UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Minimum Admission Requirements for Freshmen who are California Residents

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Students are considered freshman applicants if they have not enrolled in a regular session at any college-level institution since graduating from high school. Enrollment in college summer session immediately following high school graduation does not affect the status of freshman applicants.

While attaining eligibility is an important first step in gaining admission to the University, eligibility does not assure admission to UC Santa Barbara. When a UC campus cannot admit all eligible applicants, as has been the case among many UC campuses in recent years (including UCSB), it uses standards to select students that are more demanding than the minimum requirements. These standards, which the University calls selection criteria, identify students who have demonstrated high academic achievement and the capacity to contribute to the intellectual vitality of the campus community.

More information about admission to the University of California is available at the UC Admissions website:  admission.universityofcalifornia.edu

Eligibility in the Statewide Context
Eligibility in the Statewide Context is the pathway by which most students will attain UC eligibility. To be eligible in the statewide context, you must satisfy the subject and scholarship requirements described below. 

Subject Requirement
To satisfy this requirement, students must complete the high school courses listed below with a grade point average defined by the Scholarship Requirement. This sequence of courses is also known as the “a-g” requirements.
Students must take 15 units of high school courses to fulfill the Subject Requirement, and at least 7 of the 15 units must be taken in their last two years of high school. (A unit is equal to an academic year, or two semesters, of study.)

Applicants from California high schools: The courses students take to fulfill the “a-g” requirements must be certified by the University as meeting the requirements and must be included on their high school’s UC certified course list. High school counselors or principals will have a copy of this list. The lists are also available at the following website: hs-articulation.ucop.edu/guide.

a. History/Social Science: 2 years required
Two years of history/social science, including one year of U.S. history or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of civics or American government; and one year of world history, cultures, and geography.

b. English: 4 years required
Four years of college preparatory English that includes frequent and regular writing, and reading of classic and modern literature.

c. Mathematics: 3 years required, 4 years recommended
Three years of college preparatory mathematics that include the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry. Geometry may not be validated. An actual course must be taken. Approved integrated math courses may be used to fulfill part or all of this requirement, as may math courses taken in the seventh and eighth grades that your high school accepts as equivalent to its own courses.

d. Science: 2 years required, 3 recommended
Two years of science providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of these three disciplines: biology (which includes anatomy, physiology, marine biology, aquatic biology, etc.), chemistry, and physics.

Laboratory courses in earth/space sciences are acceptable if they have as prerequisites or provide basic knowledge in biology, chemistry, or physics. The latter two years of an approved integrated science program may be used to fulfill this requirement. Not more than one year of ninth grade laboratory science can be used to meet this requirement.

e. Language Other than English: 2 years required, 3 recommended
Two years of the same language other than English. Courses should emphasize speaking and understanding, and include instruction in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and composition. Courses in languages other than English taken in the seventh and eighth grade may be used to fulfill part of this requirement if your high school accepts them as equivalent to its own courses.

f. Visual and Performing Arts (VPA): 1 year required
One year (or two semesters) of approved arts courses from a single visual and performing arts discipline chosen from the following: dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art.

g. College Preparatory Electives: 1 year required
One year (two semesters), in addition to those required in “a-f” above, chosen from the following areas: visual and performing arts (non-introductory level courses), history, social science, English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science, and language other than English (a third year in the language used for the “e” requirement or two years of another language).

Grade Point Requirement
Students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 (3.4 for non-California residents) in all “a-g” courses.
If your GPA is 3.0 or above (3.4 for nonresident applicants), you satisfy the minimum Scholarship Requirement if you achieve the test score total indicated in the University of California Admissions Index available at this website: admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/freshman/california-residents/admissions-index/

The University calculates the GPA in the “a-g” subjects by assigning point values to the grades earned, totaling the points, and dividing the total by the number of “a-g” course units. Points are assigned as follows: A=4 points, B=3 points, C=2 points, D=1 point, and F=0 points.

Only grades earned in “a-g” subjects in the 10th and 11th grades—including summer sessions—are used to calculate the GPA. Courses taken in ninth grade can be used to meet the Subject Requirement if the student earns a grade of C or better, but they will not be used to calculate the GPA.

Honors Courses: The University assigns extra points for up to eight classes of University certified honors level and advanced placement courses taken in the last three years of high school: A=5 points, B=4 points, C=3 points. A grade of D in an honors or advanced placement course does not earn extra points.

The courses must be in the following “a-g” subjects: history, English, advanced mathematics, science, or foreign language. Also, they must be certified as honors courses by the University. In these fields, as well as in the fields of computer science, social science, and the visual and performing arts, courses that are designed to prepare students for an Advanced Placement Examination of the College Board or a Higher Level Examination of the International Baccalaureate and college courses that are transferable to the University are acceptable honors-level courses.

D and F Grades: D and F grades in the “a-g” courses must be repeated or validated. Students should consult with their counselors to determine how these grades can be improved and how the University will use them in evaluating their scholarship record. Grades for repeated courses in which students initially earned a grade of C or better will not be used.

Comprehensive Review
In addition to academic accomplishments, UC Santa Barbara looks at extracurricular activities and accomplishments in light of the opportunities available to you. Learn how applications are reviewed by University of California campuses at admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/applying-as-a-freshman/how-applications-are-reviewed.html.

UCSB will not use SAT/ACT scores in our admission decisions or scholarship selection process for fall 2022 applicants. All applicants to UC have the option to submit scores on the application. If you elect to do so, these scores will not be visible to Admission Counselors reviewing your application to UCSB. For details on the UC system, visit the UC Exam Requirement page: admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/admission-requirements/freshman-requirements/exam-requirement/