Exchange Students

UC Santa Cruz hosts exchange students (who typically come to the U.S. on J-1 Status) through two different programs:

UC Santa Cruz Exchange Student Program – This program is managed by the Division of Global Engagement at UC Santa Cruz and is specific to our campus. Students are nominated to participate in this program through their home university, which has a valid student exchange agreement directly with UC Santa Cruz. The Division of Global Engagement has established a number of these student exchange agreements with university partners abroad (see here for a list). Global Engagement manages the application process for this program directly with the student and their home university.

University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) – UCEAP Reciprocity – This program is managed by a UC Systemwide office that maintains its own separate exchange partnerships with universities around the world, that serve all UC campuses. Students begin their application for this program by seeking a nomination through their home university, and can request to be placed specifically at the UC Santa Cruz campus. UCEAP manages the application process for this program directly with the student and the student’s home university. To see which universities partner with UCEAP and learn more about their application process, see here.


Applying via the UCSC Exchange Student Program

  1. Seek a nomination through your home university 
  2. Upon acceptance of your nomination, complete the application for exchange in the UCSC iGlobal system

Applying via University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP)

  1. Complete an application with UCEAP online and select UC Santa Cruz as your preferred campus placement

    Detailed information and instructions for undergraduate and graduate students are available on the UCEAP Reciprocal Exchanges webpage

Post-Application Questions

For questions about the UCSC Exchange Student Program, contact ISSP.

For questions about UCEAP, see the after you apply webpage.


Requesting Certificate of Eligibility for F/J Visa

Once you have been accepted as an exchange student and accepted your offer, ISSP will contact you and provide information on the next steps. Upon submission of the required paperwork, ISSP will issue your DS-2019 (J-1 status) or, I-20 (F-1 status). You will need your DS-2019/I-20 to apply for an F-1/J-1 visa stamp at the US Consulate/Embassy.

  • UCSC Exchange Student Program students will submit documents to ISSP. 
  • UCEAP Reciprocity students will submit documents to both UCEAP Systemwide and to ISSP once placed at UCSC. 

In either case, see the Request I-20/DS 2019 page for more information.

Making Payments to UCSC

While exchange students are exempt from certain fees, you may need to make payments to UCSC for housing (if on-campus), health insurance, or other miscellaneous fees. Payments to UCSC are handled by the Student Business Services (SBS) office. More detailed information can be found on the Making Payments page in the Resources section of our site.

Health Insurance

Visit the Living in the U.S. webpage for more information. 

Searching for Classes, Enrollment, and prerequisites

You can search for classes using the class search database. Classes for the upcoming quarter are typically posted according to the schedule below, at which time you can begin planning your classes.

  • Fall classes, posted by early May
  • Winter classes, posted by mid-November
  • Spring classes, posted by mid-February 

All students at UCSC are given an enrollment appointment – a designated time to sign up for classes. You can view your appointment time and enroll in classes through the MyUCSC system (student portal).

Exchange students are given enrollment appointments during the “priority enrollment period” before their first quarter. Enrollment begins mid-July for fall classes, and late November for winter. The UCSC Registrar has Student Enrollment FAQs and Enrollment Appointment FAQs to help you navigate the MyUCSC system.

If you are unable to register for the course you want through MyUCSC due to prerequisites, you will need a permission code. Since UCSC has no record of you taking equivalent prerequisite courses at your home university, you will need to contact the relevant UCSC advisor for the department offering the class to address enrollment restrictions. To find advisor contact information for each department, search for the advising section of the relevant department’s website.

Note: You can use the following templates to help explain you have the background to succeed in the class:

Department-specific Requirements:

  • School of Engineering: Look for an email directly from ISSP with instructions about getting permission codes for Engineering classes with prerequisites.
  • Economics: The Economics Department will receive your transcripts and post any applicable prerequisites to your MyUCSC account based on the coursework you’ve already taken.
  • Math: Complete the Math Department’s online Enrollment Request and Permission Code form.
  • Physics: Email with detailed information (syllabus, textbook title, class outline, etc) that demonstrates you have the background for the class. Physics will post any applicable prerequisites to your MyUCSC account.

Living in Santa Cruz

View our Living in the U.S. webpage for information and tips. 

UCEAP Reciprocity Students – you can also consult the UCEAP website, including the Reciprocity Student Guide for additional specific information about housing, enrollment, obtaining your J-1 visa, and more. 

Early Move-In

Fall-starting exchange students who will live on campus can only move in the Thursday before the International Student Orientation. Winter-starting exchange students living on campus can only move in during the regular move-in schedule. If you arrive earlier, plan to stay at a hotel, friends’ houses, or the Santa Cruz hostel in the interim.

Orientation & Visa Check-In

You must attend the International Student Orientation for Exchange and Transfer Students, to learn about the campus and your new community. If you are in F-1 or J-1 status you must complete an online visa check-in so ISSP can report your arrival and activate your record.

Currently at UCSC

Maintaining Status

The guidelines for maintaining valid documents apply to all exchange students.

Enrollment Verification & Learning Agreements

Some universities or scholarship organizations require exchange students to have an enrollment verification form or learning agreement signed each term while they are studying at UCSC. ISSP advisors are familiar with these forms and can sign them for you during advising.


Exchange students should follow the employment guidelines listed here.

Enrollment Changes

If you are considering taking a “W” grade or need to drop a class for medical reasons, please review the maintaining a full time course load webpage.


Exchange students should follow the travel guidelines.

Early Withdrawal

If you need to withdraw from an exchange program before your original end quarter, you must notify your home university of your early withdrawal plans, then meet with an ISSP advisor.

For UCEAP students, you must also submit this withdrawal form to UCEAP. Once ISSP signs off, we will give you the form back and you will need to email the completed form to

Extend Participation

To request an extension, contact your home university first. Your home university will contact UCSC if an extension can be granted.

For UCEAP students, follow the instructions here.

Before You Leave

Grace Period

J-1 status students have a 30-day grace period after their studies where they can remain in the U.S.

F-1 status students have a 60-day grace period. 

Students may not travel outside the U.S. during the grace period and return in the same F-1 or J-1 status. Students must reenter the U.S. as a tourist or under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). Students considering this should discuss their plans with an ISSP advisor.

Housing Contracts

Students living on-campus must close out their housing contracts before their program ends, within the housing cancellation period. If you do not, you will receive a late fee and will not be able to obtain your transcript. Contact your housing coordinator for more information or review the Student Housing Services website. Students living off-campus should notify their landlord or master tenant 30 days before leaving that they are ending their lease or month-to-month agreement, especially if they have given a security deposit.

Account Charges 

Make sure your UCSC account balance is in good standing and all bills have been paid before you leave UC Santa Cruz. Even minor printing fees can cause a hold and the Registrar will be unable to issue your final transcript until it is paid. If it is a large amount, UCSC may send the bill for collection. Check with the UCSC Student Business Services for more information on your billing status and account.



UCSC Exchange Student Program students: Your final, official transcript will be sent automatically from UCSC to your home university exchange office at no cost to you.

UCEAP students: Your final, official transcript is sent automatically from UCSC to UCEAP’s Systemwide Office, which then sends it to your home university at no cost to you. 

In either case, this process can take up to 6-8 weeks, after grades are posted. If you need copies of your transcript sooner, you can print a copy of your unofficial transcript from MyUCSC, or purchase an official transcript from the UCSC Registrar.

Returnee Support

Returning from an exchange program can be challenging as you readjust to life back home, but you do not need to tackle this alone. We encourage you to reach out to your home university’s study abroad office for support if you are dealing with reverse culture shock.

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Last modified: May 15, 2024