UC Santa Cruz

From building more efficient solar cells to researching personalized care for cancer patients, UC Santa Cruz's focus is on improving our planet and the lives of all its inhabitants.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why UC Santa Cruz was recently ranked fourth in the world for research influence by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and why U.S. News & World Report rated us as the second highest-ranked public university among top best value universities.

Within our extraordinary educational community, students participate in interdisciplinary programs that emphasize the creation of new knowledge, new technologies, and new ways of expressing and understanding cultures.

Academic highlights

The academic programs at UC Santa Cruz are challenging and rigorous, and many of them are in newer fields that focus on interdisciplinary thinking. At UC Santa Cruz, many undergraduates across the disciplines conduct and publish research and scholarly work, working closely with faculty on innovative projects. UCSC's distinctive 10 residential colleges, each with its own intellectual theme, also provide academic offerings, student advising, and writing-intensive core courses that are required for freshmen.


Undergraduates are able to choose from 65 majors offered by the Jack Baskin School of Engineering and the Divisions of Arts, Humanities, Physical and Biological Sciences, and Social Sciences.

Administered by the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, the new applied linguistics and multilingualism major is grounded in interdisciplinary studies. Students explore a variety of intriguing topics, such as: How do we learn a second language? Are there “better” ways of teaching languages? Who is a bilingual? How is language related to complex social structure and diverse social identities? What is the role of language in intercultural communication in the globalizing world?

Students who graduate from the major will be well prepared for a variety of careers including, but not limited to: language education, speech pathology, translation/interpretation, international relations, and public service.  

Starting in fall 2017, the Physics Department will be offering a new B.S. in science education. This program will provide students with broad training in the physical and biological sciences in order to prepare them for careers teaching science in California high schools.

In 2016, UC Santa Cruz established a B.A. program in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media. Intended to complement the B.S. program in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, the program focuses on the design aspects of computer game production. A highly interdisciplinary major, the new program is focused on game making, with students in both the B.A. and B.S. degree programs creating games every year, working together from foundation courses to a yearlong capstone sequence that results in teams of students developing a releasable game. In 2016, UC Santa Cruz's graduate and undergraduate programs in game design were rated among the top in the U.S. by the Princeton Review.

 One of UC Santa Cruz's most popular programs is the Human Biology major. While satisfying the subject requirements for most U.S. medical schools, this degree program requires elective courses related to human health, proficiency in Spanish, including a course in conversational Spanish for health care workers, and participation in a formal internship/community service program.

 UC Santa Cruz also offers the popular Business Management Economics major, which provides excellent preparation for students intending to pursue a career in business or accounting.

 Another noteworthy major at UCSC is the Computer Science: Computer Game Design B.S., offered by the Jack Baskin School of Engineering. The first such major in the UC system, this interdisciplinary program provides students with a deep understanding of the technical aspects of computer game engineering and a broad background in the artistic, narrative, and dramatic elements of game design.

Other highly regarded majors at UCSC include Physics (Astrophysics), which makes use of one of the top astronomy departments in the U.S.; literature, which covers the literature of peoples throughout the world; marine biology, taking advantage of UCSC's location on the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary; and psychology, UCSC's most popular undergraduate major. 

 UCSC's professional school, the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, is well known as a leader in genomics research, bioinformatics, serious game design, robotics, and technology information management. As the closest UC campus to Silicon Valley, a worldwide hub of technology and innovation, UC Santa Cruz offers rich opportunities for internships, recruiting, and guest lectures from many well known technology companies.


The UC Santa Cruz faculty are leaders in their fields and have won numerous national and international awards. They conduct research aimed at solving some of the most pressing issues of our time, including policy responses to financial crises, assistive technologies for the disabled, and the battle against diseases such as AIDS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and malaria.

Clubs and activities

More than 150 student organizations on campus — including major-focused clubs, ethnic and cultural groups, hobby clubs, fraternities and sororities, and honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa, the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and Golden Key International Honour Society — cover a wide range of interests.


In addition to 15 men's and women's NCAA intercollegiate teams, UC Santa Cruz offers a wide variety of athletic clubs and intramural leagues, plus a busy recreational program. UCSC's mascot is the Banana Slug, one of the most well-known university mascots in the U.S. For more information, see opers.ucsc.edu.

Environment and tempo

UC Santa Cruz is well known for its rigorous but supportive academic environment, its distinctive residential college system and its award-winning sustainability programs. The campus is located in a spectacular setting between the Pacific Ocean and redwood forests, with the additional advantage of proximity to the innovation centers of Silicon Valley and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In 2015, Best Value Schools ranked UC Santa Cruz 5th in the nation among the most beautiful coastal college campuses. The metropolitan areas of the Bay Area — San Francisco, San Jose, and the East Bay — are within one to two hours' drive.

UC Santa Cruz has recently been ranked among the top best-value public universities by the Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Money magazine.