UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Quarterly Enrollment Limits

Undergraduates. Minimum Cumulative Progress (MCP) is a policy designed and approved by the faculty to provide important guideposts to ensure timely degree completion. The MCP requirement establishes a reasonable expectation of student workload. For undergraduates, the average academic study load is 15 units per quarter; the minimum full-time study load is 12 units. For more information concerning MCP requirements refer to the College of Engineering (www.engineering.ucsb.edu/current_undergraduates/mcp/) and College of Letters and Science (http://www.duels.ucsb.edu/advising/mcp) web sites.

Students who are not able to carry at least 12 units per quarter must petition to register in a deficit program (or part-time status) at the time of registration. Students in the College of Letters and Science and the College of Creative Studies may petition for permanent approval of deficit programs. Under certain conditions, reduced fees may be available through the Office of the Registrar for undergraduate students who have advance permission to carry 10 or fewer units per quarter. 

Warning: Financial aid students who receive a Pell Grant, a Cal Grant A, or a Cal Grant B will have these grants reduced if they receive a fee refund as a result of their deficit load program. In most cases, the financial aid reduction will exceed the fee refund; thus, it is highly recommended that Pell Grant and Cal Grant recipients consult with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships prior to applying for a deficit load. Students who are approved for a permanent deficit load automatically receive the fee refund and do not have the opportunity to decline it. Students who are on a deficit load program for only one quarter can choose whether to apply for a fee refund.

Even if they don’t file for an approved deficit load and don’t get a fee refund, students receiving Pell Grants or Cal Grants will have those grants reduced if they are enrolled in less than 12 units. This enrollment measurement is taken on census date, the 15th class date of each quarter.  Please note that “variable unit” course units will be counted as the number of units shown on the student’s registration record on census date. The units that a student may earn by the end of the quarter are not what is used in the unit count. The reductions may include billing the student’s BARC account for the amount of the reduction. If a student’s grant is reduced or cancelled based on census date units, it cannot be increased or reinstated if the student adds more units at a later date.

The maximum number of units allowable for undergraduates each quarter varies among the three colleges; these limits are indicated in the college publications and the Schedule of Classes. Students who wish to enroll in more than the maximum number of allowable units must petition for an excess program at the time of registration.

Graduate students. Continuous registration is required of all graduate students. The minimal full-time load for graduate students is 8 units per quarter, and a course load of 12 units per quarter is strongly recommended. Students must register for at least 8 units per quarter to be eligible for campus and extramural benefits and services—e.g., to be appointed as graduate student researchers or as teaching assistants, to receive financial aid, and to qualify for student housing. There are no reduced fees for graduate students registering for fewer than 12 units. Departments have authority for individual students’ study plans in each major.

Changes in course enrollment. After registration, changes in course enrollment for all students can be made only with necessary approvals and no later than the published deadlines for that quarter. Such changes include dropping or adding courses and changing grading options. Unapproved withdrawal from or neglect of a course in which a student has enrolled will result in a failing grade.