Planning Your Academic Program

UC Santa Cruz is on the quarter system. Three quarters—fall, winter, and spring—constitute the regular academic year. Most courses are 5 quarter credits and require approximately 15 hours of work per week. You are normally expected to enroll in 15 credits each quarter; enrolling in fewer than 12 or more than 19 credits requires approval. If you maintain a B average, you may enroll in more courses without special approval.

Students who enter as frosh are expected to graduate in four years. To do so, you must pass an average of 45 credits per year, for a total of 180 credits. To complete certain majors with extensive requirements, transfer students may need more than two years.

Your advisers can help you plan a program that fulfills graduation requirements while meeting your educational goals (see Advising: From Course Selection to Careers).

Here is what to expect during four years at Santa Cruz:

During your freshman year, complete your college core course and satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement. Begin to take foundation courses for potential majors, along with general education requirements.

If you are uncertain about your choice of major, you may intentionally explore different fields of study during your first two years at Santa Cruz by taking foundation courses that will help you both identify whether a major is a good fit for you and will satisfy prerequisites for declaring the major. Students who enter as lower-division students are expected to declare a major during their second quarter at UCSC, if they have not done so previously. Students interested in majors requiring heavy course prerequisites, such as music and most majors in the physical and biological sciences and engineering, should be certain they start the appropriate sequences in the first year; information is available through your department's advising office.

During your junior and senior years at Santa Cruz, you concentrate on the upper-division requirements for your major and complete your comprehensive requirement, as well as complete your general education requirements. If you entered UCSC without having fulfilled the requirement in American history and institutions, you will need to do so before you graduate.

Transfer students should complete any lower-division requirements for their intended major that are offered at their current campus, and should ensure they have completed any major preparation requirements for admission. Some students may also find it helpful to complete courses that fulfill general education requirements.