20 Top CSU Schools Ranked 2024

Residents of California are fortunate to have a wealth of public university options available to them. Alongside the renowned University of California (UC) schools, the California State University (CSU) system boasts an impressive array of 20 institutions. Our compilation of the Best CSU Schools Ranked aims to provide valuable insights, including data on Undergraduate Enrollment, Number of Freshman Applicants, Acceptance Rate, average GPA of accepted applicants, and Transfer Acceptance Rate. It’s important to note that each of the 20 CSU schools offers academic excellence at an affordable price. In fact, CSU graduates from all campuses typically earn an average salary of $52,000 two years after graduation, with the mean figure rising to $80,000 after ten years.

Our rankings consider factors such as selectivity, quality of academic programs, availability of career services, and postgraduate outcomes. However, we advise readers not to place undue emphasis on the numerical ranking of the schools. While the rankings can provide valuable insights into the admissions landscape, they should not be the sole determining factor in your decision-making process. Instead, we encourage prospective students to view the rankings as a starting point for exploring the diverse academic and career opportunities offered by each CSU campus, and to choose the one that aligns best with their individual goals and aspirations.

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20 Top CSU Schools Ranked

  1. Cal Poly SLO
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 20,963
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 58,944
  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Average GPA: 3.9
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 20%
  • Notable: Cal Poly SLO’s School of Engineering is highly acclaimed, with over one-quarter of all degrees conferred in engineering. The university excels in specialty areas such as industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, computer engineering, and civil engineering. The institution has become increasingly competitive in recent years.

2. San Diego State University

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 31,724
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 77,250
  • Acceptance Rate: 39%
  • Average GPA: 3.8
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 37%
  • Notable: Business/marketing is the most popular area of study at SDSU, accounting for 21% of degrees conferred. The university also excels in social sciences, engineering, and psychology. Despite the competitive acceptance rate, there is room for strong applicants.

3. Cal State Long Beach

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 32,710
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 74,741
  • Acceptance Rate: 40%
  • Average GPA: 3.7
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 47%
  • Notable: Ranked among the top 10% of all universities for return on investment, CSU Long Beach is known for increasing social mobility and has recently been classified as a doctoral university with “high research activity”. Its alumni boast an average mid-career salary of $109,000.

4. Cal Poly Pomona

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 25,180
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 49,721
  • Acceptance Rate: 55%
  • Average GPA: 3.7
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Notable: Cal Poly Pomona is one of the top public schools on the West Coast, excelling in social mobility, innovation, and undergraduate teaching. It offers outstanding programs in civil engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, business administration, hospitality management, and landscape architecture.

5. Cal State Fullerton

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,781
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 48,749
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Average GPA: 3.7
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 61%
  • Notable: Cal State Fullerton, founded in 1957, offers 58 undergraduate degree programs. It serves high-caliber students at its 236-acre campus, located 35 miles outside of Los Angeles. The university excels in business and engineering and is renowned for its exceptional diversity, ranking third in the nation for degrees earned by Hispanic students.

6. San Jose State University

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,651
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 34,783
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Average GPA: 3.6
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Notable: Established in 1857, SJSU boasts a student body comprised of 28% first-generation students. It serves a diverse population, with 36% Asian and 28% Hispanic students. Renowned for its electrical engineering and mechanical engineering programs, SJSU’s Silicon Valley location provides abundant internship and job opportunities in the tech industry.

7. CSU Fresno

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,279
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 18,682
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Average GPA: 3.5
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Notable: CSU Fresno offers 71 undergraduate degree programs and operates the country’s first school-based commercial winery. With over 200 student-run organizations, the campus is vibrant. The university excels in civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

8. CSU Northridge

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 31,957
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 26,276
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Notable: CSU Northridge, located in Los Angeles, offers popular majors like Psychology, Cinema and Television Arts, and Criminology & Justice. With 81% of freshmen returning for their sophomore year, the urban campus has been featured in numerous films and TV shows.

9. CSU San Bernardino

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 16,813
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 15,581
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Notable: Situated 55 miles east of Los Angeles, CSU San Bernardino’s 430-acre campus offers 70 baccalaureate and master’s programs. The majority of students are first-generation and Pell Grant recipients. Strong engineering programs contribute to the university’s success.

10. Cal State LA

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 22,536
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 33,941
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Average GPA: 3.3
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Notable: Cal State LA, located in Los Angeles, offers popular majors like Business Administration, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Child Development, and Sociology. The campus boasts twelve professors who have won the Trustees’ Outstanding

Also see 10 Top Colleges Offering Rolling Admission

  1. CSU Chico
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 12,885
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 22,137
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Average GPA: 3.3
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 59%
  • Notable: Established in 1887, CSU Chico offers more than 300 academic programs and over 200 student organizations. Known for its solid nursing, computer science, and outstanding engineering programs, graduates exhibit exceptional social mobility and low debt.
  1. San Francisco State University
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,868
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 30,966
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Average GPA: 3.3
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Notable: SFSU is renowned for its diversity, with 39% Latinx students and 27% Asian students. Thirty percent of students are first-generation college attendees. Offering solid programs in communications and psychology, SFSU is known for its liberal-leaning campus culture.
  1. CSU Monterey Bay
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,009
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 12,582
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Notable: CSUMB offers 25 undergraduate degree programs and 30 minors. Situated near the beach, students enjoy a relaxing lifestyle. Popular programs include Business, Psychology, Liberal Arts, and Computer Science.
  1. Cal Maritime
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 798
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 820
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Notable: Cal Maritime boasts the highest employment rate within three months of graduation among all CSU campuses. With a focus on marine science, business, global studies, and mechanical engineering, the academy offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1 and small class sizes.
  1. CSU Bakersfield
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,964
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 14,156
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Average GPA: N/A
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Notable: CSUB, part of the CSU system for over 50 years, offers popular majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Biology. With over 60% Hispanic students, the campus offers 65 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and contributes to the local economy with graduates remaining in the area post-graduation.
  1. Sacramento State
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 28,389
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 25,550
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Notable: Established after World War II, Sacramento State has grown to become the sixth largest campus in the CSU system. Remarkably, they have increased their 4-year graduation rate by 212% since 2016. The campus boasts an average class size of 31 students.
  1. Sonoma State
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,851
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 10,866
  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Average GPA: 3.4
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Notable: Sonoma State offers 57 bachelor’s degree programs, with the most popular being Business, Psychology, Biology, Nursing, and Kinesiology. Six residence halls on the 269-acre campus are named after types of wines, reflecting the region’s viticulture heritage.
  1. Cal State East Bay
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,862
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 14,882
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Average GPA: 3.2
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Notable: Recognized for social mobility and ROI, Cal State East Bay boasts an excellent business school and strong online programs. Alumni hold prominent positions at major companies like Adobe, Google, and Apple. Students contribute 90,000 hours of community service annually.
  1. CSU San Marcos
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 12,917
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: (Data Not Available)
  • Acceptance Rate: (Data Not Available)
  • Average GPA: 3.3
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: (Data Not Available)
  • Notable: Founded in 1989, CSU San Marcos offers popular majors in Business, Health Professions, Psychology, Communications, Journalism, and Biology. Its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is highly competitive with stringent admission criteria.
  1. CSU Channel Islands
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,470
  • Number of Freshman Applicants: 15,000
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Average GPA: 3.2
  • Transfer Acceptance Rate: 52%
  • Notable: CSU Channel Islands, established in 2003, is recognized for its programs in psychology, business, health studies, and biology. As one of the best Hispanic-serving institutions, it emphasizes social mobility and boasts impressive outcomes, particularly in nursing.

Note. These numbers have been released by the university, but are not “official” as of yet.


The California State University (CSU) system stands as a beacon of accessible and quality higher education, offering a diverse range of academic programs and opportunities across its campuses. From top-ranked institutions like Cal Poly SLO to smaller campuses like CSU Chico, each CSU school provides students with the resources and support they need to succeed academically and professionally. With affordable tuition rates, impressive post-graduate outcomes, and a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, the CSU system continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of California and beyond, empowering students to achieve their goals and make meaningful contributions to society.