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1140 W. Mission
San Marcos, CA 92069-1487
p. 760-744-1150

Palomar College

Palomar College Rating: 4.0/5 (4 votes)

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Palomar College is a two-year community college located roughly 30 miles north of San Diego. With 30,000 students, 6 additional education centers scattered around the northern part of the county, and 200 degree and certificate programs, Palomar meets the professional and personal needs of a large portion of northern California.

The main campus is located in San Marcos, a suburb of San Diego, while the additional education sites are in Escondido, Camp Pendleton, the Pauma Indian reservation, and at three high schools: Mt. Carmel, Fallbrook, and Ramona. Palomar is currently working toward a master plan set to culminate in 2022 which will grow the size and scope of the college even further.


Palomar participates in transfer agreements with both the California State University and the University of California systems for students in all five of their academic divisions: Arts, Media, Business and Computer Systems; Career, Technical and Extended Education; Language and Literature; Mathematics and The Natural Health and Sciences; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Students from Palomar studying in these disciplines can easily transfer to any California State University or University of California campus and be guaranteed to bring all of their credits with them.

In order to meet the needs of working students, Palomar offers fast track classes for students who wish to move through their programs quickly, self-paced classes that let students to move either slowly, quickly, or intermittently as their other commitments allow, and late start classes that begin after the first week of the semester.

Some of the more unique concentrations offered at Palomar include American Indian Studies, American Sign Language, Fire Technology, and Zoology. Occupational and non-credit programs include Construction Inspection, Electro-Mechanical Equipment Technician, Public Works Management, Wastewater Technology Education, and Water Technology Education. With such a wide range of choices, students can enroll in classes as diverse as Recreational Leadership, Tagalog, Digital 3D Design and Modeling, Preventive Dentistry, and Inductance and Capacitance Theory and Codeology.

Although the on-site facilities are not as extensive as they would be at a residential school, computers are available for student use at the Academic Technology Computer Labs on the ground floor of the college library. Four specialized computers are available for disabled students. Wireless laptops are also available for in-class uses such as project demonstrations or group research.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Unique Programs

There are a number of programs at Palomar to reach out to students who may have difficult acclimating to college academics. The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S) program is a state-funded initiative to help orient, recruit, and retain college students from California who are economically, socially, and/or educationally disadvantaged. EOP&S offers financial assistance and academic support to qualified students. EOP&S services are geared towards full-time students with risk factors for failure, including being at least one of the following: a first-generation college student, a re-entry student, a student with a disability, a student whose first language is something other than English, an ethnic minority, or a student with a poor educational record.

Palomar has also developed a Department of Education-funded program called the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). This is a five-year initiative to improve the academic success and retention rate of Latino students. Components include a supportive summer program, first year mentoring, an early acceptance program, a faculty mentor program, and supplemental instruction. To help members of their wider community succeed in business, Palomar offers a Command Spanish® program to help non-native speakers of Spanish communicate effectively with Spanish speakers they serve through their work.


The admissions process does not exclude anyone who wishes to enroll in the college, with the exception of international students not in possession of an F-1, M-1, J-1, or J-2 visa. An online admission application is available on the school’s website. People from 49 different countries attend Palomar, helping to create a diverse atmosphere. In addition to holding an appropriate visa, international students must achieve a minimum score of 470 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Financial Aid

Palomar students enjoy the advantages of the California Community College system, which regulates the fee structure at the college. Enrollment costs are for a minimal charge per credit hour for California residents. Out-of-state students are charged a substantial extra fee per credit.

Regardless of their financial status, however, all students are encouraged to apply for financial aid. Palomar offers work-study programs as well as the standard grants and loans. Emergency funds are available to help students in need. The Steinberg Loan is a one-time $250 disbursement which requires a one week application process. A $50 emergency loan is also available to qualified students.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4210th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Most of the 14,000 + students at Palomar attend part-time while working, parenting, or pursuing other life goals—only 25% of the student population is enrolled full-time. 60% of the student body attends part-time in pursuit of a degree or certificate, while the remaining 15% are enrolled in non-credit classes.

The student body includes a wide diversity of California residents. Only half of the students fit into the traditional college model of being under the age of 25, while the rest of the Palomar population spans the adult life cycle. Reflecting the diversity of the community around them, a quarter of the student population is Latino, 6% is Asian, and 4% is African American.

There are many extracurricular opportunities for students at Palomar. Some of the most popular student organizations include the Associated Student Government, the Anime Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Palomar LGBTQ & Allies, the Palomar College Democrats, the Speech & Debate Club, and the Environmental Student Organization (ESO). Student media at Palomar include the newspaper The Telescope, radio station KKSM, and television station PCTV. Highlights of student life at Palomar include Springfest and Comet Week, a festival marked by a traditional faculty/student tug of war, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, and pull-up contests.

Student Enrollment Demographics


Palomar College has both men’s and women’s teams for the following sports: basketball, football, tennis, cross-country, golf, baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball, tennis, soccer, swimming, and water polo. Athletic events held during the day are free to both students and the public, while evening events are free for students carrying their Palomar ID cards.

Local Community

A true “community” college, Palomar is a cultural center for north San Diego County. The college’s Howard Brubeck Theatre offers plays, dance performances, and musical opportunities for both their student base and the wider community. Palomar also boats a planetarium with weekly shows open to the public and a five-acre arboretum for formal and informal botanical education. The arboretum features frequent lectures and demonstrations, on topics as varied as “The Sex Life of Figs,” “International Cactus Tours,” “Basic Tree Trimming,” and “Planting with Children”.

One of the highlights of the San Marcos community is Palomar’s Boehm Art Gallery, which hosts both local and international artists for community enjoyment. The Boehm Gallery houses over 250 works of art from the fifteen through the twenty-first centuries and displays five exhibitions a year. Exhibits have featured such esteemed artists as Andy Warhol, Leonardo da Vinci, and Edward Hopper. The most popular regular exhibit is the Annual Art Department Student Exhibition.

Lastly, the Fitness Center at Palomar is a joint project of the college, the City of San Marcos, and the Palomar Pomerado Health System. It includes a pool, weight room, and a number of workout programs and fitness instruction options. Open six days a week, the Fitness Center is free to students of the college. Use of the showers, towels, locker rooms, and parking lot are only available to paid members, however, so many students choose to join the Fitness Center as a member. Military personnel receive a 40% discount on membership.


Well-known alumni of Palomar include former NFL player Tom Dempsey, Washington Nationals pitcher Matt Chico, founder of DC shoes and rally car driver Ken Block, and EMS Videos Studio founder Alex Maximov.

Additional School Information

The Career Center is open five days a week with extended hours (7:30 AM to 7 PM) Monday-Thursday. The center connects students with both on- and off-campus employment opportunities. Individual appointments for career counseling, resume help, and aptitude tests are available through the center. Student employment is available on-campus at the bookstore, the Wellness Center, the Child Development Center, and in most academic departments. Federal work-study job are available in many of the college’s departments.

Dining services at Palomar are provided by Aramark at three locations: Comet Café, Snack Shack, and Java City Coffee Bar. All three locations are staffed by students in the college’s food service training program. Students can purchase “Comet Cash” from the college to save 10% on food purchases.

It’s worth noting that enrolled students qualify for free doctor and naturopath visits through the college. Health Services offers free HIV testing, sexual health screenings, and skin screenings. Regular health demonstrations and workshops are free for students.


Career Center: Frequently Asked Questions. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.

Mission. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Palomar College Fact Sheet. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.

Information Summary

Ranks 204th in California and 2299th overall
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Academic Technology Laboratory :: Palomar College Bookstore :: Palomar College Mathematics Learning Center :: Palomar College Boehm Gallery :: Palomar College

Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 2 0.01
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 1 0.00
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary N/A N/A
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 16 0.06

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 154 0.18
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Forcible Rape 19 0.02
Robbery 60 0.07
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 358 0.42
Larceny 908 1.07
Vehicle theft 158 0.19

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near San Marcos, CA 92069-1487
Surrounding communityLarge suburb (inside urban area but outside city, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population52,658 (52,266 urban / 392 rural)
Households17,823 (2.94 people per house)
Median Household Income$45,647
Families12,695 (3.42 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Associate's — Public Suburban-serving Multicampus
Undergraduate PopulationHigher part-time two-year
EnrollmentExclusively undergraduate two-year
Size & SettingVery large 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 District650

Special Learning Opportunities

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

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 4338th 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 $5,432
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $40 $40 $40
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $46 $46 $190
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 $3,038 $3,038 $7,182
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $16,966 $16,966 $21,110
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $5,555 $5,555 $9,699

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $1,052 $1,328 $1,052 $1,328 $5,084 $5,224
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,656 $1,666
On-Campus – Room & Board N/A(N/C)
On-Campus – Other Expenses N/A(N/C)
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $10,854 $10,962
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $4,058 $4,160
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $4,184 $4,272

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

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 63 81 1,055 227 24 1,620 88 3,308
Accounting Technology/Technician and Bookkeeping 3 3 36 12 39 3 100
Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science, General 3 7 10
Advertising 4 1 2 7
Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot and Flight Crew 1 1
Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects 1 4 11 18
Apparel and Textile Marketing Management 1 4 2 7
Archeology 2 6 9
Architectural Drafting and Architectural CAD/CADD 1 4 3 10
Architectural Technology/Technician 3 3 2 8
Art/Art Studies, General 1 1
Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician 1 1
Automobile/Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician 13 11 2 26
Aviation/Airway Management and Operations 4 9 13
Biological and Physical Sciences 1 7 69 28 2 104 2 220
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 2 2
Building/Home/Construction Inspection/Inspector 1 2 1 4
Business Administration and Management, General 3 2 3 2 17 1 33
Business/Commerce, General 1 5 28 5 31 71
Cabinetmaking and Millwork 1 4 5
Carpentry/Carpenter 1 23 1 9 34
Ceramic Arts and Ceramics
Chemistry, General
Child Care Provider/Assistant 22 23 1 46
Child Care and Support Services Management
Commercial and Advertising Art 2 1 1 4
Computer Graphics 3 10 13
Computer Installation and Repair Technology/Technician 1
Computer Programming/Programmer, General 1 1 11 17
Computer Support Specialist 2 1 3
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications 8 2 24 34
Construction Trades, Other 2 2
Criminal Justice/Police Science 7 2 26 1 40
Dance, General 2 1 1 2 6
Dance, Other 2 3 5
Dental Assisting/Assistant 12 12 2 26
Diesel Mechanics Technology/Technician 4 1 2 7
Drafting and Design Technology/Technician, General 8 12
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 1 1
Drawing 1 1
Drywall Installation/Drywaller 1 1 2
Economics, General 1 5 6
Education, General 8 2 1 8 19
Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs 2 2
Electrical/Electronics Drafting and Electrical/Electronics CAD/CADD
Electrician 7 31 2 48 4 94
Electromechanical and Instrumentation and Maintenance Technologies/Technicians, Other 2 2
Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic) 1 25 3 3 76 2 113
English Language and Literature, General 3 3
Ethnic Studies 1 3 4
Family and Community Services 2 1 3
Fashion/Apparel Design 1 5 5 11
Film/Cinema/Video Studies 2 2
Fire Prevention and Safety Technology/Technician 2 7 1 51 6 69
Foreign Languages and Literatures, General 20 3 17 2 44
Forensic Science and Technology 1 1 2 1 5
French Language and Literature 2 4 2 19 29
Geography, Other 1 3 2 11 17
Graphic Design 6 6
Graphic and Printing Equipment Operator, General Production 2 2
Health and Physical Education/Fitness, General
Homeland Security 1 1 2 4 8
Humanities/Humanistic Studies 11 4 97 12 1 122 5 266
Information Technology 2 1 3
Interior Design 2 1 1 7 1 12
International Business/Trade/Commerce 2 2
Journalism 2 3 5
Legal Studies, General 3 2 5
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 23 20 295 91 8 384 22 893
Library and Archives Assisting 1 12 13
Mason/Masonry 13 1 6 20
Mathematics, General 2 3 3 12 21
Medical Administrative/Executive Assistant and Medical Secretary 2 4 7
Medical/Clinical Assistant 2 3 5
Metal and Jewelry Arts 1 1
Music, General 1 1 1 3
Photographic and Film/Video Technology/Technician and Assistant 7 5 12
Physical Fitness Technician 1
Pre-Engineering 1 2 3
Prepress/Desktop Publishing and Digital Imaging Design 2 4 20 1 27
Psychology, General 14 3 15 3 37
Public Administration 2 2
Radio and Television 1 2 3
Real Estate 8 3 12
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 10 3 29 5 48
Retail Management 4 4
Sheet Metal Technology/Sheetworking 1 7 18 2 28
Sign Language Interpretation and Translation 2 7 11
Social Sciences, General 7 13 184 34 1 234 12 514
Sociology 4 2 7
Speech Communication and Rhetoric
Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling 2 7 24 34
Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology 1 1
Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment Management and Recycling Technology/Technician 1 8 22 2 33
Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design 6 6
Web/Multimedia Management and Webmaster 1 2 3 6
Welding Technology/Welder 1 11 12 24

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 308th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $94,443 ($94,174 male / $91,471 female)
Number of FT Faculty 266 (133 male / 133 female)
Number of PT Faculty 1,124
FT Faculty Ratio 0.2 : 1
Total Benefits $13,433,891

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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