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1 Grand Ave.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
p. 805-756-1111
w. calpoly.edu

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Rating: 3.8/5 (21 votes)

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Introduction

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo is a large public university with 6 colleges, 6 teaching certificates, 70 undergraduate programs, and 26 graduate programs. The school was founded in 1903 as a polytechnic high school and grew until 1933, when the California Board of Education transformed it into a two year technical and vocational school. Bachelor’s degrees were first offered in 1940, then Master’s degrees in 1949.

San Luis Obispo, a small city of about 44,000 residents, is almost halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, just 10 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The area is surrounded by agricultural lands, valleys, and mountains. The campus includes 9,678 acres in total across several different land holdings, and a 3,200 acre ranch which serves as an outdoor classroom for livestock and forestry education. There are roughly 17,000 students enrolled in any given year, although the university is planning to increase enrollment to 20,000 students by the year 2020.

Academics

Cal Poly has an excellent reputation for academics. The architecture, agriculture, and engineering programs are particularly well-known. Alumni earn, on average, the third-highest salaries in the United States of any group of public school graduates.

The six colleges are: College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Orfalea College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Mathematics, and Cotchett School of Education.

The philosophy of the university is “Learn by Doing” and how this plays out may be most obvious on the university’s farm. The organic farm is a learning laboratory for agricultural students, who study topics such as composting, natural pest control, native plants, biointensive agriculture and permaculture design. The farm is open to visitors during regular business hours.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Admissions

Admissions are highly competitive. In recent years, the average incoming freshman had a GPA of 3.90 and an SAT score of 1292. Around 32% of applicants for the freshman class and 13% of transfer applicants are admitted. Students are expected to declare their majors as part of the admissions process, as admissions criteria differ between departments. It is difficult to change majors. Tuition rates also differ by department.

Financial Aid

About 47% of students receive some form of financial assistance, totalling nearly $100 million in aid. In addition to the usual financial aid options, the college offers over 800 of their own grants and scholarships. There are unique scholarships in every college and department of the university. The school does not offer financial aid to international students.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4432nd for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.

Students

Demographics

Cal Poly has been criticized for its lack of diversity, especially considering the very ethnically diverse area in which it is located. Roughly 65% of the students are European American, 12% are Latino American, 11% are Asian American, and less than one percent of students self-report as belonging to any other distinct ethnic category.

In other demographic measures, about 56% of the student body is male and 44% female. 31% of freshmen come from the San Francisco Bay area, 23% from Los Angeles, and most of the rest come from other areas of California. Only about 7% of students are from outside California, and international students comprise less than half of 1% of the entire student body.

Clubs and Organizations

There are several dozen clubs and organizations on campus, including student government, academic interest-based groups, social clubs, and intramural sports. Greek life is vibrant, with 10 USFC fraternities and sororities, 18 IFC fraternities, 8 panhellenic sororities, a panhellenic interest group, and 3 governing Greek councils. The Gender and Equity Center provides a safe space for men and women alike to deconstruct gender, explore meaning, and expand their worldviews.

Residential Life

Over 95% of first-year students live on campus. There are five different groupings of residence halls on campus. The South Mountain halls host living/learning programs, which means that students live with others in their area of study, building small, intensive communities within the wider university framework. Fremont Hall is home to students in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences; Muir Hall is home to students in the College of Science and Mathematics; Sequoia Hall is home to students in the College of Architecture & Environmental Design; Tenaya Hall is home to students in the Orfalea College of Business; and Trinity Hall is home to students in the College of Liberal Arts. Sierra Madre Hall houses the Connections Program for first year students. This program supports new students by guiding them through campus resources for academic success, extracurricular learning activities and field trips, and social action projects as a micro-community.

The North Mountain Halls of Shasta, Diablo, Palomar, Whitney, and Lassen house students from the College of Engineering, although they are more loosely structured than the learning/living program dormitories of South Mountain. The Canyon Village apartments offer housing for the Sophmore Success Program (similar to the Connections Program for freshmen) and housing for continuing students. The Cerro Vista apartments house the Transitions Program, which helps prepare students about to move from an academic environment to an adult work environment, and the honors community. There is separate, on-farm housing for Agriculture students.

Eating on Campus

There are many dining options on campus, including Einstein Bros Bagels, Jamba Juice, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, BackStage Pizza, Julian’s Patisseries, Tacos To-Go, Starbucks, and more. For an upscale meal on campus, students can visit Sage, an eclectic Mediterranean and Asian restaurant. There are some local foods available through Campus Dining, but the majority of food options are conventional. Despite the fact that the university has its own organic farm, seasonal produce from the farm is only available from Sage Restaurant and is not well-represented on campus.

Transportation

Many sources report parking on campus to be difficult. The university is currently expanding parking spaces and bicycle racks, and also encourages students to use public transportation alternatives. The San Luis Obispo public transit system is free for students to use to and from campus.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics

Athletics

The athletics department participates in 20 intervarsity sports in NCAA Division I. Teams (with the exceptions of the football and wrestling programs) also participate in the Big West Conference. The mascot is the Mustang, and the spirit group is the Mustang Maniacs.

Football is the most popular sport, with the most attention paid to the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe against archrival UC Davis. The women’s volleyball team and men’s cross country team are also particularly strong. Students have full use of the university’s recreational sports complex, including fitness equipment, weight rooms, a 50 meter swimming pool, a double-level gymnasium, martial arts rooms, and racquetball courts. There are also about 20 recreational and intramural sports that are open to any interested student.

Alumni

Alumni who went on to become professional athletes include New York Giants wide receiver Ramses Barden, discus throw Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Kevin Correia, Olympic equestrian and silver medalist Gina Ostini Miles, Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Fien, Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Gocong, captain of the Washington Redskins Mel Kaufman, ultimate fighting champion Chuck Liddell, Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris, Seattle Mariners pitcher Garrett Olson, professional golfer Loren Roberts, Major League Ball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, and ultimate Frisbee Hall of Famer Brandon Jernigan.

Other notable and well-known alumni include humourist and musician “Weird Al” Yankovic, Chief Financial Officer of Apple Computer Peter Oppenheimer, Chief Financial Officer of Raytheon William H. Swanson, California State Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, California State Senators Jeff Denham, and Dennis Hollingsworth, Lieutentant Governor of California Abel Maldonado, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, astronauts Greg Chamitoff and Robert L. Gibson, and UrbanDictionary creator Aaron Peckham.

Information Summary

Ranks 17th in California and 225th overall
See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list

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California Polytechnic State University :: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Faculty office :: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Parent-Student Orientation Week :: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Orientation Week :: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo CP SLO Entrance & Exit :: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

Campus Crime Statistics

Ranks 0th in California and 287th overall on StateUniversity.com‘s Safe School Index
  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 1 0.01
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 1 0.01
Robbery 1 0.01
Arson 1 0.01
Burglary 9 0.05
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft 9 0.05
Arrest 27 0.14

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 74 0.16
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter 2 0.00
Forcible Rape 24 0.05
Robbery 34 0.07
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 330 0.72
Larceny 1,345 2.95
Vehicle theft 107 0.23

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs)
UndergraduateProfessions plus arts & sciences, some graduate coexistence
GraduatePostbaccalaureate comprehensive
Undergraduate PopulationFull-time four-year, more selective, lower transfer-in
EnrollmentVery high undergraduate
Size & SettingLarge four-year, primarily residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringMaster's degree
Calendar SystemQuarter
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District624

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees


Ranks 917th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $5,472 $5,472 $16,632
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $3,252 $3,252 $3,252
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A $248
FT Graduate Tuition $6,738 $6,738 $17,898
FT Graduate Required Fees $3,252 $3,252 $3,252
PT Graduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A $248
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $24,285 $24,285 $35,445
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $24,285 $24,285 $35,445
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $13,122 $13,122 $24,282

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $7,911 $8,043 $7,911 $8,043 $19,071 $19,203
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,698 $1,754
On-Campus – Room & Board $10,476 $10,679
On-Campus – Other Expenses $3,393 $3,414
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $10,476 $10,962
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $3,393 $4,160
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $3,393 $4,275

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$55
Graduate Application Fee$55
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 36,941 (19,855 male / 17,086 female)
Admitted 11,537 (5,746 male / 5,791 female)
Admission rate 31%
First-time Enrollment 3,635 (2,001 male / 1,634 female)
FT Enrollment 3,620 (1,989 male / 1,631 female)
PT Enrollment 15 (12 male / 3 female)
Total Enrollment19,703

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /  N/A / 
College Prep. Completion
RecommendationsN/A
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scores
TOEFLN/A
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Football Conference Big Sky Conference
NCAA Basketball Conference Big West Conference
NCAA Baseball Conference Big West Conference
NCAA Track & Field Conference Big West Conference

ACT Test Admission

155th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 62%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 24 / 31
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 26 / 31
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 25 / 30

SAT Test Admission

144th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 88%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 550 / 650
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 590 / 690
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 1140 / 1340

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity7,246
Meals per WeekN/A
Room Fee$6,430
Board Fee$4,693

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

 
Total 42 35 394 418 23 2,416 376 3,835
Accounting 4 10 34 7 58
Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering 1 9 21 74 18 126
Agricultural Business and Management, General 2 12 1 3 110 16 149
Agricultural Communication/Journalism 2 5 7
Agricultural Engineering 1 7 1 10
Agricultural Mechanization, General 1 1 19 3 25
Agricultural Teacher Education 1 3 30 6 41
Agriculture, General 2 2 10 4 19
Agronomy and Crop Science 5 16 3 24
Animal Sciences, General 6 3 1 34 2 47
Architectural Engineering 1 13 5 1 22 7 49
Architecture 6 2 25 23 74 16 148
Biochemistry 1 5 9 16 5 38
Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering 7 32 96 17 161
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 2 1 8 18 2 98 11 146
Business Administration and Management, General 6 19 33 1 194 20 281
Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other 1 1
Chemistry, General 7 2 9
City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning 1 5 8 22 7 43
Civil Engineering, General 1 2 27 28 1 106 26 200
Computer Engineering, General 1 2 10 20 54 5 93
Computer Science 2 1 6 14 36 9 71
Computer Software Engineering 1 1 5 1 8
Construction Engineering 1 1 9 3 1 66 7 90
Dairy Science 1 2 9 3 15
Dietetics/Dietitian 2 7 65 9 87
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 1 5 1 8
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 3 3 7 2 15
Economics, General 1 1 3 6 30 3 44
Education, General 1 9 1 45 6 64
Electrical and Electronics Engineering 7 1 12 39 78 21 164
Engineering Science 2 1 26 5 35
Engineering, General 1 2 10 22 30 2 70
English Language and Literature, General 1 4 3 36 4 49
Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering 1 1 6 4 2 29 4 49
Ethnic, Cultural Minority, Gender, and Group Studies, Other 2 2 4
Fine/Studio Arts, General 1 10 33 6 54
Fire Services Administration 1 2 1 4
Food Science 5 22 4 32
Foreign Languages and Literatures, General 1 1 3 5
Forestry, General 4 14 2 21
Geological and Earth Sciences/Geosciences, Other 2 1 10 14
Graphic Communications, General 1 4 6 35 6 55
Health and Physical Education/Fitness, General 2 1 10 10 2 84 14 127
History, General 13 2 47 5 69
Horticultural Science 1 10 1 12
Industrial Engineering 9 14 45 4 79
Industrial Technology/Technician 4 11 2 18
Journalism 1 4 17 4 27
Landscape Architecture 4 3 26 10 45
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other 1 1 11 4 17
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 9 2 45 3 60
Manufacturing Engineering 1 4 1 6
Materials Engineering 2 4 15 23
Mathematics, General 6 2 26 4 40
Mechanical Engineering 5 30 12 2 127 12 194
Microbiology, General 1 2 1 12 1 17
Music, General 2 1 8 1 13
Natural Resources Management and Policy, Other 3 1 24 3 31
Natural Resources/Conservation, General 1 1
Ornamental Horticulture 1 2 1 7 3 14
Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies 2 6 1 36 3 49
Philosophy 1 2 1 6 1 11
Physics, General 3 18 4 25
Political Science and Government, General 2 1 22 6 31
Polymer Chemistry 4 4
Psychology, General 19 9 86 8 127
Public Administration 2 1 7 13
Rhetoric and Composition 1 18 2 22
Social Sciences, General 5 3 20 2 30
Social Sciences, Other 3 2 16 22
Sociology 1 5 2 11 1 22
Soil Science and Agronomy, General 1 1 2
Statistics, General 1 10 1 13
Viticulture and Enology 3 2 28 5 38

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 748th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $79,669 ($82,993 male / $73,154 female)
Number of FT Faculty 751 (496 male / 255 female)
Number of PT Faculty 1,095
FT Faculty Ratio 0.7 : 1
Total Benefits $32,844,570
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Elisabeth Bailey+

Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

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