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International Freshman Selection

The University of California use a comprehensive review process when evaluating each freshman applicant. The Office of Admissions at UC Santa Barbara will use a variety of academic as well as non-academic factors when considering a student’s accomplishments. Academic and extracurricular achievements are viewed in light of the opportunities available to each student and the student's demonstrated capacity to contribute to the intellectual life at UCSB.

UC Santa Barbara uses the following breakdown when evaluating international freshman applicants:

50% Academic:
  • Standardized exam scores
  • Course preparation and performance
  • English language proficiency, if applicable
50% Non-Academic:
  • Personal Insight Questions
  • Achievements and activities in light of opportunities available to you

Minimum Eligibility vs. Selection

While attaining minimum eligibility is an important first step in gaining admission to the University, minimum eligibility does not assure admission to your first choice campus. When UCSB cannot admit all eligible applicants, as has been the case among many UC campuses in recent years, we use standards to select students that are more competitive than the minimum requirements. These standards, which the university calls selection criteria, identify students who have demonstrated the capacity for high academic achievement and promise, and who have a variety of other qualities that can contribute to the strength and diversity of the campus community.

Duolingo English Test

For international applicants whose primary language is not English, we recommend taking the Duolingo English Test.  

Taking the test is optional. UCSB remains committed to reviewing all applications thoroughly and thoughtfully, with or without the test and video interview. Students not taking the exam will not be at a disadvantage.

University of California Comprehensive Review

The UC comprehensive review process consists of the following criteria:

  1. Academic grade point average in all completed "a-g" courses, including additional points for completed UC-certified honors courses.
  2. Scores on the following tests: ACT Plus Writing or the SAT Reasoning Test.
  3. Number of, content of and performance in academic courses beyond the minimum "a-g" requirements.
  4. Number of and performance in UC-approved honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Higher Level and transferable college courses.
  5. Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of your high school class at the end of your junior year (Eligible in the Local Context or ELC).
  6. Quality of your senior-year program as measured by the type and number of academic courses in progress or planned.
  7. Quality of your academic performance relative to the educational opportunities available in your high school.
  8. Outstanding performance in one or more specific subject areas.
  9. Outstanding work in one or more special projects in any academic field of study.
  10. Recent, marked improvement in academic performance as demonstrated by academic GPA and the quality of coursework completed or in progress.
  11. Special talents, achievements and awards in a particular field, such as visual and performing arts, communication or athletic endeavors; special skills, such as demonstrated written and oral proficiency in other languages; special interests, such as intensive study and exploration of other cultures; experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service or significant participation in student government; or other significant experiences or achievements that demonstrate the student's promise for contributing to the intellectual vitality of a campus.
  12. Completion of special projects undertaken in the context of your high school curriculum or in conjunction with special school events, projects or programs.
  13. Academic accomplishments in light of your life experiences and special circumstances, including but not limited to: disabilities, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, disadvantaged social or educational environment, difficult personal and family situations or circumstances, refugee status or veteran status.
  14. Location of your secondary school and residence.

Evaluation by College

College of Letters and Science

Choice of major is not considered in selection to the College of Letters and Science. The exceptions to this rule are dance and music performance majors. Both majors require applicants to complete an audition in late January or early February.

College of Engineering

Students are selected by major for all College of Engineering majors. Only applicants with a solid background in advanced high school mathematics will be considered for admission to engineering. This includes high grades in all math courses through grade 11 and enrollment in pre-calculus or higher in grade 12. A student not selected for their first choice major will be reviewed for admission to an alternate major outside of the College of Engineering if one was selected.

College of Creative Studies

Applicants to the College of Creative Studies submit a supplementary application in addition to the general UC Application, which is reviewed by Creative Studies faculty. Students are selected within Creative Studies majors only. Applicants not selected for Creative Studies will automatically be considered for admission to the College of Letters and Science.