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 the undergraduate population is still primarily made up of students of color. About 63% of students are eligible for need-based federal Pell Grants. The university is also a catalyst for economic mobility, with one of the highest scores on think tank Third Way's index measuring how well colleges help lower-income students advance.

With just over 15,000 undergraduate students, the school still boasts a tight-knit community and smaller class sizes than are typical at public universities. The university offers about 50 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 90 student organizations to draw them in, as well as 18 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 two Major League Soccer teams play. 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).