Achievements and Distinctions

Each year, SDSU provides 36,000 students with the opportunity to participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with faculty and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future.

The university is strong and getting stronger. United by pride in our Aztec identity, the SDSU community is committed to graduating the global citizens, compassionate leaders and ethical innovators who will impact the future of San Diego and the world.

Quick Facts

  • Founded: 1897
  • Alumni: 400,000+
  • Students (for fall 2018): 36,000
  • Faculty & Staff: 6,000
  • Degree Programs: 195
  • No. graduated (for spring 2018): approximately 10,000
  • Annual Research: >$134 million
  • Athletic Teams: 19
  • Undergraduate Applicants (for fall 2018): >93,000
Students working on machinery

We have academic strength

San Diego State University continues to gain recognition as a leader in higher education. It ranks No. 60 among public universities, and in the top 130 overall in U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of America's Best Colleges. SDSU also placed No. 45 nationally on the U.S. News list of “most innovative schools.”

SDSU's undergraduate international business program ranks No. 12 in the nation, and its undergraduate business and engineering programs rank in the top 100 of U.S. News and World Report’s list. The College of Education is No. 54 in the country and No. 7 in California. Individual graduate programs ranked in the top 30 include rehabilitation counseling (No. 4), speech and language pathology (No. 24), clinical psychology (No. 25), nursing midwifery (No. 28) and audiology (No. 30).

San Diego State University students are graduating at record high rates across all seven colleges, and SDSU now ranks No. 1 nationally in graduation rate performance, based on U.S. News & World Report’s most recent college rankings. This top rank for graduation rate performance acknowledges the university’s success in serving students of many different economic, racial, ethnic and gender affiliations.

SDSU is a hub of student invention and innovation, led by the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and the Zahn Innovation Platform. FORBES magazine ranked SDSU No. 23 on its list of America's Most Entrepreneurial Universities, while U.S. News and World Report ranked SDSU’s entrepreneurship program No. 21 among the nation’s public universities and Fortune ranked the university among the top 25 most entrepreneurial in the nation.


SDSU's diverse campus includes more than 1,200 students enrolled in the Susan and Stephen Weber Honors College and a growing number of Merit Scholars—students with a minimum high school GPA of 4.0 and SAT scores of at least 1400.

Faculty and student in lab

We have research accomplishments

San Diego State University faculty continue to win significant research funding. In fiscal 2017-18, they secured $135 million in public and private funding—a total of 756 awards to 285 principal investigators. SDSU researchers addressed important subjects like restorative justice practices in schools, RNA modification, biomathematics, and post-wildfire storm runoff. Their research shed new light on lung disease, adolescent anxiety, cancer, diabetes, Dengue Virus, and many other disorders.

To further support research, SDSU has built an Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science Complex, where researchers are developing collaborative projects to turn discoveries into real-world applications. The EIS Complex enhances the university’s teaching and research capacities and help attract the best and brightest faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

In 2018, SDSU received a $19.9 million research award—one of the largest in university history—to create a new center for transdisciplinary research on health disparities throughout San Diego and Imperial counties. The five-year award is part of an effort by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to support the research enterprise of minority-serving institutions like SDSU.

The Student Research Symposium is an annual forum for SDSU's graduate and undergraduate students to present their faculty-mentored research. More than 500 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students across 70 majors and disciplines participated in 2018.


Climate scientists at SDSU have discovered that far more methane escapes from the Arctic’s frozen tundra during cold months than previously believed, suggesting a new baseline for global climate modeling.

Photo courtesy of Salvatore Losacco

Two people outside

We have a culture of engagement

SDSU engages its alumni and encourages them to share their professional expertise and experience with current students through programs such as the Aztec Mentor Program. A collaboration between SDSU Alumni and Student Affairs, the program has matched more than 7,400 students with alumni mentors.

SDSU is a welcoming environment for all students. Recently, the university created a Black Resource Center and an Undocumented Resource Area to serve students alongside existing support centers such as the Pride Center, the Women’s Resource Center, the Commuter Resource Center, the Veterans Center, the International Student Center and the Student Ability Success Center.

Arts Alive SDSU integrates arts events and arts practices into the university’s curriculum and recognizes art as a campus-wide value on par with research and international study. With nearly 300 events scheduled each year, Arts Alive reaches an audience of more than 125,000 annually.

The university’s Economic Crisis Response Team is a group of staff, administrators, students, and faculty working together to ensure that students experiencing food or housing insecurity or other unforeseen financial crises receive short-term and long-term aid quickly and without stigmatization.

Campaign logo

San Diego State University is one of only a handful of universities nationwide to be recognized for six consecutive years by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for the sustained excellence of its fundraising program.

Two students walking

We have a diverse campus

SDSU is ranked by among the top LGBT-friendly campuses in the nation. The Pride Center, an inclusive, safe and affirming gathering space, facilitates education, awareness and research on issues related to sexuality and gender.

SDSU received the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for five consecutive years. This national honor recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Consistently ranked by the Military Times as a top school for veterans, SDSU serves nearly 3,700 student-veterans, active duty, reservists and dependents each year through the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center and academic programs such as Troops to Engineers.

Our Imperial Valley campus, a powerful engine of economic growth for the border region, serves a diverse student body comprised largely of groups that are historically underrepresented in higher education.

aztec animal symbol

SDSU is honoring its Aztec identity by creating online programs to educate students about Aztec culture, symbolism and traditions.

Woman in boat

We have an international perspective

San Diego State University ranks No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in California for the number of students studying abroad in the latest Institute for International Education's Open Doors report. More than 3,000 students have international experiences each year, choosing from more than 650 programs in 70 countries.

The J. Keith Behner and Catherine M. Stiefel Program on Brazil is SDSU's first endowed academic program with an international focus. Over the next five years, through research collaborations with major Brazilian universities, SDSU will strengthen its global leadership in public health, environmental sciences, international business and urban development.

San Diego State University has been named a Gilman International Scholarship Top Producing Institution by the U.S. Department of State. The university tied for 14th in the nation among large colleges and universities for the number of students sent abroad through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Each year, SDSU welcomes more than 3,000 international students from more than 70 countries on five continents. They are enrolled as fully matriculated students or as part of the American Language Institute (ALI), of which SDSU’s affiliate is one of the largest in the country.

students travel abroad

More than 90 SDSU students have received prestigious Fulbright awards since 2005.

students donating food

We have roots in the community

Led by Associated Students, the SDSU community confronted the significant challenges of hunger and food insecurity in San Diego by raising more than 590,000 pounds of food in the Aztecs Rock Hunger drive during fall 2018. Eighty percent of monetary donations go to the Jacobs and Cushman Food Bank, while the remaining 20 percent remains on campus to provide short-term and long-term aid to students experiencing food insecurity.

The Price Community Scholars program provides financial support for local, first-generation students with track records of strong academic achievement and leadership in high school. They, in turn, mentor neighborhood middle school students who aspire to earn college degrees.

SDSU's Guardian Scholars program is a unique opportunity for students leaving the foster care system. Young men and women accepted into the program receive full scholarships, year-round housing and academic mentoring to support them in becoming active community members.

San Diego voters have approved SDSU’s plan to build a world class university research and innovation campus, a river park, a new stadium plus affordable and market-rate housing at the site including and immediately surrounding SDCCU Stadium. Construction will begin in 2020.

track runner

SDSU student-athletes are successful on and off the field. All 19 varsity sports teams received academic performance rate (APR) scores of 956 (of 1,000) or higher and 13 teams had scores of 980 or higher.

campus compass

Moving forward

San Diego State University is a place of knowledge, experience and impact. It is one of the oldest institutions in California, with 400,000+ living alumni and many more friends in the community who have a stake in its future. As we engage with our supporters in joint initiatives that advance the welfare of the broader San Diego region, student success will continue to be the foundational force moving us forward.

Prominent Alumni

  • Tony Gwynn
    Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Ellen Ochoa
    Retired NASA's Johnson Space Center director
  • Jim Sinegal
    Costco founder and retired CEO
  • Kathleen Kennedy
    President, Lucasfilm
  • John Baldessari
    American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Marshall Faulk
    National Football League Hall of Fame
  • Peggy Johnson
    Microsoft executive vice president
  • David Hasemyer
    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
  • Jordan Evans
    Deputy Director for Engineering & Science Directorate, Jet Propulsion Laboratory