Scholarships and Awards

The Division of Undergraduate Education provides information and manages the endorsement process for students on campus who are applying to National Scholarships which require instituational nomination, and also orchestrates several of the UCSB-based Commencement Awards.

National Scholarship Listings

Outstanding undergraduate students should visit the UCSB National Scholarship Listings to investigate prestigious national and international scholarship opportunities.  These scholarships have rigorous and highly competitive application processes, so students must begin their applications well before the deadlines. 

While it is true that a successful applicatant to a national scholarship often receives financial support, the prestige of receiving one of these awards is in some ways even more valuable, as the scholarships can open up a variety of academic, research, and professional opportunities for students who are able to stand out amongst their peers.  Interested students should read the listings carefully and evaluate national scholarships for compatibility with their specific background and interests.

Students considering applying for a national scholarship are advised to send a message to to set up an appointment to discuss their interest and the application process.  Students may also drop in between 9:30-11:00am on Wednesdays and 2-3:30pm on Thursdays for national scholarship advising, though appointments are recommended.

Commencement Awards

The Commencement Awards are presented each year to four graduating seniors. Applicants for the awards must graduate during the same academic year (fall, winter, spring, or summer of the current year). As the primary purpose is to recognize outstanding academic achievement, nominees should have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.60.

Interested students submit an online application (link below) upon nomination or self-nomination for one of the following commencement awards:

  • Deans' Award for Outstanding Senior

    Awarded to a graduating senior in the College of Letters and Science for outstanding scholarship and contributions to the campus community. Nominees for any of the three divisional Awards will automatically be considered for the Deans' Award.

  • Frances Colville and Terry Dearborn Memorial Award

    * Awarded for outstanding academic achievement to a College of Letters and Science honors student majoring in the sciences, in memory of Frances M. Colville, Associate Professor of Physical Education (1955-64), and Terry H. Dearborn, Associate Professor of Physical Education (1940-64).

  • Luis Leal Social Sciences Undergraduate Award

    * Awarded for outstanding academic achievement to a student with a major in the social sciences in honor of Don Luis Leal, a visiting professor whose presence and scholarship have greatly enriched the Santa Barbara campus (1976-2010).

  • William R. Reardon Undergraduate Award

    * Awarded for outstanding academic achievement to a student majoring in an arts or humanities discipline, in honor of William R. Reardon, Professor of Dramatic Art (1965-86) and Associate Dean of the College of Letters and Science (1979-86), emeritus.

The application period for the 2016-17 academic year was open from February 3, 2017 until April 10, 2017.

In order to be considered for one of the awards, each self-nomination must be accompanied with the following materials:

  • A letter of recommendation from a UCSB faculty member. Letters should include comments concerning scholarly achievement, service to the campus community, and any special circumstances for consideration.  The letters should be emailed to Valerie Gonzalez, Assistant to the Dean, at
  • The endorsement of their department chair is also needed (if the chair writes a letter of recommendation, it will count as both the endorsement and the letter). The endorsement should be emailed to Valerie Gonzalez, Assistant to the Dean, at

* Where appropriate, nominees for the Colville-Dearborn, Leal, and Reardon awards are considered for the Deans’ Award for Outstanding Senior, provided the academic achievement and community service involvement are consistent with the Deans’ Award criteria.

The 2016-17 application period ended April 10, 2017.

Commencement Speakers

Have you dreamed of addressing your class at the 2016-2017 commencement ceremonies, reflecting on your time at UCSB and sharing your experience and perspective with your peers? Now is your opportunity to do so! The College of Letters and Science is currently accepting applications for Student Commencement Speaker positions for the following ceremonies:

  • Sciences, Saturday, June 17, 2017,at 9:00 am
  • Engineering and Sciences, Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 1:00 pm
  • Social Sciences I, Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm
  • Social Sciences II, Sunday , June 18, 2017 at 9:00 am
  • Humanities and Arts, Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm

If you are a senior who has graduated or will graduate during the 2016-2017 academic year (including summer 2017), please consider applying for this exciting opportunity. The Letters and Science Student Speakers will address their peers in a 5 minute speech during their chosen ceremony.  Selected speakers will also receive assistance in revising and preparing prior to commencement.

If you wish to apply for the Speaker role, please complete the online application by the deadline. Please be certain to reserve your spot in commencement before applying to be a speaker.

The application period ended April 10, 2017.

Other Scholarships & Support

The Division of Undergraduate Education does not maintain a directory for third party scholarships that do not require campus endorsement.  However, we are able to provide support for students working on scholarship applications, including providing comments on essays or advice on seeking recommendation letters.  Current UCSB students working on applications for any academic scholarship who are seeking help may contact us at:

For information on general financial support opportunities, including FAFSA related scholarships, we recommend students contact the Office of Financial Aid.