Applying to UC Santa Cruz

The admission and selection process for UC Santa Cruz reflects the academic rigor and preparation needed to succeed at a major research institution. Meeting the minimum qualifications for the university does not guarantee you admission as a freshman. Achieving beyond the minimum qualifications not only prepares you for success, it will also increase your chances of being admitted. 

Using a comprehensive review process comprising 13 faculty approved criteria, each application is thoroughly reviewed to determine the full spectrum of a student’s academic and personal achievements, viewed in the context of their opportunities.


Minimum Qualifications for UC

You will 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. For a full list of "a-g" requirements and information on courses in California high schools that meet the requirements, please see the Office of the President's A-G Course List.
  • 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.
  • The Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) can be satisfied by Directed Self-Placement, standardized test scores, or other means. See Writing Program for more information.
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Standardized Test Scores

UC Santa Cruz does not use standardized exam scores (ACT/SAT) in our comprehensive review and selection process. Like all UC campuses, we consider a broad range of factors when reviewing a student's application, from academics to extracurricular achievement and response to life challenges. No admission decision is based on a single factor. Exam scores may still be used to meet area b of the a-g subject requirements as well as the UC Entry Level Writing requirement.

Computer Science

Students interested in computer science must select the major as their first choice on the UC Application. Applicants are encouraged to have a solid background in advanced high school mathematics. A student not selected for computer science may be reviewed for admission to an alternate major if one was selected.

Statewide Guarantee

UC is committed to ensuring enrollment opportunities for all qualified California high school graduates. UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores as a factor in admissions decisions for fall 2022-2024 applicants. In light of this change, the University of California has revised the index that we use to determine eligibility for the statewide guarantee. The updated Statewide Index will continue to identify California-resident students in the top 9 percent of California high school graduates and offer these students a guaranteed space at a UC campus, if space is available. For more information on the Statewide Guarantee, please see the UC Office of the President’s website.

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Out of State Applicants

Our requirements for out-of-state applicants are nearly identical to our requirements for California residents. The only difference is that non-residents must earn a minimum GPA of 3.40.

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UC has slightly different admission requirements for international students. For freshman admission, you must:

  1. Complete 15 year-long academic courses with a 3.40 GPA:
    • 2 years of history/social science (In place of U.S. History, history of your country)
    • 4 years of composition and literature in language in which you are instructed
    • 3 years of math including geometry and advanced algebra
    • 2 years of laboratory science (1 biological/1 physical)
    • 2 years of a second language
    • 1 yearlong course of visual and performing arts
    • 1 additional course from any subject areas above
  2. Meet other requirements specific to your country

Also, you must acquire necessary visas and, if your schooling has been in a different language, you must show proficiency in English. 

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Selection Process

As a selective campus, UC Santa Cruz is unable to offer admission to all UC-qualified applicants. Professionally-trained application 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.

For more information, please see the UC Office of the President’s page on How Applications Are Reviewed.

Three students outside Crown College.

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 your answers to the Personal Insight Questions are taken into consideration.


Dual Admission

Dual Admission is a program for transfer admission into any UC that offers the TAG Program or Pathways+. Eligible students will be invited to complete their general education and lower-division major requirements at a California community college (CCC) while receiving academic advising and other support to facilitate their transfer to a UC campus. UC applicants who meet the program criteria will receive a notification inviting them to participate in the program. The offer will include a conditional offer of admission as a transfer student to one of the participating campuses of their choosing.

Economics Classroom

Transferring to UCSC

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

Graduating student

Next Steps

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