California State University
Welcome to the California State University (CSU) – the nation’s largest comprehensive higher education system with 23 unique campuses serving more than 474,000 students with 49,000 employees statewide. Each year, the university awards more than 100,000 degrees. CSU graduates now total more than 3 million strong and are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality, and healthcare. Learn more at wcalstate.edu.
More Than 50–Year Tradition of Excellence
Since 1961, the CSU has provided an affordable, accessible, and high-quality education to three million graduates around the state of 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.
- CSU faculty attract nearly $570 million annually in research and education grants, and contracts by federal, state and regional agencies.
- Today, one of every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
- One in every ten 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 115 fully online and 96 hybrid degree programs and concentrations.
- The CSU offers 3,250 online courses to provide more educational options to students who may prefer an online format to a traditional classroom setting.
- The CSU’s growing online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other campuses in the CSU system.
- Over the past four years, 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 474,000 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 system 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 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 (CSU). 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 State 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 existence, 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 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 educational doctorate (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) 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 university, in concert with the California Community Colleges, launched the Associate Degree for Transfer, which guarantees transfer students admission to the CSU with junior status.
Always adapting to changes in technology and societal trends to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU initiated 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 also 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. In 2014–15, the CSU celebrated The Class of three Million, the year-round campaign celebrating the three million alumni from all of CSU’s campuses, including the Class of 2015.
The CSU strives to continually develop innovative programs, services, and opportunities that will give students the tools they need to meet their full potential. With 23 campuses, 474,000 students and 49,000 faculty and staff, the CSU is committed to providing a quality higher education that prepares students to become leaders in the changing workforce.