California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) in San Luis Obispo, CA was founded in 1901 as a vocational high school. Cal Poly, unlike nearly all other colleges in the California State University system, is a polytechnic university. In fact, in the U.S. on the whole, polytechnic universities, which focus on applied sciences and technical skills, are a rare breed. Cal Poly offered its first bachelor’s degree in 1942 and its first master’s degree in 1949. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Cal Poly the top regional public school whose highest degree is a master’s in the western United States for nearly 25 years straight. It is also the second-largest land-holding university in the state.
The focus of Cal Poly state is “learn by doing” and their mission statement is as follows:
“Cal Poly fosters teaching, scholarship, and service in a learn-by-doing environment where students and faculty are partners in discovery. As a polytechnic university, Cal Poly promotes the application of theory to practice. As a comprehensive institution, Cal Poly provides a balanced education in the arts, sciences, and technology, while encouraging cross-disciplinary and co-curricular experiences. As an academic community, Cal Poly values free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.”
Cal Poly’s 9768-acre campus is located in San Luis Obispo, 200 miles north of LA and 10 miles from the shore. It offers the most on-campus housing of any California State University. Students can choose on-campus residences or commuting to the university, but parking is limited. Most freshman choose to live on campus. A small fraction of Cal Poly’s acreage holds its 149 major buildings, including residence halls, the Robert E. Kennedy library, and athletic facilities.
Cal Poly offers a variety of degrees while focusing on its mantra of “learning by doing” in these fields. Overall, Cal Poly offers over 60 bachelor’s, 30 master’s, and one doctorate in conjunction with UC Santa Barbara. The university is divided into schools of agriculture/food science, architecture/environmental design, business, engineering, liberal arts, and math/science. All bachelor’s degrees at Cal Poly require completion of a senior project thereby ensuring its students are capable of practical application of their knowledge. Cal Poly’s principles and practices have led to its inclusion on many top ranking lists, including Forbes, Kiplinger, and U.S. News and World Report.
The Cal Poly Mustangs, wearing green and gold, compete in NCAA Division I. The men’s teams are football, baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming/diving, tennis, track/field, and wrestling. Women’s sports are basketball, volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis and track/field. Cal Poly also offers intramural and club sports, of which Cal Poly rugby is highly ranked.
Tuition & Financial Aid
Annual undergraduate tuition at Cal Poly is very affordable for California residents and is even in the lower range of average for non-residents. Additional costs include books, housing, and transportation (if living off campus). Financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans is available for qualified students. Please refer to the school’s website for the most up-to-date tuition and financial aid information.
Cal Poly is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Specialized accreditation is granted to specific schools by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
U.S. News and World Report considers Cal Poly a “more selective” school and admission is highly competitive. Applications must include a declared major, and are received between October and November for the following year. Applicants must submit a completed online application, the $55.00 application fee, and an SAT/ACT score.
Cal Poly requires a minimum of C-grades in CSU-required courses completed during grades 9-12, but prefers students who have taken above the minimum. Admissions considers coursework, GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurriculars in its decisions.
Further information about admissions is available at:
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 U.S.A.