San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$19,071 ($8,043)
Admission Difficulty
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5 College Student

Academics: The professors here are great, I love my major. It can be hard to get classes if you have a bad rotation, but you always can get major classes and take random GEs. The UU and Library are nice places to study if you feel like studying outside your room.

5 College Freshman

Academics: I love my major Kinesiology and just about everyone else will say the same.

4 College Freshman

Academics: Awesome, but classes are pretty hard to get since everyone's vying for the same spots.

4 College Freshman

Academics: You're definitely getting a great education for a low price. No other state school compares. Poly is often compared to the UC's.

3 College Freshman

Academics: I'm not very stoked on the people that graduated from Cal Poly, a lot of the most famous ones are involved in sports and I do not take very much interest in sports.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 261st
    Smartest Professors
  • 381st
    Professors Most Interested in Classes
  • 660th
    Best Course Variety
  • 825th
    Most Caring Professors
  • 950th
    Best Technology in the Classroom

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Amy Herman
Burbank CA
Liberal Studies
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Academics at Cal Poly are generally as advertised: small classes when compared to the UC system, taught by actual professors, and filled with ways to learn by doing. Cal Poly truly lives up to its reputation as a polytechnic school. Though its disciplines span outside the realm of what a "polytechnic education" might generally include, this unique teaching philosophy is present in all disciplines, from architecture to wine and viticulture. One important thing is that professors are at Cal Poly primarily to teach, which is unlike many other universities. This means that they're willing to put time into helping you succeed. Office hours are popular among students, and teachers are extremely accommodating when it comes to setting up appointments for extra help. Cal Poly professors are intelligent, helpful, and personable. It isn't uncommon to see students walking around campus finishing up a discussion from class or to hear a student talk to a professor on a personal, first-name basis.

A couple of important things that set Cal Poly apart include its upside-down curriculum and its registration system. From the first day at Cal Poly, students take both major and general education classes. A healthy dose of both not only promote interdisciplinary development and new friendships, but they also help students get internships and job offers after only a year or two in school. This means that seniors could very well be in a freshman-level class, or even vice versa. "Not getting classes" is relative. Not getting classes with the "best" teacher in the department on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons is highly likely. Not getting enough classes to be a full-time student is far, far less likely to happen, though. Teachers generally take in a fair amount of students from the wait list to better accommodate the student body.

Facts & Statistics

Student-Faculty Ratio
Full-Time Instructional Faculty
Part-Time Instructional Faculty
Total FT Faculty
Faculty with Terminal Degree
Average Faculty Salary
Full-Time Retention Rate
Part-Time Retention Rate
Transfer-Out Rate
Graduation Rate
Programs/Majors Offered
Academic/Career Counseling?
Remedial Services?
Class Sizes
  • Fewer than 20 students: 15%
  • 20 to 49 students: 71%
  • 50 or more students: 14%
Instructional Programs
Occupational: No
Academic: Yes
Continuing Professional: No
Recreational/Avocational: No
Adult Basic Remedial: No
Secondary (High School): No
Special Credit Opportunities
Advanced Placement (AP) Credits: Yes
Dual Credit: Yes
Life Experience Credits: No
Undergraduate Schools/Divisions
  • College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences
  • College of Architecture & Environmental Design
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Orfalea College of Business
Degrees Awarded
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master's degree
Most Popular Majors
  • Biology and Biological Sciences: 2%
  • Business Administration and Management: 5%
  • Civil Engineering: 2%
  • Mechanical Engineering: 3%
Graduation Requirements
  • Arts/fine arts
  • English (including composition)
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Sciences (biological or physical)
  • Social science
  • Technology studies
Special Study Options
  • Study abroad
  • Teacher certification (below the postsecondary level)
Other Academic Offerings
  • Cooperative education program
  • Double major
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Exchange student program (domestic)
  • Honors program
  • Internships
  • Liberal arts/career combination
Best Places to Study
  • Dexter Lawn
  • Kennedy Library
  • Poly Canyon Village
  • University Union
Tips to Succeed
  • Don't bring loads of stuff. Bring only what you need. Moving in and out every year is a pain, so try to keep it light and portable. Bring pictures of family and friends, as well as a favorite stuffed animal or pillow. Don't bring loads of "toys," like stereo systems or boogie boards. Wait until you see the size of your room and before you start cramming things in. Plenty of equipment can be checked out or rented on campus. Besides, you'll be too busy with classes and social life during your first quarter to worry about most of that stuff you thought was necessary to life.
  • If your parents live nearby, don't go home every weekend. Most people relax and have fun on weekends, and that's the time to hang out with friends.
  • Make a point to try out a new campus club at least once a quarter. There are so many opportunities to experience different things that it would be a shame to pick one club and devote yourself to it throughout your college career. Trying different things will broaden your horizons and introduce you to new people.
  • Talk to people in class. Everyone's new, and if they're not, they won't mind chatting about annoying professors anyway. Most Poly students are incredibly friendly and consider social life just as important as their academic success.
  • Use the academic assistance at your disposal. Join study groups, use the writing lab (where you can get your papers read and critiqued for free), or have a chat with a librarian before you start researching that term paper.
Did You Know?
  • Each quarter during finals week, ASI (Associated Student Body, Inc.) hosts a day of procrastination stations in the University Union where students can take a break by making candles, getting a massage, or eating a pancake breakfast for free!
  • For many GE classes, study groups are often offered outside of class. The Academic Skills Center also enables students to individually start and organize study groups for particular classes.

Student Polls

Rate your school's academic environment on the following topics    Based on 99 responses

Very poor
  • Academic advisers
  • Class availability
  • Consistency in grading
  • Course subject variety
  • Curriculum flexibility
  • Gen-Ed requirements
  • Manageability of workload
  • Online course options
  • Quality of teaching assistants (TAs)
  • Scheduling/registration process
  • Technology in the classroom

Who are the most notable alumni from this school?    Based on 12 responses

  • 25% Weird Al Yankovic - Grammy-winning entertainer
  • 19% John Madden - retired NFL coach, TV commentator
  • 16% Aaron Peckham - owner/creator of UrbanDictionary
  • 12% Robert "Hoot" Gibson - retired NASA astronaut
  • 12% Mike Krukow - former MLB pitcher
  • 9% Frederick W. "Rick" Sturckow - NASA astronaut
  • 6% George Ramos - award-winning reporter/columnist
  • 0% Bobby Beathard - former NFL general manager
  • 0% Austin Hearst - VP, Hearst Entertainment
  • 0% Tom Ferguson - 1977 rodeo champion
  • 0% Monty Roberts - bestselling author

Rate your school's professors on the following topics    Based on 99 responses

Very poor
  • Accessibility
  • Communication skills
  • General knowledge
  • Interest in class subjects
  • Interest in students
  • Time spent in classroom
  • Use of teaching assistants



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