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The mascot for the University of California – Santa Cruz is the banana slug. While many people don't even know what a banana slug is, most find this humorous. More see this mascot as emblematic of a school that defies traditional notions of education and that provides its 17,000 students ample opportunities to explore their individual passions in unique ways.

Overview of University of California – Santa Cruz

In fact, UC – Santa Cruz has 64 undergraduate majors and 41 minor concentrations that students can leverage into the careers of their dreams. Major fields are found in the broad academic categories of art, humanities, physical and biological sciences, social sciences, and engineering. Students soon find that many of their choices integrate an interdisciplinary approach that facilitates a more holistic view of their field.

When the Mighty Banana Slugs aren't hard at work solving the world's problems, they are engaged in student organizations, recreational activities, or fun social events. There are organizations that foster student interest in academics, culture and identity issues, environmental matters, arts, and more. Students can also participate in fitness classes, personal workouts, or a scheduled outdoor adventure in California's mountains, rivers, or beaches. In fact, with the Pacific Ocean virtually at the doorstep, students often spend time becoming expert surfers or body-boarders.

General Information

School Type Public
Campus Setting City: Small
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 25:1
Graduation Rate 89%
Year Founded 1965

Student Enrollment

Total Students19,494


Undergraduate Student

Male 9,109
Female 8,408

Graduate Student

Male 1,028
Female 949

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Top Rankings For University of California – Santa Cruz



Male 25,056
Female 30,740


Male 12,779
Female 15,677

Acceptance Rate51%

Male 51%
Female 51%

Enrollment 3,699

Male 1,946
Female 1,753
Application Fee $70
High School GPA Required
High School Rank NA
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Required
Recommendations NA
SAT/ACT Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline November 30
Common Application Accepted No

Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

UC Santa Cruz is an institution of higher education that is funded by the taxpayers of California. As such, it offers California residents lower tuition rates relative to those from out of state, with the exception of students in the Western Undergraduate Exchange program. Thus, those eligible for in-state tuition see a gross price of around $15,000 that includes supplies, books, and fees. Out-of-state rates inflate to $45,000 in gross academic costs. When living expenses are added, those who are on the in-state rate have gross costs of $37,000 and out-of-state students pay $67,000, both for on-campus living. However, the gross costs are reduced once the Financial Aid Office applies grants and scholarships to the tally.

Once those reductions apply, the average net price for a year at UCSC is just under $18,000. For students from households that earn $30,000 or less, the net price is $11,000 and those from homes earning more than $100,000 pay $33,000. UCSC students thus are privy to a fantastic educational value.

Average net price 2018-2019
Net Price $17,889
Average Total Aid $16,955
Students Receiving Financial Aid 70%
Room & Board $16,951

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $13,991
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $43,745
  • Books and Supplies - $1,085
  • Room & Board - $16,951
  • Other - $5,270


UC Santa Cruz is known for its eccentricities, but it's perhaps better known for the academic excellence its students seek year after year. The surfers and free thinkers at Santa Cruz turn out educational statistics that should be envied throughout academia. Those numbers account the retention and graduation rates, which validate its reputation and standing in the CA university system. Specifically, UCSC reports a retention rate of 89%, which means that the vast majority of its first-time, full-time students are pleased enough with the faculty, curriculum, and campus resources to return for a second year.

These students seem to maintain their enthusiasm to be Banana Slugs, as reflected in the graduation rate. A full 75% of students graduate within six years and 52% collect diplomas after four. After eight years, another 79% of those remaining have a degree from UCSC. On top of this, 5% report transferring, ostensibly to complete their degree elsewhere.

These numbers can't all be attributed to the nearby beaches and the favorable surfing conditions, nor the proximity to Silicon Valley. Rather, UCSC's academic success likely rides on its reasonable if seemingly high 25 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. Small classes, especially when students enter their upper-level major courses, result in improved outcomes, and outstanding academic achievements.

Student Population Total

Student Population 19,494

Evening Classes : No
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Biological & Biomedical Majors 725 Total Graduates / 16%
Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology 242 Graduates
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 106 Graduates
Molecular Biochemistry 85 Graduates
Biomedical Sciences, General 85 Graduates
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 656 Total Graduates / 15%
Computer Science 551 Graduates
Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management, Other 105 Graduates
All Social Sciences Majors 565 Total Graduates / 13%
Sociology 176 Graduates
Political Science and Government, General 127 Graduates
Anthropology 112 Graduates
Economics, General 106 Graduates
All Psychology Majors 381 Total Graduates / 9%
Psychology, General 381 Graduates
Visual and Performing Arts 348 Total Graduates / 8%
Film/Video and Photographic Arts, Other 130 Graduates
Art/Art Studies, General 102 Graduates
Game and Interactive Media Design 57 Graduates
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 24 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 39%

Outcome & Salary

Students at the University of California – Santa Cruz may love the mind-expanding courses, fantastic campus atmosphere, and the benefits of living at the coast but they are perhaps more interested in their future. They have little to worry about, as UCSC graduates generally receive a warm welcome in the job market. Of the top ten earning majors, the computer engineering students lead the pack with a median reported salary of $70,000. The top ten is rounded out by the mathematics majors, who report earnings of $35,000. Others in the top ten include managerial economics majors, computer science professionals, and neurobiology scientists. UCSC graduates also find it easy to gain admission to their top graduate school choices.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $59,000
College Grads Average Salary $75,230
College Grads Mid Career Salary $111,700
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $752,300
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $1,869,300
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $71,556
10 Year Projected ROI $680,744
20 Year Projected ROI $1,797,744
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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