Lehigh and UC Santa Barbara: A Comprehensive Comparison

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a student thinking while holding his pen

Lehigh and UC Santa Barbara: A Comprehensive Comparison

Choosing the right university is a big decision, one that will shape your future and have a significant impact on your life. Two universities that often appear on students’ shortlists are Lehigh University and UC Santa Barbara.

Both universities are highly respected. Plus, they offer excellent opportunities to their students. However, there are many differences between them, and it is important to consider all factors before making a final decision.

Location and Campus Comparison

The location of a university is important because it affects the quality of life of its students. Lehigh University is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is known for its historic architecture and vibrant arts culture.

The university’s campus is beautiful, with ivy-covered brick buildings, manicured lawns, and tree-lined walkways. In contrast, UC Santa Barbara is located in Santa Barbara, California. This campus is a beautiful coastal location, surrounded by the oceanic landscape and natural wonders of California. The campus is also known for its modern architecture, and it offers a bright and sunny atmosphere.

Lehigh University’s location also provides easy access to major cities such as Philadelphia and New York City, which are only a short drive or train ride away. This allows students to explore and experience the cultural offerings of these cities, while still enjoying the peaceful and serene environment of the Lehigh campus.

On the other hand, UC Santa Barbara’s location offers students the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, and beach volleyball. The campus is located near several state parks and beaches, providing students with a unique and active lifestyle.

Additionally, the city of Santa Barbara offers a variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, allowing students to experience the local community and its traditions.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered

Lehigh University is renowned for its programs in engineering, business, and the natural sciences. The university offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in these fields.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

On the other hand, UC Santa Barbara excels in the subjects of social sciences, arts, and humanities. However, both universities offer a wide range of majors and minors in various fields, so students can pursue their interests no matter where their passions lie.

In addition to their strong programs in engineering, business, and the natural sciences, Lehigh University also offers exceptional programs in the fields of education, journalism, and psychology.

The university’s College of Education is highly regarded for its teacher preparation programs, while the Department of Journalism and Communication offers hands-on experience in media production and reporting. The Department of Psychology is also well-known for its research in cognitive and social psychology.

UC Santa Barbara, on the other hand, has a strong reputation for its programs in environmental studies, marine biology, and global studies. The university’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management is a leader in sustainable resource management, while the Marine Science Institute offers opportunities for students to conduct research in marine ecosystems.

The Global Studies Department provides a comprehensive understanding of global issues and prepares students for careers in international relations and diplomacy.

Admission Requirements and Application Process

To apply to Lehigh University, applicants must submit the Common Application, along with their transcripts, test scores, essays, and recommendations. The university is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of around 16%.

UC Santa Barbara also uses the Common Application and accepts around 35% of its applicants. Applicants need to submit their grades, test scores, essays, and recommendations to apply successfully. Both universities have rigorous admission standards, but they are looking for students who are well-rounded and have a passion for learning.

Lehigh University offers a variety of majors and programs, including engineering, business, and the arts. The university also values extracurricular activities and community service, so applicants should highlight their involvement in these areas. Additionally, Lehigh has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and actively seeks to enroll students from a wide range of backgrounds.

UC Santa Barbara is known for its strong programs in the sciences, particularly in marine biology and physics. The university also has a vibrant arts community, with opportunities for students to participate in theater, music, and dance.

In addition, UC Santa Barbara has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmentalism and encourages students to get involved in initiatives to reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid Comparison

The cost of attendance is an important factor to consider when choosing a university. Lehigh University’s tuition and fees are around $55,000 per year, while UC Santa Barbara costs around $14,000 per year for in-state residents and $43,000 per year for out-of-state students.

Group of students walking in the campus.

However, both universities offer financial aid programs to help students cover the cost of their education. Lehigh University provides need-based and merit-based scholarships, as well as work-study programs and loans.

UC Santa Barbara offers a variety of grants and scholarships, as well as federal and state aid programs. Students can find ways to make their education affordable at both universities.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students should also consider the cost of housing, meals, textbooks, and other expenses. Lehigh University offers on-campus housing options, with prices ranging from $8,000 to $14,000 per year.

UC Santa Barbara also provides on-campus housing, with prices ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 per year. Both universities have dining plans available for students, with prices varying based on the plan selected.

Student Life and Campus Culture Comparison

Lehigh University is a vibrant campus, with over 6,000 undergraduate students from across the US and around the world. The university is known for its excellent extracurricular programs, including sports and clubs.

UC Santa Barbara is a larger campus, with over 22,000 undergraduate students. The campus is known for its party scene and social life, but it also offers a variety of clubs and activities to meet students’ interests.

One of the unique aspects of student life at Lehigh University is the strong sense of community. With a smaller student body, it’s easier to get to know your peers and form close relationships. The university also offers a variety of community service opportunities, allowing students to give back and make a positive impact on the surrounding area.

At UC Santa Barbara, the campus culture is heavily influenced by its location in sunny Southern California. Students can often be found enjoying the beach or participating in outdoor activities such as hiking and surfing.

The university also has a strong focus on sustainability, with many initiatives aimed at reducing its environmental impact and promoting eco-friendly practices among students and staff.

Faculty and Class Size Comparison

Lehigh University is known for its experienced and talented faculty. Classes at Lehigh are generally small, with an average class size of around 20 students.

Female teacher talking to her students.

UC Santa Barbara has a larger faculty with a 20-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Classes at UCSB can vary in size, depending on the subject and the level of the course.

However, despite the larger faculty at UCSB, Lehigh University boasts a higher percentage of faculty with terminal degrees in their field. This means that Lehigh students have the opportunity to learn from professors who are experts in their respective fields.

Additionally, Lehigh’s smaller class sizes allow for more personalized attention and interaction between students and faculty, fostering a more collaborative and engaging learning environment.

Career Services and Networking Opportunities Comparison

Lehigh University offers excellent career services, with a dedicated center for career development. The center offers workshops, networking events, and job fairs to help students find internships and job opportunities.

UC Santa Barbara also has a strong focus on career services, with a comprehensive career center. Students can access career workshops, job fairs, and individual advising services to help them with their career goals.

However, Lehigh University stands out in terms of networking opportunities. The university has a vast alumni network, with graduates working in various industries and companies. The career center organizes alumni networking events, where students can connect with alumni and learn about their career paths.

Additionally, the university has partnerships with several companies, providing students with internship and job opportunities. These networking opportunities give Lehigh students an edge in the job market.

Research Opportunities and Facilities Comparison

Both universities offer exceptional research opportunities, with access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Lehigh University is known for its research in engineering and the natural sciences, while UC Santa Barbara is known for its research in social sciences and the arts. Students have the opportunity to work with world-renowned faculty on cutting-edge research projects.

A group of students gathered around a table working on a project

Lehigh University has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with many research centers and institutes that bring together faculty and students from different departments.

This allows for collaboration and innovation across fields, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and advancements. UC Santa Barbara also emphasizes interdisciplinary research, with a particular focus on sustainability and environmental studies.

In addition to research opportunities on campus, both universities offer students the chance to participate in off-campus research programs and internships. These programs allow students to gain real-world experience in their field of study and make valuable connections in their industry.

Lehigh University has partnerships with companies such as IBM and Boeing, while UC Santa Barbara has connections with organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.

Alumni Network and Post-Graduation Outcomes Comparison

Lehigh University has a large and active alumni network, with over 80,000 alumni around the world. The university has a dedicated alumni association that offers networking events, job fairs, and mentorship opportunities.

UC Santa Barbara also has a strong alumni network, with over 200,000 alumni worldwide. The association offers similar networking opportunities and events to help students find jobs and succeed after graduation.

However, there are some differences in the post-graduation outcomes between the two universities. According to a recent survey, Lehigh University graduates have a higher average starting salary compared to UC Santa Barbara graduates. The survey also found that a higher percentage of Lehigh graduates secure employment within six months of graduation.

On the other hand, UC Santa Barbara graduates tend to pursue higher education at a higher rate than Lehigh graduates. Many UC Santa Barbara alumni go on to pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, and business. The university also has a strong reputation for producing successful entrepreneurs and innovators in the tech industry.

Diversity and Inclusion on Campus Comparison

Diversity and inclusion are important factors to consider when choosing a university. Lehigh University has a diverse student body, with students from all around the world. The university has a variety of programs and events that promote diversity and cultural awareness.

UC Santa Barbara is also committed to diversity and inclusion, with programs and initiatives that celebrate multiculturalism and promote equity and social justice.

One of the ways that Lehigh University promotes diversity and inclusion is through its Office of Multicultural Affairs. This office provides resources and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds, including mentorship programs, cultural events, and academic support.

Similarly, UC Santa Barbara has a Multicultural Center that offers a variety of programs and services to support students from diverse backgrounds. These include cultural celebrations, leadership development programs, and advocacy and support services for marginalized communities.

Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives Comparison

Both universities are committed to sustainability and environmental initiatives. Lehigh University has a dedicated sustainability office, which works to reduce the university’s carbon footprint and promote environmental awareness on campus.

UC Santa Barbara is also dedicated to environmental sustainability and has a variety of programs and initiatives to promote a greener campus and reduce its environmental impact.

One of the initiatives at Lehigh University is the Green Fund, which provides funding for sustainability projects proposed by students, faculty, and staff. This allows for innovative ideas to be implemented and encourages the entire university community to get involved in sustainability efforts.

UC Santa Barbara also has a similar program called the Green Initiative Fund, which provides funding for sustainability projects proposed by students.

International Student Support Services Comparison

Lehigh University has a variety of support services for international students, including advising, cultural support, and language resources. UC Santa Barbara also offers a variety of support services for international students, including English-language programs and cultural immersion experiences.

Students walking on the streets.

Both universities are committed to making the college experience accessible and welcoming for students from all backgrounds.

Additionally, Lehigh University offers a Global Union organization that provides a community for international students to connect with each other and participate in cultural events. UC Santa Barbara has a similar organization called the International Student Association, which also hosts events and activities to promote cultural exchange and support for international students.

These organizations provide a valuable opportunity for international students to feel a sense of belonging and connection within their university community.

Student Organizations and Extracurricular Activities Comparison

Both Lehigh University and UC Santa Barbara offer a wide range of student organizations and extracurricular activities. From sports teams to cultural clubs, there are countless ways for students to get involved and make connections on campus.

Lehigh University has over 200 student organizations, while UC Santa Barbara has over 500. Students can find ways to pursue their passions and meet new people at both universities.

However, the types of student organizations and extracurricular activities offered at each university differ. Lehigh University has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with organizations such as the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox and the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation.

On the other hand, UC Santa Barbara has a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, with organizations such as the Environmental Affairs Board and the Sustainability Program. Students can choose to get involved in organizations that align with their interests and career goals at both universities.


Choosing between Lehigh University and UC Santa Barbara is a difficult decision. Both universities offer excellent academic programs, a vibrant campus life, and opportunities for personal growth and development.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences and priorities. Students who prefer small class sizes and a focus on engineering or business may prefer Lehigh University, while students who are interested in social sciences or the arts may prefer UC Santa Barbara’s larger campus and California location. Regardless of which school is chosen, both universities offer a rich and rewarding academic experience that will set students on a path to success.

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