Freshman Admission and Selection: 2014-2015

Admissions staff member helping guests at a recent event. Photo by Dani Milner.

The admission and selection process for freshmen to UC Santa Cruz reflects the academic rigor and preparation needed for admission to a major research institution. Meeting the minimum qualifications for the university does not guarantee you admission as a freshman. Students are encouraged to achieve well beyond the minimum qualifications to enhance their chances for selection.

UC Santa Cruz uses a holistic approach in selecting freshmen for admission. Applicants are thoroughly reviewed to determine the full spectrum of their academic and personal achievements, viewed in the context of their academic and personal opportunities. UCSC uses 14 faculty-approved criteria to determine an individualized, single score for each applicant.

Qualifying for UC Admission

The UC admissions guidelines are designed to ensure students are well-prepared to succeed at the University of California. If you are interested in entering the university as a freshman, you need to satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 15 college-preparatory courses ("a-g" courses), with at least 11 finished prior to the beginning of your senior year.

    The 15 courses are:

    a. History/social science

    2 years

    b. English

    4 years

    c. Mathematics

    3 years

    d. Laboratory science

    2 years

    e. Language other than English

    2 years

    f. Visual and performing arts

    1 year

    g. College-preparatory elective*
    *chosen from the subjects listed above or another course approved by the university

    1 year

    If you attend an accredited high school in California, you can check the courses at your school that may satisfy the “a–g” pattern by consulting ucop.edu/doorways. The web site also has general information for applicants who do not attend an accredited California high school.

  • Earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better (3.40 or better for a non-resident of California) in these courses with no grade lower than a C.
  • Meet the examination requirement by taking the ACT Plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test no later than December of the senior year. The University does not require SAT Subject Tests, but certain programs on some UC campuses recommend them, and you can use SAT Subject Tests to satisfy the "a-g" requirements listed above.

—California Applicants—

There are two ways to qualify for admission to the University of California. First, you can "qualify by the statewide path." Second, if you rank in the top 9 percent of your class in participating high schools in California, you may gain admission through what is called "qualifying by the local path." You can find more detailed information by visiting: universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/freshman.

—Qualifying by the statewide path—
   (California Residents Only)

You must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.00 in the "a–g" courses. The GPA is only calculated on courses meeting the “a-g” requirements in the 10th, the 11th, and, if completed, the 12th grades.

You must also complete the examination requirement, the ACT Plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test. The scores you report for each section of the SAT (critical reading, mathematics, and writing) must be from the same sitting. UCSC Code for ACT: 0460. UCSC Code for SAT: 4860.

A UC Score is calculated based on your GPA and your test scores. See the UC Admissions Index chart for further information.

—Qualifying by the local path—
   (California Residents Only)

Students who rank in the top 9 percent of students in their California high school class — if the high school participates in our Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program —qualify for admission to UC.

If your school participates in the ELC program — which most California high schools do — UC will identify the top 9 percent of students on the basis of GPA in UC-approved course work completed in the 10th and 11th grades. To be considered for ELC, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 and complete a pattern of 11 "a-g" courses prior to your senior year. Further information is available at universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/freshman/california-residents/local-path/index.html.

Out-of-state Applicants

Our requirements for out-of-state applicants -- subject, examination, and scholarship -- are nearly identical to our requirements for California residents. The only difference is that non-residents must earn a minimum GPA of 3.40. If you are qualifying by examination alone, a minimum UC Score of 425 is required. Please see our Out-of-State Admissions web site at admissions.ucsc.edu/apply/out-of-state-students/index.html.

International Applicants

Freshman applicants from abroad are welcome to apply to UCSC. Like other nonresident applicants, you must meet the same subject, examination, and scholarship requirements as California students, but with a minimum GPA of 3.40. In addition, you must acquire necessary visas and, if your schooling has been in a different language, you must show proficiency in English. Please see our International Admissions web site at admissions.ucsc.edu/apply/international-students/index.html.

As a selective campus, UC Santa Cruz is unable to offer admission to all UC-qualified applicants. UCSC offers admission to freshman applicants according to the selection policy described in this document.


UC Admissions Index for Top 9 Percent Statewide Path

High School GPA

UC Score Total

High School GPA

UC Score Total

3.00 – 3.04

263

3.70 - 3.74

225

3.05 – 3.09

261

3.75 - 3.79

221

3.10 – 3.14

259

3.80 - 3.84

217

3.15 – 3.19

256

3.85 - 3.89

214

3.20 – 3.24

254

3.90 - 3.94

210

3.25 – 3.29

252

3.95 - 3.99

206

3.30 – 3.34

249

4.00 - 4.04

202

3.35 – 3.39

246

4.05 - 4.09

198

3.40 – 3.44

244

4.10 - 4.14

193

3.45 – 3.49

241

4.15 - 4.19

189

3.50 – 3.54

238

4.20 - 4.24

184

3.55 – 3.59

234

4.25 - 4.29

180

3.60 – 3.64

231

4.30 - 4.34

175

3.65 – 3.69

228

4.35 & above

171

Calculating Your "UC Score"

UC uses an admissions index to determine if you fall in the top 9 percent of students who qualify in the statewide context.

Here's how to calculate if you'll be in the top 9 percent:

1. Calculate your grade-point average (GPA). Convert the grades earned in all college-preparatory courses ("a-g" courses) taken in 10th and 11th grades, including summer sessions: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1. (Pluses and minuses don't count.) Give yourself an extra point for each honors-level course in which you’ve earned at least a C, up to eight semesters.

2. Convert your test scores to a UC Score total.

For more information, including Test Score Translation Tables for ACT Composite, ACT English plus Writing, SAT Critical Reading + Math, and SAT Writing, please see www.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/freshman/california-residents/admissions-index/index.html


Selection Policy for UC Santa Cruz

Professionally-trained Admissions readers conduct an in-depth review of your academic and personal achievements in light of the opportunities available to you and your demonstrated capacity to contribute to the intellectual and cultural life at UCSC. The 14 factors we consider are:

  1. Grade-point average (GPA)

    Academic grade-point average in all completed "a-g" courses, including additional grade points for completed UC-certified honors courses.

  2. Test scores

    Scores on the ACT Plus Writing or SAT Reasoning Test.

  3. Courses completed/planned

    Number of, content of and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum "a-g" requirements.

  4. Honors courses

    Number of and performance in UC-approved honors. Courses approved for UC honors include Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, UC-transferable college courses, and UC-approved honors courses (California high schools only).

  5. Eligibility in the Local Context

    Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of your high school class at the end of your junior year (Eligible in the Local Context, or ELC).

  6. Quality of senior-year program of study

    Quality of your senior-year program as measured by the type and number of academic courses in progress or planned.

  7. Educational opportunities in high schools

    Quality of your academic performance relative to the educational opportunities available in your high school.

  8. Performance in academic subject areas

    Outstanding performance in one or more academic subject areas.

  9. Achievements in special projects

    Outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.

  10. Improvement in academic performance

    Recent, marked improvement in academic performance as demonstrated by academic GPA and the quality of course work completed or in progress.

  11. Special talents, achievements, and awards

    Special talents, achievements and awards in a particular field, such as visual and performing arts, communication or athletic endeavors; special skills, such as demonstrated written and oral proficiency in other languages; special interests, such as intensive study and exploration of other cultures; experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service or significant participation in student government; or other significant experiences or achievements that demonstrate the student's promise for contributing to the intellectual vitality of a campus.

  12. Participation in educational preparation programs

    Participation and persistence in academic enrichment programs, including but not limited to those sponsored by the University of California.

  13. Academic accomplishment within life experiences

    Demonstrated academic achievement in light of significant life issues. Life experiences include but are not limited to disability, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, and other special circumstances.

  14. Geographic location

    Geographic diversity as defined by the location of your secondary school and/or residence.


Related Information

  • Admission to Baskin School of Engineering majors
    While all freshman applicants are considered for admission to the UC Santa Cruz campus under the campus selection criteria previously described, acceptance into engineering majors is based on high school GPA, courses completed in mathematics and sciences, scores on standardized tests, and/or the personal statement. Details can be found at ugrad.soe.ucsc.edu/admissions
  • Admission by Exception
    Admission by Exception is granted to a very small percentage of applicants who do not meet UC requirements. Such factors as academic accomplishments in light of your life experiences and/or special circumstances, socioeconomic background, special talents and/or achievements, contributions to the community, and the quality of your personal statement are taken into consideration.
  • Financial aid and scholarships
    All applicants are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) no later than March 2 online at fafsa.ed.gov (the School Code for UCSC is 001321).
  • Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan
    UC's Blue and Gold Opportunity plan guarantees that eligible California resident undergraduates with family incomes up to $80,000 will receive gift assistance that will, at a minimum, cover all their mandatory systemwide fees during the academic year. Further information.

Transferring from a California community college

About 25 percent of UCSC students do not begin their career as freshmen, but choose to enter the university by transferring from a community college. Transferring is an excellent way to achieve your UCSC degree, and UCSC gives top priority to qualified junior transfers from a California community college.

—Qualifying as a transfer (California residents)—

To qualify for admission to UC as a junior-level transfer student, you must fulfill both of the following criteria. Keep in mind that meeting these requirements is not sufficient to gain admission to UCSC and/or the major of your choice.

1. Complete at least 60 semester units or 90 quarter units of UC-transferable college credit with a minimum GPA of 2.40. No more than 14 semester/21 quarter units may be taken on a pass/no pass basis.

2. Complete the following course pattern requirements, earning a grade of C (2.00) or better in each course:

  • Two UC-transferable college courses (minimum 3 semester or 4 quarter units each) in English composition; and
  • One UC-transferable college course (minimum 3 semester or 4 quarter units) in mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning; and
  • Four UC-transferable college courses (minimum 3 semester or 4 quarter units each) chosen from at least two of the following subject areas: the arts and humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and the physical and biological sciences.

—Qualifying as a transfer (Non-residents)—

The minimum admission requirements are the same, except that you must have a minimum GPA of 2.80 in all UC-transferable college course work.

Further information

For further information, including information on UCSC's Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program, please see admissions.ucsc.edu/apply/transfer-students/index.html.


Applying for admission

Apply to UC Santa Cruz by completing the UC application: universityofcalifornia.edu/apply

The online application explains the filing process and instructions for submitting your application.

The application for fall quarter is available August 1, and the filing period is November 1-30.

Contact your Representative

Prospective students and their families in California, as well as California community college counselors, may contact an Admissions Regional Representative for more information. Please see our Regional Representatives page. Out-of-state students may contact outofstateadmisions@ucsc.edu, and international students may contact internationaladmissions@ucsc.edu.

The Slug Connection

Sign up for the Slug Connection, your personalized online connection to UC Santa Cruz Admissions! Includes information about important dates and deadlines, financial aid, majors, and specialized information for military veterans and former foster youth. admissions.sa.ucsc.edu/prospect

Other Contact Information

Campus Address
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064

Office of Admissions
admissions@ucsc.edu
(831) 459-4008, español: (831) 459-2594

Campus Tours
visits@ucsc.edu
(831) 459-4008

Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
(831) 459-2963
UCSC School Code for FAFSA: 001321

Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP)
eop@ucsc.edu
(831) 459-2296

Disability Resource Center (DRC)
drc@ucsc.edu
Voice: (831) 459-2089
TTY: (831) 459-4806

Housing Office
housing@ucsc.edu
(831) 459-2394

Guide for Parents and Guardians

UCSC Home Page

See Also