Building your class schedule

Understanding your first quarter’s schedule

Most classes at UCSC earn five credits, and are expected to take up to 15 hours per week of study and class time. Some classes and laboratory sections earn fewer credits: three, two or one credit, depending on the amount of work required.

Three five-credit classes (15 credits total)  is the standard full-time course load at UC Santa Cruz. The minimum enrollment for a full-time student is 12 credits. The maximum, without additional qualification, is 19 credits -- the equivalent of three five-credit classes and two two-credit labs (some science courses require additional labs). Students sometimes vary the number of credits they take, from quarter to quarter. But it’s important to keep in mind that 15 credits per quarter is exactly the amount of credits needed to reach the required minimum credits to graduate (180), in four years.

One of your three classes this fall will be College 1, your college core course. Depending on your writing placement, you will either have two additional classes to choose (usually these classes are major preparation or exploration), or one additional writing class and one class that is your choice.

Your first quarter schedule will most likely look like one of the three options below:

Students who have satisfied ELWR

  • College 1: your core course
  • Your choice: major preparation, exploration, or general education
  • Your choice: major preparation, exploration, or general education

Students who have not satisfied ELWR, and earned AWPE scores of 2-6 or 6E

  • College 1: your core course
  • Your choice: major preparation, exploration, or general education
  • Your choice: major preparation, exploration, or general education

Students who have not satisfied ELWR, and earned AWPE scores of 2E-5E

  • College 1: your core course
  • Writing 25 or 26: required writing course
  • Your choice: major preparation, exploration, or general education

Part Time Enrollment: Students who have medical conditions, family responsibilities, or work more than 25 hours per week may qualify for Official Part-time Status. This allows students to take up to ten credits, and receive a discount on registration fees - financial aid may be affected. Read more about the Part-Time Program. Part-time students usually take just two classes their first quarter: their required College Course, and either a course toward their major, or (if required) a writing course.

Placement: Math, Writing and Languages

Mathematics Placement:

Students considering the following majors will need Math Placement prior to enrolling for fall:

Math Placement is determined by one of the following options:

Writing and Language Placement

Most writing and language courses also require placement for enrollment. You can read more about each type of assessment here:


Some classes require placement exams or “prerequisites” before enrollment. A prerequisite is a specific course or subject that you must complete before you can enroll. In most cases, prerequisites are satisfied by specific classes taken at UCSC or elsewhere. In some cases, a placement exam or interview can serve as a prerequisite.

Lower Division versus Upper Division

When you do a class search, you’ll see that all of our classes are numbered. These numbers do matter, at least within a range.

  • Lower­ division classes are numbered 1-­99
  • Upper division classes are numbered 100-199
  • Graduate level classes are 200 and higher.

All of your first quarter classes should be lower-division, numbered 99 or below. Upper-division classes require the knowledge that students gain from introductory (lower-division) courses, often have prerequisites, and are not appropriate for your first quarter. Classes numbered 100 or higher are intended for upper-division students, sophomore to senior year.

Discussion Sections

Many larger lecture classes have associated “discussion sections” -- also sometimes called labs. These are times where you meet with TAs in smaller group settings, and are still considered part of the course. Some discussion sections are mandatory, others are optional (but highly recommended). When adding classes to your schedule, make sure you also select open discussion section/lab times.

Adding Classes to Your Shopping Cart

Students entering in fall will have access to the class schedule, and their enrollment shopping cart, by mid July. Please watch the following video tutorial for information on searching and enrolling in classes.

To begin the class search process, login to My.UCSC and click on “enrollment" Click on “class search” in left-hand menu. 

Tips for choosing classes:

  • Start by searching for “All Classes” (rather than just “Open Classes”). For the fall term, some introductory courses look closed in June and early July, but open up spaces for frosh over the summer.
  • Make sure you are only adding "lower division” courses(courses numbered 1–99). Under “Course Number”, select “less than or equal to”, and type “99”.
  • You can find GE classes by selecting the appropriate GE code. Make sure you look for GEs that apply to you. See the Graduation Requirements page to review the correct GEs.
  • To find your Core Course, College 1, the subject is "{your college}".
  • Avoid schedule conflicts by reading course descriptions and reviewing class dates and times. Remember that you’ll alsoneed to enroll in the discussion section when you enroll in the lecture.
  • Check enrollment requirements and prerequisites. If you have not met the specified requirements, you will not be able to enroll in the class. Certain classes are sequential and must be taken in order, often starting in a specific quarter. Contact your college advisers if you have questions about this.
  • Use the MYScheduler tool to search for different class combinations to best fit your schedule.
  • Back-up classes are essential. Some classes will fill by the time you enroll, so it’s important to choose, and even enroll, in backup classes. You can make changes to your schedule throughout the summer, if necessary.

When do you enroll?

Beginning in mid-July, check your My.UCSC student portal to confirm your enrollment appointment time. This is a specific time that is individualized for each student. If you are attending Summer Orientation, it’s very likely that you you will be enrolling at your orientation session in the afternoon.

Courses fill quickly, so it is important that you enroll as soon as possible. You may continue to make changes to your schedule through the summer; however, it is important to finalize your schedule by the first week of the quarter. Enrollment wait-lists become available online in early August. If you have been unable to access a class you'd like to take by that time, enroll on a wait list during your wait list appointment.

  • If your plans change and you choose not to attend UC Santa Cruz, contact the Admissions Office  before the quarter begins. Once the quarter begins you are responsible for registration fees if you do not attend and do not notify the university of your plans to withdraw.
  • For more information, review the enrollment video tutorials. If you have trouble enrolling, please refer to the Enrollment FAQs.

Fall Welcome Week:

The first week on campus after move-in is called “Welcome Week”, and is designed to orient you to university life. There are mandatory college advising presentations and major orientations during Fall Welcome Week. Your college will provide you with the Welcome Week schedule when you arrive.

Instruction begins on September 27th. You must attend the first class session of all classes in which you are enrolled. Students who do not attend the first class session can be administratively dropped. (Warning: do not assume you will be dropped if you do not attend the first class session; you are responsible for the accuracy of your enrollments.)

Next Steps

5: Important Advising Information & Resources