How to Get into UC Santa Barbara

This is the go-to guide for getting into UC Santa Barbara. We suggest you read until the end... Not only will we layout the exact GPA and test scores you should aim for when applying to Ucsb, but we’ll also offer creative ways to help your application stand out from the pack. We breakdown Ucsb statistics better than any article out there and show you how these have changed over time. Also, make sure to check out UC Santa Barbara on CampusReel to see what it’s really like here. Here’s what we’re about to cover:

What GPA do you need to get into UC Santa Barbara?

UC Santa Barbara’s average GPA is 3.15. UC Santa Barbara does require GPA. UC Santa Barbara is currently selective. However, be aware that oftentimes schools in this GPA range are increasing their selectivity in hope of increasing “prestige”. We can’t read the minds of Ucsb application readers, but they likely want to increase the average GPA from 3.15 to 3.31 this year - to play it safe, we recommend striving for the 3.31 GPA.

*BEFORE CONTINUING PLEASE NOTE: GPA and “prestige” DO NOT mean a college is right for you. UC Santa Barbara may seem amazing on paper, but you may hate it... That’s why 700,000 students transfer colleges every year - they end up going to the wrong school. It’s crucial to watch the videos on CampusReel and make sure you can envision yourself on Ucsb’s campus. These Ucsb admission statistics do not sufficiently tell you what a college or university is like.

What is UC Santa Barbara’s acceptance rate?

Last year UC Santa Barbara’s acceptance rate was 32.64. However, check out how the acceptance rate has changed over time.

2016 2017 2018
Acceptance Rate N/A N/A 32.64 %

As you can see, UC Santa Barbara is a little easier to get into than last year.

Acceptance rate alone does not indicate your likelihood for getting into Ucsb - it’s a very high level understanding of the true competition. Use the acceptance rate as a general guide for curating a list of 10-15 schools that fall into different ranges of competitiveness. Then, use the below data to get a deeper understanding of how your application will compare to the rest of the pool.

Does UC Santa Barbara Require Test Scores?

UC Santa Barbara requires that you either take the SAT or ACT. See the table below for how UC Santa Barbara’s accepted students have performed on both tests. You may be wondering how many test scores should you submit. Generally, don’t freak out about taking the test too often. Industry consensus is that you can submit up to 6 tests as a reasonable limit.

UC Santa Barbara SAT Requirements

UC Santa Barbara’s average SAT score is 1255 - this is the sum of the math and reading portions of the SAT (the 1600 scale). Check out the below table for a deeper look into how students performed - it’s also very interesting to look at the average test score over time. The trend over time helps give insight into whether UC Santa Barbara is getting more or less competitive.

25th Percentile 75th Percentile Average
Math 570 730 650
Reading 550 660 605
2019 Total 1120 1390 1255
2018 Total - - -
2017 Total - - -

UC Santa Barbara’s average SAT score is 1255. To be a competitive applicant for UC Santa Barbara your SAT score should come close to the average. If you’re closer to the 1120, you’re likely going to have a tougher time getting accepted. To consider UC Santa Barbara a “target” school (one that you are likely to get into) you should aim for a score of 1390.

UC Santa Barbara ACT Requirements

UC Santa Barbara’s average ACT score is 72. To be a competitive applicant for UC Santa Barbara your ACT score should come close to the average. If you’re closer to the 79, you’re likely going to have a tougher time getting accepted. To consider UC Santa Barbara a “target” school (one that you have a good chance of getting into) you should aim for a score of 65.

25th Percentile 75th Percentile Average
Math 26 - 26
Reading 26 33 29
Writing 27 32 29
2019 Total 79 65 72
2018 Total - - -
2017 Total - - -

How hard is it to get into UC Santa Barbara?

As you can see from the data above, UC Santa Barbara is difficult to get into. Not only should you be aiming for a 3.15 but also SAT scores around 1255.

UC Santa Barbara Requirements

Now you know where you need to be for getting into UC Santa Barbara from a grade and test score perspective. Let’s quickly outline what else you’ll need to provide for your application to get reviewed, and then we’ll move onto the most important section: differentiating your app.

Recommendations Status
School Rank Required
GPA Required
School Record Required

How to get into Ucsb

Follow these steps to maximize your chances of getting into Ucsb. Everything you read above will help prepare you for what you need to achieve to have a shot at Ucsb, but these steps will take you even further in applying that knowledge and differentiating your application.

Main Academic Excellence that is in line with Ucsb admission standards.

  1. Score at least a 1255 on the SAT or 72 on the ACT.
  2. Maintain a GPA of at least a 3.15.

Join Extracurriculars that Align with Ucsb’s Values.

  1. Join your school band, a sports team or another group activity. If UC Santa Barbara values music heavily, for example, then try to participate in an organization related to that topic.
  2. Volunteer in your hometown. Santa Barbara has tons of ways to be involved beyond just the college. UC Santa Barbara wants applicants that are also good ambassadors for the school - they want students who will give back to the local community and broader Santa Barbara area in general.
  3. Spend your summer doing something that speaks to your values, personal growth, leadership qualities and other less quantifiable characteristics. Ucsb needs to see past your test scores and grades - they need to know that you will be a valuable and contributing member of their community. You are more than grades and test scores - your experiences should demonstrate that.

Prepare Your Application

  1. Write a stellar essay that shows UC Santa Barbara something they can’t figure out from the other parts of your application. For a detailed guide on writing the best college essay, check this out.
  2. Get teacher recs that speak to your character. If you know what you’re majoring in and include that in your Ucsb app, try to have at least 1 recommendation from a teacher in that department.
  3. Apply Before the Deadline. Too many students wait until the last minute to submit their application, and too much can go wrong during this precious time window. Since many students are applying on the last day, it’s possible that Ucsb’s own system crashes. Don’t risk the added stress this can cause - submit your app a few days early.