University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) Admission Statistics

Learn About UCSB and the GPA, SAT and ACT Scores You'll Need to Get In

University of California,Santa Barbara
Geri Lavrov/Getty Images

The University of California at Santa Barbara has selective admissions. The acceptance rate is just 33 percent, and accepted students almost all have grades and SAT/ACT scores that are well above average.

For its many strengths, UCSB made our lists of the top public universities and top west coast colleges and universities.

Why UCSB?

  • Location: Santa Barbara, California
  • Campus Features: UCSB's 1,000 acre campus has miles of beachfront property, making it one of the best colleges for beach lovers. The campus also wins high marks for it's green initiatives and number of LEED-certified buildings.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1
  • Athletics: The UCSB Gauchos compete in the NCAA Division I Big West Conference.
  • Highlights: Undergraduates can choose from over 90 majors. The university has notable strengths in the environmental and biological sciences, and the school was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong programs in the liberal arts and sciences.

UC Santa Barbara Admissions Statistics 2017-18

For students who entered UCSB in the 2017-18 academic year, the university's acceptance rate was 33 percent. SAT scores and ACT scores for admitted students are below, organized by score percentile.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 600 680
Math 590 720
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for the 9 UC schools, you'll see that only UCLA and Berkeley are more selective than the University of Califorinia at Santa Barbara. An average SAT score is a little above 500 for each section, so you can see that the great majority of UCSB students score significantly above average.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 26 34
Math 26 32
Composite 28 33

The SAT is more popular than the ACT among UCSB applicants, but you are welcome to submit scores from either exam. As with the SAT, UCSB students tend to score well above average (a 21 for the ACT).

UCSB GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

UC Santa Barbara GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Admission
UC Santa Barbara GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Data for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex.

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data in the graph was self-reported by applicants to UCSB. Grades are unweighted. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting in to UCSB with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of UCSB's Admissions Standards

With only a third of all applicants receiving an acceptance letter, the University of California at Santa Barbara is one of the country's more selective public universities. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. As the data shows, the majority of students who got into UC Santa Barbara had at least a B+ average, an SAT score (ERW+M) above 1050, and an ACT composite score of 21 or higher. Chances of admission improve significantly as those numbers go higher. Realize that there's a lot of red hidden beneath the blue and green in the graph (see below). Many students with scores and grades that are on target for UCSB still get rejected because other parts of their applications don't compare favorably to the rest of the applicant pool.

UCSB, like all of the University of California schools, has holistic admissions, so the admissions officers are evaluating students based on more than numerical data. Students who show some kind of special talent or have a compelling story to tell will often get a close look even if grades and test scores aren't up to the ideal. Impressive extracurricular activities and winning essays are an important part of a successful application to UCSB. Don't underestimate the importance of the four Personal Insight Questions—they play a significant role in admissions decisions. Also note that a few programs at UCSB—Dance, Music, and the College of Creative Studies--require additional application materials such as an audition or portfolio.

UCSB Rejection and Waitlist Data

University of California Santa Barbara GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Rejected and Waitlisted Students
See how you compare to accepted students and get the real-time data with a free Cappex account. University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) GPA, SAT Scores and ACT Scores for Rejected and Waitlisted Students. Data courtesy of Cappex.

The first graph makes it look like nearly all students with "A" averages and strong SAT and ACT scores get accepted to the University of California at Santa Barbara. The reality is quite different. In the Cappex graph above, we've stripped out all of the data points for accepted students to make visible the data for rejected and waitlisted applicants. As you can see, a significant number of "A" students with above-average SAT and ACT scores did not get in. 

Reasons for rejection can be many. For one, applicants need to meet UCSB eligibility requirements which include a 3.0 average in core academic subjects during 10th and 11th grades. A student's GPA on his or her transcript tends to include all subjects from 9th through 12th grades. Thus, the GPA used by UCSB is likely not the same GPA a student submits to Cappex. 

In general, UCSB is looking for applicants who not only meet minimum admissions requirements, but who will also contribute to the richness and diversity of campus life. Applicants with strong academic measures but little evidence of contributions outside of the classroom are likely to be rejected. Learn more about freshman selection criteria on the UCSB admissions website.

More University of California at Santa Barbara Information

UCSB does relatively well with financial aid for qualifying students, but the price tag for out-of-state applicants is extremely high for the entire University of California system. When calculating costs, also keep in mind that about a third of all student don't graduate in four years.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 25,057 (22,186 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 46% male / 54% female
  • 98% full-time

Costs (2017-18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $14,451 (in-state); $42,465 (out-of-state)
  • Books: $1,143 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $15,169
  • Other Expenses: $5,348
  • Total Cost: $36,111 (in-state); $64,125 (out-of-state)

UCSB Financial Aid (2016-17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 64 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
  • Grants: 57 percent
  • Loans: 37 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
  • Grants: $19,558
  • Loans: $6,053

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Anthropology, Biology, Business, Communication Studies, Computer Science, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Film, Global Studies, History, Legal Studies, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Transfer, Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 93 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 68 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 81 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Water Polo
  • Women's Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track Field, Volleyball, Water Polo

If you Like UCSB, Be Sure to Check Out These Schools

Applicants to the University of California at Santa Barbara often apply to other schools in the UC system. The most popular choices are the campuses at San Diego and Santa Cruz. Students also look at some of the schools in the California State University system including Cal State Long Beach and San Diego State University.

Many applicants to UCSB don't limit their searches to public universities. Indeed, given the high cost of the UC schools and the fact that financial aid can often erase cost differences, private colleges and universities often end up costing no more than public institutions. The University of San Diego and Pepperdine University are a couple of the popular private options.

Data Source: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics