Frequently Asked Questions for International Students
Q: What are the admissions criteria?
A: For this information, please see our 2015-16 Freshman and Transfer Admissions Guides.
Q: What standardized tests do I need to take?
A: Freshmen must take either 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 (see Frosh Guide for more information).
In addition, proficiency in the English language is crucial to your success at UC Santa Cruz.
We require all applicants whose language of instruction in high school (secondary school) was not English to adequately demonstrate English competency as a part of the application process. In most cases, if three years or less of your secondary schooling was with English as the language of instruction, you will be held to meeting UCSC's English proficiency requirement. Students may demonstrate competency by submitting an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) overall band score of 7 or higher, by earning a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based Test of English (TOEFL) (80 on the Internet-based test), or by earning a score of 560 or higher on the Writing section of the SAT Assessment test.
For IELTS, UC Santa Cruz only accepts scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. No paper Test Report Forms will be accepted. An institutional code is NOT required. Please contact the test center where you took the test directly and request that your test scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system. All IELTS test centers worldwide are able to send scores electronically to our institution.
For more information, please see the Admission Requirements for International Freshmen.
If three years or less of your secondary education was with English as the language of instruction, you will be required to prove your English proficiency in one of the following ways:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) - a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based test, or 80 on the Internet-based test
- A minimum score of 7 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) academic module
- Completion of two UC-transferable English composition courses (not ESL) in the U.S. with grades of B (3.00) or better
For more information, please see the Admission Requirements for International Transfer Students.
Q: What are the average SAT and ACT scores, GPA, etc. for admitted freshmen and transfer students?
A: For information of this kind, please see our UC Santa Cruz Facts page.
Q: What is the acceptance rate?
A: In fall 2014, 57% of freshman applicants were accepted, and 57.2% of transfer applicants were accepted. Admissions rates vary from year to year depending on the strength of the applicant pool.
Q: Does UC Santa Cruz give AP or IB credit?
A: The university grants credit for College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations on which a student scores 3, 4, or 5 and for International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBH) Examinations on which a student scores 5, 6, or 7. The university does not grant credit for IB standard or subsidiary level exams. Students completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a score of 30 or higher receive 30 quarter credits. For more information, please see our AP and IBH table.
Q: Where do I need to send my high school transcripts and test scores?
A: The University of California has common deadlines to submit official transcripts and test scores: July 1 for transcripts, and July 15 for test scores. Official transcripts (both high school and collegiate) are only required for those students who accept their offer of admission. When requesting official test scores, please use the following codes for our campus: For ACT scores our code is 0460, and for SAT scores, our college code is 4860.
Students should report ACT and/or SAT scores on the admission application, then request that an official copy of the scores be sent to us from the testing agency. Official score reports sent to one UC campus will be shared with all campuses a student applies to.
TOEFL score reports can be sent to one UC campus, and all campuses to which the student applied will receive it. IELTS scores need to be reported to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at each campus to which the student applied. These scores must be received no later than January for students applying for the fall term.
Q: What is UCSC's policy regarding the use of agents?
A: UC Santa Cruz does not partner with agents to represent the University or to administer any part of the undergraduate admission application process. The engagement of agents or private organizations for the purpose of recruiting or enrolling international students is not endorsed by UC Santa Cruz. Agents who may be retained by students to help with the application process are not recognized as representatives of the University and do not have a contractual agreement or partnership to represent UC Santa Cruz.
UC Santa Cruz expects all applicants to complete their own application materials. The use of agent services is not aligned with UC’s Statement on Integrity -- expectations explained as a part of applying for admission to the University. For the complete Statement, go to: https://admissions.universityofcalifornia.edu/docs/StatementOfIntegrity.pdf
UC Santa Cruz expects an application to be the work of the applicant and that all information on the application is complete, accurate, and truthful.
Costs, Tuition, and Financial Aid
Q: What is the cost of attendance now, and what will it be next year?
A: Current undergraduate student budgets can be found on the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships web site. The charts include tuition and fees for both in-state and out-of-state students, room and board, books and supplies, etc. International students pay out-of-state tuition and fees. We cannot predict what future costs will be, since that is determined yearly by the UC Board of Regents and depends on a number of factors, including state support and operating budgets.
Q: How do I know if I must pay resident or non-resident tuition as an international student?
A: Please refer to the residency requirements for tuition purposes page on the Office of the Registrar's web site.
Q: How much financial aid is offered for international students?
A: Need-based financial aid is not available for international students. We recommend that international students research scholarship opportunities that may be available in their home countries to study in the U.S. Also, the Undergraduate Dean's Award, which offers between $8,000 and $30,000 for frosh or between $5,000 and $15,000 for transfers, is available for international students on a student visa.
Q: What scholarships are available from UC Santa Cruz?
A: For this information, please see the Scholarships page on the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships web site. The UC application is also an application for scholarships.
Q: Can I get a job on campus to help pay for my expenses?
A: Yes -- each year about 4,000 students work in various positions on campus. Students may work up to 20 hours per week during regular school terms and full-time during school breaks such as summer vacation. International students who are employed in on-campus jobs can help pay their costs for studying and living at UCSC. Money earned through on-campus jobs should not be included in the financial certificate for first-year undergraduates. Please refer to this web site for more information on F-1 student employment: ieo.ucsc.edu/intl-students/f1/employment.html.
Q: What are the visa requirements for international students?
A: UC Santa Cruz admissions notifications occur in mid-March. If you are admitted to UC Santa Cruz and wish to enroll, you will need to apply for a student visa to attend college in the U.S., a process that includes submitting financial statements showing that you have funding to study in the U.S. More information on the visa application process can be found in the International Education Office web site.
Majors and Academics
Q: Does UCSC offer a ____ major? How is the ___ major at UC Santa Cruz?
A: UC Santa Cruz offers 65 undergraduate majors in the following academic divisions: Arts, Humanities, Physical and Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Jack Baskin School of Engineering. For a list of majors with more information about each one, go to the Admissions Major Pages. Each page has information on study and research opportunities, career opportunities for graduates in the major, how to prepare for the major, and links to the departments and course lists.
Q: Does UCSC offer a pre-med program or a pre-law program? A business program? What about preparation to become a teacher?
A: UCSC offers a major in human biology, which provides excellent preparation for applying to medical school, and a business management economics program. For students interested in the law, UCSC offers a legal studies major and a "3 Plus 3" program in conjunction with UC Hastings College of the Law. In addition, UCSC offers a minor in education, as well as a graduate teaching credential program. For potential teachers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), UCSC is home to the innovative Cal Teach program.
Q: May I apply to UCSC with an undeclared major? When must I declare a major?
A: Frosh may apply to UCSC without declaring a major, but they will be asked to choose an advising cluster in a general area of study, such as Human Psychology, Culture and Society or Life and Health Sciences. The advising clusters are designed to help students receive the best possible advising, based on their interests. Choice of major has no bearing on frosh admission decisions.
Students who entered UCSC as frosh may declare a major as early as they would like, if they have decided which major to pursue and have satisfied prerequisites or admission requirements (if any) for the major. They are required to be formally declared in a major before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent).
Upper-division transfer students must select a major when they apply to the university and are required to be declared in a major by the deadline in their second term of enrollment.
Q: Can I double major?
A: Students at UC Santa Cruz often double major in two different subjects. You must obtain approval from both departments to declare a double major. More information on pursuing a double major can be found in the Navigator online undergraduate handbook.
Q: How large are classes?
A: Class level and major affect the size of classes a student will encounter. Students are likely to experience an increasing proportion of small classes as they progress from freshman to senior level.
Currently, only 14.8% of our courses have more than 100 students enrolled, and 64% of our courses have fewer than 30 students enrolled. Our largest lecture hall, Classroom Unit 2, holds 473 students.
The student/faculty ratio at UCSC is 20:1.
Q: What are the graduation requirements?
A: UCSC redesigned its undergraduate general education requirements in 2010 to provide all students a relevant and rich learning experience. A complete list of the general education requirements is included in the UCSC General Catalog.
Q: What support do freshmen have? Do they have advisers?
A: All UCSC students have a number of advisers to help them navigate through the university, choose a major that is right for them, and graduate on time. Advisers include college advisers, college preceptors, and program, major, and department advisers. An introduction to advising for new students (both frosh and transfers) can be found on UCSC's advising web site.
In addition, all freshmen are required to take a small, writing-intensive core course, which is offered by their residential college. The core courses are an excellent introduction to college-level reading and writing skills and are also a way to build a community within your college during your first quarter at UCSC. For information about the core courses, please start at the Residential Colleges homepage and click on the links for the 10 residential colleges.
Q: What honors courses or programs are available?
A: UC Santa Cruz offers a variety of honors and enrichment programs, including departmental and division honors and intensive programs; college honors; field studies and internships; international, national, statewide, and UC-wide honor societies; intensive programs of study, and other campuswide programs.
For further information about these opportunities, see the Undergraduate Honors Program web site.
Internships and Undergraduate Research
Q: What internships are available to undergraduates?
A: UCSC offers many opportunities for paid and unpaid internships, benefiting from our excellent location near the innovation centers of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Silicon Valley. Students find internships through the Career Center, contacts with their professors, and enrollment in co-curricular programs, such as the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program. In addition, UCSC offers a rich array of field work and exchange programs, many of which are associated with students' majors.
Q: What opportunities are available for undergraduate research?
A: UCSC is an excellent university for undergraduate research. Our professors invite undergraduates into their research projects and labs, and students often co-publish papers along with their professors. For more information and specific examples, please see the web pages for Undergraduate Research and Student Achievement Week.
Q: Are there volunteer opportunities for students?
A: Yes, students can volunteer at a number of local organizations and schools. The Student Volunteer Center helps connect students with volunteer opportunities.
Campus Life, Housing, and Student Organizations
Q: What is it like to be a student at UC Santa Cruz?
A: To answer this question, we'd like to refer you to the webcast page for our online Admissions events, where you can see videos of current students talking about their experiences at UCSC, particularly the video from Virtual Spring Spotlight 2014, which features three students talking together.
You can also go to Admissions' Our Student Profiles page, a dynamic page of student profiles that can be sorted according to hometown, frosh versus transfer, etc.
Q: Is there a general feeling of safety (do students feel safe walking around campus at night)?
A: UC Santa Cruz is a very safe campus. We maintain our own police force and fire station. (The campus fire station is no more than four minutes from any part of campus). All campus residence halls are locked at night. In addition, we have “blue light” emergency phones located throughout the campus connected directly to the campus police department, and a night shuttle service is provided, so you don’t have to walk between your college and other places on campus at night. UCSC Police also provides an escort service on weeknights.
Community Safety Officers (CSOs), visible in the residential communities from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., work in conjunction with the UC Police, UC Fire and the administration of university residential communities (both on- and off-campus) to ensure a safe and secure living environment for all residents. CSOs are trained in emergency response, first aid and CPR, and disaster response and carry radios linked to University Police Dispatch.
We also have CruzAlert, a campus messaging system, which delivers voice messages to telephones, text and voice messages to cell phones, and e-mail to all UCSC e-mail addresses in the case of a life-threatening emergency.
More information can be found on the Admissions Health and Safety web page.
Q: Are students required to live on campus?
A: No, UCSC students are not required to live on campus, although many students choose to do so because of the community and convenience of on-campus living. In fall 2013, 50.3% of undergraduates and 97.5% of frosh were living in university housing.
Campus housing offers great options and the ultimate in convenience to help you get the most out of your experience at UCSC. Whether in an apartment or a residence hall, you will benefit from the supportive environment that will help you succeed in your academic goals. Additional benefits include:
- Convenience of living near classes, dining halls, and resources like the bookstore, libraries, computer labs, health center, and recreational/athletic facilities
- Themed living/learning housing options for those who are interested
- Dedicated professional and student staff support
Please go to the UCSC Housing web site for more information about university housing options and the Community Rentals Program, which helps students find off-campus housing in the community.
Q: What are the residential colleges?
A: All undergraduate students are affiliated with one of UCSC’s 10 residential colleges. 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.
Students accepting the offer of admission to UC Santa Cruz will be asked to complete an online acceptance process. During the acceptance process you will be asked if you would like to select on-campus housing. If you do, you will be asked to indicate five UCSC college preferences. You may also choose to indicate “no preference,” as many students do, meaning you will be fine with any of our 10 colleges. Afterwards, the Campus Housing Office will send you information about the housing options available to you and instructions for the application process.
More information about the residential colleges can be found on the UCSC Housing web site.
Q: What clubs are there?
A: UC Santa Cruz has over 150 registered student organizations and associations based on academic, athletic, ethnic, religious, political, and cultural interests. For a list of current organizations, please go to our Student-Led Clubs & Organizations page.
Athletics and Sports
Q: What kinds of athletics and intramural programs are there?
A: UC Santa Cruz offers NCAA Division III athletic teams in men's/women's basketball, cross-country, soccer, swimming/diving, tennis, and volleyball; and women's golf and track.
Athletic clubs include badminton, baseball, cheer, cross-country, cycling, dance, disc golf, equestrian, fencing, men's lacrosse, racquetball, men's and women's rugby, sailing, track and field, triathlon, men's and women's Ultimate Frisbee, and men's and women's water polo. Intramural competition is also popular at UC Santa Cruz.
Q: Does UC Santa Cruz offer any athletics scholarships or financial aid?
A: No, as an NCAA Division III institution, we are not able to offer any athletics-based scholarships or athletics-based financial aid.
Q: If I wanted more information about a particular team, how would I obtain it?
A: UCSC Athletics has a web site that is a great resource for information about UC Santa Cruz Athletics. It has information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses of coaches, schedules, rosters, weekly updates on how teams are doing, coaches' biographies, and much more.