The University of California Santa Barbara, UCSB, is one of the most prestigious institutes across the state. It’s known for admitting world-class educated students and encourages success and competition. It is also known for being one of the universities with a sea view, which drove them to build research based on sea life and other aspects of life.
Founded in 1909, UC Santa Barbara aims to inspire intellectual creativity and challenges. Their ultimate mission focuses on research and providing an extensive liberal arts experience. Knowing all this, how hard is it to get into UCSB? The article below depicts everything an applicant must know about the process and statistics.
What is UCSB Known For?
How hard is it to get into UCSB? The short answer is it’s tough. It’s challenging for anyone to apply, as the university is very selective about its students. That’s because the institute has a level of freedom and flexibility. This allows students to freely choose courses and even formulate new ones if possible.
However, imagine a student who is very careless about their academic life. While that person would flunk all classes, he won’t actually benefit from the structure of the university. That’s one of the main reasons the university aims to admit ambitious people who demonstrate the will to learn.
As for what UCSB is known for, various aspects of the university stand out. Some include a list below.
UCSB Known for Academics
- According to S. News and World Report’s 2022 “Best Colleges” Rankings, UCSB is ranked #5 in the pool of public universities in the United States.
- There have been 6 Nobel Prize winners from UCSB in economics, chemistry, and physics.
- Five programs are offered by the College of Engineering, which is considered one of the top worldwide. Those are Engineering in Mechanical, Chemical, Computer, Electrical, and Computer Science.
- UCSB offers some accelerated programs for ambitious undergraduate students. While hectic and rigorous, many students opt for this path through the College of Creative Studies. Disciplines include Mathematics, Music Composition, Writing and Literature, Computing, Art, and Biology.
- If you’re a physics major, you might already know that UCSB’s physics department is one of the best in the country. The string theory area of research is known to be stellar.
- The most number of students who enroll in majors in the university go into Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Psychology.
UCSB Known for Extracurriculars
- There are over 500 student clubs and organizations.
- One of the most famous campus activities includes Greek life, where 11% of students are already part of one of the 38 sororities or fraternities.
- As for sports activities, the university is known for its incredible women’s basketball team and the men’s soccer one.
- Students are offered a wide variety of equipment to emphasize the importance of health and wellness. That includes a hot tub, cardio equipment, pool, and more.
As you can see, numerous aspects of the university stand out. But perhaps one of the most notable things is the ability to create your own curriculum. That works as long as it lines with one of the more traditional majors. That’s the ultimate benefit of having a division such as the College of Creative Studies.
How Hard to Get Into UCSB? What’s the Acceptance Rate?
The short answer is that it’s complicated, even if you’re an excelling high school student. The university is known for its selection. 4 years ago, the average accepted SAT score was 1330. Hence, many encouraged those in the top 10% of their high school graduating class to apply, giving them a 40% chance of getting accepted.
According to U.S. News, the average UCSB acceptance rate is 37%. However, this estimates the overall admitted applicants, not only first-year students. The first-year students expected average acceptance rate is closer to 25.9%. Find out the overall acceptance rate (including freshman applicants and transfer students) for the classes of 2022 to 2025:
- Class 2022: 1%
- Class 2023: 1%
- Class 2024: 5%
- Class 2025: 4%
The projected expected acceptance rate for the class of 2026 is estimated to be around 31.1%. UCSB received a total of 128,589 applicants in 2022.
Additional statistics about the students admitted include:
- 12% of admissions live outside of California but within the United States.
- 75% of admitted students are from California.
- 13% of the total geographic breakdown are international students.
- 59% of students are female.
- 39% of students are male.
What Does UCSB Look for in Students?
There is no doubt that at this point, everyone acknowledges the competition present in the pool of applicants. The first thing to note is that UCSB only looks for driven, hard-working, and challenging students. This allows them to stick to their path of producing extraordinary students and alums.
The first thing to note about the admission considerations is that UCSB is now a test-blind school. That entails that they won’t be considered whether you send in your test scores or not. There are now more than 50 schools that decided to adopt this policy, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
That being said, the UCSB rates their factors according to importance, from “fundamental” aspects to “considered”:
- Very Important: your GPA and all application essays.
- Important: your class rank.
- Considered: extracurriculars, talents, personal qualities, volunteer work, state residency, paid work experience, and first-generation.
- Not Considered: standardized test scores, recommendations, alums, religious affiliation, racial status, and level of interest.
This allows the university to evaluate a person based on much more merit than using pure grades to assess a person’s capabilities.
According to the admissions office at UCSB, their approach is much more holistic than other universities. They review applications using the 13 holistic review factors. This enables the candidates to be evaluated relatively, as no two applicants are compared on paper.
Moreover, these factors allow you to portray your best qualities and achievements. It rules out any possibility of rejection merely because of your poor test scores. The university encourages activities as they perceive them as opportunities for students to experience novel things.
What are the Requirements to Get Into UCSB?
There are no particular UCSB admission requirements, as nothing guarantees admission into the university. However, there are eligibility requirements that immediately make you a valid candidate. Use these as a reference, not as insurance for getting admitted. If there is a large pool of eligible candidates, UCSB uses “selection criteria” to decide on the final batch of accepted students.
The first UCSB requirements include the subject requirements. You must successfully complete UC-approve courses in subjects spanning the A-G subject areas. You are also expected to score at least a grade of “C” in each.
The A-G subject requirements are in California. So if you’re enrolled in a California high school, you can cross-reference your classes to ensure they’re on the UC Certified Course List. These subjects are:
- A: History/Social Science
- B: English
- C: Mathematics
- D: Science
- E: Languages Other than English
- F: Visual & Performing Arts
- G: College-Preparatory Elective
UCSB GPA Requirements
The UCSB GPA requirements are a bit more complicated than the subject requirements. Students in California are expected to achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0, and non-California residents should aim for a minimum of 3.4.
However, remember that the grades you earn in the A-G subjects throughout the 10th and 11th grades, with summer school, are used to calculate the preliminary GPA. As for scores you achieve through 9th and 12th grades, these have the potential to be used to meet the subject requirements. That is, if you’ve scored a “C” or higher. However, they won’t be used in the calculation of your GPA.
Keep in mind that the university also encourages more demanding subjects and curriculums. This, to them, demonstrates the will to be a hard-working and high-achiever.
UCSB SAT and ACT Requirements
Once upon a time, the SAT and ACT were vital UCSB application requirements. However, the test scores stopped being evaluated as part of the admission process around the time the pandemic hit. That said, the university is now a test-blind school, where they do not consider your scores as part of the application process.
However, if you’re still curious about statistics of admitted students and scores, below are numbers reflecting those accepted in the fall of 2019:
- Applicants Number: 93,442
- Admitted Students: 27,719
- GPA Range: 04 – 4.28
- ACT Range: 26 – 31
- ACT English Language Arts: 27 – 34
- SAT Essay: 15 – 18
- SAT Mathematics: 650 – 790
- SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing: 630 – 730
Ultimately, your test scores won’t be considered now. Hence, don’t stress about your result if you’re applying to UCSB.
UCSB Essay Requirements
The Common Application isn’t what this school requires. The institute requires you to submit your application, which involves essay prompts. You must answer 4 out of the 8 prompted questions. It provides insight into your personal qualities and items the school would want to know about you.
Hence, to be able to captivate their attention, write engaging essays. Ensure they’re tailored towards the university, not simply copy-pasted from another application of yours. To be able to choose between the prompts, take your time, and use the following three guidelines to select:
1. Do not immediately start writing your answers. You should draft some answers to the question, but don’t immediately settle on your questions.
2. Consider all the questions and start brainstorming ideas. Once you have brief answers for them all, settle on the most powerful ones.
3. Ensure that the chosen prompts reflect what’s important to you as a potential candidate.
Each prompt should be answered with 350 words, and they revolve around 5 main topics, which are:
- Leadership (accomplishments and responsibilities)
- Overcoming Challenges (things you’ve learned from obstacles)
- Commitment (passions such as art, music, and sports)
- Future Goals (highlight any personal experiences and cultural education)
- Diversity of Perspective (could be general or more specific)
UCSB Extracurricular Activity Requirements
There are no specific extracurricular requirements for applying to UCSB. As they cultivate talent and academics, you should increase your chances of acceptance by excelling in some extracurricular activity.
A good opportunity is aiming to cultivate 1-2 1st or 2nd Tier extracurricular activities. This is equivalent to finding a passion that you can thrive in. Tier 1 or 2 activities involve those that are pretty rare. This will increase your chances of getting admitted, as extracurriculars and talents are “considered” by UCSB.
According to UCSB’s eligibility criteria, the only other requirement would be personal achievements. This simply includes experiences such as research, internships, and paid jobs.
However, an important question is, does UCSB require letters of recommendation? The short answer is it depends. UC Santa Barbara does not accept any unsolicited transcripts or recommendation letters. That’s because they review only the application you submit in November to make their decisions.
However, additional resources and supplemental applications will be required if you’re applying to the College of Creative Studies. That means you’ll most likely be required to send recommendation letters.
UCSB Application Deadlines
A timeline is offered by the admissions office, which is made to ease your way into the deadlines you must meet. However, they will vary according to the type of applicant you are. There are first-year student applicants and transfer ones. Below are general guidelines to note when applying.
First-Year Applicant Deadlines
- August 1st: commence the application process
- October 1st: for California residents, begin the FAFSA application or the California Dream Act Application October 1st – November 30th: submit the final version of the application
- March 2nd:California residents should submit the FAFSA or Cal Grant GPA Verification Form
- March (mid): view admission decision
- April: a chance to attend the open house or check the campus out
- May 1st:Submit a Statement of Intent
- May (mid):Register for the orientation
- May 16th:submit a housing request
- July 1st:submission of official transcripts
- July 15th: submission of official test scores (SAT and ACT are optional, so the required ones could include TOEFL, IELTS, AP, and IB)
Transfer Applicant Deadlines
- August 1st: UC application begins
- September 1st – 30th: submit UCSB TAG application
- October 1st: Begin FAFSA or California Dream Act Applications
- October 1st – November 30th:Submit the application
- December 15th – January 31st: Update the UC application with the new grades and the spring coursework
- March 2nd: submit FAFSA or Cal Grant GPA Verification (for residents)
- April: attend the open house and view the admission decision
- May: visit campus and register for orientation
- June 1st: submit SIR
- June 3rd – 15th: submit a housing request
- July 1st: submit all official transcripts
- July 15th: offer the rest of your test scores
How to Get Into UCSB: 5 Tips to Improve Your Chances
First, ensure you understand that following the tips below will not guarantee your admission. Instead, it will increase your chances of getting accepted into the university. Hence, below are the ultimate tips to improve your case of UCSB application.
However, the tips below will set you on the right path. They will enable you to adequately prepare for the application process. Remember that one of the most essential items to keep track of are the deadlines. You don’t want the university to consider you a negligent applicant.
1. Start As Early As Possible
As the deadline for the application is somewhere in November, don’t leave everything till the last minute. Start working on everything the summer before your senior year to ensure you’re meeting all the deadline requirements.
2. Don’t Lie When Writing Essay Prompts
The point of asking you to write essays is to explore your personal side and achievements. Hence, don’t underestimate your abilities or write about things that haven’t happened. Instead, mention anything that makes you stand out in the pool of applicants.
3. Improve Your GPA
Aim to achieve stellar grades in your courses if you start extra early. While the minimum for California residents is 3.0 and for non-residents, it’s 3.4, the average is almost always above 4.0.
4. Ask for Help
This is one of the most underestimated items you should do before applying. Consult with an advisor, reach out to the university, or even talk to students who have been admitted. You’ll be able to function around the application much better, as they’ll give you insight on what to do.
5. Figure Out Your Major
Make sure the major you’re applying to is something you truly want and have the potential to exceed. The university loves students who work on themselves and portray a willingness of wanting to learn more. But what is the easiest major to get into UCSB? According to CA College Transfer, these include Actuarial Science, Art History, and Comparative Studies.
Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is it to Get Into UCSB: The Admission Stats
At the end of the day, applying for any score is demanding. However, UCSB is extra specific about the type of people they let into their schools. They’re hunting for high-achievers, unique talents, and academically-oriented individuals.
Using the above guide, you’ll be able to find your way around the application process. However, keep in mind that the two most important things are ensuring you’re eligible for the application process and the ability to meet all deadlines.
If you’re looking for more college admission tips, check out our other blog posts!