UCSD vs SDSU: Difference and Comparison

A University, whether it is National or State, is a great source of knowledge. University provides various types of courses, diplomas, and training at the same place.

Universities can be difficult to get admitted to, but they are worth it. UCSD and SDSU are two universities in California that have been training students for a century.

Key Takeaways

  1. UCSD (University of California, San Diego) is research-intensive, while SDSU (San Diego State University) focuses more on teaching and learning.
  2. UCSD is part of the UC system, while SDSU is a member of the California State University system.
  3. UCSD is known for its STEM programs, while SDSU offers various degree options across disciplines.


UCSD is a research-oriented university that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of fields, including sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and arts. SDSU is a comprehensive university that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields.

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The term UCSD stands for University of California, San Diego. UCSD is a very well-known research university in California. It comes under State ownership and also gets shares in public funds.

It also receives the benefits of the Morrill Act under the term public land-grant institution. It provides a large variety of subjects for students.

The term SDSU stands for San Diego State University. Like UCSD, SDSU is also a public research university in San Diego, the state.

When it was founded the university was first known as San Diego Normal School in 1897. SDSU is the third oldest University in the CSU system.

It has a stronger alumni base than any other Californian University.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonUCSDSDSU
FoundedUCSD was founded on the 18th of November, 1960. SDSU was founded in 1897, almost a century ago.
ColoursThe colour UCSD have are Navy Blue and gold.The colour SDSU have are Red, black, and, gold.
Full formUCSD is the short term for, ‘ University of California, San Diego’.SDSU is the short term for, ‘ San Diego State University.
Motto‘Let There Be Light’ is the motto of UCSD.‘Minds that move the world’ is the motto of SDSU.
Nobel laureateUCSD has 20 Nobel laureates on the campus.SDSU hasn’t been able to get any Nobel laureate prize yet.

What is UCSD?

The University of California, or UCSD, is known as a public research university that is located in San Diego, California. UCSD was established in the 1960s.

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“Pradeep Kumar Khosla” an Indian-origin electrical and computer engineer, is the eighth chancellor of UCSD. The University covers an area of about 2178 acres near the coast of the pacific ocean.

The degree program, such as graduate and undergraduate, offered by UCSD is over 200.

It enrols about 33000 undergraduate and about 9000 graduate students. Among others, the university of the rank achieved by UCSD was quite higher and worth praising. “Let there be light” is the motto of UCSD.

It has been divided into four groups or divisions: biology, art and humanities, social science, and physical science. It is the second most applied university in 2021, receiving more than 1,40,000 applications in a year.

The number of Nobel laureate prizes won by UCSD is 28, and also 8 medals in national science. UCSD has acquired three Pulitzer prizes and eight MacArthur fellowships.

It provides accommodations to students with specific needs. The option of living in housing facilities or hostels has been provided for undergraduate students.

It is mostly available for graduate students of the university.

The university also has different research centres across the country, such as the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind and Qualcomm Institute for energy research.

San Diego spent around $1.3 billion to develop these research centres in 2019, ranking it the 6th university in the nation.

university of california san diego

What is SDSU?

San Diego State University, also known as a research university, is located in San Diego. It was founded in the year 1897.

The former name of the university was known as San Diego Normal School. It ranks third in the oldest universities.

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SDSU saved itself 3rd place in-state University system of California, including 23 other Californian universities. SDSU has about 35000 student bodies and more than 3,00,000 students.

Its name has been changing since its establishment. From 1897-1923 it was known as San Diego Normal School. Then from (1923-1935), it was changed to The name San Diego State Teachers College.

In 1935 it was changed again into San Diego State College. After some years, it was changed for the third time and renamed California State University, San Diego (1972-1974).

“Leadership Starts Here” is the motto of SDSU.

SDSU generates about 2.4 billion dollars annually, which greatly benefits the country’s economy, and almost 60 percent of its graduates remain in the country. “Samuel T. Black, in 1905 was the first president of SDSU.

SDSU had about 10 presidents. Some structures on the campus of the university are also named after its past presidents.

Its library was redesigned in the 1960s with a cost of about 8 million dollars, covering a space of 300000 sq. Ft (28000 m. Sq). It was named Malcolm A. Love Library.

san diego state university

Main Differences Between UCSD and SDSU

  1. The number of Nobel laureates at UCSD is 20. On the other hand, SDSU has not acquired a place in the Nobel laureate prize.
  2. The colors that represent UCSD are gold and navy blue; the colors that represent SDSU are 3 red, black, and gold.
  3. The acceptance rate at UCSD is around 38 percent while the acceptance rate at SDSU is around 28 percent which is quite lower than the University of California.
  4. In the national ranking of best universities in California, UCSD got 37th place, while SDSU got 164th, which is a huge difference.
  5. The number of students is lower in UCSD. On the other hand, SDSU has a nice place in this criteria by having more students.
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  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/11763167
  2. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/begin-end-user-mind/8223

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “UCSD vs SDSU: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I find the emphasis on the laureate Nobel prize comparison between UCSD and SDSU quite ironic. The academic value of an institution should not solely be based on Nobel laureates.

  2. The information provided is relevant and helpful in understanding the distinction between UCSD and SDSU for potential students.

  3. The comparison made between UCSD and SDSU is thorough and well-researched. It provides valuable insights for students considering these universities.

    • I’d argue that the comparison could also include more qualitative aspects of campus life and student experience for a balanced perspective.


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