The Nexus analyzed UC Santa Barbara GOLD course listings for Fall Quarter 2021, finding that 8,163 fewer seats were offered this quarter than in Fall Quarter 2020, and 15 of the 468 courses had a waitlist of 50 students or more.

In Fall Quarter 2019, there were 103,697 total seats available in undergraduate courses, and in Fall Quarter 2020, there were 105,749 seats available. The number of undergraduate students was similar, with 23,349 in fall 2019 and 23,196 in fall 2020 according to third-week registration reports by the UCSB Office of Budget & Planning.

By contrast, this fall there are 97,586 total undergraduate seats available — a 7.7% decrease from 2020 — though the number of undergraduates enrolled this quarter has not been released by the university yet.

The economics department had the greatest increase in the number of undergraduate seats available compared to all departments, increasing its count by 652 since fall 2019 to offer 5,189 seats in the current quarter.

The exercise & sport studies department has decreased the number of spots available from 4,197 in 2019 to only 1,576 this year, with 576 and 559 spots filled in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The other two departments with the largest decreases in total space since fall 2020 are the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability (PSTAT). 

The Department of Anthropology increased its number of seats from 2,738 in fall 2019 to 3,820 seats the next year. However, the number of seats offered for fall 2021 has been halved to 1,878 seats. 

The PSTAT department increased the number of seats by 101 for fall 2020, with 3,934 seats available, which has decreased by 37.4% to 2461 seats for fall 2021.

As for the first day of class, Sept. 23, every single department except for writing & literature (College of Creative Studies) had at least one course with students on the waitlist.

The course with the largest waitlist was DANCE 45, a class with a maximum space of 600 students and a waitlist of 117 students on the first day of class. This course is able to accommodate more students as it is being held asynchronously through the GauchoSpace site.   

The department with the greatest number of waitlists across its courses is the PSTAT department, with four of its 13 courses offered having a waitlist of more than 50 students. The English department had the second greatest number of students on the waitlist, with two of the 15 courses having a waitlist of more than 50 students. The department with the third greatest waitlist numbers was the history department, with 24 courses having an active waitlist on the first day of class, comprising a greater spread of waitlisted classes compared to PSTAT or English.. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the Oct. 7, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus


Alex Rudolph
Alex Rudolph (he/him/his) is the 2021-22 Data Editor. He can be reached at