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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

School of Education

San Luis Obispo, CA

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Introduction | California Polytechnic State University: School of Education

The School of Education is dedicated to preparing knowledgeable, skillful and caring education professionals for positions in an increasingly diverse, technologically situated society. Students benefit from strong partnerships with local schools, community colleges, and education agencies, as well as state and national organizations. The school offers four master’s degrees and several credential programs.

Key Facts and Overview | California Polytechnic State University: School of Education

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

Degrees and Majors | California Polytechnic State University: School of Education

M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration

Cal Poly’s M.A. degree in educational leadership and administration prepares educational leaders who foster a norm of ethical behavior, moral integrity, and social responsibility in an interdependent and rapidly changing world. Leaders from many fields, including K-12, higher education, sports administration, and nonprofit organizations, will benefit from this fast and flexible program. It is instructed by faculty composed of scholar-practitioners who bring real-world experience and nationally recognized scholarship to the teaching and learning experience. 

M.S. in Higher Education Counseling and Student Affairs

This degree in higher education counseling and student affairs is designed to prepare students for careers working as counselors and student affairs professionals in a variety of higher education and nonprofit settings. A major strength of the program is its extensive internship placement, which takes place during the second year of studies and provides students with real-world work experience. 

M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction

The M.A. in curriculum and instruction program is designed to support school-based educators in developing advanced knowledge and skills with research-based practices necessary to promote PK-16 students’ development of the multiple literacies needed to meet the demands of the 21st century. A program emphasis is to create a professional learning community with the common goal of advancing teaching practice to foster student learning. Hybrid and online course delivery are offered to accommodate the schedule of working professionals. 

M.S in Special Education

Cal Poly’s M.S. degree in special education and an (M.S./SPED) in mild/moderate disabilities credential program. Students entering Cal Poly’s Special Education program will have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that will contribute to their success as a special education class teacher, resource specialist, inclusion specialist autism specialist, or clinician. The M.S./SPED is cohort-based. All students progress through the program together, taking courses in a prescribed sequence that starts each fall quarter.

Admissions | California Polytechnic State University: School of Education

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: School of Education

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.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Master of Arts (MA)
Master of Science (MS)

Degrees Awarded

Degree Number Awarded
Master's Degrees 95

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available? Yes
Evening/weekend programs available? Yes
Distance learning programs available? No
Terminal master's degree available? No

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirement
Master's Degrees Comp Exam Required


Acceptance Rate



Application Fee - Domestic
applications accepted?
Applications processed
on a rolling basis?

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline April 1st April 1st No

Entrance Requirements

Tuition & Fees

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Financial Support

Financial award applicants must submit: FAFSA or California Dream Act Applications 
Application deadlines for financial awards March 1 or June 1
Types of financial support available Tuition Waivers, Scholarship and/or Loans, Graduate Assistantships

Student Body

Total Graduate Students
International Breakout (representing other countries)


Hispanic/Latino 30.99%
Black or African American 2.82%
White or Caucasian 50%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 4.23%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 4.23%
Unknown 2.82%


Male (16%)
Female (83%)


Total faculty
Full-time - 7
Part-time - 6
Male (4)
Female (9)


Focus of faculty research: Rural school counseling, partner school effectiveness, college student affairs, special education, educational leadership and administration
Externally sponsored research expenditures last year: 0

Location & Contact

Address 1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA  93407
United States
Contact Dr. Kevin Taylor
Phone: 805-756-1503

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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
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