Oakes College

Oakes College Office, Oakes Administration Building
(831) 459-2558

Academic Programs

Academic Literacy Curriculum
College Scholars Program
Community-based Advocacy and Research (CARA) Certificate Program

Academic Emphasis

Oakes College is a multicultural community committed to social justice, freedom from oppression, and to providing the highest quality education to students from diverse backgrounds. Oakes is at the leading edge of scholarship, community-building, integrated co-curricular experiences, and community-engaged learning. Oakes students strive to understand the self, community, and systemic oppression, and take action for change in the world.

The Oakes College faculty represents a wealth of expertise from the natural sciences to the humanities, and we are proud to have some of the top scholars in the world among our faculty fellows. Our students major in every discipline at the University of California, Santa Cruz—from economics and computer science, to theater arts and Latin American and Latino studies—and they are well supported by the depth and breadth of the Oakes College faculty and the extensive knowledge of our advising team. Oakes graduates have gone on to successful careers in fields such as medicine, law, education, medical research, and community service.

The Oakes Core Course, Communicating Diversity for a Just Society, helps first-quarter, first year students build deeper critical connections by engaging with some of the most challenging and relevant issues that face us in the world. We do this by examining the intersections between reading, personal identity, and social justice. In our readings, discussions, and assignments, we seek to answer questions about how materials we read connect with our cultural, religious, sexual, ethnic, class, racial, and gender identities. Those who are admitted as transfer students are exempt from the Core Course requirement, but may take the course at their option pending available space.


All new frosh and transfer students who start fall quarter are required to enroll in one of two online orientation courses. Frosh will enroll in OAKS 1A, Oakes 1A: Introduction to University Life and Learning. Transfer students will enroll in KRSG 1T, Kresge 1T: Introduction to Research Universities and the Liberal Arts. OAKS 1A and KRSG 1T integrate introductions to academic skills with the online Slug Orientation process, and begin student preparation for their studies at Oakes College and throughout UC Santa Cruz.

OAKS 1A  Introduction to University Life and Learning (1 credit)

Offered online in summer quarter

KRSG 1T  Introduction to Research Universities and the Liberal Arts (1 credit)

Offered online in summer quarter

Students who are admitted to winter quarter will take an orientation course during their first term.

Core Course

OAKS 1, Academic Literacy and Ethos: Communicating Diversity for a Just Society (5 credits)

Offered fall quarter

This course examines the intersections between reading as a college student practice, personal and social identities, and social justice. In our readings, discussions, and assignments, we seek to answer questions about how materials we read connect with our cultural, religious, sexual, ethnic, class, racial, and gender identities. How have our own ways of identifying—of naming or defining ourselves—shaped our individual experiences? Where do we position our own stories within our shared family histories? How do our own autobiographies and essays, as written accounts of our process of identification, bring our search for ourselves and our relationship with reading and writing into the same conversation?

College Advising

First floor, Oakes Administration Building

Mailing address:
The Office of Advising and Records
Oakes College
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Contact information:

(831) 459-4531

At Oakes College, our role as college advisers is to serve as the first point of contact for our undergraduate students. We believe that effective advising mandates that we collaborate with students to identify and clarify their goals, develop a sense of self-authorship, and learn to make meaningful decisions about their lives. We ensure our students know that their educational trajectory extends beyond coursework, and includes opportunities and experiences that will enhance their education. 

Investing in an advising model where a student’s lived experience is an educational asset, we advance our practices and become more engaged and proactive in our work. Our Oakes college advisers advocate for necessary policy and procedural changes. We address institutional barriers by engaging with justice rather than simply adopting it as a value. In turn, we aspire for students to see the greater meaning of their educational experience and how it can transform their lives beyond their undergraduate career.

The purview of colleges advising includes navigating campuswide requirements such as general education, academic progress, time to degree, and major selection and qualification.

Other Academic Programs

At Oakes College, we foster student engagement and leadership within and beyond the classroom. To this end, we encourage students to develop the knowledge, skills, and cross-cultural understanding necessary to become actively engaged people and future leaders in their own communities, workplaces, and academic disciplines as well as in the larger U.S. society and the world as a whole. We also provide a range of resources and programs that enable all students to succeed in their academic endeavors. Such resources include:

The Learning Center and the Westside Writing Center at Oakes College provide space for study groups as well as tutoring. Special assistance in academic reading and writing in a variety of subjects is offered to Oakes students.

The Oakes Computer Lab provides access to 20 PCs for Oakes students.

Co-curricular programs like the Oakes Core Café, and the residential Science Community at Oakes College (Biko House) all offer living-learning opportunities to enhance student success and to provide students with unique opportunities for interacting with faculty in small group contexts. Oakes College appoints a Scientist in Residence every year, a UCSC doctoral student who lives in the residence hall and facilitates programs to support STEM diversity in the college.

The Oakes College CARA Program. The Community-based Action Research and Advocacy (CARA) Program of Oakes College works to create opportunities for experiential education, leadership, research, and career development; we center the strengths and needs of first-generation college students and projects for transformative social justice. Courses emphasize community-building along with research and communication techniques within the critical frameworks that build confidence and support justice initiatives. The program includes a development and outreach strategy with campus and community groups—including schools, youth sites, direct-service provider networks, and grassroots organizations, both on-campus and off. Upper-division courses are commonly accepted as major requirement substitutions in multiple departments. Oakes students and students in other colleges can earn a CARA certificate by completing a sequence of community-engaged coursework focused on social justice. 

Student services at Oakes include academic advising and psychological counseling.

College Scholars Program

Oakes College participates in the UC Santa Cruz College Scholars Program (CSP), a stimulating home for highly motivated students to have community with like-minded peers during their first and second years as they explore research at a research university. The program recruits and supports a diverse cohort of college scholars across all five academic divisions and all 10 colleges who show potential to cultivate academic and non-academic strengths in a learning community. Between 20 and 25 students are housed in close proximity in each college and together participate in an enriched program of study designed to prepare them to take advantage of opportunities for undergraduate research at the upper division. Across four quarters, students have access to supplementary activities, special courses, small seminars, and a faculty research colloquium to explore what questions drive researchers and what forms research can take. To facilitate participation in these program requirements, CSP students receive priority enrollment during their time in the program.