Degree Requirements - the Basics

As a UC Santa Cruz student, you will be asked to complete more than just the courses for your major(s). General education requirements expose you to a broad range of knowledge, while the classes you take for your major will provide the depth in that particular subject.

You will need to complete all of the general education (GE) requirements, as well as University requirements. You will also need to reach a minimum of 180 credits – which is the equivalent of four years of full-time work.

University Requirements

  • American History & Institutions (AH&I)
  • Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR - must be completed by your third quarter)

General Education Requirements

  • CC - Cross-Cultural Analysis
  • ER - Ethnicity and Race
  • IM - Interpreting Arts & Media
  • MF - Math & Formal Reasoning
  • SR - Statistical Reasoning
  • SI - Scientific Inquiry
  • TA - Textual Analysis
  • PE - Perspectives
  • PR - Practice
  • C - Composition (must be completed by your sixth quarter)
  • DC - Disciplinary Communication (part of your major)

Major Requirements

At UCSC, you have the option of pursuing a single major, a double major, or a combined major. Each major involves substantial work in the discipline and requires no fewer than 40 upper-division or graduate credits. Minors are also possible, as additions to your major, and require no fewer than 25 upper-division or graduate credits. Only courses in which you earn a grade of Pass, C (2.0 GPA), or better satisfy major or minor requirements.

The College Requirement

The College Requirement will be satisfied by College 1, taken during your first quarter of enrollment. For more information, please see the next section: The College Core and Academic Literacy Curriculum.

180 Credit Minimum

You must earn a minimum of 180 credits. To give context, completing 15 credits per quarter for four academic years will earn exactly 180 credits.

These credits may also include transferable credits from community colleges or other Universities, as well as qualifying AP or IB exam credit.

Academic Progress Requirements

Full-time students at UCSC are expected to earn a grade of C or better (or P) in classes, and maintain their GPA at 2.0 or higher. They are also expected to earn an average of 15 credits per quarter (12 credits per quarter at minimum), ideally allowing them to complete the 180 credits needed for graduation in four years.

Students who receive financial aid are also asked to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress standards. Satisfactory Academic Progress is measured each academic year.

Grading Options

Students have the option to take classes for a letter grade or for “pass/no pass” (P/NP) grade. Pass/no pass means that the course will not affect GPA; a passing score (P) earns credits, and a non-passing score (NP) does not. Students should use this option sparingly -- many majors require letter grades for qualification and graduation. In addition, no more than 25% of UCSC credits may be taken as pass/no pass.

When to Complete Your GEs

General Education courses are designed to be taken across all four years of study - not just in the first two years. Many students take roughly one GE class per quarter, using the rest of their time to focus on exploratory or qualifying courses for their major(s). This is because many majors (especially science or engineering majors) require specific courses, or course sequences, within the first year.

AP Scores and Your Requirements

Scores of 3, 4, or 5 on many AP exams will transfer in as credits (toward your 180 credit minimum), and in some cases may satisfy general education requirements and/or introductory major classes. For a detailed view of exam scores and their possible effects on your UCSC work, please review the AP-IBH Chart.

Next Steps

3: The College Core and Academic Literacy Curriculum

4: Building Your Class Schedule

5: Important Advising Information & Resources