California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo Rankings

By | April 19, 2020

Overview of California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

California Polytechnic State University, commonly known as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or simply Cal Poly, is a public university located in San Luis Obispo, California. Established in 1901, Cal Poly is renowned for its emphasis on Learn by Doing, a philosophy that integrates hands-on experience with a comprehensive academic curriculum. With a focus on applied sciences, technology, engineering, agriculture, and architecture, Cal Poly has earned a reputation as one of the top polytechnic universities in the United States.

Academic Programs and Colleges: Cal Poly offers a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs through its six colleges. These colleges are the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; the College of Architecture and Environmental Design; the Orfalea College of Business; the College of Engineering; the College of Liberal Arts; and the College of Science and Mathematics.

The curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong theoretical foundation while prioritizing practical, hands-on experience. Students are encouraged to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems, preparing them for successful careers in their respective fields.

Learn by Doing: At the core of Cal Poly’s educational philosophy is the commitment to Learn by Doing. This hands-on approach is integrated into every aspect of the university’s programs, encouraging students to engage in practical projects, internships, research, and collaborative ventures. The emphasis on experiential learning distinguishes Cal Poly and contributes to the development of graduates who are well-prepared to enter the workforce.

Whether in laboratories, workshops, studios, or industry partnerships, students at Cal Poly actively participate in projects that mirror the challenges and demands of their future professions. This immersive learning experience is a hallmark of the Cal Poly educational model.

Polytechnic Focus: As a polytechnic university, Cal Poly places a particular emphasis on applied sciences and technology. The university’s programs are designed to address the evolving needs of industries and the global economy. Students engage in cutting-edge research, technology development, and creative projects that contribute to advancements in their respective fields.

The polytechnic focus extends beyond the STEM disciplines, encompassing areas such as business, liberal arts, and environmental design. Cal Poly’s commitment to practical application ensures that graduates possess the skills and knowledge needed to make meaningful contributions in a rapidly changing world.

Strong Engineering and Architecture Programs: Cal Poly is well-regarded for its exceptional engineering and architecture programs. The College of Engineering offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including aerospace engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on projects, design challenges, and collaboration with industry partners.

The College of Architecture and Environmental Design is known for its rigorous and comprehensive programs in architecture, landscape architecture, and city and regional planning. Students in these programs engage in design studios, hands-on construction projects, and community-oriented planning efforts.

Sustainable Practices and Environmental Stewardship: Cal Poly is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The university integrates sustainable practices into its programs, campus operations, and research initiatives. The emphasis on sustainable design, agriculture, and resource management aligns with Cal Poly’s dedication to addressing environmental challenges and promoting responsible practices in various industries.

The Cal Poly Center for Sustainability serves as a hub for sustainability initiatives, research, and community engagement. The university’s commitment to environmental stewardship reflects its awareness of the impact of human activities on the planet and its responsibility to educate students who can contribute to a more sustainable future.

Internship and Industry Connections: Cal Poly’s location on the central coast of California provides students with access to a diverse range of industries, including technology, agriculture, and tourism. The university’s strong connections with local and global industries facilitate internship opportunities, cooperative education experiences, and collaborative projects.

The Corporate Partners Program at Cal Poly connects students with industry leaders, providing networking opportunities, mentorship, and access to internships and job placements. These industry connections contribute to high rates of post-graduation employment for Cal Poly graduates.

Multidisciplinary Approach: Cal Poly encourages a multidisciplinary approach to learning, recognizing that complex problems often require solutions that span multiple disciplines. Students have the flexibility to pursue minors, concentrations, or interdisciplinary projects that align with their interests and career goals. This approach fosters a well-rounded education that prepares graduates to navigate the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary challenges.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Cal Poly offers a vibrant student life with a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations. Students can participate in professional societies, cultural groups, sports clubs, and community service initiatives. The Mustang Way, a set of guiding principles, emphasizes collaboration, respect, and responsibility, contributing to a positive and inclusive campus culture.

Extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills, pursue personal interests, and form lasting connections with their peers. The variety of clubs and organizations reflects the diverse interests of the Cal Poly student body.

Campus and Facilities: The Cal Poly campus is characterized by its modern facilities, sustainable architecture, and picturesque surroundings. The Robert E. Kennedy Library, the Performing Arts Center, and the Recreation Center are integral parts of campus life, providing resources for academic research, cultural events, and recreational activities.

The campus is designed to support collaborative learning and innovation. The Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics, for example, provides state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborative spaces for students in science and mathematics disciplines.

Athletics: Cal Poly competes in NCAA Division I athletics, known as the Cal Poly Mustangs. The university fields teams in a variety of sports, and student-athletes contribute to the competitive spirit and community pride on campus. The Alex G. Spanos Stadium serves as the centerpiece for football and other events, creating a vibrant atmosphere during games.

Global Engagement: Cal Poly encourages global engagement and offers study abroad programs that provide students with opportunities to experience different cultures, broaden their perspectives, and engage in international academic pursuits. The university’s commitment to global education aligns with its goal of preparing graduates who can navigate the challenges of a globalized world.

Conclusion: California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo stands as a leading polytechnic institution with a commitment to Learn by Doing, practical application, and multidisciplinary education. The university’s focus on applied sciences, engineering, architecture, and sustainable practices prepares students for successful careers in a wide range of industries. With a vibrant campus culture, strong industry connections, and a dedication to innovation, Cal Poly continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the education and future success of its students.

1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Phone: (805) 756-2311
Web site:

Rankings: California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo

Located in San Luis Obispo, CA, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo is one of the best universities in the state of California. On this page, you will find in-depth rankings for California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in the following areas: graduation rates, teaching  resources, financing opportunities, and alumni donations. Latest acceptance rate is also given to show how competitive is California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.

Rankings, Ratings, and Admissions Statistics
Overall Ranking: 6
Score: 72
Peer college rating (out of 5) 4.0
Graduation and retention ranking: 6
Average freshman retention rate: 90.2%
6-year graduation rate: 69.3%
Predicted graduation rate: N/A
Overperformance(+)/Underperformance(-): N/A
Faculty resources ranking: 88
Classes with under 20 students (2020): 16.7%
Classes with 50 or more students (2020): 12.6%
Student faculty ratio (2020): 19:1
Percent of faculty who are full-time (2020) 84.1%
Student selectivity ranking: 3
SAT/ACT 25th-75th percentile (2020) 1100-1310
2020 Freshmen in top 10 percent of high school class: 47%
Freshmen in top 25 percent of high school class (2020): 83%
Fall 2020 Acceptance rate: 33.5%
Financial resources rank: 63
Alumni giving rank: 42
Average alumni giving rate (2020): 8.3%

Essential Facts: California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo

  • The school ranks #12 in California for highest average GPA.
  • Cal Poly is the second largest land-holding university in California, second only to UC Berkeley, and one of the largest land-holding universities in the nation.
  • Cal Poly is the most selective of the California State universities, and successful applicants typically have grades and standardized test scores that are significantly above average.

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo History

Rules and regulations Sports Activities 

General Information
Percent of undergraduate students who live in college-owned, operated, or affiliated housing: 29%
Percent of undergraduates who are members of a fraternity: 10%
Percent of student body who are members of a sorority: 13%
Average percentage of students on campus during weekends: 100%
Are all students permitted to have cars on campus? Yes
Percent of students who have cars on campus: 35%
Is alcohol permitted on campus for students of legal age? No
Additional policies and regulations: class attendance policies set by individual instructors, hazing prohibited
Collegiate athletic association: NCAA I
Men’s scholarship sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field (outdoor), wrestling
Women’s scholarship sports: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field (outdoor), volleyball
Student activities: campus ministries, choral groups, concert band, dance, drama/theater, international student organization, jazz band, literary magazine, marching band, model UN, music ensembles, musical theater, pep band, radio station, student government, student newspaper, symphony orchestra, television station