The California State University
Welcome to the California State University (CSU) – the nation’s largest comprehensive university with 23 unique campuses and seven off-campus centers serving approximately 477,000 students and employing more than 56,000 faculty and staff. Each year, the university awards more than 133,000 degrees. CSU graduates are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and healthcare. 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 4 million living alumni 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 of every 10 employees in California is a CSU graduate.
- The CSU awards about half of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
- The CSU awards 36% of California’s undergraduate nursing degrees.
- The CSU prepares more of California’s teachers, pre-school through grade 12, than any other institution. Nearly four percent of the nation’s teachers graduate from the CSU.
- In 2020, CSU students earned nearly 25,000 business degrees and more than 9,000 engineering degrees.
- The CSU offers more than 170 fully online and 140 hybrid degree programs and concentrations.
- 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.
- CSU Centers for Community Engagement and Service Learning make available nearly 2,300 service learning courses.
- 38,000 CSU students participated in service learning, contributing 728,000 hours of service in 2020-21.
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 university-wide 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 State University 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—California State University, Channel Islands—opened in fall 2002, with freshmen arriving in fall 2003. In 2022, the Humboldt campus became Cal Poly Humboldt, joining San Luis Obispo and Pomona as that state’s third public polytechnical 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 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.
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 the most effective path to a CSU for community college transfer students.
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 CSU campuses, 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 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. Additionally, the CSU was recently authorized to offer the independent Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD). 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 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.
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. With the graduation of the Class of 2021, more than 4 million CSU alumni are making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world.