333 S Twin Oaks Valley Rd
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
p. 760-750-4000
w. www.csusm.edu

California State University-San Marcos

California State University-San Marcos Rating: 3.7/5 (45 votes)

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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.


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

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 4606th 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.

Information Summary

Ranks 60th in California and 823rd overall
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California State University-San Marcos 2 California State University-San Marcos

Campus Crime Statistics

Ranks 0th in California and 110th overall on StateUniversity.com‘s Safe School Index
  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault N/A N/A
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 1 0.01
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary N/A N/A
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 25 0.24

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 154 0.18
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Forcible Rape 19 0.02
Robbery 60 0.07
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 358 0.42
Larceny 908 1.07
Vehicle theft 158 0.19

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (medium programs)
UndergraduateArts & sciences plus professions, some graduate coexistence
GraduatePostbaccalaureate comprehensive
Undergraduate PopulationMedium full-time four-year, selective, higher transfer-in
EnrollmentVery high undergraduate
Size & SettingMedium four-year, primarily nonresidential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringMaster's degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District650

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 1005th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $5,472 $5,472 $16,632
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $1,177 $1,177 $1,177
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A $372
FT Graduate Tuition $6,738 $6,738 $17,898
FT Graduate Required Fees $1,177 $1,177 $1,177
PT Graduate per Credit Hour N/A N/A $372
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $23,162 $23,162 $34,322
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $22,288 $22,288 $33,448
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $10,876 $10,876 $22,036

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $6,596 $6,452 $6,596 $6,452 $17,756 $17,612
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,656 $1,737
On-Campus – Room & Board $10,863 $11,708
On-Campus – Other Expenses $4,059 $3,414
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $10,863 $10,962
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $4,059 $4,160
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $4,185 $4,275

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$55
Graduate Application Fee$55
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 10,208 (3,874 male / 6,334 female)
Admitted 6,381 (2,278 male / 4,103 female)
Admission rate 63%
First-time Enrollment 1,783 (627 male / 1,156 female)
FT Enrollment 1,633 (574 male / 1,059 female)
PT Enrollment 150 (53 male / 97 female)
Total Enrollment11,300

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /  N/A / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NAIA
NAIA Baseball Conference Independent Far West Region
NAIA Track & Field Conference Independent Far West Region

ACT Test Admission

987th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 34%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 16 / 23
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 18 / 24
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 18 / 23

SAT Test Admission

963rd for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 96%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 430 / 530
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 430 / 540
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 860 / 1070

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity1,224
Meals per WeekN/A
Room Fee$8,144
Board Fee$3,564

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 32 35 517 212 15 1,027 283 2,190
Anthropology 7 12 5 24
Biochemistry 1 3 5 3 13
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 2 1 16 15 1 31 6 73
Biotechnology 1 1 1 9 5 5 22
Business Administration and Management, General 7 2 58 44 1 165 37 322
Chemistry, General 1 1 2
Computer Science 11 1 7 6 14 6 45
Criminology 3 45 6 1 43 14 115
Economics, General 3 9 6 17 3 38
Education, General 2 2 19 7 1 51 21 106
English Language and Literature, General 3 21 2 42 11 80
Health and Physical Education/Fitness, General 1 11 6 2 35 8 66
History, General 13 1 36 12 65
Human Development and Family Studies, General 1 59 26 1 78 13 182
International Relations and Affairs 2 2 1 5
Kinesiology and Exercise Science 1 20 7 1 35 7 75
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 31 2 2 88 36 163
Mass Communication/Media Studies 1 7 6 18 2 36
Mathematics, General 1 1 10 1 15
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other 1 1 2
Physics, Other
Political Science and Government, General 1 16 3 1 26 7 56
Psychology, General 4 44 6 1 75 20 154
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 2 3 27 41 1 77 19 177
Social Sciences, General 1 10 2 23 3 41
Sociology 6 45 6 1 41 16 120
Spanish Language and Literature 17 4 5 27
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 2 24 5 1 72 9 120
Visual and Performing Arts, General 3 6 2 17 10 40
Women's Studies 4 2 6

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 941st for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $75,891 ($82,348 male / $72,392 female)
Number of FT Faculty 296 (124 male / 172 female)
Number of PT Faculty 610
FT Faculty Ratio 0.5 : 1
Total Benefits $14,278,278

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