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California State University

California State University

The California State University (CSU) is one of three public higher education systems in the state of California, the other two being the University of California system and the California Community College system. It is incorporated as The Trustees of the California State University.

The CSU system is composed of 23 campuses and has over 450,000 students supported by 47,000 faculty members and staff. It is the largest university system in the United States.

CSU prepares about 60 percent of the teachers in the state, 40 percent of the engineering graduates, and more graduates in business, agriculture, communications, health, education and public administration than all other California universities and colleges combined. Altogether, about half the bachelor's degrees and a third of the master's degrees awarded annually in California are from the CSU.

Since 1961 nearly 2.5 million alumni have received a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree from the university system. CSU offers more than 1,800 degree programs in some 240-subject areas.


Today's California State University system is the direct descendant of the California State Normal School (now San José State University), a normal school established by the California Legislature on May 2, 1862. The California State Normal School was itself derived from the City of San Francisco's Minns Evening Normal School (founded in 1857) a normal school that educated San Francisco teachers in association with that city's high school system. The system now considers its founding date to be that of the Minns School. A second California State Normal School campus was created in Los Angeles in 1882.

In 1887, the California legislature dropped the word "California" from the name of the San Jose and Los Angeles schools, renaming them "State Normal Schools." Later Chico (1887), San Diego (1897), and other schools became part of the State Normal School system. In 1919, the State Normal School at Los Angeles became the Southern Branch of the University of California (now the University of California, Los Angeles). In 1921, the State Normal Schools became the State Teachers Colleges. By this time most of the campuses started to become identified by their city names plus the word "state" (e.g, "San Jose State," "San Diego State," "San Francisco State").

In 1935, the State Teachers Colleges became the California State Colleges and were administered by the California State Department of Education in Sacramento. The Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960 gave the system greater autonomy from the State of California.

The postwar period brought a great expansion in the number of colleges in the system. Campuses in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Long Beach were added between 1947 and 1949. Then seven more were authorized to be built between 1957 and 1960. Six more campuses joined the system after the establishment of the Donohoe Higher Education Act in 1960 bringing the total number to 23.

In 1972 the system became The California State University and Colleges, and all of the campuses were renamed with the words "California State University" in their names. Former San Diego State University student body president Calvin Robinson wrote the bill, signed into law by Ronald Reagan, that allowed every California State University the option to revert the schools back to their pre-1972 names: San Jose State, San Diego State, San Francisco State, etc. In 1982, the CSU system dropped the word "colleges" from its name.

Today the campuses of the CSU include comprehensive and polytechnic universities and the only Maritime Academy in the western United States that receives aid from the federal Maritime Administration.


Responsibility for the California State University is vested in the 25 member Board of Trustees, whose members are appointed by the Governor of the State of California. There are 5 ex officio Trustees; the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the CSU Chancellor. There are 4 special Trustees. The CSU Statewide Alumni Council appoints an Alumni Trustee. The Governor appoints a Faculty Trustee from nominees proposed by the Statewide Academic Senate. The Governor appoints two Student Trustees from nominees proposed by the California State Student Association. The Alumni and Faculty Trustees serve for two years. The Student Trustees serve staggered two-year terms. The sixteen remaining Trustees are appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the State Senate, and serve for eight years.. The Trustees appoint the Chancellor, who is the chief executive officer of the system, and the Presidents, who are the chief executive officers of their respective campuses.

The Academic Senate of the California State University, made up of elected representatives of the faculty from each campus, recommends academic policy to the Board of Trustees through the Chancellor.

Chancellors of the CSU

  • Buell Gallagher (1961-1962)
  • Glenn S. Dumke (1962-1982)
  • W. Ann Reynolds (1982-1990)
  • Ellis E. McCune [Acting] (1990-1991)
  • Barry Munitz (1991-1998)
  • Charles B. Reed (1998-current)


The California State University's permanent, collective endowment has grown to $874 million U.S. dollars as of the close of the 2006-2007 academic year. In addition, each of the 23 campuses of the CSU raise their own funds through donations and other external funding, and each campus controls its own separate endowment funds not counted in the above endowment amount.

Link to CSU Endowment & Fundraising webpage


During the fall 2004 semester the system employed 11,069 full-time faculty members. The vast majority, 68.3% were tenured or tenure tracked with 59.2% having tenure. Professors comprised 86.6% of faculty members with a plurality, 43.6% being full professors. Associate professors consitituted 18.6% and Assistant professors 24.4% of faculty members while 13.4% were instructors and lecturers. The percentage of full professors declined 31.4% since fall of 1999, while that of assistant professors has risen 57.4%.

The CSU system requires faculty to sign a loyalty oath dating from the Cold War. Some campuses (most recently CSU Fullerton) have refused to hire academics who have refused to sign one, although others have provided for accommodations such as signing statements. Quakers have been particular victims of this policy.


The average faculty salary was roughly $74,000 as of Spring 2007. As of April 2007, the faculty union and CSU have reached an agreement increasing faculty base salaries by 20.7%, boosting the average faculty salary from $74,000 to $91,000 by 2011. Salaries for full-professors will increase from $86,000 to $105,000. While this pay increase will provide a plurality of faculty members with six figure salaries, current CSU faculty salaries remain roughly 15% below the average for "comparable schools." Meanwhile salaries for all presidents have been raised above $300,000 in order to remain competitive with similar schools. As of Fall 2004 average salaries were as follows:

Data Lecturer Instructor Assistant Professor Associate Professor Full Professor
Average salary $52,987 $52,078 $55,788 $67,306 $83,502
Minimum salary $34,356 $40,656 $48,720 $55,944 $70,680
Maximum salary $125,820 $54,708 $109,272 $120,060 $125,820
Percent of faculty 13.28% 0.10% 24.45% 18.62% 43.55%



The CSU is composed of the following 23 campuses listed here by order of the year founded:

Campus a.k.a. Location Founded Campus Area in Acres Enrollment (Fall 2007) Budget 2006-2007 Athletics Affiliation Athletics Nickname
San José State University SJSU or San Jose State San Jose 1857 154 31,906 247,292,042 NCAA Division I Spartans (WAC) (see San Jose State Spartans)
California State University, Chico Chico State Chico 1887 119 17,034 163,699,267 NCAA Division II Wildcats (CCAA)
San Diego State University SDSU or San Diego State San Diego 1897 270 36,559 313,860,901 NCAA Division I Aztecs (MWC) (see San Diego State Aztecs)
San Francisco State University San Francisco State, SF State, SFSU San Francisco 1899 134 30,125 248,490,280 NCAA Division II Gators (CCAA)
California Polytechnic State University Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 1901 9,678 19,777 198,041,319 NCAA Division I Mustangs (Big West)
California State University, Fresno Fresno State Fresno 1911 327 22,383 199,868,440 NCAA Division I Bulldogs (WAC) (see Fresno State Bulldogs)
Humboldt State University Humboldt or HSU Arcata 1913 144 7,773 95,417,349 NCAA Division II Lumberjacks (CCAA)
California Maritime Academy Cal Maritime Vallejo 1929 87 858 18,928,425 NAIA Keelhaulers
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Cal Poly Pomona Pomona 1938 1,438 21,477 198,917,543 NCAA Division II Broncos (CCAA) (see Cal Poly Pomona Broncos)
California State University, Los Angeles Cal State LA Los Angeles 1947 175 21,051 185,469,589 NCAA Division II Golden Eagles (CCAA)
California State University, Sacramento Sacramento State, Sac State Sacramento 1947 580 28,829 230,802,377 NCAA Division I Hornets (Big Sky)
California State University, Long Beach Long Beach State or 'The Beach', CSULB Long Beach 1949 323 36,868 300,837,800 NCAA Division I "49ers", "Dirtbags" in baseball only (Big West)
California State University, East Bay Formerly CSU Hayward Hayward 1957 341 13,124 131,724,259 NCAA Division III Pioneers
California State University, Fullerton Cal State Fullerton Fullerton 1957 236 37,130 261,349,127 NCAA Division I Titans (Big West)
California State University, Northridge CSUN ("see-sun") or Cal State Northridge Northridge 1957 353 35,446 275,687,073 NCAA Division I Matadors (Big West)
California State University, Stanislaus Cal State Stanislaus, Stan State Turlock 1957 220 8,836 81,052,209 NCAA Division II Warriors (CCAA)
California State University, Dominguez Hills Cal State Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Hills, CSUDH Carson 1960 346 12,082 105,947,348 NCAA Division II Toros (CCAA)
Sonoma State University Sonoma State or Sonoma Rohnert Park 1960 269 8,770 81,076,854 NCAA Division II Seawolves (CCAA)
California State University, San Bernardino Cal State San Bernardino San Bernardino 1965 441 17,066 147,737,249 NCAA Division II Coyotes (CCAA)
California State University, Bakersfield CSUB Bakersfield 1965 375 7,700 77,360,795 NCAA Division I Roadrunners
California State University, San Marcos Cal State San Marcos San Marcos 1988 304 9,159 79,882,615 NAIA Cougars
California State University, Monterey Bay CSUMB Seaside (formerly Fort Ord) 1994 1,387 4,080 60,577,008 NCAA Division II Otters (CCAA)
California State University, Channel Islands CSUCI Camarillo 2002 670 3,599 41,477,343 None Dolphins


Off Campus Branches

A handful of universities have off campus branches that make education accessible in a vast state. Unlike the typical university extension courses, they are degree-granting and students have the same status as other California State University students. The newest campus, the California State University, Channel Islands, was formerly an off campus branch of CSUN. Riverside and Contra Costa counties, which have 3 million residents between them, have lobbied for their off campus branches to be freestanding California State University campuses. Total enrollment for all branches in Fall 2005 is 9,163 students, the equivalent of 2.2% of systemwide enrollment. The following are schools and their respective off campus branches:

  • California State University, Bakersfield
  • California State University, Chico
    • Redding (affiliated with Shasta College)
  • California State University, Fullerton
    • Irvine
    • Garden Grove
  • California State University, East Bay
    • Concord
  • California State University, Fresno
    • Lancaster
  • California State University, San Bernardino
    • Palm Desert
  • California State University, San Marcos
    • Southwest Riverside County
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • California State University, Stanislaus
    • Stockton, California
  • Sonoma State University
    • Ukiah, California

Laboratories and Observatories

Research facilities owned and operated by units of the CSU:

Former Campuses

Former units and campuses of the CSU:

Differences between the CSU and UC systems

Both university systems are California publicly funded higher education institutions. Despite having fewer students, some individual UC campuses, as a result of their research emphasis and medical centers, have larger budgets than the entire CSU system. CSU's Chancellor, Dr Charles B Reed, pointed out when delivering his Pullias Lecture at USC, that California was big enough to afford two world-class systems of public higher education, one that supports research (UC) and one that supports teaching (CSU). However, student per capita spending is stretched far thinner at the CSU, and the lack of a research mission or independent doctoral programs under the California Master Plan leads to a perceived lack of prestige among some academics. State Librarian Emeritus Kevin Starr has described the CSU as "in so many ways the Rodney Dangerfield of public higher education.

According to the California Master Plan for Higher Education (1960), both university systems may confer Bachelors or Master's degrees as well as professional certifications, however only the University of California has the authority to issue Ph.D degrees (Doctor of Philosophy) and professional degrees in the fields of law, medicine, veterinary, and dentistry. As a result of recent legislation (SB 724), the California State University may now offer the Ed.D degree (also known as the Doctor of Education or "education doctorate degree") to its graduate students as well as certain types of professional doctorate degrees (for instance, audiology (Au.D), etc.). Additionally, the California State University (CSU) offers Ph.D degrees as a "joint degree" in combination with other institutions of higher education, including "joint degrees" with the University of California (UC) and accredited private universities. This is why, for instance, San Diego State can qualify as a "Research University with high research activity" (Carnegie Foundation link) by offering 16 doctoral degrees.

There are 23 CSU campuses and 10 UC campuses representing 414,000 and 191,000 students respectively. The cost of CSU tuition is approximately half that of UC. Thus, the CSU system has been referred to by former California State University authorities as "The People's University.

CSU and UC use the terms "president" and "chancellor" internally in exactly opposite ways: At CSU, the campuses are headed by "presidents" who report to a systemwide "chancellor"; but at UC, they are headed by "chancellors" who report to a systemwide "president".

CSU has traditionally been more accommodating to the older student than UC, by offering more degree programs in the evenings and, more recently, online. In addition, CSU schools, especially in more urban areas, have traditionally catered to the commuter, enrolling most of its students from the surrounding area. This has changed as CSU schools increase enrollment and some of the more prestigious urban campuses attract a wider demographic.

Admission standards

Historically the requirements for admission to the CSU have been less stringent than the UC system. The CSU attempts to accept applicants from the top one-third (1/3) of California high school graduates. In contrast, the UC attempts to accept the top 12.5%. In an effort to maintain a 60/40 ratio of upper division students to lower division students and to encourage students to attend a California community college first, both university systems give priority to California community college transfer students.

However, as of 2008 the following CSU campuses use higher standards than the basic admission standards because of the number of qualified students who apply to those campuses as first-time freshmen during the initial application filing period:

  • Cal Poly
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • Fullerton
  • Long Beach
  • San Diego


An impacted campus or major is one which has more CSU-qualified students than capacity permits. As of 2006, Long Beach, San Diego, and Cal Poly are impacted for both freshmen and transfers, while Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, and Sonoma are impacted for freshmen. Thus, these campuses have higher admission standards than the CSU minimum. In addition, some programs at other campuses are similarly impacted. Despite this, CSU undergraduate admissions are quantitatively based and generally do not include items such as personal statements, SAT Subject Test scores, letters of recommendation, or portfolios. In addition, there is geographic preference given to those residing within the commute area of the school.

Special admissions process for the California Maritime Academy

The California Maritime Academy uses a different admissions process from other CSU schools. Because of the nature of its programs, the California Maritime Academy requires all applicants to complete a physical examination prior to enrollment.

Campus Naming Conventions

The UC system follows a consistent style in the naming of campuses, using the words University of California followed by a comma and the name of its declared home city. Most CSU campuses follow a similar pattern, though several are named only for their home city, such as San José State University. A few schools follow neither pattern, in particular the California Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) and California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), the only campuses whose official names do not reference their location in California. Some critics, including former California State University, Sacramento president Donald Gerth, have claimed that the weak California State University identity has contributed to the CSU's perceived lack of prestige when compared to the University of California.

Research and Academics


The University of California and most of its campuses are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), while the California State University (CSU) and several of its campuses (including San Diego and San Jose) are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).


The CSU is a founding and charter member of CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, the nonprofit organization which provides extremely high-performance Internet-based networking to California's K-20 research and education community.


The CSU is a member of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

Statewide University Programs

Agricultural Research Initiative

A comprehensive applied agricultural and environmental research program joining the CSU's four colleges of agriculture (at San Luis Obispo, Pomona, Chico and Fresno) and the state's agriculture and natural resources industries and allied business communities.


Managed by the San Diego and Chico campuses, the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) provides vision, leadership, and support for biotechnology education and research throughout the CSU to promote biotechnology in California. CSUPERB was created in 1987 and designed to channel CSU system-wide resources and catalyze interdisciplinary, inter-campus, synergistic endeavors involving Biology and Chemistry departments as well as Engineering, Agriculture and Computer Science. The interdisciplinary nature of biotechnology includes areas such as bioengineering; agricultural biotechnology; human pharmaceutical and health applications; environmental and natural resource biotechnology; molecular ecology; marine biotechnology; and bioinformatics and computational biology as they are applied to molecular questions. CSUPERB also recognizes basic research in the molecular and cellular life sciences as contributing to biotechnology, and serves as the official liaison between the CSU system and industry, government, the Congressional Biotechnology Caucus, and the public arena in all biotechnological matters.


  • Statewide Nursing Program

Headquartered and administered at the Dominguez Hills campus, the CSU Statewide Nursing Program offers registered nurses courses available throughout California that lead to Bachelors' and Masters' of Science degree in Nursing (awarded by the closest participating CSU campus). See also California Postsecondary Education Committee (CPEC) Reports on CSU Statewide Nursing Program for more information.

Pre-Doctoral Program

Designed to increase the pool of potential faculty by supporting the doctoral aspirations of California State University students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages.

Provides financial and other assistance to individuals pursuing doctoral degrees. The program seeks to provide loans to doctoral students who are interested in applying and competing for California State University instructional faculty positions after completion of the doctoral degree.

Professional Science Master's Degree

''See PSM degree
The CSU intends to expand its post-graduate education focus to establish and encourage Professional Science Master's degree (PSM) programs using the Sloan model (see link for further discussion).

See also


External links

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