University of California vs. California State Schools

University of California schools as well as California State University schools are public universities offering higher education in the state of California.  Considered to be some of the best public universities in the country, the University of California schools are sought out for their state of the art research facilities, wide variety of majors, and their distinguished faculty members--- many of whom are the best in their field. 

Equally as renowned, the California State University (CSU) system is composed of twenty-three schools across the state of California. California State schools boast the nation’s largest and most affordable public universities. Together, the CSU schools encompass the most diverse student population in the United States as well as contributes as one of the top U.S producers of graduates who move forward to receive their Ph.D. degrees, in a related field.

University of California System

Commonly referred to as UC schools, the University of California system was founded in 1869 with a 10-member faculty and 38 students. Presently the university hosts 238,000 students, 190,000 faculty/staff and over 1,700,000 alumni around the world.  The University of California has ten campuses, 9 of which offer undergraduate and master’s degrees while one, the University of California, San Francisco offers postgraduate degrees only. The University of California system operates five medical centers: at UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, and UC Los Angeles. It also runs three national laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos.

  • Together these schools offers 150 academic disciplines and 600 graduate degree programs.
  • 61 of the alumni are Nobel Laureates while thousands more are notable members of society the world over.

University of California System at a Glance:

  • University of California, Los Angeles ranked 15th and the University of California, Berkeley ranked 18th in the world by the annual World University Rankings.
  • Student profiles within the UC System: 33% Asian, 31% Non-Hispanic (white) 18% Hispanic, 3% Black, and less than 1% Native American.
  • Grade Point Averages of incoming freshman were between 3.4 and 4.3 in 2017.

California State University System

Also known as the Cal State or CSU system, California State Universities were made into a system through the Donahue Higher Education Act of 1960 and adopted the name California State University in 1982. California State University San Jose is the oldest campus, founded in 1857.  CSU San Jose is also the first public institution of higher education in the State of California.  The Cal State system is made up of 23 campuses across California and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the US.  The system includes two polytechnic institutions and a professional maritime school. California State University is headed by a chancellor and a 25-member board of trustees who adopt regulations and policies that govern the entire CSU system. Each campus is headed by a campus president who acts as the liaison officer between the university and the community.

  • California State University system educates approximately 479,000 students each academic year and has 3,000,000 alumni.

California State University Schools at a Glance:

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo was ranked 10th by US News in 2016.
  • Each year, CSU faculty publish more than 7,500 articles in peer reviewed journals and other media.
  • CSU schools have more than 500 million dollars in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related grants and contracts.

The University of California schools and the California State University schools present remarkable distinctions. California College Bound explores a few that will help you decide which of the two schools is the right fit for you.

Cost of UC and Cal State Schools

University of California system charges a relatively higher tuition fee of $12,000 per academic year while the California State University system charges $7,000 for the same. Room and board fees may vary across different campuses and so will the price of books needed for specific courses.

Curriculum at UC and Cal State Schools

The California State University system mode of education leans more toward professional positions as it offers practical applications of theories. The students experience more educational benefits as all classes are given by professors.  The University of California offers a more research oriented education. Some classes may be taught by graduate assistants rather than professors.

Admission at UC and Cal State Schools

A comparison of the acceptance rates by California College Bound reveals that University of California system has a lower acceptance rate of 17%. Prospective students are also required to take SATs and ACT. The California State University System, on the other hand, has a higher acceptance rate of between 29%-70%. Eighty five percent of incoming freshman at CSU schools had a G.P.A above 3.25.

California College Bound tours explore both school systems.  Check out our UC Schools tour and our California State University schools tour.  During each tour, students receive valuable information through campus lectures given by professors, admissions officials, and current students.

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