A College Education
Many people feel that the primary purpose of a college education is to enable the student to find a better job or to earn a better salary after graduation. However, it should be stressed that the value of an undergraduate education cannot be measured solely in terms of dollars and vocational success. A Bachelor’s degree from UCSB demands hard work and perseverance. Graduates will have learned to express themselves with clarity in both written and oral communication. They will have mastered one or more subjects in depth while gaining exposure to a variety of others.
Each student’s undergraduate experience is unique, as it is tailored to the individual’s interests. For many, the undergraduate years are a time to explore different subjects and to seek out extracurricular or pre-professional experience. Regardless of a student’s major, extracurricular activities or the length of time spent earning a degree, the benefit of the University experience extends far beyond the years actually spent at UCSB. Most importantly, students will have learned critical thinking skills which allow them to make informed decisions about their lives, as well as become critical consumers of everything from products to information.
A Research Institution
Many students and parents are not initially aware that the University of California is a “research institution.” In fact, UCSB is ranked one of the top public research institutions in the nation. This means that the professors are researchers as well as teachers and often incorporate their research into the curriculum. Therefore, students have abundant opportunities to become involved in independent or faculty-directed research. In addition, majors offered at UCSB focus on theory and research instead of vocational applications. However, the high availability of internships and job opportunities on campus and in the surrounding area provide excellent sources of experience for students wishing to apply knowledge learned in class. Students interested in becoming involved in research can contact individual faculty members or visit the College of Letters and Science Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) website at www.Ltsc.ucsb.edu/urca. Those wishing to learn more about internships or employment opportunities can contact Career Services at (805) 893-4412.
The Colleges at UCSB
UCSB is one of the ten campuses that form the University of California system. The Santa Barbara campus is made up of three undergraduate colleges, a Graduate Division, the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Of the three undergraduate colleges, the largest is the College of Letters and Science—a liberal arts college that offers opportunities in nearly 80 majors and 40 minors. Depending on the major, students in the College of Letters and Science will earn one of four degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Music. The College of Engineering offers Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and chemical, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering. The College of Creative Studies is a selective college that enrolls highly self-motivated, self-directed students who have demonstrated a talent for independent work in the arts, mathematics, or sciences. College of Creative Studies Bachelor of Arts degrees are offered in art (painting, sculpture, or book arts), literature, music composition, and biology. Both B.A. and B.S. degrees are offered in chemistry, mathematics and physics. The Bachelor of Science degree is also offered in computer science.
There are four types of requirements that all students must satisfy in order to receive a Bachelor’s degree from UCSB: Unit, University, General Education, and Major requirements.
I. Unit Requirement
- 1 unit is equivalent to approximately 3 hours of work per week, both in and out of class (therefore, 16 units is about 48 hours of work per week).
- 60 units must be Upper Division.
College of Letters and Science
- College of Letters and Science advisors recommend that new students take 12-14 units their first quarter.
- 180 or 184 minimum units are needed to graduate (depending on how a student satisfies Area B of General Education).
College of Engineering
- Depending on the student's major, 180 to 194 minimum units are needed to graduate.
College of Creative Studies
- Students should follow the recommendations of the advisors in the College of Creative Studies when planning their first quarter schedule.
- 180 minimum units are needed to graduate.
For the Bachelor of Arts degree, approximately 1/3 of all units go toward the major, 1/3 toward General Education, and 1/3 toward free electives, a second major, or a minor.
Note: For the Bachelor of Science, Music, and Fine Arts degrees in the College of Letters and Science, approximately 2/3 of all units go toward the major, 1/6 toward General Education, and 1/6 toward electives. For College of Engineering majors, up to 4/5 of all units go toward the major, and 1/5 toward General Education and electives.
MINIMUM CUMULATIVE PROGRESS
Undergraduate students in the College of Letters and Science and the College of Engineering are required to make at least minimum progress toward their degree at a rate determined by the faculty. Student progress will be monitored every other regular term. Students who, at the point of review, fall short of the minimum cumulative progress measure will be placed on Minimum Cumulative Progress Probation. Students who have not returned to Minimum Cumulative Progress standards two regular terms later will be subject to qualification, at the discretion of the dean of the college. Students may monitor their progress in relation to the expectations of the faculty by using the campus’ GOLD system.
A term by term chart that outlines the required minimum academic progress and more detailed information about other
important aspects of the Minimum Cumulative Progress Regulation should be viewed at the college’s academic advising Web site (www.advising.Ltsc.ucsb.edu). Students may also consult the college advising office (Cheadle Hall 1117) for assistance.
Class Standing by Units
|A+ 4.0 C+ 2.3
A 4.0 C 2.0
A- 3.7 C- 1.7
B+ 3.3 D+ 1.3
B 3.0 D 1.0
B- 2.7 D- 0.7
|Passed (P) = C or higher
| F 0.0
|Not Passed (NP) = C- or below
- Receive unit credit for courses passed only
- Receive unit credit for D- or above
- No courses for the major may be taken P/NP
- All major courses must be letter graded
- Maximum 1/3 of all UCSB units may be taken P/NP
- At least 2/3 of all UCSB units
II. University Requirements
The following four requirements were created by UC faculty and are common to all UC campuses.
ENTRY LEVEL WRITING REQUIREMENT: ENGLISH COMPOSITION
Ensures that all students demonstrate proficiency in English composition skills.
May be satisfied in any of the following ways before classes start:
- Pass a System wide Analytical Writing Placement Exam in May or UCSB Exam in September
- Score of 6 or 7 on the Standard Level English A1 International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam
- Score of 30 or higher on the ACT combined English/Writing Test
- Score of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement Exam in English Literature or English Composition
- Score of 680 or higher on the SAT Reasoning Test
- Score of 5, 6, or 7 on the Higher Level English A International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam
- Transfer Course equivalent to UCSB’s Writing 2 with a grade of C or better
If not satisfied in the above ways, then take UCSB Writing 1, 1E, or 1LK and receive a grade of C or better by the end of the first year.
AMERICAN HISTORY AND INSTITUTIONS (AH&I)
Ensures that all students acquire an understanding of the history, government, and institutions of the United States.
May be satisfied in any of the following ways:
- Score of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement American History or American Government & Politics Exam
- Score of 680 or higher on SAT II Subject Test in American History
- Pass non-credit history exam at UCSB
- Complete 4 units from approved UCSB course list
- Transfer equivalent course at college level
GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA)
Ensures that all students achieve a minimum standard of academic performance. At graduation, the following is required:
- 2.0 grade point average (GPA) in all UC letter-graded units
- 2.0 grade point average in all UC courses required for and
applicable to the major (lower and upper division)
- 2.0 grade point average in all UC courses required for and
applicable to the upper division major
Ensures that UCSB makes a significant contribution to all degrees awarded.
Students must complete all of the following:
- 3 regular terms within the UC system
- 27 upper division units at UCSB
- 20 upper division major units at UCSB
- 35 of final 45 units at UCSB
III. General Education Requirements (for BA)
General Education courses or “GEs” are designed to provide breadth to the undergraduate experience. There are seven areas to the General Education requirements that are to be explored throughout a student's career at UCSB.
The following requirements are specific to students in the College of Letters and Science who are pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. The General Education requirements vary slightly for students pursuing Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. Additionally, General Education requirements are different for students in the College of Engineering and College of Creative Studies. For more information about these discrepancies, please see the "General Education Variations" section below.
AREA A: ENGLISH READING AND COMPOSITION
- Writing 2, 2E or 2LK (should be taken by end of 6th quarter year); or a score of 4 or 5 on either AP English Exam, or a score of 6 on Higher Level English A IB Exam
- One course from: Writing 50, 50E, 109AA-ZZ, or English 10 (one course must be completed by graduation); or a score of 5 on either AP English Exam, or a score of 7 on Higher Level English A IB Exam
AREA B: FOREIGN LANGUAGE
May be satisfied in any of the following ways:
- A C average or better in 3rd year level of high school foreign language
- Score of 500-590 on SAT II Subject Test in any foreign language (score required depends on language test taken)
- Score of 3 or higher on any AP foreign language exam
- Placement into language level 4 or higher on UCSB’s foreign language placement exam
If Area B is satisfied with college course work, student needs 184 total units to graduate.
AREA C: SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, AND TECHNOLOGY
- Three courses are required
AREA D: SOCIAL SCIENCES
- Three courses are required
AREA E: CULTURE AND THOUGHT
- Three courses are required
AREA F: THE ARTS
AREA G: LITERATURE
GENERAL EDUCATION GUIDELINES
- A course may be applied simultaneously to Major Requirements, General Education Requirements, and the American History and Institutions Requirement.
- Courses listed in more than one General Education Area (C-G) can only be applied to one Area.
SPECIAL SUBJECT AREA REQUIREMENTS
(FULFILLED AS PART OF GENERAL EDUCATION)
* Writing Requirement (6 courses): Requires writing one or more papers totaling 1,800 words or more.
# Quantitative Relationships (1 course): Focuses on measurement or manipulation of quantities.
+ World Culture and Thought (1 course): Focuses on cultures not influenced by Greco-Roman or Judeo-Christian thought and traditions.
& Ethnicity Requirement (1 course): Focuses on the historical, cultural, intellectual, and social experience of people of color and/or ethnic groups in the United States.
^ European Traditions (1 course): Focuses on a culture affected by European thought outside the United States.
GENERAL EDUCATION VARIATIONS
The General Education requirements listed above are specific to the Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Letters and Science. Students pursuing other degrees should review the following variations in their General Education requirements.
- Bachelor of Science: For students pursuing a BS, Areas A, B, and C are the same, and Areas D, E, F, and G are each reduced by one course.The European Traditions Special Subject Area is not required.
- Bachelor of Fine Arts of Music: For students pursuing a BFA or BM, Areas A and B are the same, and Areas C, D, E, and G are reduced by one course. Area F and the European Traditions Special Subject Area are not required.
- College of Engineering: Students in the College of Engineering should visit http://engineering.ucsb.edu/current_undergraduates/advising_services/college for their specific General Education requirements.
- College of Creative Studies: Students in the College of Creative Studies should visit http://www.ccs.ucsb.edu/handbook/degree_requirements for their specific General Education requirements.
IV. Major Requirements
The major requirements add depth to the undergraduate program through completion of the student’s chosen major. Major requirements vary from major to major and can be found in the General Catalog (www.catalog.ucsb.edu). The three colleges offer a total of 90 majors and over 20 minors ranging from Anthropology to Zoology. In the College of Letters and Science, it is not necessary to declare a major right away. In fact, about 38% of the incoming freshmen are undeclared, and many of the remaining 62% change their major sometime during their years at UCSB. Students have until the beginning of their junior year to officially declare a major.
Note: Certain majors in the College of Letters and Science have pre-major requirements that students need to fufill with a minimum GPA in order to be admitted to the major (see General Catalog for details). Additionally, all undergraduates in the College of Engineering and College of Creative Studies will start in a declared major.
Choosing a Major
One of the most important decisions students must make in college is their choice of major—the field of study that represents their principle academic interest and that contributes toward their career goals. Some students select their major at the time they fill out the University’s application for admission. However, a large number (approximately 38%) are undecided about their major and enter UCSB “undeclared.” The “undeclared” option is the largest “major” status on campus. Also, a great percentage of students change their major at least once before graduation. It is not unusual for a freshman to be undecided on a major. Most new students spend their first two years taking a variety of courses through different departments and choose a major through such experimentation. College is a time to explore. Guidance is always available to them through their College, their department(s) of interest, and other campus resources. Once a student decides upon a major, he or she petitions to have that major officially declared. Appropriate forms are available at College offices and individual major departments.
Graduate & Retention Rates
Parents often wonder how many students who enter UCSB actually graduate with a degree. Also of interest is the number of students retained each year, especially at the end of the first year.
91% of freshmen and 87% of transfer students are retained after the first year. The national retention rate after freshman year is 76%.
The average time to complete an undergraduate degree is four years for freshmen at UCSB. 68% of freshmen graduate within four years. 78% graduate within five years and 80% graduate within six years. 63% of transfer students complete their degree at UCSB within the first two years. 77% graduate within three years and 82% graduate within four years.
The national six-year graduation rate among full-time students at four-year colleges is 58%. This information is based on the most recent year’s available data—2011. Each year is based upon a different cohort; therefore, percentages may fluctuate.
Choosing Courses for the First Year
Each quarter, UCSB offers several hundred courses, ranging from Cultural Anthropology to Islamic Art & Architecture to Science Fiction Literature. In choosing courses for their first quarter, many students are overwhelmed by the range and number of courses available. Parents, too, are sometimes surprised by the courses that students decide to take. In keeping with the spirit of General Education, the University encourages students in the College of Letters and Science to take a wide and balanced range of classes. Students must take a number of different classes to fulfill various requirements, and will not solely be focusing on classes within their major. Students and parents sometimes express concerns that unfamiliar classes may not fulfill requirements. However, many of these classes will fulfill General Education requirements, and even those courses that do not specifically fulfill any requirements contribute to the total number of units required to graduate from UCSB. When selecting their schedules for their first year, students are advised to choose a wide range of courses. This means taking both major and non-major courses, courses for a variety of General Education requirements and classes that may not fulfill requirements, but sound appealing. Many students restrict themselves to classes they recognize from high school, such as English, Mathematics, and History, but because of the popularity of these courses, they often fill up quickly. At Orientation, students have been given a list of classes which have available seats and fulfill various General Education requirements. Although some of these classes may sound unfamiliar, they are perfectly appropriate and students should be encouraged to consider choosing one or more of these classes.
Note: Students in the College of Engineering are required to complete specific courses each quarter. Parents of engineering majors are encouraged to visit http://engineering.ucsb.edu/current_undergraduates/publications for more information. Students in the College of Creative Studies should follow the recommendations of advisors in their college when selecting courses for the first year.