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Education for California’s Critical Knowledge-Based Industries

The CSU is a leader in supplying graduates with the necessary technical and personal skills to establish a workforce in critical knowledge-based industries.. The CSU’s contribution to these industries is evident when analyzing the percentage of graduates in California who receive their degrees from the CSU. The following figure demonstrates the CSU’s strong showing across key California industries.

Percentage of California Bachelors Degrees awarded by CSU, 2007
Industry Percentage
Agriculture 62%
Business 54%
Health/Medicine 44%
Hospitality & Tourism 64%
Engineering 45%
Media Culture & design 44%

The following text details the CSU’s leadership in supplying graduates to nine critical knowledge-based industries.

Agriculture, Food and Beverages: California’s Historic Strength

The Agriculture, Food and Beverage industry plays a pivotal role in the California economy. As recently as 2007, California’s largest private sector industry consisted of Food Services. Furthermore, Beverage Manufacturing is considered one of California’s largest growing sub-sectors.

The CSU has always been a strong contributor to this field. In 2007, 62 percent of Californians with bachelor’s degrees in agriculture-related fields graduated from the CSU as did 36 percent of the states master’s degrees in agricultural fields.

The following graph demonstrates the workforce contribution of some of the agriculture specialties in which the California State University is a major educator.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Agricultural Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Agricultural Degree Percentage
Agricultural Business and Management 52%
Animal Sciences 67%
Food, Plant, Soil Sciences 62%

Examples of the role CSU campuses play in California’s agricultural economy include:

  • CSU Chico is helping agriculture adapt to rapidly changing public policy issues by developing the Irrigation Training Facility located at the CSU Chico Agricultural Teaching and Research Center. The facility was developed in collaboration with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, and the California Public Utility Commission and serves agriculture water users of Northern California by demonstrating new technologies that can be used to improve water delivery and irrigation efficiencies.

  • Operating the first licensed and bonded commercial winery on a university campus in the United States, Fresno State students have the opportunity to study the art and science of grape-growing and winemaking. Fresno State wines have won scores of medals in commercial competitions.

  • Humboldt State is collaborating on partnerships with the largest timber producers in California, a healthy regional dairy and beef industry, and a strong regional fishing and mariculture industry. Industrial partners include the largest California producer of oysters, lily and orchid growers, and small ranches and dairies.

  • Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College of Hospitality Management and College of Agriculture combine resources and expertise to produce Horsehill Vineyards Zinfandel and Zinfandel Rose. A self-sustaining project, the wine is sold at the campus Farm Store and proceeds also support a culinary garden for The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch on the campus.

Business and Professional Services: Educating to Manage

With California’s ever-growing Business and Professional Services sector, it is important to have an educational system that supports that growth. This sector is all the more relevant because it contributes to other sectors in the economy. One out of every five CSU graduates in 2009 completed a bachelor’s degree in business/management. Furthermore, the fact that 54 percent of all business bachelor’s degrees awarded in California in 2007 were earned at the CSU underscores the CSU’s vital role in supplying the workforce. Many interdisciplinary majors involving business concepts were developed as a result of input from industry partners.

The figure below demonstrates the importance of the CSU in contributing to the Business and Management fields.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Business/Management Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Business/Management Degree Percentage
Business Admin/Commerce 63%
International Business 62%

Programs that directly prepare CSU students for careers in business and professional services include:

  • Accounting;

  • Advertising;

  • Business;

  • Business Administration and Management;

  • Managerial Economics;

  • Human Resources Management;

  • International Business.

There are currently 24 Professional Science Master's (PSM) programs within the CSU—innovative, interdisciplinary programs that combine business and management training with rigorous academic preparation integrated through an industry internship. These programs currently enroll more than 500 students and are on track to train more than 1,200 professionals in the state’s highest growth sectors over the next five years.

One example of a cross-cutting business major is CSU Channel Islands’ dual master’s degree in Biotechnology and Business Administration. This innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum blends key components of biological sciences and business at the graduate level. Most courses are currently offered through the existing MS in Biotechnology and MBA programs. Several CSU campuses have implemented this “21st Century MBA” program.

Other examples of innovative business programs include:
  • San Francisco State University brought affordable graduate business education to the heart of the city's business district in 2007 with the opening of its new downtown campus to accommodate working professionals.

  • CSU Northridge graduate students have created the Tax Development Journal, the first student-run online publication that serves as a forum for intellectual discourse on emerging issues for tax practitioners and policymakers.

  • Humboldt State houses the lead center for 10 Small Business Development Centers across Northern California. The centers provide one-on-one business mentoring to more than 4,500 small businesses each year and are funded through grants, including $2.6 million from the federal government.

  • CSU Bakersfield’s Business Research and Education Center (BREC), Public Service Institute (PSI), and its recently created Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provide professional development training to individuals and assist organizations with strategic planning, program evaluation, and comprehensive consulting services.

Life Sciences and Biomedicine: Meeting a Growing Need

As of 2007, 8.7 percent of people employed in California worked in Healthcare and Social Assistance. This contributes to Ambulatory Health Care Services and Hospitals being, respectively, the fifth and sixth largest sub-sectors of the California economy. The CSU has been a consistent supporter of these industries by graduating 44 percent of all health- or medical-related bachelor’s students in California and 37 percent of all masters’ students.

That said, these numbers only tell part of the story. The CSU also is growing the number of graduates supporting the health fields: 33 percent more CSU students are studying biological sciences in 2009 than in 2003. Furthermore, 77 percent more CSU students are studying health professions than did in 2003. Nearly 1 in 10 CSU graduate students studied health sciences in the 2008-09 academic year.

The following figure demonstrates the importance of the CSU in contributing to the Life Sciences and Biomedicine fields.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Health Sciences Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Health Science Degree Percentage
Biology, General 34%
Dietetics/Nutrition 97%
Nursing 60%
Health/Physical Fitness 84%
Psychology, General 47%


A Renowned Health Program at CSU Dominguez Hills Grows in a Time of Need

In a time of two wars, CSU Dominguez Hills is using one of its leading programs to improve the lives of soldiers 
coming home. In August 2009, the campus's Orthotics & Prosthetics (O&P) Program, in collaboration with the 
Long Beach Veteran's Hospital, opened a 10,000-square-foot facility dedicated to training students in prosthetic 
care in a real-world environment. 

The program, which has conducted research and training for more than two decades, is the only one of its kind 
in California and one of nine nationwide. One in five professionals in orthotics and prosthetics is a CSU 
Dominguez Hills graduate. Until now, much of the hands-on training happened at a local prosthetics 
manufacturer, but with demand for prosthetics increasing because of war and obesity rates, the new, dedicated 
facility will provide students the ability to work in closer contact with patients.

More specifically, individual CSU campuses have offered important contributions to the biomedical sciences.

  • Fifteen CSU campuses are partners to the biomedical industry in Professional Science Master’s (PSM) programs. Rigorous preparation is provided in such fields as bioengineering, bioinformatics, biostatistics, biotechnology, computational sciences, medical product development management, assistive and rehabilitative technologies, and medical product development management. Students are trained in the sciences and in the skills needed in for the global biomedical industry.

  • Three CSU campuses (Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, and San Diego) are responding to California’s workforce demand for biotech professionals with a new online certificate for Biotechnology Project Management in Quality Assurance. The programs were made possible by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration that is managed by the CSU Program for Research and Education in Biotechnology (CSUPERB). The grant will serve the needs of the regional life sciences industry in the greater Los Angeles area.

  • San Francisco State University is a new training ground for future stem cell researchers, with support from a $1.7 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The program provides master's students with intensive research internships at partner institutions, including the University of California’s Berkeley and San Francisco campuses and the Buck Institute for Age Research. Humboldt State also has a $1.6 million grant from CIRM, and partner institutions include Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco.

  • CSU Bakersfield's Nursing program has been awarded a five-year, $10.4 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study children's health and development. The project is an integral part of the National Children's Health Study, the largest longitudinal study of child health ever undertaken in the United States.

  • CSU Stanislaus is helping to meet a growing demand in California with its Genetic Counseling Master’s Degree program established in collaboration with San Francisco State, UC San Francisco, and Kaiser Permanente. Genetic counselors in this Professional Science Master’s program develop combined expertise in human genetics and knowledge of important medical discoveries to work with families dealing with genetic disorders and inherited health conditions.

  • CSU East Bay has teamed with healthcare provider John Muir Health to more than double the number of students earning bachelor’s of science degrees (to about 150 per year) in the nursing program at the CSUEB Concord Campus. John Muir is contributing $3.8 million over seven years, including the cost of retrofitting facilities and the donation of sophisticated mannequins for a simulation lab.

Engineering, Information Technology, and Technical Disciplines

Engineering, Information Technology, and Technical Disciplines are a vital part of California’s economy with Technical Services being part of the second largest sub-sector.

The CSU is an important contributor to these fields with 45 percent of the state’s engineering and information technology majors graduating from the system. Part of this influence can be attributed to the 31 percent increase in engineers graduating from the CSU in 2009 from 2003. CSU also graduates 45 percent of the state’s computer engineering bachelor’s degrees. The CSU has made a concerted effort to help the industry reflect California’s diversity by reaching out to underserved students and women to increase their participation in engineering programs and related studies. This has been accomplished by creating numerous partnerships with organizations in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

The following figure demonstrates the importance of the CSU in contributing to Engineering, Information Technology, and other technical fields.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Engineering Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Engineering Degree Percentage
Aerospace Engineering 47%
Civil Engineering 56%
Computer Engineering 45%
Electrical/Communications 47%
Mechanical Engineering 44%

CSU campuses offer a broad range of engineering programs that are addressing industry demands:

  • CSU Dominguez Hills conducts research in the use of intelligent decision support systems in emergency response, airport security, border security, cargo security, and national infrastructure protection applications; and the development of secure policies for robotic and human agents patrolling airports, performing border patrol, or protecting critical infrastructure.

  • CSU San Bernardino students and faculty combined to create the Xbox game “Vector Force,” which made the list of top Indie Games in the online Xbox Live Marketplace.

  • San Diego State’s “Communication Systems and Signal Processing Institute” is internationally recognized for leading innovations in technologies that support wireless communication. Telecommunications giants Qualcomm, SAIC, Cubic Corporation, and Northrop Grumman collaborate in this unique partnership and use the opportunity to draw San Diego State graduates as employees.

  • Along with its strong engineering programs, the California State University Maritime Academy prepares students to serve California’s maritime trade and transportation sector in ports and on ships. One-third of all the marine pilots on the West Coast and two-thirds of the pilots in the San Francisco Bay area are graduates of Cal Maritime.

  • CSU East Bay has added a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Construction Management. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with experts from major construction companies as well as governmental agencies in anticipation of a projected increase in California’s transportation-infrastructure projects as the economy recovers.

Media, Culture, and Design: California’s Best-Known Export

Hollywood is practically synonymous with the film and television industry, which has been instrumental in popularizing and marketing California around the world. The CSU is as critical a supplier of job-ready graduates in this industry as it is in the other drivers of California’s knowledge-based economy: 44 percent of California’s bachelor’s degrees in media, culture and design studies graduated from the CSU. Journalism is a prized program, with 74 percent of California’s communications bachelor’s degrees awarded by the CSU as well as 86 percent of the graduates in radio and television broadcasting.

The following figure demonstrates the importance of the CSU in contributing to the media, culture, and design fields.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Media, Culture, and Design Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Media, Culture and Design Degree Percentage
Communication/ Media Studies 48%
Journalism 74%
Radio, Television, Digital Communication 86%
Fine & Studio Art 59%

Beyond these overarching statistics, individual schools offer tremendous programs that drive California’s Media, Culture, and Design Industries:

  • The Multimedia Graduate Program at CSU East Bay trains artists, musicians, and other creative professionals together, forging new media and interactive content that speaks to the intersection of technology and communication central to the region’s industry. Graduates work at leading Bay Area new media companies such as Electronic Arts, Google, and Game House.

  • CSU Fullerton’s Art Department teams with both the Disney Company and Warner Brothers Feature Animation to offer an animation and entertainment arts program whose graduates are pursuing careers at DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Feature Animation, among others. The Theatre and Dance Department has graduated the likes of Criminal Minds actress Kirsten Vangsness, Desperate Housewives creator/executive producer Marc Cherry, and Linda Woolverton, who wrote the screenplays for Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Alice in Wonderland.

  • CSU Long Beach’s College of the Arts has more art and design majors than any other public university in America.

  • Other branches of the media and cultural industries are also well-represented in the CSU’s curricula. The CSU has educated many well-known and influential writers. San Francisco State’s Creative Writing Department, for example, is one of the oldest and most respected in the country. Over the years, it has boasted such professors as Wright Morris, Kay Boyle, Gina Berriault, Frances Mayes (an alumna), and Molly Giles. Alumni include best-selling authors Anne Rice, Ernest Gaines, and Po Bronson, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Philip Schultz and Rae Armantrout. CSU Los Angeles has had Dorothy Parker and Christopher Isherwood as professors, and its alumni ranks include Joseph Wambaugh.

  • CSU Los Angeles’s “Reel Rasquache” film festival brings notable artists to campus and showcases filmmaking that focuses on the Latino experience in the U.S.

Hospitality and Tourism: Packaging the California Experience

Hospitality and Tourism is a crucial industry in California. Degrees in this field serve those who ultimately work in hotels, resorts, restaurants, spas, casinos (tribal gaming), special events (conventions, conferences, weddings, or meetings), tourism, travel, institutional food services, or customer service. The CSU actively works to support this industry by producing 64 percent of the tourism graduates in California. Furthermore, roughly 94 percent of hospitality administration and management graduates come from the CSU system. With 445 students graduating in 2007, the CSU is the only university in California with a bachelor’s degree program in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies.

The following figure demonstrates the importance of the CSU in contributing to the Hospitality and Tourism fields.

CSU Bachelor's Degrees as a Percent of Hospitality and Tourism Degrees Awarded in California, 2007
Media, Culture and Design Degree Percentage
Natural Resources Conservation 31%
Hospitality Admin/Mgmt 94%
Parks, Recreation, Leisure Studies 100%
  • The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona is the first and largest four-year hospitality management degree program in California. Building on its renowned undergraduate program, the college is launching the state’s first Master of Science in Hospitality Management. The school serves approximately 1,000 ethnically diverse students.

  • The Sports, Entertainment and Hospitality Management program offered by the College of Business Administration and Public Policy at CSU Dominguez Hills capitalizes on the high demand in Southern California for sports, entertainment and hospitality professionals, as well as its partnership with the high-profile Anschutz Entertainment Group and The Home Depot Center located on campus. The program offers a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Sports, Entertainment, and Hospitality Management.

  • San Diego State University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management has more than 500 students from all over the world. The curriculum has a strong focus on business skills in a hospitality setting. The school offers emphases in hotels, restaurants, meetings and events, tribal gaming and sustainable tourism.