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43-500 Monterey Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260
p. 760-346-8041
w. collegeofthedesert.edu

College of the Desert

College of the Desert Rating: 5.0/5 (1 votes)

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Founded in 1958 and opened in September 1962, College of the Desert is one of over one hundred two-year community colleges in California. Accreditation is granted by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the college is governed by the Desert Community College District, which has five elected members on its Board of Trustees as well as a Student Trustee that is elected by the student body.


The college awards both associate’s degrees and occupational certificates. It also offers many popular vocational and technical programs that include Digital Design and Production, Nursing and Health Sciences, Advanced Transportation Technologies, Turf Grass Management & Ornamental Horticulture, and Culinary Arts, in addition to a full range of Administration of Justice Courses at the Public Safety Academy training facility. The International Education Program at this school provides services for students who come from more than 35 different countries.

Through the transfer programs, students have an affordable option to start college and transfer to a four-year institution. COD is the top source of transfer students to California State University at San Bernardino. It also offers resources that include university application seminars, transfer workshops, and individual assistance to help students navigate the application process. It also boasts strong transfer rates to prestigious schools such as the University of California (UC) Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, and California State University (CSU) – Fullerton.

All of the faculty members at this school have a master’s degree, and most also have a PhD. Small class sizes ensure that students have ample opportunities to interact with the faculty.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Students who wish to apply should follow these steps in order:

  • Check the school’s website for instructions and submit the college’s online application.
  • A Student Identification Number will be sent to the e-mail account specified on the admission application, typically on the day of submission. Save this number. Once you have received your ID number, you can click on the link for “Assessment Tests” to schedule placement tests for Math, Reading, English, or English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • Pay the non-refundable application fee.
  • Have official transcripts from all high schools and/or colleges attended sent directly from the school of attendance. You may also have any standardized test score reports sent to the admissions office.
  • Attend an orientation session, where you will learn more about the college, its programs, and its policies. Students will also review assessment test results, and receive registration instructions. It is mandatory for all first time students to attend an orientation. Students may be exempt from this if they completed an associate’s or higher degree. Students who have participated in orientation at another college or university may also be exempt. Students who wish to be exempted must submit a Matriculation waiver and supporting documentation in order to have their participation waived.
  • All new students should schedule a meeting with a counselor to discuss academic goals and develop an Educational plan.
  • Apply for financial aid.
  • Register for classes.

Financial Aid

Forms of available aid include grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. A limited number of institutional scholarships and waivers are also available. All students who wish to be considered for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA should be submitted as soon as possible after January 1st for the upcoming academic year. If selected for verification, students will also need to complete a Federal Verification Worksheet.

All applicants who are California residents should also apply for both a Cal Grant from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), and a BOG Enrollment Fee Waiver (the application is available on the college’s website). Applications for the Cal Grant should be postmarked by March 2 for the following year. Students are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office for more information and assistance with completing the financial aid application process.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 5411th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Services, facilities, and programs available for students include a student health center, tutoring, academic advising, athletic programs, computer labs, a career center, a transfer center, a dining hall, a bookstore and an extensive library. Students are also encouraged to participate in the many campus clubs and organizations. The college’s students can participate in the student government and other organizations such as the Film, Art, Music, & Entertainmet (F.A.M.E.) Connection; the Gay Straight Alliance; Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA); the International Club; and the Campus Christian Network.

While the school does not offer on-campus housing, the Housing Coordinator can help students find affordable housing. International students can also choose to participate in the Host Family Program, which gives international students an opportunity to learn more about American culture and improve their English skills.

The International Student Office organizes activities that include trips to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, beach parties, visits to other local attractions, holiday parties and barbecues. Airport pickup service is also available for international students.

One very popular on campus event is the Street Fair, a hugely popular outdoor event that features more than 300 vendors offering entertainment, arts and crafts, a wide variety of unique gifts, a farmer’s market, and refreshment stands. There is free admission, parking, and complimentary shuttle service to and from the parking area.

Student Enrollment Demographics


College of the Desert athletics include varsity sports for both men and women; the teams, known as the Roadrunners, have won many state and national championships. The athletic programs are governed by the Commission on Athletics (COA), and are sanctioned through the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA). This school has 14 intercollegiate sports teams that participate in the Foothill Athletic Conference. Men’s sports include cross country, baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, and football. Women’s sports include cross country, soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, softball, and volleyball. The football team competes in the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) within the Central East Conference.

Information Summary

Ranks 209th in California and 2359th overall
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College building :: College of the Desert College building :: College of the Desert Computer lab :: College of the Desert

Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault N/A N/A
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape N/A N/A
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 1 0.01
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft 7 0.07
Arrest 1 0.01

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 32 0.07
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter 2 0.00
Forcible Rape 2 0.00
Robbery 40 0.08
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 593 1.21
Larceny 1,439 2.94
Vehicle theft 115 0.23

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Palm Desert, CA 92260
Surrounding communityLarge suburb (inside urban area but outside city, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population29,322 (28,839 urban / 483 rural)
Households13,899 (2.09 people per house)
Median Household Income$43,299
Families7,803 (2.68 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Associate's — Public Suburban-serving Multicampus
Undergraduate PopulationHigher part-time two-year
EnrollmentExclusively undergraduate two-year
Size & SettingLarge two-year

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringAssociate's degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District636

Special Learning Opportunities

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

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 4125th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $1,288 $1,288 $6,608
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $28 $28 $28
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $46 $46 $236
FT Graduate Tuition N/A N/A N/A
FT Graduate Required Fees N/A N/A N/A
PT Graduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A N/A
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $3,026 $3,026 $8,346
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $18,461 $18,461 $23,781
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $7,193 $7,193 $12,513

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $1,036 $1,316 $1,036 $1,316 $5,880 $6,440
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,656 $1,665
On-Campus – Room & Board N/A(N/C)
On-Campus – Other Expenses N/A(N/C)
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $10,863 $10,962
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $4,059 $4,158
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $4,185 $4,275

Admission Criteria

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

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

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 CapacityN/A
Meals per WeekN/A
Room FeeN/A
Board FeeN/A

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 222nd for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $99,515 ($98,737 male / $84,436 female)
Number of FT Faculty 101 (53 male / 48 female)
Number of PT Faculty 423
FT Faculty Ratio 0.2 : 1
Total Benefits $4,425,091

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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