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Overall Score: 73.84

California State University, Monterey Bay

Seaside, CA
Ocean-front views are plentiful at California State University, Monterey Bay, two hours south of San Francisco. Like much of the Cal State system, CSU Monterey Bay scores high marks for being both affordable and accessible: Three-quarters of applicants get in, and more than half of the students are first-generation college students. The university boasts interesting architecture, as it was built at the location of an old Army base – some of the military buildings have been repurposed into art gallery spaces. There are just under 7,000 undergraduate students who can choose from among 25 majors, including sustainable hospitality management, Japanese language and culture, and (no surprise here) marine science. The Monterey Bay Otters participate in NCAA Division II athletics, with 13 teams competing throughout the year. Greek life is also a big part of CSUMB, with seven fraternities and nine sororities. The school's World Theater hosts student-run theater productions and concerts. The school has an environmental pedigree, too; it aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Currently, a solar panel farm on campus produces enough energy to power about 17% of the university's needs annually.


Est. full price 2022-2023
% of students who get any grants
Est. price for students who receive aid
Average price for low-income students


Acceptance rate
Median SAT/ACT score
SAT/ACT required?
Undergraduate enrollment

Financial Aid

% of students with need who get grants
% of need met
% of students who get merit grants
Average merit grant

Student Success

Graduation rate
Average time to a degree
4.6 years
Median student debt
Early career earnings
% earning more than a high school grad

Notes: Students who get merit grants are full-time undergraduates who had no financial need and were awarded grants. Graduation rate measures degree completion within six years for both transfer students and first-time students. Early career earnings are the median earnings for both graduates and non-completers, 10 years after they first enrolled.

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Peterson’s, Money/Witlytic calculations.

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