph.D. candidates are reviewed until January 3rd. Accordingly, check degree specifics for completing the $70 ($80 if international) UC Application online. Forward official transcripts to 1156 High Street in Santa Cruz, CA 95064. For testing results, choose SAT/GRE code 4860 or ACT code 0460. Learn supplemental steps by contacting (831) 459-4008 or

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2019-20, the University of California-Santa Cruz is billing in-state undergraduates $13,989 annually. Non-resident bachelor’s tuition is $29,754 each year full-time. Mandatory campus fees of $1,419 are included. Campus health insurance costs an extra $3,018 yearly. Living at the Monterey Bay campus’ dorms like Stevenson College adds $16,950 for room and board. UCSC budgets $1,086 for books, $687 for transport, and $1,686 for personal expenses. Annual undergrad attendance equals about $37,416 in-state and $67,170 out-of-state. The Division of Graduate Studies has priced full-time annual tuition at $13,799 for Californians and $15,102 for non-residents. Master’s education programs uniquely charge a flat-rate $21,617 total.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Financial Aid Office in Hahn Services Building Room 205 connects 69 percent of UCSC Banana Slugs to median tuition assistance of $18,500 apiece for $223.03 million combined. Institutional funds include the Karl Pister Leadership Opportunity Award, Donald Strauss Scholarship, Amy Beth Snader Memorial Scholarship, Page & Eloise Smith Scholastic Society Scholarship, Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, Dissertation Year Fellowship, and Multicultural Agroecology Scholarship. The Regents Scholarship gifts $20,000 total to outstanding freshmen who maintain a 3.0 GPA in 15 units each semester. The Dean’s Award provides $12,000 to $40,000 over four years to alleviate out-of-state tuition costs. Since 1982, the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz has developed programs like the Ernest Cowell Scholarship and Barbara Thompson Scholarship. Federal resources, including the Pell Grant and Work-Study Award, require FAFSA applications coded 001321. Californians can also utilize the Cal Grant, Middle Class Scholarship, John R. Justice Grant, Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant, and more.

Explore the five accredited divisions that confer 115+ Central Coast programs placed 167th globally by The Wall Street Journal at the University of California-Santa Cruz website.