Achievements and Distinctions

Each year, San Diego State University provides more than 35,000 students with the opportunity to participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct interaction with faculty and an international emphasis that prepares them to become global citizens, compassionate leaders and ethical innovators who will transform the world.

Under the leadership of SDSU President Adela de la Torre, the university is known for providing transformative experiences for its undergraduate and graduate students. SDSU offers bachelor's degrees in 97 areas, master's degrees in 84 areas and doctorates in 21 areas, as well as programs at regional microsites and around the globe. SDSU ranks as the No. 1 California State University in federal research support, and as one of the top public research universities in California.

Quick Facts

  • Founded: 1897
  • Alumni: 400,000
  • Students (for fall 2020): 35,600
  • Faculty and Staff: 3,900
  • Degree Programs: 202
  • Degrees granted (2019-20): 9,800
  • Annual Research: $141 million
  • Athletic Teams: 19
  • Applicants (for fall 2020): 96,000
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. 67 among public universities, and in the top 150 overall in U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of America's Best Colleges.

SDSU's undergraduate international business program ranks No. 8 in the nation, and its undergraduate business program ranks in the top 75 of U.S. News and World Report’s list. SDSU is also No. 76 for undergraduate nursing programs and No. 96 for undergraduate engineering among institutions that offer doctoral degrees (SDSU offers four joint doctoral degrees in engineering science in collaboration with the University of California San Diego). The publication also highlights SDSU for social mobility (No. 66), looking at the success schools have in graduating students from low-income households, and as a "Best for Veterans" school, based on enrollment of and benefits for veterans and active-duty service members.

Several SDSU programs have also been named among the best graduate school rankings. The part-time MBA program in the Fowler School of Business is No. 53 in the country and the College of Education is No. 55. The graduate programs in SDSU’s School of Public Health were also ranked, at No. 31, while the College of Engineering's aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical programs ranked No. 56. In addition, the graduate program in public affairs ranked No. 73 and the School of Nursing ranked No. 74.

SDSU students are graduating at high rates across all seven colleges, and SDSU now ranks No. 9 nationally in graduation rate performance, based on U.S. News & World Report’s most recent college rankings. 

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 2020-21, they secured $141 million in  grant funding — a total of 723 awards to nearly 320 investigators. SDSU researchers have addressed important subjects like RNA modification, biomathematics, and post-wildfire storm runoff. Their research has shed new light on lung disease, adolescent anxiety, cancer, diabetes, Dengue Virus and many other disorders.

To further support research, SDSU built an Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science Complex, where researchers are developing collaborative projects to turn discoveries into real-world applications. The EIS Complex, which opened in 2018, 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. Nearly 300 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students participated in 2021 and more than 50 received awards.


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 10,500 students with alumni mentors.

SDSU is focused on fostering a welcoming environment for all students. Cultural centers include the Black Resource Center, Latinx Resource Center, Native Student Resource Center, Pride Center and Women's Resource Center, among others. Additional resource centers for students include the Commuter Resource Center, the International Student Center, the Student Ability Success Center and The Joan and Art Barron Veterans 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 more than 350 events scheduled each year, Arts Alive SDSU 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 in the top 35 nationwide for ethnic diversity, according to U.S. News & World Report; about 54% of its undergraduates and graduates are students of color. 

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.

SDSU is listed as Campus Pride Index’s Best of the Best Colleges and Universities in the United States for its support of LGBTQ+ students. It received a perfect 5 out of 5 score to make the list, becoming the only public university in California to receive the high score. The Pride Center, an inclusive, safe and affirming gathering space, facilitates education, awareness and research on issues related to sexuality and gender.

Consistently ranked by the Military Times as a top school for veterans, SDSU serves more than 4,000 military-connected students including student-veterans, active duty military members, ROTC members and family members each year through the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center and academic programs such as Troops to Engineers.

SDSU Imperial Valley, 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 600 programs in over 60 countries.

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

Each year, SDSU welcomes more than 1,800 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 344,137 pounds of food in the Aztecs Rock Hunger drive during fall 2020 and 3.3 million pounds since 2010. Eighty percent of monetary donations go to the Jacobs and Cushman Food Bank, while the remaining 20% 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 the university's plan to build SDSU Mission Valley — 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 began 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

We are 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
    CEO of Magic Leap
  • David Hasemyer
    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
  • Jordan Evans
    Deputy Director for Engineering & Science Directorate, Jet Propulsion Laboratory