University of California Santa Barbara Student Review


My name is Moritz and I’m in the 6th semester of business administration . I spent my 5th semester (fall semester 2019) at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) . It is important to mention that there is no semester system at UCSB as at the HSG, but that the academic year is divided into three quarters – i.e. a trimester system. In my case, the Fall Quarter lasted from mid-September to early December. The UCSB is particularly suitable for students who want to combine an internship in the summer with a subsequent stay abroad .

About the university

The UCSB is located about 25 minutes north of Santa Barbara in Isla Vista, often simply called “IV”. The university is literally right by the sea and accordingly has its own campus beach . Around 25,000 students study at UCSB, and they are spread out quite well over the spacious campus . The UCSB is a very bicycle-friendly university – you always have right of way here on two wheels. The campus offers many possibilities. In addition to a walk-in aquarium and many cafes and restaurants, there is a large recreation center where you can practice all kinds of sports. Also to be highlighted is the library, where you can study on the upper floors with a view of the Pacificand can work. If you come to UCSB as a free mover , you are referred to as an “extension student”. The Extension Office in Kerr Hall is responsible for all questions and matters.


The choice of courses at UCSB is one of the few downsides during the semester abroad. There are two types of courses: regular university courses and extension courses. Since extension courses are not taken into account by the HSG, you are forced to attend the regular university courses as a HSG student. Unfortunately there is no possibility to bid on courses in advance. You have to “crash” various courses in the first weeks of the trimester . Usually this means attending different courses and at the end of the first lecture asking the professor for a signature confirming admission to the course.

However, since I only took courses from the ECON (Economics) and TMP (Technology Management Program) departments, my process was different. Since both departments are very popular, the professor’s signature is no longer necessary. Instead, you have to fill out a form available from the Extension Office and submit it to the respective departments. These then decide centrally about admission to the course. This process creates a lot of confusion and stress. I would recommend at least in the TMP Department to get the professor’s signature anyway, as you can sometimes bypass the system. In any case, I would advise persevering, as this is how UCSB usually complies with individual wishes.


The courses at UCSB are usually worth 4 units, which are converted into 6 credits at the HSG. Unfortunately, I had a negative experience with the crediting office at the HSG. Initially, in my application for credit, courses that had always been credited in the past were not credited to me. At the end of the semester abroad, the crediting office contacted me with the message that a course that was previously qualified as not eligible would be eligible. Since I would have preferred this course, but of course could not take it spontaneously three weeks before the end of the semester, I was very disappointed. The HSG’s apology was also meager. I would strongly advise you to do this if courses are not qualified as non-creditable in advance,


As usual in most cases, I took three courses at UCSB:

1. ECON 134A / Financial Management / HSG: Corporate Finance

I attended Ryan Sherrard’s lecture. The course wasn’t really difficult and it took a reasonable amount of work to do. During the semester you have two midterms, which you don’t necessarily have to go to (the weighting of the finals is then increased accordingly) and a final at the beginning of December. I would especially recommend going to the sections, as many old exams are being worked on here and this is the best preparation for the final.

2. TMP 120 / Fundamentals of Business Strategy / HSG: compulsory elective

The course is taught by Michael-James Hey. He has worked in the management of BP in North America and can therefore incorporate many interesting practical examples into his teaching. You have to be prepared to work more than average on this course. The final grade consists of various written case studies, two exams, a business game simulation and a final presentation. Personally, I found the course very interesting and would take it again at any time.

3. TMP 122 / Entrepreneurship / HSG: Elective subject

Entrepreneurship is taught by Matthew Stotts. He is an investor and business angel. He is very charismatic and certainly special in his teaching style. The course is characterized by many guest appearances. He usually invites friends from Silicon Valley to talk about their companies. TMP 122 was the easiest of the three courses, the final grade consists of a paper and a group project.

Before departure:

I would recommend this to everyone . The personal advisor provides you with the exact requirements and information. Much of the work is done for you . Still, there are of course a few important things that you have to take care of yourself. This includes the TOEFL test , in which you have to achieve at least 80 points in order to be admitted to the UCSB. However, this can be done easily with little effort. In addition to the TOEFL test, a current transcript of records and a confirmation of payment from the bank must be submitted for the purpose of tuition fees .


Most of the students live in Isla Vista. As a place to live either student residences or rooms come inhabited by student houses in question. The student dormitories are usually a little more expensive than the rooms. I would advise you to organize a room in Isla Vista through the Facebook group “UCSB Housing”. This way you get in contact with other students very well and it is usually a little cheaper. What you should get used to quickly as an HSG student is the fact that single rooms are in short supply in Isla Vista. 99% of all rooms are occupied by two or more students. I was lucky and found an inexpensive single room on Sabado Tarde Road, but this is the absolute exception. If you want to increase your chances of getting a single room, you should start your search at least 4 months before the start of your studies.

The street that is probably the most legendary in Isla Vista is Del Playa. Not only do you live directly on the cliffs with a view of the Pacific , but you have also landed in the epicenter of party life . However, you should consider wisely whether the “DP” suits you. Since Isla Vista is located directly at the university, the way to the university by bike is no longer than 10 minutes from any house.


  • Tuition: $ 6,700
  • Visa : $ 500
  • Flight: $ 1000
  • Housing: $ 800- $ 1200 / month
  • Food: $ 500 / month
  • Travel: $ 500 / month
  • Party and miscellaneous expenses: $ 250 / month

Host Country:

California is one of the most beautiful corners of the world . Especially in autumn and winter it is often over 20 degrees during the day. There have been four rainy days during my entire semester abroad. Isla Vista is surrounded by beautiful beaches . Most of the students spend their time on the so-called “Sands Beach” . There is surfing and many are tanning on the beach. Apart from the beaches, downtown Santa Barbara is also not far away with a drive of 20 minutes.

Isla Vista is an extremely good starting point to visit the big cities on the coast (LA, San Francisco, San Diego) and marvel at the unique national parks of California (Yosemite, Sequoia, Palm Springs, Death Valley, Big Sur etc.) . The car is the means of choice here, which is easy to rent at Santa Barbara Airport. However, you should make sure to always book online and a few days in advance, otherwise it can get very expensive. Personally, I would advise you to do as many trips as you can. There are few universities at which one can combine academic duties with leisure-time trips so well .

Social Life:

The UCSB offers extensive opportunities for leisure activities . Starting with the many sports possibilities, the Recreation Center offers a good opportunity to pursue every imaginable sport. There are always spontaneous rounds that come together for a game of football, for example. You can also become a member of the “Excursion Club” for a fee of $ 30. With membership, you can rent surfboards, kayaks and SUPs at the “Oasis House” at any time and take part in entertaining excursions. The “International Office” also offers trips, but I didn’t take part in any because we preferred to organize something on our own in our group of friends.

Most of the time, however, is spent with friends in and around Isla Vista. As already mentioned, you will also find the infamous party scene here. If you want to see and experience typical “college life” , you should definitely look for American friends, as otherwise it is difficult to get access to all parties. Usually parties are ended at 12 by the police. One important thing to keep in mind: the police are tough when you sit on the curb or when you carry open containers of alcohol with you. Some internationals have received severe fines for this. There are other nightlife options in Santa Barbara with some cool bars and quite a few clubs. Thursday evening is usually “Downtown Thursday”.

Final evaluation:

I had an unforgettable time in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara that I wouldn’t want to miss. I really enjoyed seeing the sun and sea every day . Especially in comparison to the sometimes very stressful HSG, the UCSB is really a place of relaxation and tranquility with just the right amount of work for a semester abroad. I was interested in the special manner in which the American lecturers were shown and very much enjoyed the warm and courteous manner of my American fellow students. Many trips through California have made the “Golden State” a second home . I would do a semester abroad at UCSB again at any time and I am really looking forward to my next stay in California.

UC Santa Barbara, History Department