The UC Santa Cruz Campus

The University of California, Santa Cruz, has earned international distinction for high-impact research and an uncommon commitment to teaching and public service. Leading at the intersection of innovation, social justice, and sustainability, UC Santa Cruz faculty and alumni have been at the forefront of sequencing the human genome, creating the organic farming movement, unlocking the mysteries of our galaxy, and using interdisciplinary research to analyze systems of oppression to create a more just and equitable society. Members of the UC Santa Cruz campus community share a commitment to use their voices, knowledge and talents to effect real change in the world.

UC Santa Cruz holds the distinction of being one of only two members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) designated both as an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), highlighting our commitment to equitable educational access and research excellence. The campus was one of the 20 founding members of the newly formed Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, which aims to increase opportunity for those historically underserved by higher education.

More than 19,000 students are enrolled at UC Santa Cruz in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. The campus pairs high-impact research with 10 tight-knit residential colleges that offer undergraduate students both the experience of a small liberal arts college and the depth and rigor of a major research university. The colleges are guided by distinct themes that inform their academic and student-life programs.

Graduate education is a critical element of our research and teaching missions. UC Santa Cruz enrolls approximately 1,500 Ph.D. and 450 master’s candidates in 41 academic fields and 57 concentrations. UC Santa Cruz offers five professional master’s degrees: four programs in the Baskin School of Engineering based at our Silicon Valley campus (Games and Playable Media, Serious Games, Natural Language Processing, and Human-Computer Interaction) and one program on our residential campus (Applied Economics and Finance), housed in the Economics department. Among many academic master’s degrees, our programs in Scientific Communication, widely regarded as one of the best science-writing programs in the world; Coastal Science and Policy, equipping emerging leaders to respond to complex problems with effective, practical solutions; and Social Documentation, designed for future documentarians committed to social change, stand out as distinctive degrees that uniquely prepare students for careers as change-makers.

Enrollment for the 2021-22 academic year was 17,084 undergraduate and 1,896 graduate and professional students, for a total of 18,980. UC Santa Cruz strives to enroll a student population that reflects the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of California,, with approximately 25 percent of undergraduates identifying as Hispanic or Latino (fall 2021).

The UC Santa Cruz faculty includes one Nobel Laureate, 27 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 14 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and 36 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Seven MacArthur "genius grants" have been awarded to UC Santa Cruz faculty and alumni.

In 2020-21, UCSC faculty and researchers received more than $234 million in external funding, a 23 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. More information about our distinguished faculty can be found in the UCSC Newscenter.

The 10 residential colleges are supportive living and learning communities that characterize the UC Santa Cruz experience. All undergraduate students, whether they live in university housing or not, are affiliated with one of the colleges. Self-contained and architecturally distinct, each college is a community of 1,500 to 1,800 students, about half of whom typically live on campus. In addition to housing students in small-scale residential communities, each college provides academic support, organizes student activities, and sponsors events that enhance the intellectual and social life of the campus.

Each college has a distinctive quality derived from its core course and extracurricular programs and from its faculty fellows and their academic disciplines. However, all of the colleges are interdisciplinary, and all academic majors are open to students from all colleges. Detailed descriptions of the 10 colleges can be found in The Colleges section of the catalog.

Undergraduate education

The campus offers 66 undergraduate majors in the arts, engineering, humanities, physical and biological sciences, and social sciences, as well as interdisciplinary major programs and minors. A complete list of academic programs and concentrations appears on the Fields of Study chart, and detailed descriptions begin in the Academic Programs section of the catalog.

The major and minor programs are administered by departments and colleges within the academic divisions. In most cases, departments are composed of faculty in the same field, but interdisciplinary programs draw on faculty from several fields.

Undergraduate education at UC Santa Cruz is focused on student success. For students entering in fall, preparation for success begins with the summer orientation course, a 1-credit online course preparing and exposing students to our academic and college communities. The fall college core courses give first-year students a small-seminar experience, including intensive work in reading, discussion, and critical reasoning, while also providing an orientation to academic life. New transfer students can begin in-depth engagement with UC Santa Cruz and their majors in Summer Edge for transfer students.

Original undergraduate research is encouraged, and hundreds of research papers co-authored by UC Santa Cruz undergraduates and their professors have been published in journals. For additional information, visit the Undergraduate Research Opportunities website.

Global Engagement programs at UC Santa Cruz include Study Abroad opportunities and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Global Engagement facilitates the exchange of people, ideas, and knowledge to support and promote the internationalization of teaching, learning, and research. Each year more than 500 UC Santa Cruz students broaden their academic horizons through the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), which enables students to incorporate full-time study abroad as UC credit toward their degrees. The UC Santa Cruz campus also strongly encourages undergraduate students to take advantage of the many opportunities for public service, such as those provided through the campus’s field programs, colleges, and Career Center. Individual studies, apprentice teaching, field studies, and internships can be important parts of the undergraduate experience (see Field Programs).

Graduate education

UC Santa Cruz offers graduate study in 41 academic fields and 57 concentrations, incorporating a range of options for concentrated study in a specialized field. Graduate study at UC Santa Cruz emphasizes close interaction between faculty and students, independent student research, supervised teaching experience, and interdisciplinary work. Further graduate program information is provided in the Academic Programs and Graduate Information sections of the catalog.

Research

The UC Santa Cruz campus hosts a number of major research units. UC Observatories, the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and the Institute of Marine Sciences, all within the Physical and Biological Sciences Division, and Engineering’s Genomics Institute conduct state-of-the-art research on topics ranging from the discovery of planets outside our solar system, to the detection of new sub-atomic particles, to the ecology of marine mammals, to understanding molecular processes and the underpinnings of disease. UC Santa Cruz is also a primary partner in inter-UC campus initiatives such as the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS, which focus on human health and the use of information technology to solve social, environmental, and health-care problems.

Research enterprises within the Arts benefit from the Arts Research Institute and the Center for Documentary Arts and Research, while the Institute of the Arts and Sciences emphasizes interdisciplinary exhibitions, events, and residency programs.
Engineering at UC Santa Cruz has focused on strategic initiatives that include the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells, the Center for Games and Playable Media, and the Center for Sustainable Energy and Power Systems.
The Humanities Institute is a hub for academic research, cross-discipline collaboration, and public engagement that oversees a range of topical centers, including the Center for Cultural Studies, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Public Philosophy, the Linguistics Research Center, and the Dickens Project.

Interdisciplinary collaborations thrive in Physical and Biological Sciences, from astrobiology to materials science. The Theoretical Astrophysics Santa Cruz (TASC) group spans four UCSC departments involved in research in astrophysics and planetary sciences. The Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, spanning three departments, now represents the largest grouping of RNA laboratories in the world.

The Institute for Social Transformation, the Center for Agroecology, the Center for Integrated Spatial Research, the Research Center for the Americas, and the Science and Justice Research Center provide pioneering directions for research in the Social Sciences.
Beyond these organized research enterprises, UC Santa Cruz has a wide suite of investigator-driven research that spans the width and breadth of campus inquiry. For additional information see Resources for Learning and Research.

Location and facilities

Located in the redwoods overlooking the Monterey Bay, our residential campus is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. UC Santa Cruz includes three sites in Santa Cruz: the 2,000-acre residential campus, the Westside Research Park facility, and our Coastal Science Campus located at the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Our Silicon Valley Campus in Santa Clara extends the reach of UC Santa Cruz and is home to UCSC Extension, which includes UC Scout and Smarter Balanced, and houses the four Baskin School of Engineering professional master’s programs. Many of the university’s office and business functions are located at the Scotts Valley Center, which is about nine miles away from our residential campus.

UC Santa Cruz also manages the Año Nuevo, Fort Ord, Younger Lagoon, and Landels-Hill Big Creek Natural Reserves, which are part of the UC Natural Reserve System (UCNRS). These varied environments offer students, staff and faculty multiple locations in which to learn, experiment, and innovate, and provide opportunities and resources to leverage academic research to positively impact the region, the state, and the world.

The city of Santa Cruz is a well-known recreational area and center for the arts. Mild weather, miles of beaches, and many cultural opportunities combine to make Santa Cruz an enjoyable place to study and live.

Accreditation. The University of California, Santa Cruz, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Senior College and University Commission, 1001 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 402, Alameda, CA 94501, (510) 748-9001, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education.

Specific degree programs at UC Santa Cruz are also accredited: The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org (Electrical Engineering); the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training (Chemistry); and the California State Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Education). To review accreditation documents, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Kerr Hall, (831) 459-1349, or vpaa@ucsc.edu.