One of three polytechnic universities in California, Cal Poly Pomona has strong programs in engineering and business, as well as renowned programs in hospitality management, agriculture, and apparel merchandising and management. It was first designated a National Center of Academic Excellence by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency in 2005, and continues to carry that honor for producing cybersecurity professionals.

The university's graduation rate of 76% is nearly 16% higher than expected based on schools with comparable student demographics, according to Money's analysis of graduation rates. Students go on to post median early-career salaries of $67,000.

Cal Poly Pomona's learn-by-doing approach provides a wealth of internships and research positions, but it also yields some unexpected opportunities. An on-campus brewery teaches students craft beer-making using barley and oranges grown on campus. And every year for the past seven decades, students have joined their peers from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to build a float for the Tournament of Roses parade. In fact, Cal Poly Pomona recently opened a 14,000-square-foot float lab and design complex.