Classes at California State University, Dominguez Hills began in 1965, but the Watts Uprising later that year inspired a campus move inland to serve a diverse student body reflective of South Los Angeles. The school was successful in that endeavor, as its undergraduate population is still primarily made up of students of color. Over half of students are eligible for need-based federal Pell Grants. The university is also a catalyst for economic mobility, with one of the highest ratings on think tank Third Way's index measuring how well colleges help lower-income students advance.

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With about 14,000 undergraduate students, the school still boasts a tight-knit community and smaller class sizes than are typical at public universities. The university offers over 50 undergrad majors across six colleges: arts and humanities; business administration and public policy; education; extended and international education; natural and behavioral sciences; and health, human services and nursing. The most popular programs include psychology, criminal justice, sociology, nursing and child development.

The vast majority of students live off campus, but the school offers over 100 student organizations to draw them in, plus 19 sororities and fraternities and 10 NCAA Division II sports teams that are cheered on by the school's mascot, the Toro.

Students can attend professional sports games, too, right in their backyard. The campus houses a 27,000-seat stadium where a Major League Soccer team plays. The 346-acre campus, which the university calls "park-like," is just a half-hour drive away from both downtown Los Angeles (to the north) and the beach (to the west).