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3 Popular Colleges in San Diego
San Diego is home to many stunning campuses just blocks from a beach, boardwalk, or historical downtown. We've highlighted three of the most popular and prestigious universities in San Diego, followed by a complete list of all San Diego colleges.
All school data below comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Tuition and fees are from 2022-2023, while acceptance rates, enrollment statistics, net prices, and number of applicants are from 2021.
1. University of California, San Diego
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $14,906 (in-state) | $44,978 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 34%
- Total Student Enrollment: 41,885
In 2022, 87% of undergraduates felt UC San Diego was a welcoming campus. The large public research university received over 118,000 applications in 2021.
UC San Diego's research spans from deep sea to deep space. In 2022, the university received $1.64 billion in research funding. Students can participate in research projects at every level, and undergraduates can even receive scholarships for their research areas.
The most popular majors here are anatomy, biology, engineering, international studies, economics, and political science.
2. San Diego State University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,174 (in-state) | $20,054 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 38%
- Total Student Enrollment: 36,484
The oldest university in San Diego, SDSU boasts an active student community with hundreds of organizations, a large Greek system, ROTC opportunities, and successful NCAA Division I sports teams.
Nearly half of undergraduates receive scholarship or grant aid, with the school providing over 700 scholarship opportunities.
SDSU is known for its programs in sports kinesiology, biology, business administration, criminal justice, and psychology.
3. University of San Diego
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $54,554
- Acceptance Rate: 53%
- Total Student Enrollment: 9,041
USD is a private Catholic university with a beautiful campus overlooking Mission Bay near old town San Diego.
Around 9 in 10 USD graduates are employed or continuing education. The average annual starting salary for USD grads is $66,477, and the average student loan debt upon graduation is just over $25,000.
Most USD grads work in finance, banking, healthcare, medicine, real estate, or technology. Popular majors at this school include business, finance, neuroscience, psychology, and engineering.
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List of All San Diego Colleges
Below is an exhaustive list of four-year nonprofit colleges and universities in San Diego. The table features info on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants for each school using the latest NCES data.
|School||Total Student Enrollment||Avg. Annual Net Price||Acceptance Rate||Number of Applicants|
|California State University, San Marcos||16,255||$14,296||93%||13,986|
|Point Loma Nazarene University||4,445||$34,851||84%||3,060|
|San Diego Mesa College||18,028||$7,663||100%||N/A|
|San Diego State University||36,484||$6,867||38%||67,660|
|University of California, San Diego||41,885||$15,632||34%||118,386|
|University of San Diego||9,041||$34,155||53%||14,326|
Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in San Diego
Do I qualify for in-state tuition in San Diego?
To qualify for in-state tuition in San Diego, you must be a California resident for at least one full year before enrolling and intend to make California your home.
Some schools in California participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), which grants reduced tuition rates to students residing in other Western states. The closest school to San Diego that participates in the WUE is California State University, San Marcos.
What is the cheapest college in San Diego?
San Diego State University has the lowest average annual net price at $6,867, according to NCES. Other low-cost four-year universities in San Diego include San Diego Mesa College ($7,663) and National University ($9,966).
What is the cost of living in San Diego?
San Diego has a reputation for being an expensive place to live. According to Payscale, the cost of living in San Diego is 44% higher than the national average — and housing specifically is 123% higher.
For students, your cost of living expenses may be lower than the city's average. Take advantage of student housing options, student discounts, and on-campus resources for budgeting.
What is the No. 1 college in San Diego?
UC San Diego is frequently regarded as the top school in San Diego. The university receives the most applicants of all San Diego colleges and has an acceptance rate of 34%.
UC San Diego is known for its top-notch research programs and for generating over 400 new inventions each year.
In 2020, the Leiden University's Centre for Science and Technology Studies named UC San Diego the 13th-best research university in the nation and the 40th-best college in the world.
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