Applying to a Cal State University in 2023
Updated: Sep 23
The California State University (CSU) is a public university system made up of 23 college campuses across the state of California.
Whether your student is applying to one or four of the CSU colleges, they will still apply via the Cal State Apply Application.
Here’s what you need to know for the 2023-24 admissions cycle.
How do students apply to the CSUs?
The application opens Oct. 1 and has "phased deadlines," meaning some campuses will have earlier deadlines than other campuses. Eight campuses will close on November 30th, including Cal Poly San Louis Obispo and San Diego State University. You can verify deadline dates on each campus's website or look it up here.
What is admission based on?
Since 2022, the use of ACT/SAT scores in the admissions process has been suspended for all of the CSU campuses.
As a result, the 23 CSU campuses have implemented a multi-factor review to determine admission eligibility, which includes a combination of:
Completion of the 15-unit comprehensive “A-G” pattern of college prep courses with a qualifying GPA of 3.0 or higher for non-California residents
The GPA minimums and the weighting of supplemental information used may vary by campus.
Some CSU campuses are impacted or have programs that are impacted – meaning the number of applications received from qualified applicants is greater than the number of available spaces. These campuses may use a higher GPA minimum in their admissions process.
For example, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo gives extra consideration when students take beyond the minimum number of semesters required in some of the “A-G” subject areas, such as math, lab science, or language other than English. San Diego State University, in addition to considering all of the college-prep coursework students have taken during high school, also considers the performance and the number of units taken in courses most relevant to their intended major (see "Preparation Towards Indicated Area of Study").
The main section of the CSU application asks students to report the average number of hours they participated in extracurricular and/or leadership over the most recent 12 months, as well as the average number of hours they worked per week over the most recent 12 months. Note, students are not asked to list out the activities or work endeavors themselves, simply the amount of time spent engaged in them.
Students applying to Cal Poly may also be given extra consideration if they indicate they have held a leadership position in any of their extra-curricular activities, or if 25% or more of their work experience is related to their chosen major.
Does CSU consider 9th-grade year grades?
The majority of the CSU campuses use a GPA derived from “A-G” coursework taken in 10th and 11th grades only. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo continues to be the only CSU campus that will also include 9th grade in their GPA calculation.
Will CSU consider test scores, if submitted?
The CSU has made it clear that “in no case will standardized test scores be utilized in making admissions decisions for applicants. There will still be a section on the application where students can submit SAT and ACT scores, alongside AP and IB scores, but the test results will be used only for college-level math and English course placement for admitted students.
Will CSU count “credit” or “pass” pass grades?
Yes! The CSU campuses will consider course grades of “credit” or “pass” as fulfilling “a-g” requirements for those courses completed from the spring 2020 term to the summer 2021 term. Grades of credit/pass or no credit/no pass will satisfy eligibility requirements, but they will not be included in the calculation of high school GPA.
Is an essay required?
Although the CSU campuses will be looking at coursework and non-academic variables such as the hours spent in extra-curricular activities, the CSU system does not require any essays or personal statements and remains as objective as possible in making admissions decisions.
Do I need to submit my transcript or Letters of Recommendation?
Students will self-report their courses and grades in the application and do not submit letters of recommendation.
Where can I learn more about the CSU campuses?
Each CSU campus offers its own events. Find the campuses here and link to their admission events website pages. You can also visit with specific campuses in October:
Where can I learn how to navigate Cal State Apply Application?
Several resources are available to students throughout the admissions process:
Read the Cal State Freshman Application Guide
Read the Cal State Admission Handbook
Students can sign up for a virtual application workshop here. Be sure to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to "other ways to explore" and click on schedule.
Students can also watch Cal Poly's series of application videos.
Do you have questions about college admissions? Let's talk!