Silicon Valley

A Visit to Santa Clara University

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SCU seal

By Sue Luse

Last fall I had the opportunity to visit five colleges in the Bay Area, including Santa Clara University. I hadn’t visited Santa Clara in some time and was reminded again why the Silicon Valley school draws students from all over the country and world. It has academic excellence, proximity to some of the most innovative tech companies in the world, and glorious weather. When I visited in October, the sun was shining, there was a back-to-school energy among the students and campus life was buzzing.


The Santa Clara campus is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay and adjacent to San Jose, the tenth largest city in the US. It spans 106 acres of lush gardens and facilities, which surround the iconic Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the heart and soul of the campus. As a visitor from Minnesota, I was struck by the campuses warmth, beauty and palm trees.

Life for a Santa Clara University student extends beyond campus. It’s just a short drive to San Francisco or the beaches of Santa Cruz, and you’re only two miles from San Jose International, which makes for easy trips home. The Bay Area has something for everyone, and whether you enjoy surfing, skiing and the outdoors or bookstores and coffee shops, you’ll find your place here.

Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley opportunities for students

The University’s neighbors – companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and NASA — are among the top employers of SCU graduates. But the campus’s connection to its community goes beyond internships, experiential learning and employment opportunities. Santa Clara students are encouraged to interact with the diverse surrounding community, and many are involved in number of ways such as activism and volunteering.


Santa Clara has six colleges, three offering undergraduate degrees – the College of Arts and Sciences, Leavey School of Business and the School of Engineering. It offers more than 50 majors and opportunities to double major. Popular majors include Finance, Communications, Psychology and Economics.

The average class size is 21 and the student to faculty ratio 11:1. It is a Jesuit, Catholic university with a curriculum that blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness. The University welcomes students of every faith and background, as well as students who aren’t religious. All students are required to take three Religious Studies courses.

The campus is vibrant and growing. The new Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building, which opened in 2016, joined existing music, theater and dance facilities to create an art quadrant. In 2021, the school will open the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, a new collaborative hub for tech and humanities. Last year, the school introduced the innovative REAL Program (Real Experience, Actual Learning), which supports paid summer internships, research and creative projects for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. In all disciplines, students have the opportunity to do research as undergrads and to try out skills and gain work experience in the innovative Bay Area.

Student Life

At Santa Clara, all first-years and most sophomores live in RLCs (Residential Learning Communities), which are housed in eight of the campus’s 10 residence halls. Each RLC is built around one or two broad themes, like community service or contemporary world issues, which makes it easy for students to find a home to match their interests. The University’s Greek life is off campus.

Outside of class, students are active. Campus is buzzing with NCAA Division I sports, music, theater, guest lectures, spiritual retreats, intramural and club sports, movies, volunteer opportunities, concerts and more than 150 campus organizations. Almost every student is in an organization; many in two, three or more.


Undergraduate enrollment at Santa Clara is about 5,500 and class size is about 1350. The University has Nov. 1 EA and ED deadlines and a Jan. 7 ED 2 deadline. The acceptance rate for the school’s Class of 2023 was 47 percent. Characteristics of that class include:

  • An average unweighted GPA of 3.82
  • SAT average composite score of 1420
  • ACT average composite score of 32
  • 46.3 percent students of color
  • 25 percent from Catholic high schools
  • 50.7 percent from public schools
  • Admitted students represent 46 states, AP, AE, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, Mariana Island, Virgin Islands and 59 countries

Admissions considers personal factors as well as GPA and test scores, such as an applicant’s activities outside of class, recommendations, life experiences and essays.

Cost/Financial Aid

For 2018-2019, tuition including room and board and fees, was about $69,000. With additional costs (books and supplies, transportation, etc.) it is about $74,800. Financial Aid reduces these expenses for 80 percent of students through scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment.

Who would be happy here?

Students looking for rigorous academics, athletics, diversity, and a beautiful location. Santa Clara is a Jesuit college with a commitment to social justice, so it’s a good fit for students who share that commitment. Because of its location, it’s a great option for students looking for internships in Silicon Valley.

Are you a College Expert student interested in adding Santa Clara University to your list? Visit to learn more and talk with Sue or Ryan about whether it’s a good fit for you.

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