California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) was founded in 1852 to prepare teachers for Pennsylvania’s classrooms. Today, Cal U has grown to a mid-size public university that offers over 100 undergraduate and more than 95 graduate programs of study in education, human services, the liberal arts, business, science, and technology.
The University focuses on applied learning, which positions students of all ages and backgrounds for career success, whether they choose to study on campus or online. Located south of Pittsburgh, Cal U is a proud member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
Get to know PennWest University
- Campus Ministries
- Choral groups
- Concert band
- International Student Organization
- Jazz band
- Literary magazine
- Marching band
- Music ensembles
- Musical theatre
- Pep band
- Radio station
- Student government
- Student newspaper
- Symphony orchestra
- Television station
- First-Year Seminars and Experiences
- Common Intellectual Experiences
- Learning Communities
- Writing-Intensive Courses
- Collaborative Assignments and Projects
- Undergraduate Research
- Diversity/Global Learning
- Service-Learning, Community-Based Learning
- Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience
- Career Services
- Writing Center
- Academic Advisors
- Library Services
- Faculty Mentors
- Disability Services
- Multicultural Engagement Center
- Health Services
- Academic Tutors
- Financial Aid Advisors
- Student Success Initiative
- Veteran Services
- Peer Mentors
- Gender & Sexuality Center
Cal U undergraduate students don’t just learn about what others have done—they make discoveries and contributions of their own, unlocking a world of possibility.
Working closely with professors in subjects that range from biology to theatre, they engage in research, scholarship, and creative projects through Cal U’s Center for Undergraduate Research, which may even provide funding for their work. Students who have done research at the undergraduate level stand out when applying for jobs or graduate school.
Of course, research needs to be shared. To that end, Cal U’s Center for Undergraduate Research hosts an annual research showcase on campus and supports travel to conferences throughout the United States. There, undergraduates present their projects, engage with others working in the field, and build their professional network. Cal U students have traveled to such conferences as:
- American Chemical Society National Meeting
- International Atlantic Economics Conference
- Midwest Political Science Association Conference
- National Conference on Undergraduate Research
- North American Society for the Sociology of Sport
- Southeastern Theatre Conference
At Cal U, there are plenty of cultural, recreational, and research opportunities close at hand. But Cal U students can also explore and engage with the wider world through study away experiences.
That may mean spending a few weeks, a semester, or a summer volunteering, interning, or studying in another country. The Office of International Programming and Study Away helps students figure out how to make it happen.
For those who’d rather not go solo, there are faculty-led trips abroad. These are a great way for students to experience new cultures and engage in academic study with a guide and a few friends by their side. For example, on alternating years, students interested in biology study abroad through faculty-led trips to Madagascar and Costa Rica. In addition to learning about these countries, students engage in ongoing research projects and learn in non-traditional classrooms.
Not all study away adventures involve globe-trotting, however. Faculty-led trips venture to destinations throughout the United States as well, allowing students to explore geology or study tornados firsthand. Cal U students can also choose to study at nearly 160 partnering institutions in the United States and Canada through the National Student Exchange.
“Being in college, you really have to step out of your comfort zone […] and being at Cal U has definitely changed a lot of the outlooks that I have on life.” – Danielle Thompson, Secondary Education – English Major
Internships and cooperative education experiences help students build their résumés and give them a taste of what it’s really like to work in a particular field.
Cal U students have translated their passion and knowledge into amazing internship experiences throughout the United States—and in other countries, too. Some internships have taken them outdoors to work on stream restoration projects or to lead off-road driving experiences and geocaching quests. Others have taken them into courtrooms or legislative offices. Some internships have involved sharing a love of art or science with younger generations through educational programming at museums, and still others have given students an insider’s view of corporations and sports franchises.
Cal U’s Internship Center helps students find internships that mesh with their major and support their career goals. The Internship Center connects students with the resources they need to find and make the most of these important opportunities.
The real-world learning opportunities at Cal U go beyond internships and cooperative education. Depending on the field of study, students also may be involved in fieldwork, research, laboratory work, clinical rotations, and/or student teaching.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE
Cal U students are leaders—and they have a wide variety of opportunities to make decisions, show initiative, and innovate on campus and beyond. They may be involved in student government, the emerging leaders program, or the non-profit Student Association Inc. They may start and sustain a new sports club. They may become student ambassadors or residence hall assistants. Or they may support other students as peer mentors.
Students may also lend a hand to the community through Cal U’s Center for Volunteer Programs and Service-Learning, which connects them with service opportunities. Plus, each year Cal U faculty, staff, students and alumni volunteer at sites in the borough of California, Pa., and the surrounding area as part of The Big Event, a nation-wide service initiative. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community, and it also affords students a chance to network informally and build connections with alumni.
The number of sections of each class size.
2-9: 268 | 10-19: 171 | 20-29: 230
30-39: 167 | 40-49: 51 | 50-99: 27 | 100+: 2
ENROLLMENT BY ETHNICITY
Nonresident aliens: 36
Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 558
White, non-Hispanic: 3,592
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 5
Asian, non-Hispanic: 58
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 4
Two or more races, non-Hispanic: 182
Race and/or ethnicity unknown: 127
Total Enrollment: 4,756
SUPPORT FOR FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS
The transition to college is exciting, but also a bit daunting. It takes time to learn the ropes. Cal U makes it easier.
One way it does this is through the First-Year Seminar course, which helps new students develop time management, study, communication, and critical thinking skills; get to know the resources available on campus; explore their strengths and interests; and plan for the future.
Cal U’s Office of Academic Success also offers workshops and webinars that help students transition into college—and make the most of their first year.
Several majors offer learning communities: students take three or four courses together and ultimately develop a support system of friends within their major.
Having another student to turn to for answers or advice can make the first year of college significantly less stressful. That’s why the Peer Mentoring Program matches participating first-year students with upperclassmen to help them stay afloat and thrive. First-year “protégés” can turn to their peer mentors for answers to questions big and small. Peer mentors are assigned to protégés based on similarities—they usually have the same major and may have other interests in common or come from the same place.
High-achieving first-year students may be invited to join Alpha Lambda Delta, a prestigious honor society that engages them in community service while helping them develop leadership and career-related skills. Membership also opens up additional scholarship opportunities.
“Everyone here has been really supportive. Whenever I’m having trouble, I always know there’s someone I can go to—and it’s like you find all these resources that you never knew you had.” – Alyssa Freeman, Design and Entertainment Technology Major
The faculty at Cal U have a passion for what they teach. Many Cal U professors are professionals who come to the classroom with unique insights into real-world settings. What’s more, many still work in the fields in which they teach and can offer an inside look at current trends, a truly valuable resource for students about to start their career.
All of Cal U’s classes are taught by faculty, not graduate students, and 85% of Cal U’s full-time faculty have earned the highest degree in their field.
As part of its commitment to cultural diversity, Cal U is a member of the Frederick Douglass Institute Collaborative through Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. Since 2003, Cal U has hosted 18 Frederick Douglass Institute visiting scholars, all of whom have brought fresh perspectives for new and improved programming to campus.
“At a campus like Cal U, where it’s small and it’s very personable, where you can interact with your professors and they’re a phone call away, the administration and the staff […] want to see us succeed.” – Jeremy C., Electrical Engineering Major
It’s always great to have a helping hand when facing challenges in class or the confusion that might come with building a course schedule. Cal U’s Office of Academic Success provides answers to these kinds of questions, connecting students to tutoring, placement testing, workshops, and other academic resources. Through the Scheduling Center, the Office of Academic Success also helps students enroll in classes, keep on track toward degree completion, and implement recommendations made by their faculty advisors.
Cal U provides many different ways for students to challenge themselves—among them, the Honors Program. Honors students are an elite community of scholars who take on challenging Honors coursework and participate in special research and study away opportunities. They receive priority registration and have the opportunity to live in the Honors residence hall.
SPECIAL STUDY OPTIONS
Programs available at this institution.
Cooperative education program
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Exchange student program (domestic)
Liberal arts/career combination
Teacher certification program
CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS
There are more than 100 clubs and organizations at Cal U. Some have an academic focus, and others are faith based or focused on multicultural appreciation. There are honor societies, sports clubs, and groups devoted to service, while other clubs and organizations focus on politics, special interests, or recreation. Beyond those, others give students a chance to perform—playing an instrument, singing, dancing, or acting. Students also can be involved in student-run media on campus, including CUTV, the California Times newspaper, and WCAL-FM.
Whether a student is interested in animation, archery, art, dance, economics, fitness, horses, horticulture, lacrosse, medieval reenactments, modern languages, robotics, the sciences, or wildlife, there’s something for them to get involved in. And if there happens to be a club or organization that’s missing, they can lead the way in bringing it to campus.
There is never a shortage of things to do at Cal U. Throughout the year, there are on-campus concerts, free movie showings, art shows, history exhibits, festivals, musical and theatrical productions, guest speakers, and panel discussions.
At the on-campus fitness center, students have access to workout equipment, a climbing wall, a swimming pool, fitness classes, and wellness programs. Students also participate in outdoor activities, such as disc golf and nature hikes, at the nearby SAI Farm. Those looking for a place of quiet reflection, devotion, prayer, or meditation head to the meditation rooms at the Multicultural Center on campus.
In addition, students have easy access to Pittsburgh—a vibrant center of culture, history, and entertainment—through the Cal U commuter bus and trips sponsored by the Student Activities Board.
“Everywhere I go, there’s always something happening. Different activities, different students being involved. Whatever their passions are, they live to see it through here at the University.” – Jerron Corley, Journalism Major
Cal U’s 98-acre main campus is nestled on the banks of the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania. Home to an arboretum with more than 100 different species of trees, Cal U’s beautiful campus also features sculptures, fountains, interesting architecture, and modern residence halls.
Just over a mile away is Roadman Park, which includes a garden-style apartment complex known as Vulcan Village. Roadman Park also is home to Cal U’s Adamson football stadium; baseball and softball fields; tennis courts; and soccer and rugby fields.
Nearby, the 94-acre SAI Farm provides additional opportunities for outdoor recreation and student research. Shuttles run regularly between Cal U’s main and upper campuses.
The University is 35 miles south of Pittsburgh. That puts the city’s cultural experiences within easy reach for Cal U students, but the University is also near ski resorts, other outdoor recreation opportunities, and such state parks as Ohiopyle.
Cal U fields 18 NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports teams—eight men’s and 10 women’s teams. Cal U students can also join intramural and extramural sports teams and more than a dozen student-led sports clubs. The school’s beloved mascot, Blaze, cheers on the Vulcans, and the school colors are black and red.
Percent of students living on campus.
First-time, first-year (freshman) students: 68%
Campus housing options.
Apartments for single students
Special housing for disabled students
FOUR-YEAR GRADUATION PLAN
There are a lot of benefits to graduating in four years, including a smaller investment of time and money and an earlier start to a career. Because of this, Cal U works actively to help students earn a degree in four years (rather than the national average of six).
Cal U’s Four-Year Graduation Plan combines advising, priority registration, and individual attention to help students reach their academic goals on time. Of course, this plan is a partnership: eligible first-year students sign an agreement that defines the role they and the University play in making this plan a reality.
Ultimately, most students go to college to gain a competitive edge in the job market.
Cal U’s Career Advantage helps students create—and put into action—a strategic plan for identifying and reaching their career goals. During this career-building experience, students work with career coaches in Cal U’s Career and Professional Development Center to move systematically through the three phases of career development: explore, experience, and connect.
By completing career development activities, students can earn points toward a Career Advantage certificate and graduation cords.
“Places that I go, they always say, ‘Oh, Cal U has the best—you’re always so much more professional than other schools and you’re already so much more prepared, and we love Cal U graduates and we just want them.’” – Rachel Wilkinson, Early Childhood Education Major
ACCELERATED DEGREE PROGRAMS
Many students need a master’s degree to move into the job that they want. And thanks to Cal U’s Accelerated Degree Programs, students can earn their Cal U master’s degree more quickly, thus saving time and money. Qualified undergraduates are able to earn graduate-level credits even as they’re completing their bachelor’s degree.
Academic GPA | Standardized test scores
Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank | Application Essay | Recommendation(s) | Interview | Extracurricular activities
Talent/ability | Character/personal qualities | Volunteer work | Work experience | Level of applicant’s interest
SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
25th Percentile: 460 | 75th Percentile: 560
25th Percentile: 450 | 75th Percentile: 540
25th Percentile: 17 | 75th Percentile: 23
25th Percentile: 16 | 75th Percentile: 22
25th Percentile: 15 | 75th Percentile: 23
25th Percentile: 6 | 75th Percentile: 19
Tuition & Cost
At Cal U our in-state student tuition and fees are approximately $5,656.60 each semester for a full-time student enrolled in 12 to 18 credits. Out-of-state student tuition and fees* are approximately $8,016.60 each semester for a full-time student enrolled in 12 to 18 credits.
*Fees vary based on total credits; estimates are based on 18 credits.
Tuition (in-state): $7,716
Tuition (out-of-state): $11,574
Tuition (nonresident aliens): $15,046
Room & Board: $10,186
Room Only: $6,592
Board Only: $3,594
Approximately 90% of all Cal U students receive some sort of financial aid, and the University works with students and their families to find the right resources to make a Cal U education a reality.
Gabby Mariscotti, a management major at Cal U notes, “The Financial Aid Office has been so helpful to me throughout my time at Cal U. They are always able to answer any questions or solve any problems I may have. They are always extremely available and everyone in the office is so kind and helpful!”
Through Cal U’s Office of Financial Aid, students are able to connect with a variety of funding opportunities, such as:
- Cal U institutional scholarships
- Cal U endowed scholarships
- Cal U need-based grants
- PASSHE foundation scholarships
- State scholarship programs
- Out-of-State scholarship programs
VULCAN MERIT SCHOLARSHIP
Cal U’s Vulcan Merit Scholarship rewards academic excellence. Based on their high school GPA, students can receive between $2,000 and $3,500 in annual funding through this opportunity.
Maggie Cave, a communication studies major and scholarship recipient, notes, “Receiving a Vulcan Merit Scholarship not only made me feel like all my hard work leading up to college was worth it but assisted me in paying for my degree at an already affordable university. The scholarship I received helped reassure me that I made the right choice and was at a university that wanted me to be there.”