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, 12 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 28 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and 40 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Eight UC Santa Cruz alumni are winners of 10 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 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 the campus's An International Reputation for Excellence factsheet. And visit our special website commemorating the campus's 50th anniversary in 2015.

Faculty honors 

• 1 Nobel Prize winner

• 1 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences winner

• 12 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.

• 28 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. 

• 40 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 was well represented at the 2020 Santa Cruz Works Hometown Heroes awards ceremony, with Chancellor Cynthia Larive, a host of faculty and staff members, and numerous alumni honored. The awards were presented by Santa Cruz Works, an umbrella organization of mostly tech-related companies with the mission of making Santa Cruz County a great place to start, sustain, and grow businesses.

• The UCSC iGEM team won gold in 2021 and in 2020 at the world’s largest competition in synthetic biology. In 2020, the team was also nominated for best environmental project, and 13 undergraduates were recognized for their research accomplishments.

• UC Santa Cruz celebrated its first Rhodes Scholar in 2020, when graduate Garima Desai was named among the top 32 scholars from across the U.S. who would have all of their expenses paid to attend graduate school at Oxford University through a Rhodes Scholarship.

• A new list of the world's most highly cited researchers includes 19 scientists and engineers at UC Santa Cruz. The 2020 Highly Cited Researchers list, released by Clarivate’s Web of Science Group, identifies global research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence as reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade.

• Two UC Santa Cruz programs—the Human Rights Investigations Lab and the Everett Program—won funding for public interest technology in 2020 from the Public Interest Technology University Network and were recognized for their socially-conscious tech leadership.

• UC Santa Cruz was one of 35 Hispanic-Serving Institutions recognized in 2021 for noteworthy engagement with Fulbright exchange participants by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

• UCSC has won several awards for its innovative transportation programs, including a bike shuttle, vanpools, student bus passes, and the Zipcar car-sharing program.

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

• UC Santa Cruz Dining's composting partnership with Monterey Regional Waste Management helps the campus divert over 600 tons annually of food scraps from the landfill and turns it into nutrient-rich compost, which is used to replenish the soil and grow more produce.

Other recent awards

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