California State University-San Marcos


Established through a legislative action in 1989, California State University-San Marcos was intended to represent a new generation of Cal State institutions. It was the first completely new campus in the United States in more than twenty years. It received full accreditation in 1993, three years ahead of schedule. Since then, major construction and focused enrollment have made it one of Cal State’s fastest growing campuses statewide. Also referred to as CSUSM or Cal State San Marcos, it is a public, coeducational University and one of the 23 campuses of the California State University system.


Information Summary

Ranks 70th in California and 1082nd overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 79.3
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $25,325
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 22 / 1140
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 32 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 77% / 50%
Enrollment Total (all students) 15,972


CSU San Marcos is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It also holds several academic and discipline based accreditations. The institute offers more than 40 undergraduate programs, 10 graduate programs and 1 Doctorate in Education to the students. CSUSM is home to three colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, and Education. The majority of students study in the College of Arts and Sciences. San Marcos also houses a Health and Human Services division that includes a nursing program and a kinesiology program.

Most Popular Fields of Study


California State University-San Marcos 2
California State University-San Marcos

Unique Programs

The Native Studies minor focuses on native populations of the United States and Mexico in a global context. The program focuses on four areas: culture, history, society, and the environment. Faculty in anthropology, history, arts, and biology all contribute to the development of this minor. Students have access to the eighteen reservations located in San Diego County and other local experts. Graduates may go on to work in the fields of government and education.

The Film Studies program emphasizes the areas of film production, film history, interpretation, use, and filmmaking. Particular attention is paid to the interaction of production and interpretation, adding a unique slant to the program’s curriculum. In addition to analyzing numerous films, students will have the opportunity to create one small film as a member of a team.


Freshman students seeking admission to CSUSM must be a high school graduate or have completed a GED. Applicants must send their completed application form, official transcripts, and their SAT or ACT score. Getting a transfer to the institute is also very easy; and transfer students must send official transcripts from all previous institutes. International students are also encouraged to apply for admission, but they must meet the required admission criteria. Students whose native language is not English must take the English language proficiency test.

Financial Aid

The Financial Aid office at Cal State San Marcos requires scholarship applicants to fill out only one application each year, accompanied by an essay. This application is applied to all available scholarships, which are competitive and based on a variety of factors including academic success, particular talents, need, or the interests of the scholarship donor. Applicants seeking financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. CSUSM offers financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships or loans.

The federal and state grants offered at CSUSM are Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), Science & Math Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Cal Grants, and State University Grant (SUG). Loans are the type of financial assistance that must be returned with interest, and they include Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and Federal Parent Loan.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 5183rd for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Associated Students, Inc. is a non-profit Cal State San Marcos student organization, governed by students who are elected annually and who are recognized as the voice of San Marcos’ student body. ASI offers programming such as speakers, festivals, and cookouts, as well as athletic programs, student services, and service opportunities. Cal State San Marcos is also home to over 60 student organizations, including social and academic clubs. Students are encouraged and motivated to start their own clubs due to the small size of the student body. Some of the on-campus student organizations are Association of People for Evolutionary Science (APES), CSUSM Math Club, CSUSM Line Dance/ Swing Club, and Cougar Dancers.

Greek life has a strong presence on the campus. There are several fraternities and sororities such as Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Pi Sigma, Alpha Xi Delta, Gamma Sigma Alpha, Greek Leadership Council, Order of Omega, and Zeta Beta Tau. The Pride is the school newspaper that includes all the latest information and news about the University.

Campus Facilities:

The Cal State San Marcos Library houses 250,000 volumes and 17,500 electronic titles with subscriptions to 800 print periodicals and 11,000 electronic journals. The library is also accessible online; and there is always someone available to help you. The institute also offers onsite housing options to more than 600 students. The University Village apartments offer either a 4-bedroom or a 2-bedroom suite. Each suite has private bedrooms for each student and residents are welcome to live there year-round. The residence halls are equipped with modern facilities such as fully-furnished, air conditioned rooms, modern kitchens, high-speed internet, lounge with large screen TV, onsite laundry facilities, game room with pool table and picnic areas.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Cal State San Marcos’s athletic department sponsors ten men’s and women’s teams that participate in golf, cross country, track & field, soccer, softball, and baseball. The sports teams are nicknamed as Cougars. The Cougar athletic teams compete as independents in Region II of the NAIA. The University also has a surf team that participates in the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA). The sports facilities at Cal State San Marcos include Clarke Field House & University Student Union, Mangrum Track & Soccer Field, CSUSM Softball Field, and CSUSM Baseball Field.

Local Community

San Marcos is a beautiful city surrounded by green, rolling hills. The population is just over 60,000. The Historical Society and Museum offer visitors a chance to learn about the history of San Marcos, while Jacks Pond and the Wildlife Discovery Center cater to those inclined toward the outdoors. Entertainment includes an 18-hole golf course, public lake, and an 18-theatre cinema.


  • California State University-San Marcos. 2011.
  • The College Buzz Book, Vault Inc., 2006. Print.

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