University of California Santa Barbara Review

University of California Santa Barbara Review

North America

Information on UCSB

The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) is located next to the city of Goleta in the County of Santa Barbara. The campus is approximately ten minutes by freeway from the county capital, Santa Barbara. Around 22,000 students study at UCSB, but the number is increasing every year. The campus is right by the sea and has several beaches of its own. There is also a large lagoon in the middle of the campus. The very large campus has about 7 restaurants, several small shops, parking garages, parks, swimming pools, a large soccer and basketball stadium and a recreation center with a number of soccer, basketball, football, tennis, squash and Racquetball fields and relatively modern fitness centers.

Free WiFi is available for students everywhere on campus. The large library in the middle of the campus offers enough space to study at any time of the year or day. The Campus Bookstore offers all the necessary study documents for purchase. The entire campus is smoke-free. Visit to get information about vocational training in united states.

Studies at UCSB begin with the so-called Orientation Day, on which all exchange students are introduced to university life at UCSB for one morning through lectures and are provided with all the necessary information. A separate office, which is exclusively responsible for “UCSB Extension Students” (this is the name of the exchange program at UCSB), is a helpful and friendly contact point for questions and concerns of all kinds.

Right next to the campus is the student town of Isla Vista (IV), a place that is unique in the USA. Isla Vista has a population of around 23,000, mostly students. There are many restaurants, bars and shops, which are in turn run and frequented by students. The night and party life in Isla Vista is correspondingly pronounced. I would highly recommend prospective students to look for a room in Isla Vista, as I think you might otherwise miss out on some of college life in the US. In addition, you can hardly avoid buying a car if you live further inland or even in downtown Santa Barbara.


At UCSB there are no semesters, but so-called quarters, each of which lasts around three months (case: mid-September to mid-December; winter: early January to mid-March; spring: late March to mid-June; summer sessions ). Usually you take three courses per quarter, each of which comprises 4 American units, which are converted into approx. 6 ECTS. UCSB offers courses at undergraduate and graduate level as well as so-called extension courses, which are specially offered for exchange and MBA students.

Enrollment for undergraduate courses takes place via class crashing, in which you attend the first lecture of a course and at the end personally ask the professor for a place. You will receive more detailed instructions on this (including which courses have the greatest chance of getting places) on Orientation Day. However, many departments have different rules for enrolling in graduate courses. Here you usually have to contact us in advance by e-mail and have your certificates checked for compliance with the prerequisites. You will be prompted to do this by email in good time and provided with all the necessary information. Either way , it shouldn’t be a problem to get enough and wanted courses.

Since this year, the rules regarding the admission of exchange students to graduate courses have changed, especially in the ECON area, which is why many of the courses that were previously attended by exchange students are no longer available (especially the popular ECON 274 Managerial Economics and accounting). For me, in the end, the possible selection in the ECON area was limited to just two economics courses. However, this should definitely be clarified again by future students, as the rules are constantly changing.

In the end, I took the following three courses:

COMM 113: Media Effects on the Individual

This course is about the impact of mass media on individuals. Topics included are, for example, the impact of violent video games, pornography, and educational and entertainment media. In addition, many theoretical concepts are introduced and a number of scientific studies, their research methods and results are explained. The contents of the course are generally interesting. The examination consists of a midterm and a final, both complete multiple-choice exams. Professor Mullin is nice and makes the lectures very entertaining. However, his slides are very unstructured and he often wanders, which makes the overview of the material and the course guide very difficult. A part of the effort that is not to be disregarded is therefore spent on arranging and structuring the notes. Otherwise you have to read a lot of articles, some of which are complex. However, it takes a lot of effort to achieve a good grade.

COMM 169: Social Networks

This course deals with real social networks, not, as the name suggests, with online social networks like Facebook or the like. It is about the integration of people in groups and organizations, their connections to other members and various influences on behavior and the balance of power in these social groups. The course conveys interesting concepts and findings and Professor Stohl always includes current events. The examination includes a midterm, a final and two assignments (two 3-page papers on topics of your choice). The effort is not to be underestimated; however, if one reads the readings and has understood the main points of the lecture, a good grade can be achieved.

ECON 205A: Microeconomic Theory I.

As the course title suggests, this course is about microeconomics. The course is primarily mathematical in nature. Numerous mathematical tools are introduced, from Constraint Optimization and Comparative Statics to Choice under Uncertainty and Behavioral Economics to General Equilibrium, Auctions and Information Technology. Some of this may sound familiar to students who have completed their bachelor’s degrees at the HSG; however, most of it goes a step or two further. Professor Grossman is very nice and helpful. Additional practice hours help to understand the practical tasks that make up the examination material. The exam includes two midterms and a final. A good grade can be achieved in this course with not too great a effort, but with a reasonable amount of effort.

Overall, studying at the UCSB is comparable to the HSG in terms of effort. However, due to the midterms and assignments, the effort is distributed much more evenly across the quarter. Under no circumstances should you let yourself fall too far behind, otherwise it will be very difficult to catch up (especially if you still want to go on weekend trips).

Practical information


Like most freemover students, I signed up for MicroEDU. Detailed information on the registration process can be found on the MicroEDU homepage. I contacted MicroEDU around mid-March. I then sent my original documents to Münster, from where they were forwarded to UCSB. These documents included:

  • Application for Enrollment UCSB
  • Certified bachelor’s certificate and certified transcript of the grades at the master’s level
  • TOEFL iBT Score Report (copy is sufficient) (at least 80 points)
  • Original financial confirmation
  • Copy of the passport
  • Contact form semester MicroEDU
  • Signed “Terms and Conditions” form from MicroEDU

At the end of April, I received the written confirmation from UCSB by post. You then have to apply for a visa online and make an appointment with the American embassy. Detailed instructions can be found at I was able to make the appointment at relatively short notice, one week in advance. The waiting time at the embassy was approx. 45 minutes and the conversation that followed was short and easy. It is probably best to make an appointment as early in the morning as possible.


Like many others, I traveled to Santa Barbara relatively early (about 3 weeks before the start of my studies) to get to know the area a little better and to look for a room on site. Of course, there is a certain risk involved. In addition, staying in a hotel or motel in Santa Barbara is extremely expensive. If the location is supposed to be reasonably good (near Isla Vista), Airbnb is not necessarily a great alternative either. It is advisable to start the search from home. However, it is of course a bit difficult to find something if you cannot introduce yourself personally and examine the room. How to handle this is probably the most difficult question and therefore, in my opinion, cannot be answered. ThereBoth variants have advantages and disadvantages, it depends on the person’s thirst for adventure. Under no circumstances should you transfer funds from Switzerland without having seen the property and without detailed contact information. It is also a bit uncomfortable that the rental contracts often have to be signed for a whole year. This means that you are liable for the rent for eleven or twelve months. However, I have not heard from anyone who has not found a successor or subleaser.

Most students in Isla Vista live in twin or triple rooms. This may sound a bit daunting at first, as we are hardly used to this from Swiss and German universities. However, you get used to it very quickly and can even have a lot of fun once you’ve found “good” roommates.

There are primarily three internet platforms for searching:

  • The UCSB housing exchange: (the UCSB student login is required for this)
  • Craigslist:
  • The UCSB Housing facebook group:

I lived in a triple room in a large fraternity house with over ten residents. This type of living is typical of life in Isla Vista, which is why I can only recommend it. I found the room through the UCSB housing exchange; however, I have just received two replies to about 10 emails.


The cost of living in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Isla Vista is rather high. The rents in particular are extremely expensive; For a double or triple room you should expect $ 500-800 per person, for a single room more than $ 1000 per month or more. The tuition fees are approx. 6000 dollars (2300 fixed fees, approx. 1100 per course (applies to 4 units undergraduate and graduate courses) plus any teaching materials). Otherwise, it depends very much on what you want to do in addition to your studies (weekend trips, concerts, festivals, etc.). Usually it shouldn’t be necessary to open an American bank account. With the debit card you can easily withdraw cash at the ATM; Otherwise you can of course also everywhere with a credit cardpay. You should, however, first inquire about the fee schedule at your bank.

Life in IV

A bike or skateboard is recommended for getting around Isla Vista as well as on campus. Bicycles and skateboards can be bought cheaply on (I paid $ 60 for my bike). Selling for the same price shouldn’t be a problem after the quarter. There are several shops in IV itself for purchases. For larger purchases, it is advisable to go (by bike, bus or over) to the nearby Camino Real Marketplace, where there are numerous large shops (including Albertsons, Kmart and Costco).

Exchange experience overall

Overall, the exchange at UCSB was a great experience. In addition to the academic insights, life in Isla Vista is a once in a lifetime experience. If you make an effort to come into contact with the local students and to cultivate them, you gain interesting insights into the culture and lifestyle of American students and can certainly benefit linguistically. The university’s location in California is ideal for reaching many well-known destinations (LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, etc.) relatively quickly. Overall, I can only warmly recommend an exchange semester at UCSB in every respect.

University of California Santa Barbara Review