University Requirements

UC Santa Cruz administers three requirements from the University of California: (1) American history and institutions, (2) Entry level writing, and (3) UCSC senior residence.

American History and Institutions

Every candidate for a bachelor’s degree must demonstrate knowledge of American history and institutions. Fulfill this requirement in one of the following ways:*

  • Achieving a score of 550 or higher on the SAT Subject Examination in U.S. History
  • Achieving a score of 3, 4, or 5 on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination in U.S. History, or by achieving a score of 5, 6, or 7 on the IBH History of the Americas Examination
  • Completing a college-level course in U.S. history and institutions
  • Certification of completion of the requirement on a transcript from an accredited California institution of higher education
  • Completing an acceptable history or government course in high school that satisfies the subject requirement for admission to the university, described in Subject Requirements.

A list of courses that fulfill the American History and Institutions requirement, as well as information for satisfying this requirement outside UCSC, is available here. Students may also search for AH&I courses from California Community Colleges via's transfer articulation agreements.

Entry Level Writing Requirement

Every candidate for a bachelor’s degree must demonstrate an acceptable level of ability in English composition. Prior to enrollment in your fourth quarter, you must fulfill the Entry Level Writing Requirement in one of the following ways:

Test Scores and Credits

  • 30 or better on the ACT, English Language Arts; or

  • 30 or better on the ACT, Combined English/Writing (last administered June 2015); or

  • 680 or better on the SAT, Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing*; or

  • 680 or better on the SAT Reasoning Test, Writing (last administered January 2016); or

  • scores of 3 or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition exam, AP English Literature and Composition exam, AP Seminar exam, or AP assessment in Research;* or

  • 5 or above on an International Baccalaureate Higher Level English A: Literature exam (formerly known as Higher Level English A1 exam); or

  • 6 or above on an International Baccalaureate Standard Level English A: Literature exam (formerly known as Standard Level English A1 exam); or

  • 5 or above on an International Baccalaureate Higher Level English A: Language and Literature exam; or

  • 6 or above on an International Baccalaureate Standard Level English A: Language and Literature exam.

* Revised: 04/08/24

Transfer work

The Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) can also be met by earning a grade of C or higher in an acceptable English composition course offered by a college or university.

Satisfying ELWR at UC Santa Cruz

Incoming students who have not satisfied ELWR via test or transfer credits will follow a directed self-placement process to enroll in an appropriate writing course at UCSC: WRIT 25, WRIT 26, WRIT 1, or WRIT 1E. Courses are offered in sequence depending on placement. Students who successfully pass WRIT 1 or WRIT 1E will satisfy Entry Level Writing. For additional information on ELWR, please see the Writing Program website.

* All students who enter UCSC as frosh in 2020 or after must demonstrate their command of the English language by satisfying the ELWR before enrolling in their fourth quarter. However, students placed into Writing 25 have until the end of their fourth quarter of enrollment to satisfy the ELWR.

For additional information on fulfilling UCSC's writing requirements, please visit the Writing Program's website.

Senior Residence

Senior Residence

Every candidate for a bachelor’s degree must be registered at UCSC for a minimum of three quarters. In addition, of the final 45 quarter credits, 35 must be in regular courses of instruction taken as a registered student at UCSC (including during the summer session).

The credit requirement for residence is applied differently to students participating in one or more of the off-campus study programs approved by the Academic Senate or the division. Participating students may satisfy the requirement in either of two ways:

  1. Complete 35 of their final 45 credits before leaving the Santa Cruz campus to participate in one or more off-campus approved study programs. In this scenario, students do not have to return to Santa Cruz for any additional coursework after they have finished the program(s).
  2. Complete 35 of their last 90 credits at the Santa Cruz campus, with a minimum of 10 credits completed at UCSC after their return from the off-campus approved study program(s).

A student who takes courses outside UCSC, e.g., at community college, may choose at the time of graduation to have only some of the credits completed outside counted toward the 180-credit graduation requirement in order to meet the residency requirement. Subject credit will still be given for lower-division courses and courses at other campuses of the University of California that are not counted toward the graduation requirement. This will not require a petition, and the credit will be reduced by the Office of the Registrar, in consultation with department or college advisors, or the Admissions Office, as needed.

Open campus / Concurrent Enrollment: For students who have been admitted and matriculated at UC Santa Cruz, but who have not yet graduated, the grades earned in Open Campus/ Concurrent Enrollment courses taken after their first matriculation at UCSC appear on the student’s UC Santa Cruz transcript, are notated as Open Campus courses, count toward University of California and UC Santa Cruz Grade Point Average (GPA), and count toward senior residency requirements.