aau-500px.pngRadical excellence

In 2019 UC Santa Cruz joined the Association of American Universities, an achievement that underscores the impact and quality of the campus’s research and graduate and undergraduate education. Membership in the AAU provides UC Santa Cruz with greater opportunity to shape and advocate for the future of higher education.

The association, founded in 1900, has 66 members, including six other UCs, flagship public universities such as Ohio State University, land-grant universities like Purdue University, and private institutions, such as Harvard.

The high-impact research conducted at UC Santa Cruz complements the campus’s guiding commitment to access and student success. Princeton Review ranks UC Santa Cruz the No. 2 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world.

UC Santa Cruz is also one of the founding members of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, which aims to increase opportunity for those historically underserved by higher education.

The 20 universities in the alliance represent every university that has been both categorized as R1—very high research activity—by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and designated as Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education.

The HSRU Alliance aims to achieve two key goals by 2030: double the number of Hispanic doctoral students enrolled at Alliance universities, and increase by 20 percent the Hispanic professoriate in Alliance universities.

In 2022, UC Santa Cruz earned the Seal of Excelencia, following a thorough data-driven review by Excelencia in Education. The seal is in recognition of intentional campuswide efforts to serve Latinx students.seal-400px.jpg

A campus with world-class facilities and one of the most visually spectacular settings in higher education, UC Santa Cruz provides unparalleled opportunities for students to learn through hands-on experience.

United by the pursuit of social and environmental justice and driven by passion and curiosity, our students, faculty, staff, and alumni innovate across disciplines, seek to push the envelope of knowledge, and deploy their expertise and voice to advocate for transformative change. We are bold in our ideas, determined in our pursuits, and distinguished for our societal impact.

High-achieving faculty, students, and alumni 

Faculty and emeriti who have been attracted to Santa Cruz include a Nobel Laureate, a Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences recipient, 14 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 29 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 46 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Nine UC Santa Cruz alumni are winners of 11 Pulitzer Prizes (2 alumnae have won twice). 

The outstanding strength and breadth of UCSC's faculty enables the campus to offer high-quality programs in letters, arts, and sciences, and the campus has received accolades including:



  • Ranked first in the nation for racial and gender diversity in leadership by the Women’s Power Gap Initiative
  • 19 scientists and engineers at UC Santa Cruz were included in the 2022 Highly Cited Researchers list, an index of the world's most highly cited researchers. The list identified researchers from across the globe who have demonstrated exceptional influence in their field or fields through the publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade.
  • Named a Fulbright HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) Leader in 2022 for the second year in a row by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for demonstrating noteworthy engagement with Fulbright exchange participants during the academic year and promoting Fulbright Program opportunities on campus.
  • Ranked among the top 10 national public universities for excellence in undergraduate teaching by U.S. News and World Report—the only University of California campus on the list. 
  • U.S. News and World Report also ranked UCSC among the top public universities (No. 35), the best national universities (No. 83), and universities with the greatest social mobility (No. 18). UC Santa Cruz is also among the universities where students incur the least amount of debt as they work toward earning a degree.
  • Princeton Review named UC Santa Cruz the No. 2 public university in the nation for "making an impact."





In competition with scholars throughout the United States, UC Santa Cruz students and alumni have won National Science Foundation Fellowships, Fulbrights, Guggenheims, and other prestigious awards in numbers that far exceed expectations for a campus of this size.

For more information, please see the Campus Achievements website and our special website commemorating the campus's 50th anniversary in 2015.

Faculty honors 

• 1 Nobel Prize winner

• 1 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences winner

• 14 faculty are members of the National Academy of Sciences, an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the advancement of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer.

• 29 faculty are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which for more than 235 years has been honoring excellence and providing service to the nation and the world. 

• 46 faculty are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an international nonprofit dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson, and professional association.

Making a world of difference

• UC Santa Cruz scientists, along with a consortium of researchers, in May 2023 released a draft of the first human pangenome—a new, usable reference for genomics that combines the genetic material of 47 individuals from different ancestral backgrounds to allow for a deeper, more accurate understanding of worldwide genomic diversity.

• In 2023, UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences contributed a major new art space to the city of Santa Cruz and the Central Coast with its new off-campus, state-of-the-art galleries on the west side of Santa Cruz. With three climate-controlled galleries, a screening room, and event space, the institute is poised to advance more broadly UC Santa Cruz’s commitment to the role of art and creative thinking in transforming society.

• UC Santa Cruz’s Research Center for the Americas celebrated 30 years of groundbreaking work in 2022 with an official renaming for social justice icon Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers. 

• In 2022, UCSC researchers completed the first gapless sequence of a human genome, covering each chromosome from end to end with unprecedented accuracy, and made it accessible through the UCSC Genome Browser.

• UC Santa Cruz's former College Ten made history in 2022, when it was rededicated as John R. Lewis College in memory of the legendary civil rights leader. It became the first UC Santa Cruz college to be named after a person of color.

• The UCSC iGEM team won gold three years in a row—in 20222021, and 2020—at the world’s largest competition in synthetic biology. In 2022, not only did team UCSC win gold, but it was also one of five projects in its division to be nominated for "Best Therapeutics Project," making it the first team in UCSC iGEM history to receive both a best projects nomination and a gold medal.

• 55% of campus land is designated as protected natural landscape.

• UC Santa Cruz's 30-acre campus Farm provides UCSC Dining kitchens with seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables, allowing students to enjoy farm-to-table produce. Dining also diverts more than 600 tons of food scraps from the landfill annually through its partnership with Monterey Regional Waste Management.

Other recent awards

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