What is UCSB Known For?
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Are you searching for a competitive school located in a beautiful setting along the West Coast? If so, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) may be the perfect option for you.
Built atop a cliff in Santa Barbara, California, UCSB offers over 90 majors to choose from, 500 student organizations to participate in, and is located just over 100 miles from Los Angeles.
In this post, we’ll outline everything you need to know about UCSB, including admissions requirements, popular majors, extracurricular activities, housing options, and how to calculate your chances of acceptance!
Overview of UCSB Admissions
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Undergrad Enrollment: 23,000
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Middle 50% SAT: 1280-1520
Middle 50% ACT: 26-31
The University of California, Santa Barbara has a selective admissions process—out of the 93,457 undergraduate applicants the school received for the 2019-2020 school year, only 27,600 were selected.
UCSB places a high value on GPA and the application essay during the admissions process. They also place significant importance on academic rigor in high school. During the 2019-2020 school year, 79% of students accepted at UCSB had at least a 4.0 GPA, and only students in the top 50% of their graduating class were accepted.
The UCs are actually test-blind going forward, so they will not consider SAT/ACT scores, though you should still take one of those tests if you’re planning to apply for other schools. This means your academics will become even more important in admissions.
UCSB is a part of the University of California (UC) school system that includes eight other schools: UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Merced, and UC Irvine. If you’re planning to apply to UCSB or other schools in the UC system for the 2021-2022 school year, be sure you prepare for the application essays.
Unique Aspects of UCSB
UCSB has 90 undergraduate majors and 40 undergraduate minors, housed in three colleges: Letters & Science, Creative Studies, and Engineering.
The College of Letters and Sciences is UC Santa Barbara’s largest college, with over 80 majors in 45 departments. Whether you want to be a lawyer, geneticist, marketing director, or history teacher—there is a major in this college for you.
The College of Engineering is ranked one of the top engineering programs in the world. It offers five programs leading to a Bachelor’s of Science: Chemical, Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.
Self-directed undergraduate students can apply for the College of Creative Studies, which provides rigorous, accelerated studies in one of eight disciplines: Art, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computing, Mathematics, Music Composition, Physics, and Writing and Literature.
The most popular majors at UCSB include the Social Sciences, Biological & Biomedical Sciences, and Psychology.
Notable faculty include Alan J. Heeger, who won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery and development of conductive polymers, and Finn E. Kydland, who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to dynamic macroeconomics.
UCSB also offers nearly 20 combined-degree programs, including a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, B.S. in Creative Studies and M.S. in Computer Science, and more.
UCSB has over 500 student organizations, clubs, and intramural sports for students to join. Greek life is prominent among the undergraduate student population, with nearly 11% of students belonging to one of the 38 fraternities or sororities on campus.
Health and wellness are large components of life at UCSB. The university offers pools, cardio equipment, weight rooms, a hot tub, and other facilities for students to use. Students also have access to massages, relaxation stations, and other resources to promote a healthy lifestyle.
UC Santa Barbara is a part of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The teams are called the “Gauchos,” and the school is primarily known for its women’s basketball and men’s soccer teams. The men’s soccer team won the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship in 2006. The school’s other varsity sports include baseball, softball, swimming, volleyball, water polo, and cross country.
The Cal Poly Mustangs are UC Santa Barbara’s main rival. The Blue-Green Rivalry between these two teams has been described as one of the greatest rivalries in college soccer.
Though controversial, an iconic UCSB tradition dating back to the 1990s includes throwing a tortilla on the court after the Gaucho’s scored their first point during basketball games. Over time, tortilla throwing was banned from UCSB basketball games at the Thunderdome, but occasionally, persistent fans will throw tortillas during soccer games at Harder Stadium.
Another notable tradition known as the “Undie Run” takes place during the week of finals. Students run a two-mile course through UCSB and Isla Vista in their undergarments to raise money for charity.
Extravaganza is a tradition that dates back to 1979 and is one of the most highly anticipated spring semester events. This private concert for UCSB students has hosted famous musicians, like the Black Eyed Peas, Drake, and Jack Johnson, over the years.
UCSB has 15 housing options for undergraduate students, including residence halls and apartments.
UCSB guarantees on-campus housing for first-year and new transfer students who apply by the deadline. It is not required for first-year students to live on-campus. However, many sophomores, juniors, and seniors return to on-campus housing after their first year. Students who live off-campus usually live in the areas of Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara.
There are two types of housing:
- Residence Halls: Anacapa, Manzanita Village, San Miguel, San Nicolas, San Rafael, Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Tropicana Gardens.
- Undergraduate Apartments: El Dorado, San Joaquin Villages, Santa Ynez, Sierra Madre Villages, Tropicana Villas, Westgate.
Most financial aid at UCSB is awarded based on demonstrated financial need. To be considered for a need-based scholarship, students must submit the FAFSA or the CA Dream Act Application and complete the scholarships section on the UCSB application.
UCSB students can also apply for scholarships on ScholarshipUniverse, an online tool that university students can use to find and apply for scholarships.
UCSB is located on a cliff in Santa Barbara near beautiful beaches, hiking trails, shopping, dining, and more. The affluent city has a diverse economy, emphasizing the service, education, technology, health care, and finance industries.
The university is also located just over 100 miles from Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the United States, which offers students proximity to internships, jobs, and other career resources.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at UCSB?
Even though UCSB has a competitive acceptance rate, your chances of admission to the university may be higher than other students based on your unique skill set and circumstances.
To better understand your chances of acceptance at UCSB, use our free admissions calculator. We collect your test scores, GPA, class rank, extracurriculars, and more to estimate your odds at acceptance and provide tips for improving your chances.
You can also search for best-fit schools based on your chances and other important factors like size, location, majors, and more. Don’t miss the opportunity to simplify the college application process by utilizing this helpful tool!