UC Santa Cruz Requirements for Admission

What are UC Santa Cruz's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into UC Santa Cruz and build a strong application.

School location: Santa Cruz, CA

This school is also known as: University of California, Santa Cruz, UCSC, UC Santa Cruz


Admissions Rate: 51%

If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

The acceptance rate at UC Santa Cruz is 51%. For every 100 applicants, 51 are admitted.

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This means the school is moderately selective. The school expects you to meet their requirements for GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but they're more flexible than other schools. If you exceed their requirements, you have an excellent chance of getting in. But if you don't, you might be one of the unlucky minority that gets a rejection letter.


UC Santa Cruz GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 3.76

The average GPA at UC Santa Cruz is 3.76.

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(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 3.76, UC Santa Cruz requires you to be above average in your high school class. You'll need at least a mix of A's and B's, with more A's than B's. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you're able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.

If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.76, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.


SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to UC Santa Cruz. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

UC Santa Cruz SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.

Average SAT: 1762 (New: 1260)

The average SAT score composite at UC Santa Cruz is a 1762 on the old 2400 SAT scale.

On the new 1600 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1260.

This score makes UC Santa Cruz Competitive for SAT test scores.

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UC Santa Cruz SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1150, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1380. In other words, a 1150 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1380 will move you up to above average.

Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math620570700
Reading312834
Writing322935
Composite126011501380

UC Santa Cruz SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1590, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1950. In other words, a 1590 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 1950 puts you well above average.

Here's the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math608550670
Reading578520640
Writing576520640
Composite176215901950

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

UC Santa Cruz has the Score Choice policy of "All Scores."

This means that UC Santa Cruz requires you to send all SAT scores you've ever taken to their office.

This sounds daunting, but most schools don't actually consider all your scores equally. For example, if you scored an 1800 on one test and a 2100 on another, they won't actually average the two tests.

More commonly, the school will take your highest score on a single test date. Even better, some schools form a Superscore - that is, they take your highest section score across all your test dates and combine them.

Some students are still worried about submitting too many test scores. They're afraid that UC Santa Cruz will look down on too many attempts to raise your score. But how many is too many?

From our research and talking to admissions officers, we've learned that 4-6 tests is a safe number to submit. The college understands that you want to have the best chance of admission, and retaking the test is a good way to do this. Within a reasonable number of tests, they honestly don't care how many times you've taken it. They'll just focus on your score.

If you take it more than 6 times, colleges start wondering why you're not improving with each test. They'll question your study skills and ability to improve.

But below 6 tests, we strongly encourage retaking the test to maximize your chances. If your SAT score is currently below a 1762, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You don't have much to lose, and you can potentially raise your score and significantly boost your chances of getting in.


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UC Santa Cruz ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, UC Santa Cruz likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 26

The average ACT score at UC Santa Cruz is 26. This score makes UC Santa Cruz Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

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The 25th percentile ACT score is 23, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 29.

Even though UC Santa Cruz likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 23 or below, you'll have a harder time getting in, unless you have something else impressive in your application.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 26 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to UC Santa Cruz, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 26.


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

UC Santa Cruz requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.


SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

We did not find information that UC Santa Cruz requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.



Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is moderately selective, strong academic performance will almost guarantee you admission. Scoring a 1950 SAT or a 29 ACT or above will nearly guarantee you admission. Because the school admits 51% of all applicants, being far above average raises the admission rate for you to nearly 100%.

If you can achieve a high SAT/ACT score, the rest of your application essentially doesn't matter. You still need to meet the rest of the application requirements, and your GPA shouldn't be too far off from the school average of 3.76. But you won't need dazzling extracurriculars and breathtaking letters of recommendation to get in. You can get in based on the merits of your score alone.

But if your score is a 1590 SAT or a 23 ACT and below, you have a good chance of being one of the unlucky few to be rejected.



Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at University of California, Santa Cruz?
Chances of admission with these scores:

Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

Pick your test: Old SAT New SAT ACT

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Note: This is only an estimate for the average student, based on data collected from thousands of students. Other factors in your application may come into play, such as extracurriculars and recommendation letters.

How would your chances improve with a better score?

Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

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Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of UC Santa Cruz here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common Application Not accepted
  • Universal Application Not accepted
  • Electronic Application Available
  • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Interview Not required
  • Application Fee $70
  • Fee Waiver Available? Available
  • Other Notes Minimum high school GPA of 3.0 for California residents, 3.4 for non-residents required for freshmen

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Required
  • SAT or ACT Writing Required
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • Scores Due in Office January 10

Coursework Requirements

  • Subject Required Years
  • English 4
  • Math 3
  • Science 2
  • Foreign Language 2
  • Social Studies 1
  • History 1
  • Electives 1

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  •  
    • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • Yes November 30 March 31
  • Early Action
    • No
  • Early Decision
    • No

Admissions Office Information


Other Schools For You

If you're interested in UC Santa Cruz, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to UC Santa Cruz.


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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

These schools are more selective and have higher scores than UC Santa Cruz. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Villanova University Villanova, PA 1370 1940 31
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 1340 1898 28
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 1310 1849 28
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA 1290 1226 27
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 1300 1839 28
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 1290 1815 29
University of California, Davis Davis, CA 1290 1800 27

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

If you're competitive for UC Santa Cruz, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Penn State University Park University Park, PA 1270 1786 27
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 1270 1782 27
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 1270 1775 27
Hofstra University Hempstead, NY 1240 1178 27
Auburn University Auburn University, AL 1250 1742 27
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 1230 1726 26
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 1230 1719 26

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for UC Santa Cruz, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If UC Santa Cruz is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 1200 1677 24
Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ 1200 1670 25
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 1190 1652 27
Ohio University Athens, OH 1180 1632 24
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 1170 1620 24
University of North Texas Denton, TX 1160 1610 23
California State University Long Beach Long Beach, CA 1060 984 21

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