Congratulations on deciding to push your tiny, colored, plastic automobile down the path marked “college,” instead of the shorter “straight to career” path. In The Game of Life, you’ve just placed yourself a few rolls of a die closer to the “Millionaire Tycoon” square.

Half-jokes aside, as an incoming freshman at UCSB, you’ve put your playing piece on the path toward a world-class education. And here, your academic life does not hinge on chance.

Press Rankings

UCSB may be infamous for raging parties, the beach, and raging beach parties – this year we’ve been named the number five party school in the country by Playboy Magazine – but our school has a bit more going for it. In its latest ranking of American universities, U.S. News & World Report placed UCSB 44th among all universities in the country, both public and private, and 12th among all public universities nationwide.


Between its three distinct colleges – the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering and the College of Creative Studies – UCSB offers almost 100 different undergraduate majors. Aside from the obvious winner – undeclared – the most popular major is business economics, followed by biology, psychology, political science and communication.

However Paul Desruisseaux, associate vice chancellor for public affairs, said the global studies department has highest satisfaction rate of all majors. A whopping 92 percent of global studies graduates said they would choose global again, given the chance.

Top Programs

According to Admissions Counselor and Tour Coordinator Anil Gnanamuthu, several undergraduate disciplines – and many graduate programs – have received top recognition for their academic prestige.

“Geography, aquatic biology, chemistry, physics, religious studies and the College of Engineering are some of our top-rated programs,” Gnanamuthu said. “The College of Engineering is consistently ranked among the top 20 programs of its kind in the nation. However, even though we do have these particular standout programs receiving more recognition, all of programs have their own standout qualities and faculty.”

For example, the environmental studies program at UCSB was one of the first of its kind. Formed a year after the 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, today the environmental studies program is still a leader in its field, and UCSB is home to one of the greenest research laboratories in the nation.


A key indicator of the strength and excellence of research opportunities at a university is the number of national institutes that university possesses, Matt Tirrell, the dean of the College of Engineering said. With 12 national research centers and institutes, UCSB offers outstanding prospects for undergraduates who want to work on notable research.

“Research opportunities are great for undergrads, if those students have the ambition and drive to pursue those opportunities,” Tirrell said. “If it is science or engineering, the opportunity to work in a lab is abundant; you don’t need a lot of prior experience – you just have to have enough self-confidence and maturity to approach a faculty member.”

Distinguished Faculty

Professors at UCSB are established experts in their fields. Five faculty members have received the Nobel Prize since 1998 – three in physics and one in each chemistry and economics. And many more UCSB faculty members have been awarded prominent recognition for their work, such as Shuji Nakamura, a professor in the College of Engineering who won the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize and received a $1.3 million grant for his work with new light sources.

Education Abroad Program

Despite the abundant academic advantages at UCSB, when the campus begins to seem as familiar as the unchanging tiles of a board game, it may be time to travel. The Education Abroad Program provides students with the opportunity to study for half or full semesters at over 150 schools within 34 different countries around the globe, ranging from Australia to Vietnam.

According to Gnanamuthu, students do not have to stray from their academic path to travel abroad.

“We have about 20 percent of our students go to foreign countries each year for education abroad, but we encourage everyone to go,” Gnanamuthu said. “You don’t need to speak another language, there is a low minimum grade requirement, and students can still stay on their academic track while studying in another country. EAP is just a great program for all to check out.”