UCSB Requirements for Admission

What are UCSB'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 UCSB and build a strong application.

School location: Santa Barbara, CA

This school is also known as: UCSB, UC Santa Barbara, University of California, Santa Barbara


Admissions Rate: 33%

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 UCSB is 33%. For every 100 applicants, 33 are admitted.

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This means the school is very selective. If you meet UCSB's requirements for GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and other components of the application, you have a great shot at getting in. But if you fall short on GPA or your SAT/ACT scores, you'll have a very low chance of being admitted, even if you meet the other admissions requirements.


UCSB 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: 4.02

The average GPA at UCSB is 4.02.

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

With a GPA of 4.02, UCSB requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

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 4.02, 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 UCSB. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

UCSB 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: 1874 (New: 1330)

The average SAT score composite at UCSB is a 1874 on the old 2400 SAT scale.

On the new 1600 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1330.

This score makes UCSB Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.

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UCSB SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1210, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1440. In other words, a 1210 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1440 will move you up to above average.

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

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math650600730
Reading333036
Writing343136
Composite133012101440

UCSB SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1690, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 2050. In other words, a 1690 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 2050 puts you well above average.

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

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Math639580700
Reading611550670
Writing624560680
Composite187416902050

SAT Score Choice Policy

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

UCSB has the Score Choice policy of "All Scores."

This means that UCSB 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 UCSB 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 2050, 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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UCSB ACT Requirements

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

Average ACT: 27

The average ACT score at UCSB is 27. This score makes UCSB Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

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The 25th percentile ACT score is 24, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 30.

Even though UCSB likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 24 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 27 and above that a 24 will look academically weak.

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 30 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 UCSB, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 30.


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SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

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

UCSB 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.

UCSB has indicated that SAT subject tests are recommended. Typically this means that SAT subject tests are not required, but submitting them can showcase particular strengths. For example, if you're applying to an engineering school, submitting science and math SAT subject tests will boost your application.

Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.



Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is very selective, strong academic scores are critical to improving your chances of admission. If you're able to score a 2050 SAT or a 30 ACT or above, you'll have a very strong chance at getting in.

For a school as selective as UCSB, rounding out the rest of your application will also help. We'll cover those details next.

But if you apply with a score below a 2050 SAT or a 30 ACT, you unfortunately have a low chance of getting in. There are just too many other applicants with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.



Admissions Calculator

What are your chances of admission at University of California, Santa Barbara?
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 UCSB 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

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACT Required
  • SAT or ACT Writing Required
  • SAT Subject Tests Recommended
  • Scores Due in Office December 30

Coursework Requirements

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

Deadlines and Early Admissions

  •  
    • Offered? Deadline Notification
  • Regular Admission
    • Yes November 30 March 15
  • Early Action
    • No
  • Early Decision
    • No

Admissions Office Information


Other Schools For You

If you're interested in UCSB, 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 UCSB.


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Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

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

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 1440 2050 32
Boston University Boston, MA 1370 1946 29
Villanova University Villanova, PA 1370 1940 31
Binghamton University Vestal, NY 1360 1929 29
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 1340 1898 28
American University Washington, DC 1320 1858 28
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA 1300 1239 28

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Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

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

School Name Location SAT Avg (1600) SAT Avg (2400) ACT Avg
Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 1310 1849 28
University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX 1310 1846 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
Chapman University Orange, CA 1290 1807 27
University of California, Davis Davis, CA 1290 1800 27

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Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

If you're currently competitive for UCSB, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If UCSB 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
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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