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UC Santa Barbara Acceptance Rate: Admissions Statistics

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of University of California, Santa Barbara.

University of California, Santa Barbara Acceptance Rate: Admissions Statistics

Successful Applicant Profile

  • Demographics
  • Majors
  • SAT/ACT scores

Entry Requirements

  • Tuition
  • Scholarships
  • Checklist of Application Requirements
  • Application Deadline

What Should You Expect

  • Student life
  • Academics offered
  • Athletics offered
  • Notable Alumni

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is a public research university located in Santa Barbara, California. UCSB was founded in 1891 and is renowned for its contribution to the arts and sciences as well as sports industries through its distinguished alumni. As one of the leading academic institutions in the California state system, acceptance to the university is considered competitive but is also very attainable should you meet the requirements.

Therefore, if you are interested in attending UCSB, it is important to know all you can about the application process and what UCSB expects from its applicants prior to submitting your application to give you the best possible chance of gaining admission to this famous school.

Despite its relatively high admissions percentage in comparison to other prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Yale, applicants should be under no illusions that only exceptional students are granted a place at the UCSB. The University of California, Santa Barbara acceptance rate reflects what are a strict set of criteria for application in the first place, meaning that those that do apply are, in the vast majority of cases, already qualified as per the admissions requirements. The university then does its due diligence and goes through the decisions process before landing at the acceptance rate percentage that has just been released for the class of 2026.

For its 2021-22 admissions cycle, the University of California, Santa Barbara acceptance rate was 29% – which is around 7,924 of the 19,543 students who applied. The university adopts what is known as a ‘test-blind’ policy when it comes to standardized testing and will not consider ACT or SAT scores in the admissions process; therefore you should not submit them. It is important you are aware of this as UCSB will want to know you researched and understood the application requirements prior to submitting your materials.

Sign of University of California, Santa Barbara placed near the entrance.

Although standardized testing is not considered, previous grades and overall GPA are. The mid-50% GPA range was 4.10-4.29 and an amazing 100% of successful applicants to UCSB for the class of 2025 – the most recently released statistics – were in the top 10% of their graduating high school class. These are, of course, the facts and statistics around those selected for admission to UCSB, but we are also going to explore the complex nature of its admission process and how you can give yourself the best chance of standing out amongst the crowd when it comes to applying to one of the most famous schools in the United States.

Successful Applicant Profile

As one of the leading institutions in the California state system, the University of California, Santa Barbara is still extremely highly regarded as an academic institution both within the US and throughout the world. The university boasts prestigious alumni, world-class education, and a desirable setting, offering those who gain admission a great student experience.

One of the unique things about the University of California, Santa Barbara is how the university is able to stand out across such a wide array of academic programs. The richly diverse programs at UCSB are spread amongst its five undergraduate schools, which comprise The College of Creative Studies, The College of Engineering, The College of Letters and Science, The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, and The Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, all of which come with stellar reputations.

Among those hoping to secure a place at one of these schools at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for the class of 2026 were some 105,647 applicants. Of these, 29% were lucky enough to gain acceptance, which is a significant downturn on the 37% of applicants who were accepted the previous year. Given the increased competition for places at UCSB, there are a myriad of application requirements that you should be aware of prior to applying.

With an increased amount of applicants year-on-year, UCSB looks at a range of different criteria when assessing its candidates for admission. These include but are not limited to character and personal qualities, extracurricular activities, academic GPA and overall rigor of secondary school record. Ensuring you present yourself in the best possible manner is crucially important to gaining that place at UCSB and we at AdmissionSight are here to help.

Demographics: Who Makes up the UCSB Student Body?

The state of California is famous for its diverse population, and this is never more reflective than in its renowned academic institutions. As you would expect from one of the leading public universities in the California state system and indeed nationwide, UCSB boasts a unique student body that reflects the remarkable diversity on show at the university. According to the statistics which the university released for the class of 2025 – the most recent currently available – 59% identified as female and 39% identified as male.

Two students talking while in hallway.

The breakdown of race and ethnicity at the University of California, Santa Barbara shows the diverse student population that are lucky enough to attend. The university released the following breakdown of its student body for the class of 2026:

  • Asian: 18%
  • Hispanic: 24%
  • African American: 4%
  • International: 13%
  • Caucasian: 31%

These statistics are reflective of the diverse nature of California as a whole as the geographic breakdown shows that many of its students, despite having a wide range of different cultural backgrounds, actually come from in-state and as such paid in-state tuition. The breakdown:

  • Percent from other U.S. States (non-residents): 12%
  • Percent from California: 75%
  • Percent of International Students: 13%

When it comes to support, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office at the University of California, Santa Barbara is primarily concerned with taking care of the richly diverse student body the school has. The DEI Offers a wide range of services to its students, including anti-racism resources, funding and awards, and workshops and events for all to enjoy.

In addition to this, despite having a relatively small percentage of international students in relation to its overall student body (13% according to latest figures), the university also has a dedicated International Student Office (ISSO) which takes care of international students right the way through the admissions process through to stepping across stage and graduating.

Navigating life in the US for new students can be overwhelming and as such the ISOO takes care of a myriad of things that make life much easier for international students as well as those from different backgrounds who may require guidance. Amongst its services, the ISSO deals with issuing immigration documents, advising on relevant immigration matters, meeting US reporting requirements and offering information on adjusting to life and culture in the US and at UCSB to ensure a smooth transition to the Golden State wherever you are from.

Average SAT/ACT Scores of Students Admitted to UCSB

Like many of the top public and private academic institutions throughout the United States in recent years, UCSB has adopted a ‘test-blind’ policy when it comes to test scores, which means that its applicants should not submit test scores to the university as these will not be considered as part of the admissions process.

Young female student writing in her desk in a room full of students.

Importantly, the ‘test-blind’ policy adopted by UCSB means that students should pay attention to this detail and not attempt to submit their test scores in order to score favor with admissions. When outlining the university stance on standardized testing, we here at AdmissionSight believe it is important to note that if a university is ‘test-blind’ this policy should be adhered to and not adhering to such will not increase your admission chances.

Aside from the ‘test-blind’ policy when it comes to SAT and ACT tests, those admitted to UCSB in the class of 2025, the most recently released scores, the mid-50% GPA range was 4.10-4.29 and 100% of students placed in the top 10% of their graduating class, to underline the incredibly high academic standards of those fortunate enough to gain admission.

Entry Requirements

The University of California, Santa Barbara, is one of the leading public institutions in California and indeed the whole of the United States. A look at the University of California, Santa Barbara acceptance rate percentage shows that competition for a place at UCSB has only grown year-on-year. However, gaining a spot is not impossible, and having a great application that meets all the required steps can put you in a great position. In order to be successful, applicants must understand the basic admissions process and requirements that will guide them on their journey from starting those first admissions materials through to becoming a part of the UCSB community.

For many, UCSB is the dream package – a great school with a fantastic reputation located in one of the most desirable places in the country. However, navigating the application process can sometimes prove a little daunting, even for the smartest of students. Don’t worry, we here at AdmissionSight have got you covered – here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know about gaining admission to UCSB and what is expected of its students.

How Much Will It Cost to Attend UCSB?

UCSB has different costs depending upon whether you are considered an in-state applicant from the state of California) or an out-of-state applicant (outside California). For the academic year 2022-2023, the total cost of first year tuition and fees for the University of California, Santa Barbara for out-of-state students is $44,196. For the academic year 2022-2023, the total cost of first year tuition and fees for the University of California, Santa Barbara for in-state students is $14,442.

Young man staring the his laptop while thinking about something.

This is different from the total cost of attendance, which also factors in other expenses.

The breakdown of costs for attendance at UCSB is outlined below;

  • Tuition and fees (in-state) – $14,442
  • Tuition and fees (out-of-state) – $44,196
  • Room and board – $16,061
  • Personal expenses & books/supplies – $6321

This amounts to a total cost of attendance for first-year out-of-state undergraduate students of $66,578 and a total cost for in-state students of $36,824, which ranks as rather competitive for such a renowned school in the state of California. In addition, the university offers various financial aid options and continues to honor its promise of meeting the full demonstrated institutional financial need of aid applicants year-on-year, making it an attractive and value-for-money institution for those with financial need.

Financial Aid at UCSB

Given its standing and location in the Golden State of California, The University of California, Santa Barbara provides competitive rates in comparison with similar institutions. In addition to this, the university believes in merit and need-based aid and their packages reflect that.

Notably, UCSB offers both the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), designed to meet any remaining need after other forms of aid, such as Pell Grants, and the California Dream Act Application as its primary sources of aid. The Cal Dream Act Application is required by March 2 for the following academic year to be considered.

Additionally, ‘Cal Grants’ are also offered and are administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). To be eligible for a Cal Grant, you must be eligible for financial aid and not hold a prior Bachelor’s degree. As well as this, a further financial aid program offered by the university is the UCSB Scholarship which is made available by the University of California and is awarded to California resident undergraduate applicants who are determined to have sufficient financial need; which offers students a variety of awards depending upon their financial need and is based on income. Criteria are specific to family income, and awards are based upon those most in need with applicants to the university automatically considered, albeit one provision as with most financial aid packages, is that a FAFSA is completed.

There are also numerous grants and scholarships available depending on your program. For a more detailed and specific rundown of the financial aid available at UCSB, students can use the Financial Aid Calculator provided by the university on its dedicated website.

The Application Requirements

The University of California, Santa Barbara can afford to be hugely selective when it comes to selecting its student body as the reputation of the university proceeds it. Many famous and influential individuals count themselves among the UCSB alumni and the university places a large emphasis on individual as well as academic qualities. The official website looks at a wide range of factors when making admissions decisions – including previous grades, course rigor, recommendations, academic honors or awards, personal essays, and other information specific to your own experiences and attributes.

Like all institutions, admission requirements are program-specific, but UCSB provides a guide of basic requirements for first-year undergraduates applying for admission. These include:

  • Completed application packet
  • Outline of Special talents, achievements, and awards in a particular field
  • Official secondary school transcript and school report
  • At least one (1) teacher recommendation
  • Electronic media (optional)
  • Peer recommendation (optional)
  • $70 application fee for US citizens or $80 for internationals or an application fee waiver

International students from non-English speaking institutions or applicants whose first/primary language is not English or whose secondary schooling has not been in English are also required by the university to submit official proof of English language proficiency.

Important Dates for the USCB Admission Timeline?

For all undergraduate admissions programs, the portal opens on October 1, and the deadline to submit your application materials to UCSB is November 30. Applicants can then view their admissions decision via the online portal by mid-March.

For transfer student admissions, the deadline to submit your application materials to UCSB is also November 30. Applicants can then view their admissions decision via the online portal by mid-April. In all cases, the student must accept or reject the decision via the online portal.

What Students Can Expect

The University of California, Santa Barbara is rated amongst the highest public institutions in the United States – and for good reason. The UCSB campus is nestled in the affluent Santa Barbara area of California and is an extremely popular location for perspective students. Moreover, the university offers a unique blend of first-class academics with a renowned student lifestyle in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of California that’s the envy of many.

Young woman looking outside while typing in a desk with books.

“I love UCSB. It is my first year here, and there have been so many opportunities for me to develop academically and socially,” wrote one student on Unigo. “I am able to ride the buses to Downtown Santa Barbara if I choose, I can walk the trails on campus between the beaches and the campus. My professors have been so open and willing to offer their assistance, and my Teaching Assistants are so easy to get in contact with. I’m so happy I made attending UCSB my final choice.”

You can get more information about the University of California, Santa Barbara acceptance rate, as well as the UCSB campus and the overall admissions process, by emailing [email protected] or calling (805) 893-2881.

Academics Offered

UCSB offers a truly diverse mixture of academics. Overall, the University of California, Santa Barbara offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in over 90 specialties. Academics at UCSB are divided into its five schools which are listed below:

  • The College of Creative Studies
  • The College of Engineering
  • The College of Letters and Science
  • The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
  • The Gevirtz Graduate School of Education

UCSB has a fantastic reputation in all its academics, and has certainly stood out in certain fields. Some of the most popular programs at UCSB include: Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Mathematics and Statistics; Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs; Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies; Psychology; Natural Resources and Conservation; and of course, Visual and Performing Arts.

What Athletic Options are Available?

The University of California, Santa Barbara offers a total of 20 varsity sports team which are the same for both men and women – 10 of which are men’s teams and 10 of which are for women. The teams, known as the ‘Gauchos’ are listed below:

Men’s Teams

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Cross Country
  • Water Polo
  • Track and Field

Women’s Teams 

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Indoor Track
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Water Polo
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

UCSB Notable Alumni

UCSB boasts a large array of notable alumni who have had a huge impact on the world. They are highly distinguished and too numerous to mention them all, but some of the most famous names to have called themselves Gaucho alumni include:

  • Steve Aoki
  • Amir Abo-Shaer
  • Robert Ballard
  • Angela Belcher
  • Lois Capps
  • Salud Carbajal
  • Leroy Chiao
  • Larry Dierker
  • Michael Douglas
  • Harris Faulkner
  • Raymond Fisher
  • Scott Frank
  • Elizabeth Gabler
  • Logan Green
  • Carol Greider

When it comes to gaining admission to this popular university, the dwindling University of California, Santa Barbara acceptance rate year-on-year displays just how competitive this is becoming. However, if you feel you have what it takes, allow us at AdmissionSight to show you how to maximize your strengths and minimize any potential weaknesses so that the college admissions officers at UCSB see you for the fantastic potential you possess and you can fulfill your dream of becoming a Gaucho.

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