Students at UC Santa Cruz have a wide range of academic options. The campus offers majors and minors in the arts, engineering, humanities, physical and biological sciences, and social sciences. The academic programs at UCSC are challenging and rigorous, and many of them are in newer fields that focus on interdisciplinary thinking. Taking advantage of the campus’s proximity to centers of industry and innovation such as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Silicon Valley, many students at UC Santa Cruz take part in fieldwork and internships that complement their studies and provide practical experience in their fields.

In particular, this public research institution’s academic prowess looks to the skies. The school is nationally known for astronomy and space sciences programs. Other creative programs include a computer game design major, and UCSC was the first school in the University of California system to offer the degree. Female engineers are in especially good company at UCSC; the school is noted for offering one of the highest percentages of engineering graduate degrees to women. Research activity at UC Santa Cruz is interdisciplinary and collaborative and focuses on improving the planet and the lives of all its inhabitants

In 2010, the computer engineering Ph.D. program was rated 1st nationally for publication impact by the National Research Council in 2010. The Economics Department was ranked 7th in the world–and 6th among all academic departments–for research in international finance, according to Research Papers in Economics. In 2014, the UCSC Social Sciences Division was ranked 7th in the U.S. for faculty impact in the news media.

Lecture classes at are broken up into smaller discussion sections, with more individual attention for students. At UC Santa Cruz, undergraduates have the opportunity to engage in in-depth learning while pursuing research and scholarship with leading figures in their fields. The student to faculty ratio at UCSC is 19 to 1, with 63% of undergraduate courses having fewer than 30 students. Over 60% of undergraduates conduct research during their UCSC careers.

Some of the notable faculty members at UCSC are:

– Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics Sandra Faber was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama. The medal is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon scientists.
– Medical robotics expert Jacob Rosen was named a Health Care Hero by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
– Professor of astronomy and astrophysics Jerry Nelson was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering from the Franklin Institute.
– Michael Dine, distinguished professor and chair of physics, received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences.
– The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the E. O. Lawrence Award in Biological and Environmental Sciences to ocean studies professor Tom Guilderson.
– Professor of Earth and planetary sciences Gary Glatzmaier was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer in the U.SUCSC literature professor