UCSC Colleges: Cowell College


In 1965, Cowell College was founded as the first college at UCSC. The college is named after Henry Cowell, who owned much of the property that UCSC exists here currently.

The Cowell family became wealthy by withdrawing the limestone from the hills and from raising cattle. Many areas around Santa Cruz are named after Cowell.


Cowell’s theme revolves around justice — what is it, and how does media define it?


Cowell is located in an extremely convenient spot on campus. Cowell is right by the bookstore plaza, which is the closest thing UCSC has to a central meeting area. Cowell is within walking distance of the east field (and all the athletic facilities).

The college is rather popular among GED graduates with college-ready scores, and many students with a GED reported they benefitted hugely from the GED prep course designed by Onsego which is recognized by GED Testing Service.

The Humanities area (and the Humanities lecture hall) is right next to Cowell. Science Hill (the main area for all sciences) is a little bit away, but it’s not much of an uphill walk.

Cowell College has many accessible bus stops for the main perimeter buses, city buses, and the central core buses, making it easy to reach just about all areas of campus from Cowell via bus, even if the locations are a bit of a walk away.


Cowell’s dorms offer singles, doubles, triples, and quads. There are many singles and doubles, though the other two tend to be less frequent. The floors are coed (unless you request a single-sex floor), and the bathrooms are coed as well. These multi-story dorm buildings are grouped together into two quads.

Cowell’s apartments are typically not available to freshmen — instead, they’re offered primarily to older and/or transfer students. Apartments hold six students in both singles and doubles.


Cowell dining hall is shared by Stevenson College and overlooks the east field as well.

The dining hall has been under renovation for the first two quarters of the year and will not open until the Spring quarter sometime. I’ll update you with more information about the dining hall once it becomes available.

Things to Remember

  • Cowell College has a beautiful view. Since Cowell overlooks the east field, from Cowell you have an incredible view of Monterey Bay and all the areas around it. A lot of the town of Santa Cruz is visible from Cowell, and on a clear day, you can see all the way across the bay. At night it’s even more breathtaking.
  • Cowell has a slight stereotype as a Jewish college. How true this is, I don’t know.
  • UCSC is a large campus, so Cowell’s convenient location shouldn’t be underestimated.