Record applications enable UC Santa Cruz to build strong, diverse fall class

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Students walk around the UCSC campus.
Students walk around the UCSC campus.
ajbutler@ucsc.edu (Abby Butler)

With a focus on excellence and diversity, UC Santa Cruz has started thoughtfully building its fall class after receiving a record number of undergraduate applications.

"I couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of the applicant pool and the broad diversity represented. The resilience and perseverance demonstrated by both students applying from high school and those transferring from another college is so commendable," said Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Michelle Whittingham. "We also recognize and appreciate all the support provided by family, teachers and counselors who guided them as they navigated a very different educational journey."

A leader at the intersection of innovation and social justice, UC Santa Cruz continues to attract a high quality and diverse group of applicants, comprised of candidates who are ready to join a community of students, faculty, and staff who are using their voices to create real change. \

The campus continues on an incredible trajectory with faculty conducting transformative research and creative scholarship that serves the world. Affirming UC Santa Cruz's reputation of pushing for positive change, the campus last year was named the No. 3 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world in the Princeton Review’s college rankings.

UC Santa Cruz joined the Association of American Universities (AAU) in 2019 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities in 2020, underscoring the impact and quality of the campus’ research as well as graduate and undergraduate teaching. UC Santa Cruz shares the distinction of being the youngest member of the esteemed 66-member AAU and is one of only two members that is also a Hispanic-serving and Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander-serving institution.

At UC Santa Cruz, the pairing of high-impact research with 10 vibrant and interdisciplinary residential colleges offers undergraduate students the experience of a small liberal arts college with the depth and rigor of a major research university. 

The competition to earn a spot at UC Santa Cruz remains strong this year, with a record number of applications received. The campus is committed to carefully managing its total enrollment while additional student housing is built.

The campus received more than 77,500 applications from first-year students and transfer students, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to preliminary data released today by the UC Office of the President. 

The campus received more than 53,000 applications from California high school students, a 7.8 percent increase over the previous year, and more than 10,500 applications from California students studying primarily at California community colleges, a 10 percent decrease, which is reflective of the enrollment changes in the community colleges and in line with application changes across the system.

UC Santa Cruz received more than 24,000 applications from California students with families with low incomes, many of whom will also be the first in their families to earn a four-year degree.

Applications from first-year and transfer students outside of California continued to see fluctuations with increased applications from domestic students and fewer applications from international students. 

UC Santa Cruz continued to see interest from ethnically diverse California students.

Of California first-year applicants, 5 percent identify as African American; 34 percent as Asian American; 33 percent as Chicanx/Latinx; 1 percent as American Indian and 25 percent as white. Of the California community college applicants who are domestic students, 6 percent identify as African American; 28 percent as Asian American; 31 percent as Chicanx/Latinx; 1 percent as American Indian; and 32 percent as White.

The vibrant mix of California, international, and out-of-state first-year and transfer students enhances the campus community through their varied experiences and perspectives. This cohort of future alumni, the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2026, will join more than 140,000 alumni who are making their own contributions locally, regionally, and globally.

The campus received more than 4,700 graduate applications, of which 2,400 were from international students. Of the graduate applicants, 2 percent identify as African American; 11 percent as Asian American; 8 percent as Chicanx/Latinx and 24 percent as white. Some graduate programs are continuing to accept applications.

First-year undergraduate applicants will be notified of admission decisions by mid-March. Transfer decisions will begin to be released in mid-March. Admitted first-year students have until May 1 to indicate their intent to enroll and transfer students have until June 1.

Like other University of California campuses, UC Santa Cruz is focused on supporting the health and well being of its campus community. With a highly successful testing and vaccination program, the campus is planning to return to fully in-person instruction in the fall.