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San José State University (SJSU)

San José State University (SJSU, San José State) is the oldest public university in California and the flagship of the California State University system. Located in the heart of downtown San Jose, SJSU offers students a traditional campus environment with lots of green space embedded in a vibrant Bay Area city at the edge of Silicon Valley.

SJSU’s welcoming and diverse campus community offers a great learning environment for students with independent self-motivation. The campus offers several unique majors, including Packaging and Aviation, as well as an undergraduate Nursing program and several degrees in the Teaching Preparation program. SJSU draws a large number of business and engineering students to its strong programs, which reflect the campus's close ties with nearby Silicon Valley firms.








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Students who thrive

SJSU is a great option for middle-of-the-road students who want a more affordable education in a traditional college campus environment. With a wide range of degree programs, students with any academic interest can find a major that appeals to them here. In particular, students who want to graduate with a rarer or more niche degree, such as in specific fields of engineering, business or the health sciences, will want to look at SJSU closely. The campus also has a robust set of Teaching Preparation programs in several fields, which makes it a great option for aspiring teachers.

Thanks in part to its generous transfer credit and residency policies, affordable tuition and fees, and broad major catalogue encompassing both vocational and research majors, San José State and the wider Cal State system are recognized as engines of social mobility for students from lower income communities.

The campus itself is self-contained in the heart of downtown San Jose, with lots of green space in between the academic and residential buildings. Many student and alumni reviewers have noted its beauty and the joy they felt being in campus spaces.

With its close proximity to Silicon Valley tech firms, SJSU is a good choice for students who are interested in tech or tech-adjacent fields, or who hope to be recruited by a tech firm upon graduation. There are lots of internship and career development opportunities for students in computer science, engineering, and related fields.

Despite San Francisco’s reputation for wind and fog, San Jose and the South Bay have warm, sunny weather most of the year. The campus is also only about a 40-minute drive from Santa Cruz, making the campus a great choice for surfers who want to be able to get down to the water for the weekend.

Student Union at SJSU
Student Union at SJSU

Students who may have challenges

Although SJSU offers something for nearly everyone, not every student will be happy here. Its location in the heart of a big city makes it difficult to escape to the wilderness or enjoy undeveloped open space without having a car and planning a trip ahead. And although the university has a large roster of Division I teams and pride in its sports programs, these teams don’t compete in the most prestigious conferences, so they draw smaller crowds and less sponsorship than you might find at another college.

As a large public university, it can’t afford to provide the ongoing social or academic support that some students need. In fact, its academic support services are very limited and largely dependent on peer advising and tutoring. This is part of a large lack of robust support for students with greater needs, including those with disabilities or learning differences. As a result, it’s difficult to recommend SJSU to students who expect to need lots of personalized academic, social, or executive support.

SJSU offers academic programs for students at a wide range of achievement levels, including two honors programs for higher-performing students, but its programs are primarily geared towards students with a B or B- grade average in high school. Students with lower high school grades can still do well here, but it may require more diligence and self-motivation, while students who performed above this level in high school may feel that they aren’t being challenged in their coursework.

Successful applicants


SJSU is an achievable option for students in the C+ to B+ grade range. The minimum unweighted GPA required for successful applicants is 2.5 for California residents and 3.0 for out-of-state students. Some majors may require students to have a higher GPA to be admitted. All academic programs at SJSU are impacted, which means that the practical admission requirements for a given major may be much higher than the minimum. See the next section, How the application process handles majors, for more.

Extra application points are given to students applying from high schools in Santa Clara County, students who are eligible for a Cal State Apply application fee waiver, students who have military status, and first-generation students.

The points system for ranking SJSU applications is as follows:

  • 800 points multiplied by the GPA achieved in A-G coursework
  • 200 points awarded to students in the local admission area, Santa Clara County
  • 40 points for students eligible for an application fee waiver
  • 40 points for military-affiliated students
  • 40 points for first-generation students
  • Engineering applicants only: 400 points multiplied by the student’s high school math GPA

Using this point system, SJSU admissions creates an admissions index for each applicant. (See "How the application process handles majors" below for more information.)


With a typical acceptance rate of 70%, SJSU accepts a large majority of transfer students who apply. Transfer students must have junior standing, equivalent to 30 semester or 45 quarter units, before applying to SJSU. They must have a 2.0 GPA or better in transferable courses and have good academic standing at their prior college. Transfer students must also meet the impaction GPA for their chosen major and complete supplemental coursework for that major. See the next section for more.

Transfer requirements for CSU campuses are very similar to those for UC campuses, but there are some additional requirements that applicants must complete by the end of the spring term before matriculation. Please pay close attention to those requirements.

MLK Jr. Library at SJSU
MLK Jr. Library at SJSU

How the application process handles majors

All SJSU students, including first-years and transfers, apply directly into their chosen major, and list an alternate major as a backup in case they are rejected from their first choice. Because all academic programs at SJSU are impacted, each major has specific requirements for admission. Some of the larger majors are able to choose an admitted class based on the minimum admission requirements to SJSU, but most set higher criteria and may require additional application components, such as portfolios or demonstrated skill in field-specific high school coursework.

The office of admissions determines a minimum index required for admission to each major based on impaction of and the requirements for the major. Applicants who meet the course requirements of the major and whose index scores are above the minimum required for admission to that major are offered admission. Applicants who are not admitted to their first-choice major will be considered for their second-choice major if they meet the course requirements and minimum index for the second-choice major and if there is space available in that major after applicants who listed that major as their first choice are evaluated.

Students are not permitted to change their major during the application and admission process. Major changes may be allowed after enrollment, but only by petition and only if there is space available. As a result, it is very important for SJSU applicants to apply for the major they actually want to graduate in, not the one that they think may offer the best chance of admission.

SJSU encourages its applicants to apply to a second CSU campus that also offers their desired major in case there aren’t enough places in that major or in the student’s second-choice major in that application year.


SJSU’s large minor and major catalogs offer students a broad range of courses to take and fields to study. Some of its more interesting or unique majors include Packaging (package engineering), Aviation, Child & Adolescent Development, Nursing, and Recreation. The campus offers “Preparation for Teaching” majors in several fields, including Art, Environmental Studies, Physics, English, and more, as well as an Integrated Teacher Education Program in Liberal Studies and Mathematics.

San José State's top programs by degrees awarded are: Business and Marketing (25% of graduates); Engineering (13%); Communications and Journalism (7%); Nursing and Health Professions (7%); Psychology (7%); and Visual and Performing Arts (6.5%).

The Spartan Accelerated Graduate Education (SAGE) program offers students the opportunity to complete a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Engineering, Teaching, or Nutritional Science.

SJSU offers two honors programs: Department Major Honors, and Honors in a Special Course Sequence (SCS). Departmental honors are awarded to students who successfully complete an approved program within their major. SCS Honors are awarded to students who complete a university-level course sequence in interdisciplinary studies outside of their major program.

Students and alumni who have reviewed SJSU on and other review sites have largely praised the campus’s academics and learning environment, and in particular the high quality of the professors who work and teach there. Many reviewers noted professors’ kindness, attentiveness, and responsiveness to student needs and intellectual development.

The Study Abroad & Away Office at SJSU offers several different types of study abroad programs at nearly 100 institutions around the world. Students can choose to take a semester or year abroad, or participate in a shorter, multi-week program with other SJSU students, faculty, and staff.

Engineering students at SJSU
Engineering students at SJSU

Academic support

The Writing Center offers professional tutoring, while other forms of academic support are largely offered through the Peer Connections program by other students. Peer Connections specifically offers peer tutoring and mentoring, supplemental instruction, learning assistance, and strengths coaching. Although student tutors and coaches are trained for their positions, the support is unlikely to have the depth and consistency that it would have if offered by professionals in these areas. Student and alumni reviewers have also noted the lack of robust academic support options. Therefore, SJSU’s academic support options may be lacking for students with greater or more complex needs, and those students may need to seek support services from private, community-based providers.

Although centralized, campus-level academic support may not be robust, SJSU’s constituent colleges typically offer college- or department-level support for students enrolled there. Capstone therefore encourages prospective SJSU applicants to investigate academic support options in the colleges housing their intended majors before making a decision about whether to matriculate.

Support for disabilities & learning differences

Support for disabilities and learning differences at SJSU is weak. Accommodations are offered through the Accessible Education Center (AEC), and include testing accommodations, note-taking services, alternative text formats, assistive technology, access to the AEC computer lab, real time captioning, and interpreting services for ASL. The Center does not offer special tutoring or academic coaching beyond what is offered to all students through other campus units discussed in the previous section; however, AEC students may be eligible for extra tutoring or academic support time when they access services at other support locations.

Capstone generally does not recommend SJSU to students who need more than basic accommodations for disabilities or learning differences due to the lack of academic and disability support offered, unless the student has a strong off-campus support system in the local community.

Finding a good-fit campus for students with disabilities or learning differences can be a challenging and exhaustive process without professional support. Capstone’s Carolyn Weirick is an expert in the field. Reach out today for a free consultation to see how we can help you find and apply to colleges that are right for you.

SJSU Wellness Center
SJSU Wellness Center


SJSU’s financial support options are fairly limited. The campus only meets about 80% of its students’ demonstrated financial need, and offers an average of only about $3,000 in merit scholarships to students without financial aid. However, the cost of education at SJSU is much lower than at private universities or UC campuses, which can substantially offset the limited availability of financial aid for many students and families. Although in-state students benefit the most from lower tuition and fees, the campus is a great option for out-of-state students as well: the total cost of an SJSU education for non-residents is approximately equal to the in-state cost of UC for Californian students. SJSU can also be an extremely affordable option for students from the local area who commute to campus from home. However, students who commute from home will need to make a sustained effort to get involved in any of the many student organizations on campus so that they can have a fulfilling college experience, academically and socially.

Although merit aid and scholarships are not widely available, many SJSU students will be eligible for state and federal grants, including the Cal Grant Programs and the Middle Class Scholarship from the State of California, as well as work-study and subsidized loans. Students can explore the scholarship opportunities that are available through the campus’s scholarship portal. There is a single Spartan Scholarships application for all campus-level scholarships; students and applicants should contact departments directly for information on Department Scholarships that may be available in their chosen field.

Housing & transportation

First year students at SJSU are typically required to live on-campus, though the requirement was suspended during the Covid pandemic. An exemption is made for commuting students who live within 30 miles of campus; others may be exempted on a case-by-case basis. Four residential buildings are specifically set aside for first-years. Transfer students have the option of living in an apartment on a dedicated transfer floor in Campus Village Building (CVB) B if they apply early enough. Prospective applicants can view the housing brochure to learn more.

SJSU offers seven theme communities: Arts Village; Black Scholars Community; Business Innovation & Leadership Development (BUILD); Community for Engineering Learning & Living (CELL); Exploratory Community; Sustainable Spartans; and Rainbow Village.

Residences in two main residential buildings, other than the four first-year halls, are divided by resident status. CVB A houses faculty, graduate students, and upper division undergrads; CVB B houses continuing students and transfers. The Resident Activity Center (RAC) can be found in CVB B. International House is a co-ed residence for 70 U.S. and international students attending SJSU.

Dining hall food at SJSU has been rated as okay by students and alumni: it’s not terrible, but tends to be predictable. Thankfully, there are many off-campus dining options at restaurants in the community around campus.


SJSU is located in the heart of downtown San Jose, which gives students access to the VTA local transit system and high walkability around campus. VTA connects to Caltrain for trips up the peninsula, to SFO airport and San Francisco, and to Amtrak for trips up the East Bay, to Sacramento, and to cities in the Central Valley. There are also connections to ACE for trips to Stockton via Livermore. Mineta San Jose (SJC) airport is close and accessible by transit, and offers access to an impressive number of nationwide destinations for a middle-sized regional airport.

SJSU offers the Safe Ride Program shuttle for trips on and around campus, as well as a shuttle connection between the main campus and South Campus.

SJSU students showing campus spirit for homecoming
SJSU students showing campus spirit for homecoming

Social life & recreation

On-campus social and recreational opportunities are somewhat more limited at SJSU than at better-funded universities, but students will still find lots to do here. Students and alumni have overwhelmingly rated the campus as diverse, which means that students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences will be able to find social groups where they fit in and are embraced. The campus offers lots of student clubs and organizations, and has a busy Campus Events calendar. Students interested in seeing professional theatre, dance and music can find regular performances at Hammer Theatre on campus. See the next section for information on club, intramural, and recreational sports.

Students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority have lots of options to choose from, with six national sorority and thirteen national fraternity chapters organized into four councils. SJSU also has several professional fraternities in many areas, including business and accounting, that are open to students in all majors.

SJSU offers Air Force ROTC on campus and Army ROTC at Santa Clara University.

Athletics & campus spirit

The Spartan Athletics program at SJSU supports a large roster of NCAA Division I teams in the Mountain West Network, including the big three sports of Football, Basketball, and Baseball, as well as several other sports and a Cheer & Dance spirit team. Because it is in a less prestigious conference, SJSU’s teams don’t draw quite the same large fan base as some other universities, but school and athletic pride is visible on campus; on Spartan Pride Thursdays, students and staff wear blue and gold to show their spirit.

SJSU is a great campus for students interested in competitive club sports. The club sports roster is large, including dozens of traditional sports, as well as competitive dance, and esports teams in a number of different games.

Spartan Recreation is a huge and beautiful recreation facility located at the SJSU Student Union. The Center is the home for recreational sports, offering intramural sports, fitness centers for group work, individual exercise, and personal training, and outdoor adventures, including organized trips, indoor rock climbing walls, and gear rentals. It is also home to a large aquatic center with a recreation pool for sun and play during the many warm months of the year, and a 50-meter lap pool for fitness.

Fireworks after a San José State football game


The Student Health Center, part of the Student Wellness Center in the Division of Student Affairs, is the home for on-campus student health care at SJSU. Here, students can access medical care, immunizations, physical therapy, and pharmacy, nutrition, and online services. The Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) office, with a large staff of qualified counselors and graduate student trainees, offers individual counseling, crisis intervention, case management, group programs, and workshops.

A Mandatory Health Fee gives students unlimited visits and free basic services at the Student Health Center. Health insurance is not required to access the SHC, but it is strongly recommended in case health center staff have to make an outside referral.

Graduation requirements

In order to receive a degree from SJSU, all students must complete the following requirements:

Major requirements

Academic requirements

  • GPA 2.0 or higher for all courses taken at SJSU
    Minimum of 120 semester units, 30 of which must have been taken at SJSU and 40 of which must have been in upper division courses

General Education requirement

American Institutions (US123) requirement

  • 6-12 units in American History, US Constitution, California Government

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

  • Writing Skills Test (online, placement only)
  • Writing Course: 100A or 100W

Physical Education

  • 2 units of activity courses

Apply for Graduation

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SJSU colors

San Jose, California
Est. 1857
Motto: Powering Silicon Valley

Mascot: Sammy Spartan
NCAA Division I FBS

Public university
Semester system

85% first-year admission rate
70% transfer admission rate

28,000 undergraduates
5,500 graduate students
1,200 faculty
24:1 student-faculty ratio
60% of classes under 30 students

Urban setting
154 acre campus size
Campus Tours

Mediterranean climate with hot summers, mild winters, and mostly sunny days

First-Year Admissions Evaluation


High school course rigor
High school GPA

First-generation student status
Local & California residency

Does not evaluate

Class rank
Application essay
Letters of recommendation
Extracurricular involvement
Test scores (SAT/ACT)
Demonstrated interest
Religious affiliation
Race or ethnicity
Legacy status
Talent or ability
Character or personal qualities
Volunteer or work experience

Transfer Admissions Evaluation


College transcript(s)

Does not require

Test scores (SAT/ACT)
High school transcript
Essay or personal statement
Statement of good standing from prior college

Application Deadline

Fall admission

Oct 1 - Nov 30: Application period

Jan 27: SJSU Transfer Supplement due
Jan 31: EOP Documents deadline
Mar 2: FAFSA/CDS Priority deadline
Apr 28: Financial Aid Priority deadline

Spring admission

Aug 1 - Sept 10: Application period


$25,750 / year
California resident total cost

$35,250 / year
Non-resident total cost

Calif. resident tuition:
$5,750 / year

Non-resident tuition:
$15,250 / year

Campus fees:
$2,100 / year

Housing & meal plan:
$13,000 / year

Additional costs:
~ $4,900 / year

Financial Aid


Percent of financial need met (average)

$3,000 / year

Amount of merit aid awarded to students without financial need (average)

< 1%

Percent of undergraduates without financial need receiving merit aid

Notable Majors & Programs

Advertising, BS
Aviation, BS
Biological Sciences–Systems Physiology, BS
Biomedical Engineering, BS
Business Administration, BS
Chemistry–Biochemistry, BS
Child & Adolescent Development, BA
Climate Science, BS
Communicative Disorders & Sciences, BA
Computer Engineering, BS
Data Science, BS
Engineering Technology, BS
Forensic Science
Graphic Design, BFA
Industrial Design, BS
Kinesiology, BS
Meteorology, BS
Nursing, BS
Packaging, BS
Public Health, BS
Recreation, BS
Social Work, BA

Teaching Preparation Majors
Communication Studies
Child & Adolescent Development
Environmental Studies
Liberal Studies
Social Science

Complete Major Catalog

Equity & Inclusion

Transfer Support

  • Separate transfer housing available
  • Transfer admissions rate: 70%
  • Accepts ACE, CLEP, DSST


Disability Support


Racial Equity

  • MOSAIC Cross-Cultural Center
  • Diverse campus community
  • Black Scholars Community themed residence
  • Campus largely reflective of Santa Clara County demographics
  • Latina/o, Asian students well-represented
  • Indigenous students underrepresented


LGBTQ+ Equity


Other Equity

After Graduating

Student Alumni Connection
Alumni Association

Many internship & professional development opportunities in Silicon Valley

Top: Students on the lawn outside Tower Hall at San José State University.
All photos are property of San José State University.