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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

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Introduction | California Polytechnic State University: Graduate Education 

Established in 1901, the California Polytechnic State University is a public, coeducational university in San Luis Obispo, California located in the western region of the United States. 

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) fosters scholarship, service, and teaching in a Learn by Doing environment. The application of theory to practice, active-learning methods, and field and laboratory work form the core of this academic approach. According to Colleges in California, its campus is one of the most beautiful in the state. The university is situated in an area known for its mild climate, natural beauty, and outdoor recreational options.

Key Facts and Overview | California Polytechnic State University: Grad School 

Cal Poly Graduate Education provides many opportunities for students to help advance in their academic and professional careers. Cal Poly offers students over 35 areas of study for graduate students looking to continue their education and make a difference in the world. According to Washington Monthly, Cal Poly is ranked 23rd out of 606 schools in the 2019 U.S. Masters Degree category for contribution to the public good based on social mobility, research, and service. Featured graduate programs at Cal Poly include, Computer Science, Business Analytics, and Public Policy. Cal Poly consists of seven academic colleges or schools for graduates:

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Encompassing the Cal Poly spirit of Learn by Doing, students have access to over 6,000 acres of agricultural production processing, research land, and facilities. Students will be prepared for opportunities that await after graduation in agricultural, food and environmental sciences. 

College of Architecture and Environmental Design

With an enrollment of more than 1,900 students, the College of Architecture and Environmental Design offers a unique blend of three graduate degree programs: architectural engineering, architecture and city and regional planning. 

College of Engineering

The College of Engineering is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report, which ranks one of the college’s departments as  the top specialty program in the nation. As of Fall 2018, 247 dedicated engineering faculty are ready to help prepare students for success both in and out of the classroom. 

College of Liberal Arts

Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts is one of the most diverse and selective colleges in the state. It is home to 17 departments in the humanities, social sciences, communications and performing arts offering four graduate degrees in English, History, Psychology and Public Policy. With a reputation for award-winning faculty and researchers, students are offered many hands-on learning opportunities that prepare students for their next professional and academic pathways. 

College of Science and Mathematics

Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics is one of the best in the country. Small class sizes and the Learn by Doing mind-set expose students to push their boundaries and make significant strides in their area of study. Students work closely with faculty, who act as mentors and guide students towards success. 

Orfalea College of Business

The Orfalea College of Business employment rate for graduates is 96% according to the 2014-2015 Grad Status Report. With a reputation for top academics, the Orfalea College of Business prepares students with a clear pathway to success in today’s evolving world of business. 

School of Education

The School of Education is a leading school offering four programs that will benefit working professionals in K-12 education including, education leadership and administration, higher education counseling and student affairs, curriculum and instruction, and special education. These programs prepare knowledgeable skillful and caring education professionals for positions in an increasingly diverse , technologically situated situation. 

Majors and Degrees | California Polytechnic State University: Grad School 

Following the pedagogy of Learn by Doing, Cal Poly provides exceptional academic excellence in a practice-oriented environment. Cal Poly prepares students with advanced knowledge and the leadership skills required to excel and succeed in today’s economy.Cal Poly offers over 35 graduate programs across several colleges. A sample of graduate programs include: Accounting, Aerospace Engineering, Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Business Analytics, Computer Science, English, Public Policy, Nutrition, Mathematics, History, Food Science, and Fire Protection Engineering. 

According to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report, Cal Poly is ranked 4th in the western U.S. out of 128 regional schools, 1st in “Top Public Schools”, 1st for “Most Innovative Schools” and is recognized for having an innovative and challenging engineering program. Cal Poly’s alumni are dedicated and willing to help connect graduates and drive them towards success in the workforce. Career Connections is an online network and mentoring platform that connects students and graduates with Cal Poly’s professional community.

Many notable alumni of Cal Poly include Abel Maldonado, Former California Governor; Peter Oppenheimer, CFO of Apple Inc; Farzad Nazem, CTO of Yahoo; Gary Erickson, founder of Clif Bar; William Swanson, CEO and founder of Raytheon; Weird Al Yankovic, entertainer; and John Madden, notable football coach. 

At Cal Poly, students always come first. Their student-centric approach means small class sizes and individualized attention from dedicated faculty.

Admissions | California Polytechnic State University: Grad School 

Admission to a graduate program at Cal Poly is centralized through the Cal Poly Admission Office, in direct collaboration with coordinators in each of the graduate programs.  Applicants to Cal Poly will follow the official process as described through Cal State Apply, selecting Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, which is one of 23 campuses of the California State University system.

Cal Poly recommends that applicants investigate the program of interest, and research any curriculum questions related to the program.  Program overview information can be found in the Graduate Education Programs Catalog on the Graduate Education website.  Each program has a Faculty Graduate Coordinator who can provide answers about curriculum and professional opportunities.  A list of Graduate Coordinators by program can be found on the Cal Poly Graduate Education website. 

Cal Poly also recommends that applicants familiarize themselves with the graduate admission information outlined on the Office of Admissions website, as well as with information provided on the Graduate Education website.  In addition to these resources, applicants should consult the program for additional program-specific requirements, if any.

General Requirements to be considered for admission to Cal Poly:

    • - Have completed a four-year college course of study at an accredited institution. 
    • - Be in good standing at the previous institution attended. 
    • - Provide official transcripts from the undergraduate degree granting institution to the Cal Poly Admissions Office by the appropriate deadline. 
    • - A GPA from the bachelor degree granting institution of 3.0 of better. A GRE score demonstrating a 50th percentile or higher in each of the 3 categories may allow an application with a GPA of 2.5 or below to be considered. 
    • - Some programs require GRE scores for all applicants. Refer to the Admissions Office and program as there are some exceptions. If your program requires GRE scores, official scores must be reported to the Cal Poly Admissions Office by the deadline. 
    • - Letters of Recommendation as required by the program on interest. 
    • - All graduate and post-baccalaureate applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must demonstrate competence in English. Those who do not possess a bachelor's degree from a post-secondary institution where English in the principal language of instruction must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of 80 or better, or the International English Language Testing system (IELTS) exam with a score of 6.5 or better. 

International applicant admission to Cal Poly:  

The CSU must assess the academic preparation of international students. For this purpose, international students include those who hold U.S. temporary visas as students, exchange visitors, or in other non-immigrant classifications. The CSU uses separate requirements and application filing dates in the admission of international students. The process for filing an international application can be found on the Cal Poly Admissions website.

Cost, Financial Aid, and Tuition | California Polytechnic State University: Grad School 

Cal Poly ranked 37th in the U.S. in PayScale’s 2018 “College ROI Report,” which ranked 1,878 colleges and universities. According to PayScale’s projections, Cal Poly has a 20-year net return on investment of $699,000. This ROI is the 2nd highest in the California State University system and is higher than all of the University of California schools.

The estimated tuition and fees for a full-time, resident graduate student is $11,376 for three quarters. For full-time students who are not residents of the state of California, estimated tuition and fees are $17,712 for three quarters. For full-time international students, estimated tuition and fees are $19,902 for three quarters. Additional information about living expenses, supplies and transportation can be found here.

Cal Poly provides several opportunities to reduce tuition and fees, including resident tuition waivers, non-resident tuition waivers, and State University Grants. Applicants can apply for Resident and Non-Resident Tuition Waivers here. State University Grants are need-based financial aid. Students interested in need-based financial aid should submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or the California Dream Act Application if they are not eligible for federal financial aid. Students who complete one of these applications are automatically considered for need-based grant programs. Graduate Education also oversees the Graduate Equity Fellowship, which provides support students with demonstrated financial need. Graduate Education also provides Graduate Assistant positions to support the professional development and mastery of your chosen field.

Tuition & Fees

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Tuition & Fees

In-state full-time tuition
Out-of-state tuition

Student Body

Total Graduate Students
Not Reported
International Breakout (representing other countries)


Male (54%)
Female (45%)


Total faculty
Full-time - 99
Part-time - 40
Male (48)
Female (91)

Location & Contact

Address 1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA  93407
United States
ContactGraduate Education
Phone: 805-756-2328

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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
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