Incoming Student Exchange

students sitting in a field on campus

Overview

UC Santa Cruz hosts exchange students, primarily through two different programs, the Systemwide UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), and the UC Santa Cruz Exchange and Visiting Student Program, specific to our campus.

UC Santa Cruz Exchange and Visiting Student Program

This program is managed by the Division of Global Engagement and provides a non-degree study abroad opportunity for international students from UC Santa Cruz partner universities. All students currently enrolled in a degree-granting course of study at one of our partner institutions are eligible to apply. View a current list of partner institutions.

Students must be nominated by their home university to participate as either “Exchange” (reciprocal tuition waiver) or “Visiting” (tuition- and fee-paying) students. Students may be nominated for a period of study of one quarter up to a full academic year (three quarters), and may take courses in a range of academic fields that align with or complement students’ majors at their home universities. All students participating in this program receive an official UC Santa Cruz transcript of courses upon successful completion of their period of study.

Why Study at UC Santa Cruz?

UC Santa Cruz is a public university like no other in California, combining the intimacy of a small liberal arts college setting and distinctive undergraduate experience characterized by our residential college system, with the facilities and resources of a world-class research university. 

UC Santa Cruz offers rigorous academics from award-winning faculty who teach students how to think, not what to think. Our unique, cross-disciplinary approach has resulted in paradigm-changing discovery since our founding in 1965. Known as a major research center for marine and coastal sciences, astronomy and astrophysics, and genomics, to name a few, UC Santa Cruz is recognized among the most influential research universities in the world.

Learn more about UC Santa Cruz

Learn about the beloved UC Santa Cruz mascot, the Banana Slug.

Our Campuses

Main Campus

  • With sweeping, panoramic views of the Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean and footpaths and bridges through forests of giant redwood trees, UC Santa Cruz is one of the world’s most spectacular and naturally stunning university campuses. The main campus is located only minutes from beaches and surfing, the lively boardwalk, and the arts and culture of downtown Santa Cruz, California.
  • This is where the vast majority of student classes take place.

Coastal Science Campus

  • The nearby 100-acre Coastal Science Campus, located on the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is home to UC Santa Cruz research and education facilities and state and federal research labs.

Silicon Valley Campus

  • Just 45 minutes away is the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus, located in Santa Clara. This campus is home to a multi-disciplinary teaching and research facility in the heart of the world’s technology headquarters.
Estimated Cost

It’s a good idea for students to plan expenses carefully for study in the U.S. and consider the following:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Living expenses
  • Visa application fee
  • Health insurance (A requirement of the UC system and U.S. Government)
  • Personal spending, including travel to and around the U.S.

Exchange Students

Exchange students must apply through their home university for an official nomination to study full-time at UC Santa Cruz, for 1 to 3 quarters. Exchange students from universities that have a valid exchange agreement with UC Santa Cruz are eligible to receive a waiver of tuition and fees only. All other costs, including student service and orientation fees, health insurance, housing and meals, and living expenses are the responsibility of the student. See the table below for a summary of costs.

Visiting Students

Visiting students are responsible for tuition and fees at the published rate for each quarter of full-time study as well as all other costs associated with study. See the table below for a summary of costs.


Estimated cost for exchange and visiting students per quarter

CategoryEstimated Quarterly Costs
Tuition and Fees *$14,593 (Visiting students only)
International Student Services Fee (one-time) *$50 (1 quarter) / $100 (2 or more quarters)
International Orientation Fee (one-time) *$100
On-Campus Housing (inclusive of 7-day meal plan)
**
$5,821
Off-Campus Housing (room only, no meal plan) **$3,800 (1 room in shared home) ~ $7,000 (1 BR apartment). Additional estimates on communityrentals.ucsc.edu.
Health Insurance (UC SHIP) *$1,012  ($1,646 for graduate students)
Books and Supplies **$393
Transportation **$266
Personal Expenses **$512
Total (on-campus)$8,154 (exchange) ~ $22,747 (visiting) **

 * Based on 2021-22 rates, subject to change.

** Based on average costs. Individual costs may vary.


Application

Each year, UC Santa Cruz welcomes international exchange and visiting students from around the world to study on our campus. All students who are currently enrolled in a degree-granting course of study at a partner institution abroad are eligible to apply.

Students may come from a range of different academic fields and may study at UC Santa Cruz for one quarter up to a full academic year. Study in the Summer Session (June to August) is also possible on a tuition-paying basis. All students will receive an official UC Santa Cruz transcript of courses upon successful completion of their period of study.

Eligibility

The following are minimum eligibility requirements established by UC Santa Cruz. Partner universities may elect to enforce additional requirements on their students as part of their nomination process.

  • Currently enrolled and successfully completed at least one (1) academic year of coursework in a recognized degree-granting program at home institution.
  • Minimum of 2.5 GPA on a 4-point scale (or equivalent)
  • English language proficiency (if applicable):
    • TOEFL: iBT 80 / pBT 550 minimum overall score -or-
    • IELTS (Academic): Overall band score of 6.5 or higher -or-
    • Additional tests recognized by the UC Santa Cruz Office of Admissions may also be considered for demonstrating English proficiency. A full list can be seen here.
Timeline
Starting QuarterNomination DeadlineApplication DeadlineApplication Review PeriodApplication Result Email SentAcceptance Package Sent
FallFebruary 15March 15February – AprilLate AprilMay
WinterAugust 15September 15August – OctoberLate OctoberNovember
SpringOctober 15November 15October – DecemberLate JanuaryFebruary

Application timeline by quarter.

Procedure

Exchange Students

Agreement: Must apply through students’ home institution exchange/mobility office under an established student exchange agreement with UC Santa Cruz.

Nomination: Must be formally nominated first before submitting the online application.

Tuition/Fees: Students continue to pay any applicable tuition and/or fees to home institution and are granted a waiver of tuition and certain fees at UC Santa Cruz.

Document Submission: Online Application ONLY (Documents should be uploaded by the applicant’s home institution.)

Required Documents: All documents should be submitted as originals or verified as official copies (in English, or accompanied by official translation).

Required Documents: All documents should be submitted as originals or verified as official copies (in English, or accompanied by official translation).

For Application Review:

  • Application Form (online submission):
    • Study Plan
    • Statement of Purpose
  • Official University Transcript (in English, or with official translation)
  • Official English test score report (if applicable)

To Request Your “Certificate of Eligibility”, i.e., DS-2019/I-20:

  • Submit your DS-2019/I-20 Request through iGlobal. You will receive instructions after you have been notified that your application for exchange/visiting study has been accepted.
  • Copy of applicant’s valid passport biographical/photo page
  • Proof of funding / financial sponsorship information

Visiting Students

Agreement: Must apply through students’ home institution exchange/mobility office under an established student mobility agreement with UC Santa Cruz.

Nomination: Must be formally nominated first before submitting the online application.

Tuition/Fees: Students are responsible for payment of all applicable tuition and fees to UC Santa Cruz during their period of study.

Document Submission: Online Application ONLY (Documents should be uploaded by the applicant’s home institution).

Required Documents: All documents should be submitted as originals or verified as official copies (in English, or accompanied by official translation).

For Application Review:

  • Application Form (online submission):
    • Study Plan
    • Statement of Purpose
  • Official University Transcript (in English, or with official translation)
  • Official English test score report (if applicable)

To Request Your “Certificate of Eligibility”, i.e., DS-2019/I-20:

  • Submit your DS-2019/I-20 Request through iGlobal. You will receive instructions after you have been notified that your application for exchange/visiting study has been accepted.
  • Copy of applicant’s valid passport biographical/photo page
  • Proof of funding / financial sponsorship information

Academics

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.

QuarterArrival/Housing Move-in/OrientationInstructionTranscripts Sent
FallMid-SeptemberLate September to mid-DecemberJanuary
WinterEarly JanuaryEarly January to late MarchApril
SpringLate MarchLate March/Early April to mid-JuneJuly
Summer*Mid-JuneLate June to late August (multiple sessions)September

*See Summer Session for more details

For additional calendars, visit https://registrar.ucsc.edu/calendar/future.html

Courses

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.


Housing

The Residential College System

UC Santa Cruz is home to 10 distinctive residential colleges:

  • Cowell College
  • Stevenson College
  • Crown College
  • Merrill College
  • Porter College
  • Kresge College
  • Oakes College
  • Rachel Carson College
  • College Nine
  • College Ten

These residential settings provide the academically and socially supportive environments to help new students transition to campus life and get the most out of their Santa Cruz experience.

Choosing Your College Affiliation

All undergraduate exchange and visiting students, whether they ultimately choose to live on or off-campus, have the opportunity to affiliate with one of the 10 residential colleges at UC Santa Cruz. During the application process, you will be asked to indicate several of your top preferences for affiliation. Learn more about the college options at housing.ucsc.edu/colleges.

Housing Options

On-Campus

Exchange/Visiting students can apply to live in on-campus housing and there are a variety of housing options to choose from. Learn more at housing.ucsc.edu.

Note: not all room and accommodation style options are available each year, and space availability varies by quarter.

Off-Campus

If you choose to find accommodation off-campus, the UC Santa Cruz Office of Community Rentals can provide resources and information to support you in this process. Learn more at communityrentals.ucsc.edu


Health Insurance and Immunizations

All students at UC Santa Cruz must be covered by a health insurance plan. Exchange/Visiting students are automatically enrolled in the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (“UC SHIP”). The cost varies each quarter and differs for undergraduate and graduate students (see here for current insurance pricing). Students may request an insurance waiver by confirming they have another form of acceptable health insurance coverage. Acceptability of coverage is determined solely by the UC Santa Cruz Health Center.

Learn more about health insurance and the waiver policy at healthcenter.ucsc.edu.

Immunizations

All new incoming Exchange/Visiting students must comply with the UC Immunization Policy which requires students to provide evidence of vaccinations, including COVID-19 and Flu vaccination requirements, and screening for TB risk prior to attending classes.

Learn more about immunization requirements at healthcenter.ucsc.edu.


Transition and Support

International Student Services & Programs, within the Division of Global Engagement, advises students on immigration status and helps locate resources on campus for support and getting connected. Additionaly, they design and facilitate the following programs, events, and activities for international students and scholars to foster increased intercultural learning, build community, and support cultural adjustment.

  • International Student Orientation – A mandatory program that helps exchange and visiting students get to know one another, learn about the campus, and ease the transition to UC Santa Cruz.
  • Global Mentorship Program – Pairs new incoming international students with peer mentors who are knowledgeable and experienced UC Santa Cruz students who will connect them with campus resources.