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Incoming MEDS Student Campus Resources


ACCESS cards are UCSB campus identification (ID) cards that allow students access to the UCSB Recreation Center, UCSB Library Resources, free or reduced admission to campus events, free rides on the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) busses, and more.  Additionally, Bren students need these ID cards to access study rooms at Bren Hall outside of normal business hours. For this reason, all Bren students are required to purchase a card. 

How to Obtain an Access Card

Bren students usually get their card during the first few days of orientation. Typically, Student ID cards are available at the Information Desk on the main floor of the UCSB University Center. However, due to COVID-19 students are being asked to email with an image file to request a new card. You may pick up your card the following business day anytime between 11am-4pm M-F at the UCen Post Office (access through the lower level facing the lagoon). A $30 charge will appear on your BARC account. More information on ACCESS Cards can be found here:

Ride the bus for free!

UCSB students may ride the MTD buses anywhere between Goleta and Carpinteria at no cost by tapping their valid student ID (ACCESS Card) on the top of the farebox when boarding the bus. Click here for more information.


There is an expectation that all MEDS students bring and use their own personal laptop. Please review our personal computer requirements and recommendations and ensure that your equipment meets the listed requirements.

Bren Hall has some PC desktop computers available for student use. Wireless internet is available throughout Bren Hall for personal connectivity and there are several laptop stations where students can bring their own machines to do their work. The Bren School offers beginning- and intermediate-level Excel workshops during the first few weeks of fall quarter. The Bren community also uses Google's Gmail and Calendar for their e-mail and calendaring needs. An introduction to our computer systems and how to access them in-house and remotely, will be reviewed during orientation. Please review this helpful information for new MESM students put together by the Bren IT team before orientation.


The UCSB U-Mail Student E-Mail Service provides e-mail and other affiliated electronic services for UCSB's student population. Activate your U-Mail account by visiting Your U-Mail address will be used to configure a address, please set up your U-Mail account before orientation.

The Bren Random listserv is used by Bren faculty, staff, and students to advertise various events, items for sale, and housing opportunities. Sign up for by following these instructions.


Health insurance is mandatory for all registered UCSB students and is a condition of enrollment. All full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students are automatically enrolled in, and charged for, the University of California Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP). 

UC SHIP is an affordable, comprehensive, medical insurance plan tailored to the health care needs of UCSB students. The medical plan features year-round, worldwide coverage using the Anthem Blue Cross network, and includes prepaid access to care at the UCSB Student Health Center for illness or injury.

UC SHIP typically covers Fall to Summer Quarters of a given academic year. Because the MEDS program begins in the Summer Quarter prior to the academic year, additional fees for UC SHIP health insurance covering the Summer Session will apply. Some students may choose to stay on their existing insurance plans for the summer and then switch to the UC SHIP for the academic year. If you have any questions regarding summer health insurance, please contact Bren’s Admissions team.

You will automatically be enrolled in UC SHIP and coverage is effective on July 20, 2021 for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

If you have health insurance coverage you prefer, you may apply online for an insurance waiver confirming you have acceptable health insurance coverage that you would like to use instead of UC SHIP.  Students may waive enrollment in UC SHIP if they meet certain criteria. Please see this UCSB Student Health page for more information:

All students can access student health, regardless of their health insurance (UC SHIP or an outside plan). There are also some services available for free to all students including the advice nurse, social workers and alcohol and drug counselors. 


Incoming graduate students are eligible for University graduate students housing from Fall-Spring quarters. Students may also find off-campus housing through Craigslist or through connecting with the Bren community. Using the Bren Random listserv and the UCSB Bren School MEDS Class of 2022 Facebook group are two common ways incoming Bren students explore local housing options. 

UCSB Graduate Student Housing

For single graduate students, UCSB offers the San Clemente Village Apartments, located right next to campus and the Isla Vista “IV” community. These apartments are fully furnished and are ideal for international students or students moving from out of the area. Click here for current rates and application information. The application for the 2021-22 academic year is due May 14, 2021. Please note that the MEDS program is a dual-campus program with several classes held at NCEAS in downtown Santa Barbara.

MEDS students who opt to live in University housing must request an early move-in due to the early start of the program (Orientation begins July 29, 2021). Students are required to contact University & Community Housing Services at immediately after completing the housing contract (open April 1, 2021 - May 14, 2021) to identify themselves as a MEDS student who needs an early move-in. Once MEDS student status is confirmed, HDAE will work to identify available spaces, allowing move-in as early as July 20. Housing Services requires every student moving in to sequester (leaving only for essential activities) for at least seven days prior to MEDS orientation, so University housing students must move in no later than July 22

We strongly encourage MEDS students to complete their housing contracts ASAP due to limited spaces. Due to re-modelling planned for San Clemente Villages this summer, Housing Services' ability to grant early move-in requests is extremely limited and not guaranteed. For housing-specific questions or concerns, please contact the Housing Services office at 805-893-4371. For more information on housing options, please visit their Graduate Student Housing page.

UCSB Family Student Housing

UCSB also provides Family Student Housing, which offers a limited number of one- and two-bedroom single-family units for full-time UCSB students. The apartments are rented on a month-to-month basis and are located in two separate complexes about one mile from the main campus. Non-traditional and extended families are welcome. Families with children are given priority. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op

The Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op spans over five houses in the Isla Vista and Goleta area, and is an option for students seeking affordable housing and a strong sense of community among roommates. Co-op residents consist of both undergraduate and graduate students. Houses are typically shared between 13-17 member residents, with below average monthly rates. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara offers many entertainment, shopping, and dining experiences. Monthly rates are on the higher end but many students enjoy being close to town. Students who choose to live downtown may want to look for housing near the bus lines (24x, 15x, and the 11) that drop off at UCSB. 

Santa Barbara - The Mesa

The Mesa is a suburban neighborhood located between UCSB and downtown Santa Barbara. It is close to the beach and grocery stores, and about a 15-minute drive to campus. Monthly rates are comparable to downtown rates. 


Goleta is the city surrounding UCSB campus and the Isla Vista “IV” community. It’s close to campus and about a 15-minute drive to downtown Santa Barbara. Students with pets typically have better luck finding pet-friendly housing options in Goleta. Monthly rates are slightly less than downtown Santa Barbara. 

Isla Vista

Isla Vista “IV” is one of the closest neighborhoods to the UCSB campus and is within walking distance to campus and the beach. It has many convenient stores, restaurants and markets, and is largely composed of UCSB undergraduate students and Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC) students. 

Ellwood (west of UCSB campus and IV)

West of UCSB is a suburban neighborhood called Ellwood, due to its proximity to the Ellwood Butterfly Grove. Monthly rates are comparable to Goleta. 

Additional Housing Resources

Craigslist is the most common, but here are a few other housing search engines: Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads apartments and Hotpads houses. (Please exercise discretion when considering these rental options.)


One of UCSB's unique attributes is its biking culture. Most Bren students, faculty, and staff ride their bikes to school or take the MTD bus. Here are a few websites which may assist you in choosing your preferred choice of transportation:

Student parking permits are available for campus parking and UCSB provides free parking on-campus for scooters and motorcycles. UCSB offers campus community members the opportunity to participate in its Transportation Alternatives Program as well. For your reference, you can see a UCSB campus map here.

There is no free parking provided at NCEAS, but a city parking lot is adjacent to the building. Information on city lot locations and rates can be found here.



Brengrass is the Bren School's unofficial official band! Composed mostly of Bren School students, Brengrass covers all of your favorite hits and has evolved over the last decade from a jam band to an official musical outfit that books shows at local events and performs at major Bren School events, including commencement and the annual donor appreciation event. If you play an instrument or enjoy singing with friends, then you're invited to join Brengrass this Fall! Learn more about Brengrass by talking with current students and visiting its Facebook page.


Associated Students

The Associated Students at UCSB offers additional information on campus safety, health services, sports & recreation information, suggestions on places to eat, as well as information about campus diversity and ways to get involved on campus.

UCSB Recreation Center (Rec Cen)

The UCSB Recreation Center (Rec Cen) hosts swimming pools, gymnasia, weight rooms, racquetball/squash courts and locker room facilities. Rec Cen facilities are available for use by UCSB students using their ACCESS card once their registration fees have been paid through their BARC account in September. For information regarding membership, center hours, intra-murals, and group fitness activities, please visit the Recreation Department website.

In addition, check out UCSB Adventure Programs for organized outdoor adventure trips offered at a reduced rate to UCSB students! 

UCSB Graduate Division

The UCSB Graduate Division (Grad Div) is the administrative unit for graduate studies at UCSB providing oversight for 47 graduate programs. Grad Div works to ensure a positive and productive educational experience for all graduate students and is committed to academic excellence, diversity, and intellectual innovation in graduate education. Grad Div also produces GradPost, an online newspaper with the latest information on graduate student issues such as events, careers, workshops, funding opportunities, classified ads, and much more.

The UCSB Graduate Division Fall Orientation for incoming graduate students will be on TBD. For more information, please review the Graduate Division’s Admitted Students page, the GradPosts New Students page and the  UCSB Graduate Policies and Procedures Handbook.

Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC) 

Located on the first floor of the Student Resource Building (Room 1215), the GSRC is the primary resource for graduate students at UCSB for career and professional development support. They offer a variety of workshops and events, individual advising, and referrals to other campus resources that serve graduate students. The Graduate Division Graduate Student Resource Center can be reached at (805) 893-8994 or via e-mail at

Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS)

OISS provides immigration support for the UCSB community, international student advising, and cultural programs. International students are encouraged to visit the OISS website for information about what steps to take as a newly-admitted UCSB student. The International Student Association (ISA) on campus may also be of interest to incoming international students.

Disabled Students Program (DSP)

UCSB strives to provide equal support and academic services for all student populations. The Disabled Students Program (DSP) staff work in an advisory capacity with a variety of campus departments to ensure that equal access is provided to all students. Students are responsible for applying to the Disabled Students Program themselves. The DSP office is located in 2120 Student Resource Building (SRB).

Graduate Students Association (GSA)

The GSA is an elected representative government for graduate and professional students at UCSB. The GSA works to ensure that graduate student concerns are addressed in on- and off-campus policy decisions. The GSA also provides graduate students with information concerning decisions that are relevant to graduate student life and organize graduate social events. The Bren School has four representatives in the GSA, elections for the new representatives take place during the school year.

Feel free to drop by the GSA Lounge which is open to all graduate students. They are located in the University Center Room 2502 MC 6052.

Counseling Services

UCSB offers counseling services to graduate students through the UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The goal of personal counseling is to provide you with assistance in resolving the personal and relationship concerns which could impede your academic progress. 24/7 phone consultations are available at 805-893-4411. 

Ryan Sims, the Graduate Division’s Graduate Academic Counselor is also a great resource to support students with their academic goals, time management skills and mental health concerns.

Student Wellbeing

Student well-being is integral to academic success, student development, and life satisfaction. UCSB Student Affairs’s Student Wellbeing website provides links to a range of services related to well-being such as: assistance with basic needs (food, housing, finances); counseling and physical health resources, daily wellness centers and programs; social connection, and personal safety. 

Basic Needs Resources

The UCSB Basic Needs Resources website provides a centralized source of information regarding healthy and sustainable food options at UCSB and in the local community. It also has helpful links for financial resources, mental health, and technological support. 

MultiCultural Center

The MultiCultural Center (MCC), located in the UCen, serves as a bridge between underrepresented groups on campus and the broader UCSB community. The MCC offers a broad spectrum of events from lectures, panel talks, films, dance, poetry readings, and other events, all open to the general public. 

Sexual & Gender Diversity Center

The Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity (RCSGD) works with students, staff, and faculty to ensure that LGBTQ identities, experiences, and concerns are represented and addressed at UCSB. The center, located on the 3rd floor of the Student Resources Building, aims to create a vibrant and engaging environment through social and educational programming, volunteer and leadership opportunities, a comfortable and welcoming social and study space and a space to provide support and advocacy. The RCSGD hopes that all LGBTQ students can thrive at UCSB, feeling safe, affirmed and valued on campus. 

Arts & Lectures

Founded in 1959, UCSB Arts & Lectures program is the largest and most influential arts and lectures organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Arts & Lectures annually presents more than a hundred events, from critically acclaimed concerts and dance performances by world-renowned artists to talks by groundbreaking authors and film series at UCSB and Santa Barbara-area venues.

What should you be doing now? 

MEDS curriculum overview, core courses, how and when to register 

Important information on mandatory Bren School orientation events

Cost of attendance, paying your bill, BARC, FAFSA, establishing residency, and employment opportunities.

Graduate Student Housing, UCSB student ID cards, computing, university email, health insurance, transportation, campus resources, and more.

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