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California’s 10 Leading State Universities

California’s 10 Leading State Universities

So you applied to Stanford, and you didn’t get in. Don’t despair; the California State University System has a lot to offer and at a more affordable price.

There are twenty-three campuses with eight off-campus centers throughout the state serving about four hundred and seventy-four thousand students and employing about forty-nine thousand faculty and staff. The claim is that CSU is the largest, most diverse and one of the most affordable public higher education systems in the United States. It was created in 1960 and is one of three systems in California.

CSU graduates roughly one hundred thousand students each year and is the largest producer of bachelor’s degrees in the country. This system is also the top producer of graduates moving on to earn a Ph.D. in a related field.

Let’s take a look at which of the twenty-three fall into the top ten based on the cost of in-state tuition (on campus residence), student life and campus attractiveness. A lot of people graduate from this system, so what do they know that we don’t?

By the way, tuition quoted is in-state, on campus living for incoming Freshmen.

10.  San Jose State University

San Jose State University photo
Photo by roarofthefour

San Jose State University is an urban campus with one hundred fifty-four downtown acres and located between San Francisco and Monterey/Carmel at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay.

The Campus itself is a beautiful mix of concrete, stucco and green space. Buildings are generally modern, but some have a Spanish flair to the architecture, all ranging in colors from typical concrete to more tropical shades. A variety of trees line the paths and shade the buildings making this a visually appealing school setting. It also has a true college campus feel despite being in a city.

SJSU offers one hundred and forty-five areas of study to the more than thirty-two thousand students on the campus. It provides the largest number of engineering, science and business graduates to Silicon Valley. In fact, US News & World Report listed SJSU among the top 15 public master’s universities in the West and the College of Engineering among the top 20 schools in the nation.

There is an active Greek Life on campus, men and women’s varsity sports, multiple intramural sports opportunities and a plethora of clubs and activities to participate in. It’s a campus working to stay in step with the changing times through a wide variety of majors, updates to buildings, and activities for students. Life at SJSU can be a busy mix of school, college activities and city life on this very large urban campus.

Tuition, Room & Board – $22,300.

9.  Cal Poly Pomona

Cal Poly Library Entrance.jpg
By VictorrochaOwn work,

Cal Poly Pomona is located in the area known as the Inland Empire. It is nationally recognized for the College of Environmental Design’s Landscape Architecture, the Urban and Regional Planning programs, the College of Engineering (15th in the nation among all private and public schools) and the Collins College of Hospitality Management. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designates it as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

Cal Poly Pomona started as a satellite of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo back in 1938, but eventually became a stand-alone university in 1966. The theme of the campus is “Learn by doing,” which means learn the latest thinking and then figure out the most innovative and effective way to get things done.

The 1725-acre campus is the second largest in the CSU system and is near the beach, the mountains, and the city. It is a suburban campus with large outdoor spaces and a mix of buildings combining styles from Mission architecture to the box like contemporary style.

A couple of unique places to roam on campus include the rose garden that dates back to the 1920’s and a Japanese garden built in 2003. Great places to take a break from studying!

The campus is a diverse and bustling place. It is considered a welcoming campus for LGBT students, offering gender-neutral housing. There is an active Greek life. And a point of interest is that Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have joined together since 1944 to create a float for the Rose Parade. It is home to the Broncos and 10 varsity NCAA D II sports.

Tuition, Room & Board – $22,000.




  1. How about giving a few spots to some of us going for a 2nd Bachelor’s!!! In 2008, the economy tanked and some jobs tanked with it! If you need or want to re-educate yourself in California because you industry tanked in 2008, you’re up a creek in the Cal State system. You’re penalized for being educated! I understand that you’re trying to give opportunity to those that are going for their first degree, but couldn’t you have reserved 10% of those slots for some of us that want/need a 2nd bachelor. So you ask why not a Master’s! Well, if your 2nd degree is different from your first, how do you get a Masters when you don’t have the undergraduate background??? And why would one get a 2nd bachelor in the same subject matter. Anyway, think about it!

    1. Good comment, but please check out your options, Patricia. Most Master’s programs (shop around if you have to) allow students with different undergrads. It’s actually quite common. Typically you take a few upper division undergrad courses in that department along with your Master’s program, but even so, it’s usually fewer units than another Bachelor’s degree. Resume-wise, a second Bachelor’s degree does very little for you, on top of the fact that if financial aid is a consideration, it won’t support a second Bachelor’s. In most fields, the Master’s is the highest level of education you’ll ever need, so professionally, you’re much better going for a Master’s.

  2. My wife just completed her first year a professor in the Business at Cal State Stanislaus.
    She and her colleagues don’t stop at teaching their students, they are caring of each student, they are innovative and dedicated to creating a holistic approach to success for everyone.


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