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Bren Life

Bren is a community, an experience, and a place of inspiration where we develop solutions to environmental problems. Explore all that the Bren Life has to offer.

What is Student Life Like at Bren?

Collaborative. Positive. Diplomatic. Inspiring. This is a graduate school experience like no other where you’ll have access to faculty mentors, potential employers, internship opportunities, and a professional network of alumni from day one. The Bren grad school experience has been designed to open doors for students to make a difference in the world. Our students often say they make friends and colleagues for life during their time at Bren.

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    True Community Vibes

    Students often form a tight bond with people in their cohort, a source of career connections and meaningful relationships for life. The vibe at Bren is collaborative, inclusive, and supportive. Your cohort is your intellectual community, capstone project partners, and friends who make grad school fun!

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    Making Connections for Life

    Once a Brennie, always a Brennie! Our programs and career services are designed to build your network from day one at Bren. The Bren Career Development and Alumni Relations team offers an alumni and student networking platform, workshops, mentor interactions, and more.

View of blue ocean and beach

Bren Life is Surrounded by Nature

When we say the Pacific Ocean is at your doorstep at Bren, we mean it literally! The beach is just 900 steps away from Bren Hall’s oceanfront location, which is as inspirational as it is practical to learn about coastal ecology, sustainable fisheries, and more. Santa Barbara is a unique gem on California’s central coast, nestled between very hikeable foothills and surfable waves. Bren Hall even has our own bike lot, surf locker, and indoor and outdoor showers, so you can take in the beach or ride your bike to campus without worry.

Some say Santa Barbara is the ideal microclimate, with an average daily temperature of just about 70F degrees, and the perfect location between points north and south. Highway 101 takes you north to the redwoods, National Parks, and the Bay Area, or south to great beaches, Los Angeles, and more. 

Bren Life is All About Balance

It's true that Bren graduate programs are rigorous. The opportunities to play, relax, and re-center yourself at UCSB are just as robust! We find inspiration to solve environmental problems by enjoying life and the nature that surrounds us. Bren students know they can turn to faculty, staff, and UCSB for support and resources. Did we mention there's a surf locker at Bren Hall?

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    Health & Wellness

    UCSB is a community that fosters a learning and living environment that's good for the whole person - mind, body, and spirit. At Bren, we support and encourage a personal commitment to health and wellness, including stress reduction, social activities, downtime, and enjoying nature. From catching a meditative wave, to taking some personal time in a hammock, the transition from work to play is easy at UCSB.

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    Adventure & Recreation Programs

    UCSB abounds with recreation and outdoor adventure activities for when you're craving some active time, from indoor ropes courses to kayaking the Channel Islands. The Recreation Center offers classes, programs, sports, and well-equipped facilities for students (and yes, even a full schedule of remote offerings during a pandemic!).

Woman on bicycle bringing surfboard to the beach

Bren Life is "Car Optional"

UCSB has been named three times to the Bike Friendly University list and has most recently been given a Platinum rating for promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus. There are a lot of bicycles at UCSB, with plenty of bike parking at the Bren School! And no wonder - it's perfect biking weather nearly every day of the year. If bicycles aren't your thing, there are tons of single-car-free resources at UCSB, from MTD passes to car share services.

Student group giving thumbs up and laughing

Bren Life is Student Driven

When Bren students aren't studying or working on projects, they're planning events for their fellow Brennies! From talent shows to pub quiz nights, from annual retreat events to yoga classes, the Bren student community is active, engaged, and vibrant. Bren students are community leaders, too! You'll have the opportunity to join student advisory committees that play a key role in Bren School leadership.

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    Bren Student Groups

    Students add valuable dimension to the Bren community by leading student groups such as the Environmental Justice Club and Net Impact, and organizing off-campus trips and tours, special events, and annual conferences.

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    Student Voices in Governance

    Our students truly have a voice in governance at Bren with opportunities to get involved with curriculum committees, Dean's Advisory Council, Diversity Committee, class chairs and representatives, and nominating weekly seminar speakers.

Dedication to Diversity and Inclusion

The Bren School aims to provide an intellectually rich, socially just, and equitable educational environment. Together with the California Consortium for Inclusive Doctoral Education, we have been leading the UCSB campus in developing strategies for recruiting, admitting, and mentoring graduate students from diverse backgrounds. Bren adopted a holistic admissions review process to help counter implicit bias, expanded recruitment efforts at institutions that serve under-represented students, and engaged in dialogue and surveys with students to better understand our campus climate.

At Bren, you have the opportunity to make your voice heard and get involved in making change. Our dedication to diversity is an evolving, active process of addressing institutional barriers, better understanding our position to be leaders for social justice, and building a genuinely inclusive environment - which takes more than just words. We invite you to read more about diversity, equity, and inclusivity at Bren.

Living in Santa Barbara

Bren's graduate programs are on-campus, full-time programs, and our students come from all over the country and the world. Living in beautiful Santa Barbara can feel like paradise is at your fingertips. If you're new to the area, Bren will help you figure out transportation and housing resources, either on-campus or in the surrounding communities, including connecting you with online Bren student groups to find like-minded roommates.

San Clemente student housing building

Many Bren students choose to live in LEED Gold certified, apartment-style graduate student housing at San Clemente Villages, located close to the main campus and conveniently adjacent to Isla Vista and Goleta. Graduate student housing availability is guaranteed for first-year Bren students to take the worry out of your potential relocation.

Brengrass: Official Band of the Bren School

Bren even has its own official band, though the players and instruments tend to change over the years! Students, staff, and faculty alike bring their talents to Brengrass - from instrumentals to vocals - to perform throughout the year at special events and at Commencement.

Brengrass: group of students holding various instruments

Are you ready to solve environmental problems?

Request more information, get to know the Bren School, and start planning your application today.

Life at Bren

Bren School students share their experiences.