Section 3. Degree Requirements

Bachelor's Degree | Bachelor's Degree Worksheet | American History and Institutions | Completion of 180 CreditsDeclaring Majors and Minors | Filing a Study Plan | Proposed Majors | Senior Comprehensive Requirement | Combined Majors | Double Majors and Minors | Individual Major | Three-Year Pathways | Extension of Enrollment | How to Request an Extra Quarter at UCSC | A Note for Financial Aid Recipients

Bachelor's Degree

To qualify for a bachelor’s degree, you must meet the following conditions (see complete descriptions of each below):

  • satisfy the university requirements in American History and Institutions, Entry Level Writing (English composition), and residence requirements;
  • satisfy the requirements of your college (usually the core course or equivalent);
  • complete a minimum of 180 credits, each with a grade of D or better (or Pass);
  • satisfy the general education requirements with grades of Pass, C, or better;
  • complete an approved major program, including its comprehensive requirement, with grades of Pass, C (2.0 GPA), or better in all courses satisfying major requirements. Some majors require grades higher than C to qualify to declare the major. In some majors, courses graded Pass may not be used to satisfy major requirements.
  • have an overall GPA of at least 2.0 in all letter-graded courses taken at UCSC and other University of California campuses; and
  • have no more than 25 percent of your UCSC credits graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. This includes any credits completed in the Education Abroad Program or at another UC campus in an intercampus exchange program. Departments may require that some or all courses used to satisfy the major must be taken for a letter grade.

It is your responsibility to meet all the requirements for the bachelor’s degree. Use MyUCSC to verify your progress toward fulfilling university and general education requirements.

Academic Senate regulations Chapter 10 contains policies on requirements for bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees.

Bachelor's Degree Worksheet

A checklist to help plan meeting degree requirements toward your degree is available here.

Completion of 180 Credits

You are expected to satisfy all your requirements for a degree by completing 180 quarter credits within 12 quarters. Some students may require more quarters of enrollment in order to satisfy all requirements for their program of study. It is necessary for you to obtain permission from your college to continue your enrollment at UCSC if you have been enrolled for 13 or more regular quarters, excluding summer sessions at UCSC or elsewhere, or if you will exceed 225 credits. Students who take and pass extra credits in 12 quarters will not be penalized. However, you must pass a minimum of 180 credits within 15 quarters (9 UCSC quarters for junior transfer students). For information regarding extending quarters, see Extension of Enrollment.

Academic Senate regulations 10.1.1 and 6.2.4 contain the general policies on completion of 180 credits.

Declaring Majors and Minor Requirements

Every undergraduate is required to complete a major program. At UCSC a student has the option of pursuing an established single or combined major, a double major, or an individually designed major. Students also have the option to declare a minor. See the section Double Majors and Minors for information on double-counting upper-division courses.

Academic Senate regulations 10.4 contains policies on major field of study.

Declaring a Major

  • To apply to one or more major and/or minor programs, complete a Petition for Major/Minor Declaration.
  • Identify the advising processes required for the major you hope to pursue by consulting the program’s web site.  Some majors require students attend a group orientation, others require a meeting with a staff or faculty adviser.
  • Obtain the signature(s) as indicated on the petition for your intended major.
  • If your proposed program of study requires you to be enrolled longer than your Expected Graduation Term (EGT), you must return with a study plan to your college academic adviser for review.
  • File the completed petition at the department by the Declaration of Major deadline. This must be done in order for you to enroll the following quarter in courses restricted to majors.
  • To declare a double major, you must see advisers for both majors and develop an academic plan showing that you can complete requirements within your eligible enrollment quarters.

Filing a Study Plan

Students who enter UCSC as frosh or sophomores must be formally declared in a major before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent). Junior transfer students must declare a major no later than the deadline during their second quarter at UCSC. You will not be allowed to enroll in classes if you have not declared your major by the deadline. You are strongly encouraged to file as soon as you know your major and have met the major’s qualification requirements (if any). For students receiving V.A. benefits see the Veteran's section for more information.

To change your major, file the Petition for Major/Minor Declaration with your new department. An extension of enrollment for a change of major late in your career will generally not be approved if you cannot complete requirements in 15 quarters.

Departments have different methods of assigning faculty advisers and different instructions for their majors, which may be listed on department/major web sites or in the General Catalog. Note that some majors have qualification requirements. Be sure to check with the department early to find out if there are requirements for declaring the major. The UCSC General Catalog gives the requirements for each major, so read carefully about the major you wish to declare.

If you have previously declared a “pre-major” such as pre-art, check with your department on procedures to change to the regular major after you have completed the prerequisites. You cannot graduate with a pre-major.

Academic Senate regulation 10.4 contains the policy on declaration and change of major.

Help in Choosing a Major

For assistance in choosing a major, make an appointment with your college adviser and/or a career coach located at Career Center, 305 Bay Tree Building if you are entirely undecided on a major. If there are a few majors you are considering, you may wish to speak with the adviser for that particular major.

Double Majors and Minors

To complete multiple majors and minors, you must fulfill all of the requirements for all majors and minors declared, including the comprehensive requirement for each major. In general, a single thesis may not be used for more than one major.

You may count courses for more than one major or minor, as long as each major includes 40 upper-division credits not used to satisfy the minimum upper-division credits of any other major or minor, and each minor includes at least 25 upper-division credits not used to satisfy the minimum upper-division credits of any other major or minor. You must obtain approval from both departments to declare a double major.


Completion of a minor is optional, and you may complete more than one minor. The course requirements for a minor are established by the sponsoring department or program. The minor involves substantial work in the discipline and requires no fewer than 25 upper-division or graduate credits. The courses required for a minor follow the same pattern as those for the corresponding major, except the number of courses required is fewer and there is no comprehensive requirement.  Individual minor programs are not available. Consult the UCSC General Catalog and the department or program for specific information.

Formally declare the minor when you declare your major. The completion of a minor does not change the expectation that you finish your undergraduate work in 12 quarters and 180 credits. Once you have declared a minor, it must be either completed or deleted by the department prior to your graduation. The minor is recorded on your academic record. It does not appear on your diploma.

Academic Senate regulation 10.4.4 contains the policy on minors.

Criteria for Double Major/Minor

If you decide you want to pursue a double major/minor, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate you can complete the double major or major/minor in 15 quarters, or in 9 quarters for junior transfer students.
  • File for declaration of a double major or major/minor by the end of your sophomore year. Junior transfer students must declare both majors by the deadline during their second quarter of enrollment at UCSC. Exceptions to this are (1) students who have transferred in with large numbers of advanced placement credits, and (2) students who have taken 20 credits some quarters. If this applies to you, please consult with your college academic adviser. See Transfer Students in Section 1.

If you decide to complete only one of the majors, you must file a Request for Drop of a Major/Minor with the adviser for the major you wish to drop.

Since double majors and minors require far more upper-division coursework than a single major, it is important to plan early. Advisers have found that many students overestimate the advantages of a two-major program, without considering that depth in one major is sacrificed for breadth in two areas. Talk to faculty and staff in the departments, your academic preceptors, and Career Center advisers, who will be happy to discuss the advantages and limitations of various programs with you.

As in other issues involving enrollment extensions, the campus must balance its allegiance to current students with access for qualified students who are seeking admittance to a UC education. This perspective leads the colleges to require students to make choices from the range of options, such as the Education Abroad Program, double major, etc. You must complete all degree requirements for your proposed majors/minors within 15 quarters (9 quarters for junior transfer students).

Combined Majors

A combined major is a course of study involving two disciplines. Combined major requirements are determined jointly by the two departments and approved by the Academic Senate. If you are interested in pursuing one of the combined majors, contact the departments.

Academic Senate Regulation 10.4.6 contains the policy on combined majors.

Individual Major

Academically strong students have the option of developing an individual major. Individual majors must be vetted and approved by the Academic Senate (CEP), and must be distinct from any approved major program or possible combination of major programs. Regular deadlines to declare the major also apply to individual majors; students should declare their individual major by the end of their sophomore year.

Because the process of developing and proposing an individual major requires rigorous planning, and approval is not guaranteed, students are advised to pursue an existing major plan until a proposal has been submitted and approved by CEP. Make an appointment with your college academic preceptor as soon as possible if you are considering this option.

Forming an individual major can be challenging, since three faculty members in the discipline(s) must agree to serve on a committee to supervise the major, and the major must be approved by the Committee on Educational Policy. Guidelines, policies, and forms for individual majors can be found on the Academic Senate website: Individual Major Guidelines and Information, and in Academic Senate Regulation 10.4.5.

Individual majors must include at least 10 courses (50 credits), of which at least eight (40 credits) must be upper-division. No more than two of the required courses may be independent study courses. Students who cannot meet their original study plan for the major must consult with the committee chair, and in some cases, the Committee on Educational Policy, for approval of any changes. All students who complete an individual major are awarded a bachelor of arts.

Groups of faculty have indicated that they are willing to assist students who want to declare individual majors in the following fields: East Asian studies, religious studies, queer and sexuality studies, Russian studies, and critical race and ethnic studies. Individual majors are not limited to these programs. See the UCSC General Catalog for more information.

Proposed Majors

A proposed major is not equivalent to a declared major or pre-major. It is the area of interest you indicated on your admission application and may be updated at any time by contacting a college or department adviser. A proposed major is used for informational and advising purposes, and students are encouraged to keep their proposed majors updated for this reason. Some departments restrict course enrollment to students who are proposed in a major, and the School of Engineering places additional restrictions on being proposed in some majors. See the General Catalog for more information.

First-year students who were undecided on a major chose an advising cluster on their application for admission. Advising clusters allow first-year students to review general areas of academic interest for all major programs. Clusters introduce students to first-year foundation coursework and program requirements.

Complete cluster information is available online at undergraduate advising.

Three-Year Pathways

Some of the most popular majors at UC Santa Cruz have developed pathways that allow a student to complete requirements in three years. For more information, see pathways.

Senior Comprehensive Requirement

In addition to completing the course requirements for a major, each student must complete a sequence of senior seminar courses, an intensive independent project, or field study; pass a comprehensive examination; or write a senior thesis or essay. The senior comprehensive requirement is set by the department or the faculty committee supervising the major. The comprehensive examination may be written, oral, or both.

The form of the examination will be determined by the faculty who administer it. For some majors the comprehensive may be completed in several hours; for others it will involve work undertaken over a longer period.

Extension of Enrollment

While most students complete degree requirements in four years, a student’s academic plan occasionally requires additional quarters of enrollment to complete requirements or meet special educational needs. You should meet with your college academic adviser as soon as you suspect you may need additional quarters of enrollment. You must complete your educational plan and degree requirements within 15 quarters (9 quarters for junior transfer students). Advanced placement credit will not reduce the number of quarters that you are allowed.

Students who initially entered UCSC as frosh and who need more time to complete requirements are allowed a maximum of 225 credits and 15 quarters (five academic years) of enrollment. Students who began at UCSC as junior transfer students are allowed a maximum of 135 UCSC credits and 9 quarters (three academic years). Quarters of enrollment eligibility may be increased if students participate in the part-time program, or decreased if students transfer credits from another institution. If you have questions about your enrollment eligibility, please contact your college academic advising office.

How to Request an Extra Quarter at UCSC

If you would like to enroll beyond 12 quarters, your college academic adviser will need to adjust your expected graduation term. If you find that you need to enroll beyond 180 credits and 12 quarters, contact your college. You may be asked to develop an educational plan in consultation with your faculty and department advisers.

Part-time students and transfer students are granted the equivalent of 12 full-time quarters to complete degree requirements and may enroll for a maximum of 15 quarters (nine quarters for junior transfer students). For part-time students, each 15 credit hours attempted constitutes one full-time quarter. Similarly, each 15 credit hours of accepted transfer work constitutes the equivalent of one full-time quarter (regardless of how long it took to earn those credits) and counts toward the allowed quarters of enrollment.

A Note for Financial Aid Recipients

Financial aid allows a maximum number of 15 quarters of full-time enrollment (or the equivalent for students with transfer courses). Units earned in UC Santa Cruz Summer Session are counted with other transfer units. The college must adjust your expected graduation term online if you wish to enroll beyond 12 quarters. Students are not eligible to receive aid beyond the 15th or equivalent quarter. Financial aid recipients will receive written notification of the final quarter of eligibility beginning three quarters before their final quarter of aid eligibility.

Revised 07/26/23