University of California, Santa Barbara

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#74, overall score 55.25/100

Fun Fact:

UCSB students celebrate the soccer team’s first goal of the game by throwing tortillas onto the field. They also did this at basketball games until the tortilla-tossing fans hit their own coach in the face and caused the Gauchos to be assessed three technical fouls in one game.

Why should Jewish students attend UCSB? “Thriving, vibrant and active Chabad and Hillel. Large Jewish student body. Very little antagonism to Jewish students on campus. Jewish students maintain a strong presence in student senate and it’s easy to be a proud Jew on campus. The Jewish student organizations get along fantastically, are very active and super welcoming. From conversations with my colleagues it appears that UCSB has the most comfortable campus climate for Jews among all UC schools by a long stretch.” — Rabbi Gershon Klein, UCSB Chabad

“UCSB is a “Top 10” public university that balances stellar academics with a fun beachside feel. With the highest percentage of Jewish students and the most Jewish undergrads of any campus in the University of California system, UCSB is a “destination campus” for Jewish students. Students actively seek out UCSB for its vibrant Jewish life and positive climate on Israel-related issues. Santa Barbara Hillel works closely with UCSB to help students of all backgrounds build bridges as we foster a positive campus climate.” — Rabbi Evan Goodman, Edgar M. Bronfman Executive Director, Santa Barbara Hillel


  • Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Region: West
  • Campus type: Small city
  • Public/Private: Public
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 21,574
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 2,850
  • Jewish population share: 13%
  • Student origin: 96% in-state / 4% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: Daily Nexus
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Gauchos
  • Ultimate Frisbee teams: Black Tide / Burning Skirts

COST & AID Score: 6.67/15

  • Score: 6.67/15
  • In-state tuition: $14,409
  • Out-of-state tuition: $42,423
  • Room & board costs: $16,218
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $21,491
  • Average loan debt: $20,978
  • Starting median salary: $54,900
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: No

ACADEMICS Score: 8.33/20

  • Score: 8.33/20
  • Acceptance rate: 33%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Median SAT range: 1240-1470
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Minor
  • Hebrew major: No

ISRAEL Score: 14/20

  • Score: 14/20
  • Size of Birthright trip: 175
  • School-approved study abroad program in Israel: Yes
  • Israel Studies center: No
  • Israel-related clubs: Gauchos United for Israel, SSI, IAC Mishelanu, TAMID, JVP
  • Jewish Agency for Israel fellow: No
  • BDS vote in last four years: Proposed, didn’t pass

SAFETY Score: 5/11

  • Score: 5/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 1
  • Campus crime rate: 3.61/1,000 students (medium-low)
  • City crime rate: 37.37/1,000 people (medium-high)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 21.25/34

  • Score: 21.25/34
  • Hillel: Santa Barbara Hillel
  • Chabad: Chabad at UCSB
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Other Jewish outreach group: JAM
  • Jewish fraternities: AEPi, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: SAEPi
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan? No
  • Chicken soup hotline: Yes
  • Active Hillel clubs: 8
  • Hillel Friday night services: 1
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Hillel: 125
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Chabad: 90
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 2 (1 Orthodox, 1 Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Michael Douglas
  • Most unique/noteworthy club: TAMID aims to foster a relationship between American business-minded students and Israeli startups. Members are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning through a comprehensive education curriculum, pro-bono consulting for Israeli startups, capital market investment research, and the opportunity to apply for a heavily subsidized summer internship program in Israel. Our UCSB chapter is currently working to develop a technology track where students with interest in computer science, data science or coding can do consulting for tech companies locally and in Israel. They host a “TAMID Tank” program at UCSB featuring local investors, entrepreneurs and students as a highlight annually.
  • Where do Jewish students come from? California, and a sprinkling of out of states undergrads.
  • Kosher food details: Kosher food is available on Shabbat at Hillel and Chabad. Students can shop for kosher food nearby at multiple grocery stores within a short drive or bus ride from campus.

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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