Students sit in lecture at the Coastal Science Campus

Academic Calendar

UC Santa Cruz operates on a quarter system. A full academic year consists of three quarters: fall, winter, and spring. Each quarter consists of approximately ten weeks of instruction and one week of final exams. The summer quarter is an optional term.

Quarter Arrival/Housing Move-in/Orientation Instruction Transcripts Sent
Fall Mid-September Late September to mid-December January
Winter Early January Early January to late March April
Spring Late March Late March/Early April to mid-June July
Summer* Mid-June Late June to late August (multiple sessions) September

*See Summer Session for more details

For additional calendars, visit

Searching Courses

Exchange and visiting students have the opportunity to enroll in their courses before arrival on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Students are encouraged to work with their home university advisors beforehand to explore course options at UC Santa Cruz and develop a study plan that allows for flexibility in case first choices are not available. 

  • Visit the General Catalog to see all courses offered at UC Santa Cruz, along with brief course descriptions, and an indication of which quarter(s) each course will be taught.
    Note: courses are subject to change.
  • Visit the Class Schedule tool to search for courses and see the actual course schedule for each quarter.

Course Numbering

Undergraduate courses are classified as lower division or upper division. Lower-division courses (numbered 1–99) are designed for first-year and sophomore students but may be taken by more advanced students. Upper-division courses (numbered 100–199) are designed for junior and senior students but are open to first-year and sophomore students who have sufficient background and the consent of the course instructor. 

Graduate courses (numbered 200–299) are either restricted to graduate students or open only to students who can show the instructor that they have completed sufficient upper-division coursework (or the equivalent) basic to the subject matter of the course.

Course Format 

Most courses at UC Santa Cruz are taught as lectures or, when the class is small enough for considerable discussion, as seminars. A large number of courses require enrollment in a secondary discussion section scheduled at a different time from the primary course. In some cases, there is laboratory or fieldwork associated with a course. 

Course Credit 

Unless otherwise specified in the course description, each course earns 5 quarter credits. All physical education courses are noncredit. Other non-credit courses include certain graduate seminars. Laboratory courses, music courses involving individual lessons or ensemble participation, as well as some special-interest seminars and individual studies courses carry less than 5 credits and are designated accordingly. 

The normal UC Santa Cruz undergraduate program of study is three 5-credit courses per quarter or equivalent. 

Course Restrictions

Departments may sometimes limit or restrict enrollment of Exchange/Visiting students in courses that are in high demand. Therefore, access to specific courses cannot be guaranteed; Students are encouraged to maintain flexibility in their Study Plan with several alternative course selections, in case first choices are unavailable. Departments screen students’ transcripts carefully for prerequisite courses. Applicants interested in courses in these academic fields must be an enrolled major in the same field at their home institution in order to pursue enrollment in these areas:

  • Arts
  • Biology / Biological Sciences
  • Economics / Business Economics
  • Engineering / Computer Science
  • Film & Digital Media Studies
  • Psychology

Graduate Level Courses

Students currently enrolled in a graduate-level degree program (MSc, MA) at their home institution may request enrollment in graduate courses (numbered 200 and above) only with permission of the course faculty/instructor and the appropriate Dean. Students should be prepared to select alternative courses.