University of San Diego
"The University of San Diego is committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and...
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University of San Diego

San Diego, California

The University of San Diego is committed to academic excellence, Catholic intellectual and social traditions, and providing a top-notch liberal arts education for scholars of all faiths. Located in the heart of one of America’s most livable cities, the beautiful campus overlooks Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. With an undergraduate student population of just over 5,000, the University of San Diego believes in keeping classes small and providing valuable interaction with the faculty.  Students are taught entirely by professors and can expect a hands-on learning experience in all academic disciplines.

Student Profile

5,665 undergraduate students, 40% out-of-state, 45% minority, 4% international, 55% female, 45% male, 97% full-time

Faculty Profile

405 full-time faculty. 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio

Residence Life

Residential Life is second of the two core components of USD’s First Year Experience. All freshmen are required to live on campus during the first year. First Year Experience Resident Assistants (FYE RA’s) work with residents on their halls to establish a respectful and inclusive community. The residential living and learning experience at USD seeks to establish a strong academic community that supports student learning outside the classroom. All students in first year halls will meet individually with their FYE RA’s, who serve as mentors and resources for university services, activities, and programs.

School Location

San Diego, CA


  • Member of the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference (Football is NCAA Division I-AA and plays in the Pioneer League)
  • Recipient of the WCC Commissioners Cup for 5 consecutive years (best overall athletic program in the conference)
  • 17 NCAA Division I athletic programs, 20 Club sports, and 10 Intramural sports
  • NCAA Men’s Varsity sports:  baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, rowing, soccer and tennis
  • NCAA Women’s Varsity sports:  basketball, cross country, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball
  • Club sports:  cycling, equestrian, lacrosse, roller hockey, rugby, soccer, surfing, ultimate Frisbee, water polo, and waterskiing
  • Intramural sports:  basketball, dodge ball, football, innertube water polo, kickball, soccer, softball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball
  • USD’s mascot is Diego the Torero (Tor-er-o), a Spanish bullfighter.
  • Colors: Navy Blue, Columbia Blue, and White

Other Information

The University of San Diego is a 4-year liberal arts institution. Founded in 1949 by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Diocese of San Diego, today USD is governed by an Independent Board of Trustees.

Academic Programs

Majors in the College of Arts and Sciences: Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Behavioral Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Biology, Biophysics, Chemistry, Communication Studies, Computer Science, English, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, French , History, Interdisciplinary Humanities, International Relations, Italian Studies, Liberal Studies, Marine Science, Mathematics, Music , Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre Arts, Theology and Religious Studies, Visual Arts. Majors in the School of Business: Accountancy, Business Administration, Business Economics, Economics, Finance, International Business, Marketing, Real Estate. Majors in Engineering: Electrical Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

More Distinctions

  • In September, 2011, USD was selected as one of only 15 universities in the world to be named an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.

  • In 2003, USD was granted a charter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. Only about 10 percent of colleges and universities in the nation have Phi Beta Kappa charters. USD is one of only 18 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States to have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

  • USD is recognized as a “College with a Conscience” by the Princeton Review, a title awarded to only 81 institutions across the country.

  • USD was ranked as having the 4th most beautiful campus by Princeton Review, and 2nd Best Campus Environment

  • USD recently won two Gold NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services): one for Pavilion Dining and one for Tu Mercado

  • The college's M.F.A./Old Globe Professional Actor Training Program, which accepts only 2 percent of its applicants each year, is among the most prestigious theater programs in the country.

  • US News and World Report:

    • #97, Best National Universities
    • #27, Undergraduate Engineering Programs (schools without doctorate)
    • #56, Best Law Schools
    • #96, Best Graduate Schools, Education
    • #47, Best Graduate Schools, Nursing
  • Business Week: #36 Best Undergraduate Business Programs

  • Washington Monthly: #5 Community Service Participation and Hours Served

  • The Princeton Review: #4 Most Beautiful Campus

Engaged Students

An education at the University of San Diego is founded on a single and unwavering principle: the pursuit of academic excellence.  It is a place where students are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills, stimulate their curious minds through collaborative inquiry, and participate in a free exchange of complex ideas. Students are passionate about learning and the award-winning faculty are passionate about providing them with the resources they need to succeed, both in and outside the classroom. Through dynamic group discussions, focused research opportunities and meaningful internships, students are empowered to engage the issues that define our diverse and ever-changing global community.  

Located on the Pacific Rim and just 22 miles north of the United States-Mexico border, USD is optimally positioned for international activity. USD has been involved in international instruction, research, and service throughout the world for many years, and we’re expanding our activities with an increased emphasis on the importance of global awareness and becoming changemakers.  Recently named an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, the goal of the university is to promote social innovation through education, research and service.  Over the last several years USD has recruited an increased number of students from international countries, developed international education partnerships and expanded the opportunities for students to study abroad.  Students are able to work with faculty and staff to customize their own international experience at USD.

Great Teaching

USD’s faculty are teachers first, but they are also scholars and mentors. Almost 95% of the full–time faculty have a Ph.D. or terminal degree in their field. They are accessible to students and actively teach , as there are no teaching assistants or graduate students teaching undergraduate coursework.   Students at USD build relationships with faculty as mentors, colleagues, and research advisors. 

The University of San Diego’s First Year Experience (FYE) strives to build a community of engaged student learners who value academic excellence, intellectual, personal and spiritual development, inclusion, ethical conduct, and compassionate service. It integrates two core components: the preceptorial program and the residential life living and learning environment. 

The Freshman Preceptorial program begins each USD student’s academic career with a combination of advising, orientation, and an introduction to college-level scholarship. The preceptor, a faculty member in the student’s intended area of study, has frequent contact with each advisee and continues advising throughout the student’s general education program. Once students declare a major by the end of their sophomore year, the responsibility of advising shifts to a department faculty member, who provides specialized guidance. Several programs, such as those in marine science and international relations, combine multiple disciplines, and special advisers are assigned to these areas. All of USD’s programs are built solidly on the liberal arts, developing critical thinking skills through an emphasis on fundamental disciplines, written and oral communication, and an understanding of the past. USD gives special attention to the exploration of human and spiritual values, the interrelations of knowledge, and the development of an international perspective. 

Residential Life is second of the two core components of USD’s First Year Experience. All freshmen are required to live on campus during the first year. First Year Experience Resident Assistants (FYE RA’s) work with residents on their halls to establish a respectful and inclusive community. The residential living and learning experience at USD seeks to establish a strong academic community that supports student learning outside the classroom. All students in first year halls will meet individually with their FYE RA’s, who serve as mentors and resources for university services, activities, and programs.

Vibrant Communities

USD is not just a place for academic scholars, but is a beautiful campus alive with activity that includes competitive intercollegiate and intramural athletics, world–class theatre, nationally respected speakers, club activities, Greek life, honor societies, and much more. Over 95% of freshmen live on campus and on–campus housing is available for all four years. Almost half of students live on campus for the duration of their time at USD, which provides for an active student life. Students participate in over 150 clubs and organizations and gain valuable leadership skills as part of student government, Associated Students. The University of San Diego’s clubs and organizations host events that function to do everything from teaching about other cultures to raising awareness of social issues. For a night of fun and laughter, students support Greek Life by attending talent shows and skits hosted by USD fraternities and sororities. On Wednesdays, students can take a break between classes and buy fresh, local produce from the Farmer’s Market

Successful Outcomes

A USD education combines the vibrancy of the liberal arts with academic rigor in a supportive learning community. Our professors are distinguished scholars and devoted teachers. Our students are challenged to question and expand their knowledge in the classroom and to extend their learning through research, community engagement, and global education in an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration. Faculty collaborate one-on-one with undergraduate and graduate students on research, scholarship and creative activity and students experience the challenge and excitement of original discovery and creation. Community Service Learning extends academic achievement from the classroom to the outside community so students can apply the lessons they have learned, serve neighbors in need, and carry out the principles of social justice and ethical conduct. Interdisciplinary collaboration gives our faculty and students the skills they need to solve the multi-dimensional problems of the 21st century and generate “real world” learning platforms for broad-based innovation and dynamic creativity. For more than six decades, USD has built on academic strengths to emerge as a pioneer in developing future leaders who are ready to address the challenges of our changing world with ethics and compassion.

Creative Collaborations showcases the vibrant student-faculty interactions that are a hallmark of a USD education. This conference celebrates the intellectual life at USD and provides all undergraduate students an opportunity to present their preliminary and completed research and creative projects in an environment with other students and faculty. Working side-by-side and engaged in intellectual pursuits with their faculty mentors, USD students gain lifelong experiences that extend well beyond the classroom.

Admissions and Financial Aid

Tuition for the 2013-2014 school year is $58,189.  Part-time students pay $1,360 per unit, for up to 11 units. Over 70% of our students receive some form of financial assistance.  An offer of financial assistance can be composed of scholarships, grants, loans, payment plans, and work study.

The primary purpose of the financial aid program at the University of San Diego is to provide financial assistance to students who would be unable to attend the university. Financial assistance consists of scholarships, grants, loans and employment.

Financial aid from the university is a supplement to funds that can be provided by the student, the student’s family, and other sources. Students requesting financial assistance may be expected to meet a portion of their educational expenses by accepting employment, loan(s) or both. Because financial aid funds are limited, need is the primary factor in awarding most financial aid. For USD scholarships and grants, consideration is given to the applicant’s academic achievement, character and potential. Students requesting financial assistance from USD resources must also apply for scholarships and grants funded by their home states for which they may be eligible.

The University of San Diego evaluates each application for admission without considering whether the student will apply for need–based aid. Merit Scholarships are awarded to students in the top third of our applicant pool. In addition, over 70% of students receive some form of financial assistance. An offer of financial assistance is based on evidence of financial need and can be composed of scholarships, grants, loans, payment plans, and work study. USD encourages all students who are interested in attending USD to apply for financial aid, regardless of family financial circumstances.

A financial aid package is designed to meet the financial need of each individual student. Each package may consist of funding from one or more programs and can vary depending on established need and/or merit.

Types of Aid Available

  • Scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. Eligibility is based on academic factors and the student’s potential to contribute to USD as determined by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions or individual graduate departments. Financial information provided on your FAFSA is also considered.
  • Student Loans must be repaid; however, provisions allow students to postpone payment until they have completed their education, drop below half time enrollment or withdraw. Repayment is generally made according to an installment schedule.
  • The Parent PLUS loan allows parents to assist their dependent students in meeting their educational expenses. While repayment generally begins 60 days after receipt of the loan proceeds, parents have the option to defer repayment until their student graduates and the interest rate is comparatively low.
  • Part-time Student Employment offers students the opportunity to help meet educational expenses while gaining valuable work experience. Federal Work Study (FWS) and College Work Opportunity (CWO) may be offered to students with documented need.