Housing & Dining

Campus Life - A Time and Place of Growth and Discovery

At UC Santa Cruz, all students are housed in small-scale residential communities, which provide close-knit living environments within the larger university. Live-in student and professional staff members provide orientation, support services, safety and crisis response, and a variety of social, educational, and cultural programs for residents.


The Housing Application

When you complete your online housing application you will have the opportunity to rank preferences for various room and theme options. This will give us an idea of the types of housing you are most interested in.

You will also be asked to complete a Lifestyle Questionnaire. Roommate assignments are based on the questionnaire so it is in your best interest to answer the questions as fully, thoughtfully and honestly as possible. Specific roommate requests may be met as long as they are mutual.


Your Housing Experience

Assigning rooms and roommates is not an easy task. Your roommates may or may not become your best friends, but will surely be remembered simply because of the experiences you will share. We will do our best to find you compatible roommates, but please do not assume they will share all your lifestyle preferences. Regardless of where you live, remember one thing: much of what living on campus really offers is what you and students like yourself bring to it.

Your attitude toward, and your enthusiasm for, your new living situation is the real key in determining what your new life will be like. We do promise one thing… given the opportunity, we will do all we can to make you feel welcome and at home.

Living in a Triple Room

Residence Hall Living

Cowell Floor Plan

Each residence hall building faces another across a central lawn area. The building clusters are known as the upper and the lower quad.

In physical structure, one building is much like another. Each is three to four stories tall and houses from 55 to 80 students. Each floor has a bathroom facility. Because of the residential building design, most bathrooms are designated as mixed-gender and have been modified for privacy. On single-gender floors, bathrooms are primarily used by people identifying as that gender. Please note this preference when completing your housing application.

Each residential building contains single, triple, and quadruple rooms. Your room is your own (as well as your roommate's), and your residential building is your home. The other residents of your building may be viewed as an extended family, and, like a family, you will share a number of common areas.

Apartment Living
In addition to the residence halls, our college also has apartments that house students in shared and private rooms. The apartments are available to upper-division students.


Cowell College Room Options


Large Triple

Most large triple rooms have a total floor space of 225 sq. ft. and measure 15' x 15'. Furniture includes beds in a loft configuration, desks, wardrobe closets and dressers.


Each quad room is approximately 346 sq. ft. and measures 15' x 24' with a balcony. Furniture includes beds in a loft configuration, desks, wardrobe closets, and dressers.


Cowell College has many single rooms, and first-year students are eligible for singles. Rectangle: 8'5" wide and 11' deep with a total floor space of 88.85 sq. ft. and two small windows. Box: 10'8" wide and 8'5" deep with a total floor space of 89.7 sq. ft. and one large window.

View Virtual Tours

Housing Options and Themes

In addition to room options, there are also a variety of housing themes and options for those who are interested. Based on academic pursuits, hobbies, individual backgrounds, and lifestyle preferences, these living/learning options complement a student's experience in residence.

Residence Hall. Students dedicated to visual, musical and theatrical arts. Programming focuses on creativity and fostering an imaginative expressive lifestyle.

Residence Hall. Living with others who are interested in issues related to diversity, social justice, and equity. Students from a variety of backgrounds have the opportunity to learn from one another in a culturally rich and diverse living environment committed to fostering community that celebrates the diversity of cultures and identities of others.

Apartment A unique living environment composed of both international and domestic students in an apartment/flat style living arrangement. This thriving community of residents from around the world lives and learns together to foster international understanding and form intercultural friendship. Students will have the option to take a 2-unit Intercultural Understanding class in the Fall quarter. Explore your global perspectives! (Supplemental application required). Learn more »

Residence Hall. This housing option allows those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and other identities within the LGBTQIA+ community as well as allies to live together in an open and supportive environment. (Only available in mixed-gender areas.)

Residence Hall and Apartment. Students of any gender live on the same floor or apartment and share a commitment to cooperative living through respect and consideration for one another. Bedrooms are single-gender while bathrooms may be designated as mixed-gender with private toilet and shower stalls.

Residence Hall. Students interested in actively appreciating and being engaged with the natural environment. An intentional community focused on cooperation, justice, and sustainability. Students enjoy opportunities to participate in outdoor activities in addition to raising community awareness of issues that impact our environment.

Residence Hall and Apartment. R.PAATH: Rosa Parks African American Theme Housing provides a living-learning space for students whose interests span historical, present-day, and future experiences of predominantly African American, Black, and Caribbean peoples. Designed to intentionally create space for students to feel connected, safer, and supported in a community centered on the experiences of Black/African American/Caribbean peoples, R.PAATH is available to students of any college affiliation. Students develop cultural competency/cultural intelligence and ally development through organizing, living, studying, and socializing with peers passionate about political, cultural, popular, social, and economic issues of the African Diaspora (supplemental application required). Learn more »

Residence Hall and Apartment. Students of a single gender live on the same floor or apartment (availability is based upon demand). Bathrooms are primarily used by individuals who identify with that gender.

Residence Hall and Apartment. Trans-inclusive Housing areas are intended to create safer and supportive living spaces for transgender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming (GNC), and gender nonbinary (GNB) students, as well as questioning and ally-students. Students may room together regardless of gender. Please note that this room assignment is likely to be on a mixed-gender floor/apartment and all students share common areas (e.g. bathrooms). Students who do not request a roommate(s) on their housing application will be assigned a roommate(s) based on preferences expressed in the housing application and a follow-up correspondence with a housing staff member, if necessary. Only students who indicate an interest will be assigned to Trans-inclusive Housing (supplemental application required). Learn more »

Residence Hall. Students interested in maintaining and promoting good health (physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual) through various programs and workshops dedicated towards holistic wellness.

UC Santa Cruz Dining

Our dining program is as much a part of your college life and experiences as academics. Students find mealtime an opportunity to meet friends, visit and relax, study, and, of course . . . eat! All students living in campus residence halls have a meal plan included in their housing contract. Meal plans are optional for apartment residents.

With the convenience of five all-you-care-to-enjoy dining halls situated throughout the campus, you’re never far from satisfying your cravings. Your student ID card, which also functions as your meal card and bus pass, may be used at any of the dining halls.


Deliciously Sustainable

We strive each day to prepare delicious, fresh menus throughout breakfast, lunch, and dinner including your in-between hunger attacks! Our ever rotating menus will keep you from getting bored and yet we will look to always keep your favorites available.

Our program is nationally recognized as a leader in sustainability and this means plenty of local and organic selections available to you. A wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options are available throughout the day and night, and we work closely with the campus Student Health Center to develop meals for those with restricted diets. Our staff continually strives to meet your needs.


Cowell College residence halls
Cowell College student
Triple room at Cowell College
Happy college students