Programs and Courses

picture of catalog entry for Computer Engineering2017-18 General Catalog

Programs and Courses | Links to Program Statements by Department 


The academic programs offered at UC Santa Cruz are described in detail in this section. Curricula, courses, and degrees listed in this catalog are subject to change through normal academic channels. New proposals and changes are initiated by the relevant departments, divisions, or colleges and approved by the appropriate academic dean and by the Committee on Educational Policy or the Graduate Council. The designations F (fall), W (winter), S (spring), or Summer that appear at the end of each course indicate the intentions of the academic units; however, on occasion, the actual scheduling of classes may change.

For changes and additions to courses listed in this catalog, consult the Schedule of Classes and the Class Search published each quarter and available on the web. The Office of the Registrar also provides detailed information on its website.

Course Credit

Unless otherwise specified in the course description, each course earns 5 quarter credits. Therefore, regardless of course format or scheduling, each course makes approximately equal demands on enrolled students.

All physical education courses are noncredit. Other noncredit courses include certain graduate seminars. Laboratory courses, music courses involving individual lessons or ensemble participation, as well as some special-interest seminars and individual studies courses carry less than 5 credits and are designated accordingly.

The normal UCSC undergraduate program of study is three 5-credit courses per quarter or equivalent. In 12 quarters at UCSC, most students complete 180 credits. With a college’s approval, a student may be allowed to vary the course load. See also Part-Time Program.

Course Numbering

Undergraduate courses are classified as lower division or upper division. Lower-division courses (numbered 1–99) are designed for first-year and sophomore students but may be taken by more advanced students. Upper-division courses (numbered 100–199) are designed for junior and senior students but are open to first-year and sophomore students who have sufficient background and the consent of the instructor in charge.

Graduate courses (numbered 200–299) are either restricted to graduate students or open only to students who can show the instructor that they have completed sufficient upper-division coursework basic to the subject matter of the course.


Courses marked with an asterisk (*) will not be offered in the 2017-18 academic year. Courses marked with a dagger () will be offered, with the quarter as yet to be determined.

General Education Codes

The general education codes that appear in some course descriptions are explained in the section on general education requirements.

Course Format

Most courses at UCSC are taught as lectures or, when the class is small enough for considerable discussion, as seminars. A large number of courses require enrollment in a secondary discussion section scheduled at a different time from the primary course. Sometimes there is laboratory or fieldwork associated with a course.

Occasionally, a student may wish to do an individual project as part of the work for a course. UCSC instructors are usually quite willing to consider and evaluate such work, time permitting.

Prerequisite Policy

When applicable, prerequisites are listed in this catalog within the course description for each course. There are many courses that meet general education requirements and do not require a prerequisite.

Prerequisites come in many forms—for example, specific courses, placement examinations, or “satisfaction of the Entry Level Writing and Composition requirement” for writing courses. Some course descriptions also specify that students must be declared majors or seniors in order to enroll. Other course descriptions recommend the appropriate background for a course—for example, “ability to use algebra and solve problems.”

Questions concerning prerequisites should be directed to the instructor of the course or the respective department office. Students who have not met all prerequisites may be excluded from a course. Alternatively, the instructor or a department adviser may waive the prerequisite based on demonstrated competence or equivalent academic experience.

Class Size

A student’s class level plays a large part in how many small classes are available. Introductory classes tend to be large, although they are usually accompanied by required small sections or laboratories. Many small classes have prerequisite courses that enroll large numbers of students. Also, certain large classes fulfill campuswide general education requirements. First-year students experience at least one small seminar in conjunction with the college core course, and they are likely to experience an increasing proportion of small classes as they progress to senior status.

Individual Study

Especially in the upper division, students are encouraged to devise special courses to pursue independently, under the guidance of faculty members. A study plan should be discussed with a faculty member in the general subject area of interest. This faculty member will ultimately be responsible for evaluating the work done. The study plan must also be approved by the course sponsoring agency; it should be noted that not all proposed plans are accepted.

Field Study

Independent, off-campus field study is available through many departments. It is handled in much the same way as individual study. In addition, there are several established field programs that offer a variety of full- or part-time, off-campus, field placements as part of the regular program of academic study. For more information on these programs, see Field and Exchange Programs in the Undergraduate Academics section.

Apprentice Teaching

An upper-division or graduate student may apply for approval to teach an undergraduate seminar of his or her own design. The seminar is supervised by a faculty member and carries normal academic credit for the students and the apprentice teacher. Interested students should initiate a proposal with a faculty member in the appropriate subject area.

Credit by Petition

Regularly enrolled students may obtain full academic credit for a course by challenging the course. Challenging the course entails passing an examination or completing an appropriate body of work supervised by a regular instructor for the course. The petition for such credit must be approved by the instructor of the course, the chair of the department offering the course (or provost, if it is a course offered by a college), and the provost of the student’s college. Some courses are not considered appropriate for credit by petition.

For foreign language students, credit by petition may not be used by students whose language ability greatly exceeds the course level proposed for challenge. Petitions for credit for levels 4 and 5 cannot be filed in the same quarter. Contact the Language Program, 239 Cowell, 459-2054, for more information.

Auditing of Classes

Instructors may permit nonenrolled students to attend their classes when space is available after all students who wish to enroll officially have done so. An instructor is not obligated to devote time to the work of students who are not officially enrolled in the class.

Links to Program Statements by Department

Academic English
Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism
Art and Design: Games and Playable Media
Art History, see History of Art and Visual Culture
Arts Division
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Biological Sciences
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Molecular, Cell, and Developmental
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Classical Studies
Cognitive Science
College Nine
College Ten
Community Studies
Cowell College
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Crown College
Digital Art and New Media
Earth and Planetary Sciences
East Asian Studies
School of Engineering
    Applied Mathematics and Statistics
    Biomolecular Engineering
    Computational Media
    Computer Engineering
    Computer Science
    Electrical Engineering
    School of Engineering
    Technology Management
Environmental Studies
Feminist Studies
Film and Digital Media
German Studies
History of Art and Visual Culture

History of Consciousness
Humanities Division
Italian Studies
Jewish Studies
Kresge College
Languages and Applied Linguistics
Language Studies
Latin American and Latino Studies
Legal Studies
Marine Sciences
Merrill College
Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology
Oakes College
Ocean Sciences
Physical and Biological Sciences Division
Physical Education
Porter College
Queer and Sexuality Studies
Rachel Carson College (formerly College Eight)
Religious Studies
Science Communication
Science Education
Social Documentation
Social Sciences Division
Spanish and Spanish for Heritage Speakers
Spanish Studies
Stevenson College
Sustainability Studies
Theater Arts
Writing Program

Revised: 09/01/17