University of California, Santa Barbara
#94 Overall Influence#100 Desirability Rank

University of California, Santa Barbara

Public university near Goleta, California, United States and part of the University of California system

Dating all the way back to the 1891 founding of a small, vocational institution called the Anna Blake School, the University of California, Santa Barbara is now a full-blown public research university, and among the most influential schools in the world.

The Anna Blake school was initially established for the purpose of teaching trades and skills, particularly home economics and industrial arts. In 1909, it became the Santa Barbara State Normal School, focusing on teacher training. By 1921, it had grown into the Santa Barbara State College. Finally, in 1944, after much lobbying and debate, the institution became the third member of the University of California System, where it remains today.

Though at the time it was conceived as a small liberal arts school, the university quickly grew in size, particularly after acquiring its current campus in 1949 and subsequently absorbing a surge in baby boomer enrollment through the late 1950s. Today, the campus spans 708 acres and boasts its own personal beach.

UCSB is not unfamiliar with controversy. During the later years of the Vietnam War, the campus was the site of major anti-war demonstrations, which even included bombings, arson, and violent clashes with the National Guard.

Today, Santa Barbara is a member of the Association of American Universities, regarded as a “Public Ivy,” and the home of 12 major research centers, including the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Southern California Earthquake Center, and Microsoft Station Q.

UCSB counts seven Nobel Prize Laureates among its faculty and alumni:

  • Carol W. Greider, molecular biologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009, for her work in telomeres
  • Frank Wilczek, theoretical physicist and winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with David Gross) for their work in particle physics
  • Shuji Nakamura, electronic engineer and winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing energy-efficient blue LEDs
  • Finn E. Kydland, economist and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2004 for his work in macroeconomics
  • Herbert Kroemer, physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for his developments in semiconductor technology
  • Walter Kohn, theoretical physicist and chemist, and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in developing density functional theory
  • Alan J. Heeger, chemist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000 for his role in discovering and developing conductive polymers
  • David Gross, theoretical physicist and winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with Frank Wilczek) for their work in particle physics

Additionally, UCSB counts Fields Medalists as well as members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences among its faculty and alumni. Other prominent alumni include Olympic medalists, professional athletes, Academy Award-winning actors, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, and famous musicians and performers. Notables include:

  • Gwyneth Paltrow, award-winning actor
  • Michael Douglas, award-winning actor
  • Robby Krieger, guitarist for The Doors
  • Jack Johnson, singer and songwriter
  • Jason Lezak, a four-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer
  • Barry Zito, All-Star MLB pitcher
  • Don Hertzfeldt, animator and filmmaker


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


5221 Cheadle Hall, Santa Barbara CA 93106

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

33 per 100k

Violent Crime

4 per 100k

What is University of California, Santa Barbara known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#14 World Rank #7 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#66 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#85 World Rank #27 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#65 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#73 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#117 World Rank #43 USA Rank
#89 World Rank #44 USA Rank
#82 World Rank #49 USA Rank
Computer Science
#143 World Rank #53 USA Rank
#106 World Rank #58 USA Rank
#93 World Rank #60 USA Rank
#116 World Rank #61 USA Rank
#89 World Rank #62 USA Rank
Political Science
#131 World Rank #71 USA Rank
#193 World Rank #74 USA Rank
#149 World Rank #91 USA Rank
#215 World Rank #92 USA Rank
#121 World Rank #96 USA Rank
#133 World Rank #101 USA Rank
#255 World Rank #133 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#59 World Rank #49 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#319 World Rank #181 USA Rank
Social Work
#453 World Rank #267 USA Rank
#666 World Rank #286 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are University of California, Santa Barbara's Most influential alumni?

University of California, Santa Barbara's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Religious Studies, Criminal Justice, and Anthropology. University of California, Santa Barbara’s most academically influential people include Reza Aslan, Michael Douglas, and Robert Ballard.

Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan

Iranian-American author, commentator

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Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas

American actor and producer

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Robert Ballard
Robert Ballard

United States Navy officer, oceanographer and underwater archaeologist

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Garrett Hardin
Garrett Hardin

American ecologist

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Bob Shoup
Bob Shoup

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Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow

American actress, entrepreneur, writer and singer

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Richard Serra
Richard Serra


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Joseph Tainter

American anthropologist

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Ronald Vale
Ronald Vale


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Edward Feser
Edward Feser

American professor of philosophy

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Robert Kurzban

American psychologist

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Marlene Zuk
Marlene Zuk

American evolutionary biologist

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