The California State University
The California State University (CSU) is the nation’s largest and most diverse four-year public university. With 23 unique universities and seven off-campus centers, the CSU serves approximately 460,000 students and employs more than 56,000 faculty and staff.
Each year, the university awards nearly 130,000 degrees, changing the trajectory of students’ lives by opening doors to opportunities for upward mobility. Nearly one-third of CSU students are the first in their families to attend college and more than half of CSU students are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.
For one of the most affordable tuitions in the country, students learn from world-class faculty, gain valuable hands-on experiences and receive strong career advising, empowering them to become leaders in the changing workforce.
CSU graduates are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and healthcare. To learn more, visit the California State University website.
A Tradition of Excellence for More than Six Decades
Since 1961, the CSU has provided an affordable, accessible and high-quality education to millions of Californians. While each university is unique based on its curricular specialties, location and culture, every CSU is distinguished for the quality of its educational programs. All CSUs are fully accredited, provide a high-quality, broad liberal educational program and offer opportunities for students to engage in university life through the Associated Students, Inc., clubs and service learning.
- Today, one in every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
- One in every 10 employees in California is a CSU graduate.
- The CSU’s network of more than 4 million alumni is larger than the population of 23 U.S. states.
- The CSU awards nearly half of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
- The CSU awards more than one-third of California’s undergraduate nursing degrees.
- Between 2016 and 2021, the CSU prepared more of California’s teachers than any other state institution.
- About four percent of the nation’s teachers graduate from the CSU.
- In 2021-22, CSU students earned more than 20,000 business degrees and more than 7,500 engineering degrees.
- The CSU offers more than 4,000 degree programs that align with the state’s workforce demands.
- The CSU’s online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other universities in the CSU system.
- Through CSU community engagement centers, 52,000 student volunteers participated in service learning, contributing 2 million hours of service in 2021-22.
The CSU is governed by the Board of Trustees, most of whom are appointed by the governor and serve with faculty and student representatives. The CSU chancellor is the chief executive officer, reporting to the board. The presidents serve as the university-level chief executive officers. The trustees, chancellor and presidents develop university-wide educational policy. The presidents, in consultation with the CSU Academic Senate and other university stakeholder groups, render and implement local policy decisions.
CSU Historical Milestones
The individual California State Colleges were established as a system with a Board of Trustees and a chancellor in 1960 by the Donahoe Higher Education Act. In 1972, the system was designated as the California State University and Colleges, and in 1982 the system became the California State University (CSU) . Today, the CSU is comprised of 23 member universities, including comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California State University Maritime Academy, a specialized university.
The oldest university—San José State University—was founded in 1857 and became the first institution of public higher education in California. The newest—California State University, Channel Islands—opened in fall 2002, with freshmen arriving in fall 2003. And in 2022, the CSU in Humboldt became California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, joining San Luis Obispo and Pomona as the state’s third public polytechnic university.
In 1963, the CSU’s Academic Senate was established to act as the official voice of CSU faculty in university-wide matters. Also, the California State College Student Presidents Association—which was later renamed the California State Student Association (CSSA)—was founded to represent each university student association on issues affecting students.
Through its many decades of service, the CSU has continued to adapt to address societal changes, student needs and workforce trends. While the CSU’s core mission has always focused on providing high-quality, affordable bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, over time the university has added a wide range of services and programs to support student success—from adding health centers and special programs for veterans to building student residential facilities to provide a comprehensive educational experience.
In 2010, in an effort to accommodate community college transfer students, the CSU, in concert with the California Community Colleges (CCC), launched the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT), which guarantees CCC transfer students with an ADT admission to the CSU with junior status. The ADT has since proven to be one of the most effective paths to a CSU for community college transfer students. In 2023, the CSU will launch the Transfer Success Pathway program to guarantee future CSU admission to high school graduates who are entering a California community college and who commit to transferring within three years.
Always adapting to changes in technology and societal trends to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU launched CSU Fully Online, which enables CSU students to complete online courses at other CSUs, expanding enrollment opportunities and providing more educational opportunities for students who may prefer an online format to a traditional classroom setting.
The CSU marked a significant educational milestone when it broadened its degree offerings to include professional doctoral degrees. The CSU independently offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctor of Audiology (AuD), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree programs. Additionally, the CSU was recently authorized to offer the independent Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). A limited number of other doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and private institutions in California.
The CSU strives to continually develop innovative programs, services and opportunities that will give students the tools they need to meet their full potential. In 2016, the CSU system launched Graduation Initiative 2025, a bold plan to support students, increase the number of California’s graduates earning high-quality degrees and eliminate achievement and equity gaps for all students. Through this initiative, the CSU is ensuring that all students have the opportunity to graduate according to their personal goals, positively impacting their lives, families and communities.
By providing an accessible, hands-on education that prepares graduates for career success, the CSU has created a network of alumni so extensive and renowned that it spans across the globe. More than 4 million CSU alumni are making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world.