The California State University
Welcome to the California State University (CSU)–the nation’s largest comprehensive higher education system with 23 unique campuses serving approximately 481,000 students with more than 52,000 faculty and staff. Each year, the university awards more than 125,000 degrees. CSU graduates are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and healthcare. Learn more at The California State University website.
A Tradition of Excellence for More than Five Decades
Since 1961, the CSU has provided an affordable, accessible and high-quality education to 3.7 million graduates throughout California. While each campus is unique based on its curricular specialties, location and campus culture, every CSU is distinguished for the quality of its educational programs. All campuses are fully accredited, provide a high-quality broad liberal educational program and offer opportunities for students to engage in campus life through the Associated Students, Inc., clubs and service learning. Through leading-edge programs, superior teaching and extensive workforce training opportunities, CSU students graduate with the critical thinking skills, industry knowledge and hands-on experience necessary for employment and career advancement.
- Today, one of every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
- One in every 10 employees in California is a CSU alumnus.
- The CSU awards 45 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
- More than half of all the nurses in the state earn their degrees from the CSU.
- The CSU awards 95 percent of the hospitality/tourism degrees in the state.
- Nearly half of all of the state’s engineers earn their degrees from the CSU.
- The CSU is the leading provider of teacher preparation programs in the state.
- The CSU offers more than 125 fully online and 100 hybrid degree programs and concentrations.
- The CSU offers more than 4,700 online courses per term, providing more educational options to students who may prefer an online format to a traditional classroom setting.
- The CSU’s online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other campuses in the CSU.
- Over a recent four-year period, the CSU has issued nearly 50,000 professional development certificates in education, health services, business and technology, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, international trade, and many other industries.
- Nearly half of the CSU’s 481,000 students are engaged in some type of community service, totaling 32 million hours of service annually.
- More than 13,000 students participate in STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics) service-learning courses.
- For every $1 that the state invests in the CSU, the university generates $5.43 for California’s economy.
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 campus presidents serve as the campus-level chief executive officers. The trustees, chancellor and presidents develop systemwide educational policy. The presidents, in consultation with the CSU Academic Senate and other campus 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. Today, the CSU is comprised of 23 campuses, including comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California Maritime Academy, a specialized campus.
The oldest campus—San José State University—was founded in 1857 and became the first institution of public higher education in California. The newest—CSU Channel Islands—opened in fall 2002, with freshmen arriving in fall 2003.
In 1963, the CSU’s Academic Senate was established to act as the official voice of CSU faculty in systemwide matters. Also, the California State College Student Presidents Association—which was later renamed the California State Students Association—was founded to represent each campus 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.
To improve degree completion and accommodate students working full- or part-time, the educational paradigm was expanded to give students the ability to complete upper-division and graduate requirements through part-time, late afternoon, and evening study. The university also expanded its programs to include a variety of teaching and school service credential programs, specially designed for working professionals.
The CSU marked another significant educational milestone when it broadened its degree offerings to include doctoral degrees. The CSU independently offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctor of Audiology (AuD) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. A limited number of other doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and private institutions in California.
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. ADT has since proven to be the most effective path to a CSU for transfer students.
Always adapting to changes in technology and societal trends to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU achieved another milestone in 2013, when it launched Cal State Online, a systemwide collection of services that support the delivery of fully online programs from campuses. Now, full-time students have access to fully online courses offered at other CSU campuses.
By providing an accessible, hands-on education that prepares graduates for career success, the CSU has created a network of alumni that is so extensive and renowned that it spans across the globe. As of 2018-19, more than 3.7 million CSU alumni are making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world.
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 university 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. The CSU is committed to providing a quality higher education that prepare students to become leaders in the changing workforce.