Undergraduate Admission

2018-19 General Catalog

Undergraduate Admission

Undergraduate admission to the University of California is based on multiple academic factors, as well as on personal achievements. The university has minimum admission qualifications, which are the same for each of the UC campuses, but when the number of minimally qualified applicants exceeds a campus's capacity for admission, additional faculty-approved selection criteria are applied.

If you are considering applying to UC Santa Cruz, the Office of Admissions wants to help you learn more about the campus, its distinctive educational programs, and its selection process for both first-year and junior-level transfer applicants. For more information, see Undergraduate Admissions.

If you are able to visit the campus, you may wish to take a student-led tour. The Office of Admissions offers tours on weekdays, and reservations are required. See Campus Tours for information and tour reservations. You can also visit UC Santa Cruz through our Virtual Tour of the campus offered in multiple languages.

The Undergraduate Admissions Office also offers Transfer Information Sessions for junior-level transfer students. For session information and reservations, please see Transfer Information Sessions.

The University of California, Santa Cruz, continues to take positive steps to increase the diversity of the student population, including applicants coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds, students with disabilities, current members of the military, military veterans, and non-traditionally aged students. In addition, the campus welcomes students from throughout the U.S. and the world. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy (pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to childbirth), disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a military veteran or special disabled veteran in admission to or participation in its programs, activities, or services.

Educational Opportunity Programs at UC Santa Cruz are designed to encourage students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in their educational pursuits. For a description of these programs, see Educational Opportunity Programs.

Admission by Exception. Admission by Exception is granted to a very small percentage of applicants who do not meet UC requirements. Such factors as academic accomplishments in light of a person’s life experiences and/or special circumstances, socioeconomic background, special talents and/or achievements, contributions to the community, and the applicant’s answers to the Personal Insight Questions are taken into consideration.

Campus Safety. UC Santa Cruz campus crime statistics can be viewed in the annual Clery Report, available at the UC Santa Cruz Police Department website.

Graduation rates. The following graduation-rate information is listed in compliance with the 1990 Title I: Federal Right-to-Know Act, Section 103. Fifty-two percent of the students who entered as first-year students in 2013 graduated in four years; 71 percent of those who entered in 2012 graduated in five years; and 77 percent of those who entered in 2011 graduated in six years. These graduation rates are well above the national averages. Among the most recent entering cohorts, those who entered as first-year students took an average of 4.4 years to graduate, and students transferring to UCSC as juniors averaged 2.5 years.

In accord with the Education Amendments of 1976, Section 493A, more detailed information regarding retention is available at the Institutional Research website.

Admission Procedures

The University of California Application for Undergraduate Admission and Scholarships becomes available beginning August 1 for the following academic year. Students may access applications online.

In addition to the application, the above site includes a wealth of information for prospective UC students about undergraduate education, admission, financial aid, and various topics of interest.

Application Filing Periods

Applications for the fall quarter must be submitted during the month of November and applications for winter quarter admission are accepted only for transfer students in certain majors. Check the Office of Admissions in mid-June to see details on winter quarter admission. UCSC does not accept applications for spring quarter admission.

Quarter of Attendance

Application Filing Period

Fall quarter 2019

November 1–30, 2018

Winter quarter 2020

July 1–31, 2019

Fall quarter 2020

November 1-30, 2019

Winter quarter 2021 July 1-31, 2020

Application Fees

The application fee is $70 ($80 for international nonimmigrant applicants) to apply to one campus of the University of California. For each additional campus you select, you must pay an extra $70 fee ($80 for international nonimmigrant applicants). These fees are subject to change and are not refundable. The online application includes payment instructions.

Fee Waivers

The University of California will waive application fees for up to four campuses for certain students who otherwise would be unable to apply for admission. To qualify for the fee waiver, you must meet specific requirements related to your family income and size. The fee waiver is for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. We encourage students who qualify for a fee waiver to take full advantage of the fee waiver by applying to the maximum of four UC campuses.

Students who qualify for fee waivers and who select more than four campuses must pay $70 for each additional choice. Methods of obtaining fee waivers are listed below.

An online fee waiver form is available to applicants when they apply. The application automatically determines if you are eligible for the fee waiver as soon as it is complete.

High school students: Use the College Board fee waiver. It is available from your school counselor.

EOPS community college students: If you are enrolled in Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) at a California community college, obtain a fee waiver authorization from the EOPS Office.

Admission as a First-Year Student (Freshman)

The university considers you a freshman applicant if you have graduated from high school and have not enrolled in a regular session at any college or university. If you attend a summer session immediately after graduating from high school, you are still a freshman applicant.

The admission and selection process to UC Santa Cruz reflects the academic rigor and preparation needed for admission to a major research institution. Meeting the minimum qualifications for the university does not guarantee you admission as a freshman. Students are encouraged to achieve well beyond the minimum qualifications to enhance their chances for selection.

UC Santa Cruz uses a holistic approach in selecting freshmen for admission. Applicants are thoroughly reviewed to determine the full spectrum of their academic and personal achievements, viewed in the context of their academic and personal opportunities. UCSC uses 14 faculty-approved criteria to determine an individualized, single score for each applicant.

Information regarding the admission and selection process for UC Santa Cruz can be accessed at admissions.ucsc.edu. This site provides information on the minimum qualifications for the University of California for both residents and nonresidents of California, including international students (see also Admission of Students from Outside California and Admission of International Students).

High School Preparation for University Work

Carefully planned high school coursework provides you with the best preparation for your undergraduate university studies, and allows for advanced preparation for your chosen field of study. Most important, students who master certain basic knowledge and skills in high school substantially increase their chances of success at the university. (Requirements for transfer students are explained in the Admission as a Transfer Student section.)

The basic foundation of UC qualifications is the completion of college preparatory courses required for admission (see “a–g” Subject Requirements below). However, you should take courses beyond the minimum levels in reading, writing, and mathematics in order to be adequately prepared for basic university courses that you may be expected to take freshman year.

A well-prepared student will have mastered the equivalent of four years of English composition and literature with a focus on expository writing; four years of mathematics, including a precalculus course in the senior year; two to three years of a language other than English; two to three years of laboratory science; two or more years of history and social sciences; and one or more years of visual or performing arts.

You should also give careful thought to the general field of study, and perhaps the specific major, you want to pursue at the university. By making this decision in advance, you can plan to take additional courses in high school related to the field.

Subject Requirements

  1. History/social science—two years required.
  2. Two years of history/social science, including: one year of world or European history, cultures and geography (may be a single year-long course or two one-semester courses), and one year of U.S. history (or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of civics or American government).
  3. English—four years required. Four years of college-preparatory English that includes frequent writing (from brainstorming to final paper), as well as reading of classic and modern literature. No more than one year of ESL-type courses can be used to meet this requirement.
  4. Mathematics—three years required, four years recommended. Three years (four years recommended) of college-preparatory mathematics that includes the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry. Approved integrated math courses may be used to fulfill part or all of this requirement, as may math courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades (if the high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses).
  5. Laboratory science—two years required, three years recommended. Two years (three years recommended) of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in two of these three foundational subjects: biology, chemistry, and physics. The final two years of an approved three-year integrated science program that provides rigorous coverage of at least two of the three foundational subjects may be used to fulfill this requirement. One year-long interdisciplinary science course (or integrated science or earth and space sciences course) can meet one year of this requirement. Combined with one year of biology or chemistry or physics, it fulfills the full requirement.
  6. Language other than English—two years required, three years recommended. Two years (or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction) of the same language other than English are required. Three years/third level of high school instruction is recommended. Courses should emphasize speaking and understanding, and include instruction in grammar, vocabulary, reading, composition, and culture. American Sign Language and classical languages, such as Latin and Greek, are acceptable. Courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades may be used to fulfill part or all of this requirement if the high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses.
  7. Visual and performing arts discipline (VPA)—one year required. One year-long course of visual and performing arts chosen from the following disciplines: dance, drama/theater, music, visual art, or interdisciplinary arts; two one-semester courses from the same discipline are also acceptable.
  8. College preparatory electives—one year required. One year (two semesters), in addition to those required in "a-f" above, chosen from the following areas: visual and performing arts, history, social science, English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science, and language other than English (a third year in the language used for the "e" requirement or two years of another language).

 Senior-Year (12th-Grade) Program. The senior year should be used to prepare you for your first year at the university and should include honors and advanced courses, as well as courses that will strengthen overall preparation. A challenging, successfully completed senior-year program is a natural bridge between high school and university coursework in the intended major. A strong senior program is one of the selection criteria used at UC Santa Cruz.

High School Proficiency Examination

While the University of California expects all freshman applicants to have graduated from high school/secondary school, in lieu of the regular high school diploma (or its equivalent), the university will accept the following:

  • Certificate of Proficiency, awarded by the State Board of Education upon successful completion of the California High School Proficiency Examination
  • General Educational Development (GED) Certificate
  • Proficiency tests from other states and other countries

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit may be granted to a freshman applicant for acceptable college courses taken while still in high school if an official transcript is received from the college where the coursework was completed.

Transfer credit is granted for specified College Board Advanced Placement Examinations completed with a score of 3, 4, or 5 and for specified International Baccalaureate Higher Level Exams completed with a score of 5, 6, or 7. A score of 30 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Diploma is also awarded transfer credit.

Transfer credit is granted for specified GCE and Hong Kong A-Level Examinations.

Students should be advised that college courses taken before or after attending UCSC may duplicate AP, IB, and/or A-Level Examinations. Additionally, exams may duplicate each other (for example, an AP or IB exam in the same subject area). If the student does duplicate an exam with another exam of the same subject content, and/or an exam with a college course, UCSC awards credit only once.

Admission as a Transfer Student

The University of California defines a transfer applicant as a student who has been a registered student in a college or university, or in college-level extension classes following high school graduation. Summer session attended immediately following high school graduation is excluded in this determination. If you are a transfer applicant, you cannot disregard your college record and apply for admission as a freshman.

The admission and selection process for transfers to UC Santa Cruz reflects the academic rigor and preparation needed for admission to a major research institution. Meeting the minimum qualifications for the university does not guarantee you admission as a transfer student. It is expected that students will have completed the lower-division courses required by their intended major prior to transfer. See Major Preparation Selection Criteria for an annual listing of all majors that require specific courses/grades prior to transfer to UCSC.

Transfer applicants are thoroughly reviewed to determine their full spectrum of academic and personal achievements, including transfer coursework completed for their intended major. UCSC uses faculty-approved criteria to determine which transfer students will be selected for admission. UC Santa Cruz gives the highest priority to junior-level transfer students coming from California community colleges.

Information regarding the admission and selection process for UC Santa Cruz can be accessed at the Undergraduate Admissions website. This site provides information on the minimum qualifications for the University of California for students in California, in other states, and outside the U.S.

UC Santa Cruz Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) Program

UC Santa Cruz's TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) Program is designed for California community college transfer students at the junior level. The benefits of participating in UCSC TAG include informational mailings, and invitations to events. All California community colleges participate in the UC Santa Cruz TAG program.

The UC TAG application must be submitted online between September 1 and September 30 for the following fall quarter. UCSC accepts transfer admission agreements for fall quarter only.

Further information may be found at Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) Program.

UC Transfer Admission Planner (TAP)

The UC Transfer Admission Planner is an online tool designed to help prospective UC students transferring from California community colleges track and plan their coursework, including those students who are seeking a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) with one of the seven participating UC campuses.

Further information may be found at UC Transfer Admission Planner.

Credit for Courses Taken Elsewhere

The university gives unit credit to transfer students for courses they have completed at other accredited colleges and universities, including courses taken at recognized institutions outside of the U.S. To be accepted for credit, your courses must be comparable to those offered at the university, as determined by the UC Santa Cruz Admissions Office. The UC Santa Cruz department sponsoring your major decides which transfer courses may be used to satisfy major requirements.

A total of 70 semester units (105 quarter units) of lower-division credit toward a university degree may be earned at other colleges/universities. Only subject credit will be granted for courses taken in excess of that cap. Please note that credit from another University of California campus is exempt from this limitation.

Applicants will not be considered for admission if they have completed 90 semester units (135 quarter units) or more of UC–transferable upper-division and lower-division combined credit. If students have earned all of their credits as lower-division credits, they are not affected by this limit. All coursework completed at California community colleges is considered lower division. Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBH) credit is permitted to exceed the 90-semester unit maximum by the number of AP or IBH units granted.

Opportunities to take courses at UC Santa Cruz as a nonmatriculated student are available through Summer Session, Open Campus/Concurrent Enrollment through UC Extension, and Intersegmental Cross-Enrollment.

UC Santa Cruz Transfer Services

The Office of Admissions provides information to all students who wish to transfer to UC Santa Cruz. For prospective transfer students and their families, the Office of Admissions offers Transfer Information Sessions. Transfer Information Sessions are small-group meetings in which an Admissions adviser presents information about transfer admissions matters and transfer-related student services. Please note that pre-evaluations of transcripts are not available as part of the sessions. These sessions are designed for students who have not yet applied to UCSC. Students and their families may make reservations at Transfer Information Sessions.

Student-led guided tours take place year-round and also require advance reservations. Please see Undergraduate Admissions website to make a reservation.

In addition, UC Santa Cruz Admissions counselors visit many community colleges in California. Check with your counseling department or transfer center to determine whether a UCSC counselor will be visiting your community college.

UC Santa Cruz Office of Admissions Transfer Preparation Program (TPP)

The UC Santa Cruz Transfer Preparation Program (TPP) supports prospective transfer students from California community colleges and assists them in enrolling at UC Santa Cruz, as well as at other campuses. TPP Admissions representatives work most closely with students who are attending one of the 13 community colleges in the region to plan a successful transfer program, but will assist any California community college student who has questions.

The Transfer Preparation Program also collaborates with programs and initiatives that strengthen the transfer process and support individual students in making a successful transition to a four-year institution.

Further information may be found at Transfer Preparation Program.

Admission of U.S. Students from Outside California

UC Santa Cruz welcomes students from across the U.S. to enhance our vibrant campus community. Out-of-state applicants must meet the same admission qualifications as California students, but with a higher GPA. Detailed information for UC Santa Cruz is provided at Out-of-State Students. Information for all 10 general campuses of the University of California can be viewed at University of California Admissions.

Students who are not California residents are assessed nonresident tuition in addition to educational and registration fees. Residency for fee purposes is determined after admission based on documentation provided in a Statement of Legal Residency. See California Residence for Tuition Purposes.

For more information about undergraduate out-of-state admissions, please see Out-of-State Students or email outofstateadmissions@ucsc.edu.

Admission of International Students

The University of California welcomes students from countries throughout the world to enhance our vibrant campus community. The academic credentials of applicants from other countries are evaluated by Admissions specialists in accordance with UC faculty-approved regulations governing admission.

UC Santa Cruz accepts applications from international students for the fall quarter, and students should begin application inquiries a year before the quarter of desired admission. Openings for the winter quarter may be limited. If you are interested in applying for winter, check with the Office of Admissions. For information, write to internationaladmissions@ucsc.edu or the Office of Admissions, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

If your native language is not English, you must certify proficiency in English by one of the following methods: earning a score of 80 or higher on the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based TOEFL), or earning a minimum score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, earning a score of 560 or higher on the Writing section of the SAT, or completing two transferable English composition courses with grades of B or higher in a U.S. college or university.

A financial certificate and official academic records will be required if you are admitted to the university. Generally, nonimmigrant students must provide documentation that sufficient funds will be available to cover nonresident tuition, educational fees, and living expenses. The university does not offer need-based financial assistance to international students.

For more information about undergraduate international admissions, please see International Students or email internationaladmissions@ucsc.edu.

For information about services for international students, see the Global Engagement Office website.


If you are an undergraduate who wants to return to UC Santa Cruz after an absence of a portion of a quarter or more, you must file an Application for Readmission. The application form is available online at advising.ucsc.edu/student/read

Note: There is a $70 filing fee, which is nonrefundable and nontransferable. The filing fee will be billed to your student account; you are responsible for this fee even if you do not return to UCSC.

If during your absence you attended another UC campus, an official transcript must be submitted to the Office of Admissions before your application will be sent to your college for approval. If you attended another collegiate institution, your UC Santa Cruz college may require a transcript. If you left for health reasons, clearance from the Cowell Student Health Center is required. You must pay all outstanding bills owed to the university before you will be permitted to register.

Admission to Special Categories

Admission to either of the categories described below is at the sole discretion of UC Santa Cruz, and only when enrollment allows. Students seeking their first undergraduate degrees have priority over students who have already earned an undergraduate degree. For information on applying for admission in the categories described below, please contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@ucsc.edu.

Second Bachelor’s Degree

If your educational goals have changed substantially since receiving your bachelor's degree, you may be eligible to pursue a second undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz. Applications from students interested in pursuing a second baccalaureate program will be considered as campus enrollment allows. Priority is given to applicants who have not yet had the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree.

You must meet regular university admission qualifications, and your experience or previous scholarship record must show potential for academic success in your proposed area of study. Additional selection criteria will be applied, and admission is subject to approval by the appropriate department.

For a second degree, you must fulfill major and residence requirements, as well as UC systemwide requirements in American History and Institutions and the Entry Level Writing Requirement. You must enroll for at least three quarters and are usually restricted to six quarters total.

Limited Status

If you have already completed an undergraduate degree and you have a particular reason to take specific undergraduate university classes, you may be eligible to enroll in a non-degree program as a limited-status student. Applications from students interested in limited-status enrollment are permitted as campus enrollment allows. Priority is given to applicants who have not yet had the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree.

Your proposed program of study must either prepare you for graduate or professional school or satisfy some definite educational need or interest. Participants generally enroll full-time for a specified period that does not exceed three quarters. You must meet regular university admission qualifications, and your experience or previous academic record must show potential for success in your proposed program. Additional selection criteria will be applied, and admission is subject to approval by the appropriate department.

Nondiscrimination, Harassment, and Affirmative Action Policies

The University of California, in accordance with applicable federal and state law and university policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy1, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer related or genetic characteristics), genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services2. The university also prohibits sexual harassment.

This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities.

Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to Conduct and Community Standards, (831) 459-1738, or email conduct@ucsc.edu.

Inquiries regarding the University's affirmative action, equal employment opportunity, nondiscrimination, and harassment policies as they relate to student employment may be directed to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, (831) 459-3676 or email cbene@ucsc.edu.

Inquiries regarding the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and UC Santa Cruz Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Reports of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and/or any other violations of Title IX (sex/gender discrimination; harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or pregnancy) may be directed to Title IX Officer Cherie Scricca, (831) 459-2462, or email cscricca@ucsc.edu.

Student inquiries regarding disability or disability accommodations may be addressed to the Director, Disability Resource Center, (831) 459-2089; or email drc@ucsc.edu.

Students with disabilities who are unable to resolve accommodation or discrimination concerns may contact the campus ADA Compliance Officer by phone, (831) 459-4380, or email ashish@ucsc.edu.

1. Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
2. Service in the uniformed services
includes membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.

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Revised: 10/16/23