Story Social Mobility

CSU Campuses Once Again Rank Among the Best in the Nation

Alisia Ruble

CSUs ranked among Forbes’ top colleges in the nation for providing students with opportunities that lead to successful lives and careers.

Eighteen California State University campuses were named to Forbes’ list of America’s Top Colleges released August 21.

The campuses, listed in order of ranking—Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Long Beach, Maritime Academy, Pomona, San José, Fullerton, Chico, Stanislaus, Fresno, San Francisco, Sonoma, Sacramento, Northridge, East Bay, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Humboldt—are among the best colleges in America for providing students with opportunities that lead to successful lives and careers.

Forbes’ list of top colleges focuses on the direct benefits schools provide their graduates, valuing retention, graduation and social mobility rates over acceptance rates and admitted students’ SAT scores.

The publication ranks 650 public and private not-for-profit schools based on variables that include alumni salary, debt upon graduation, academic success and graduation rates. 

The recognition from Forbes is a testament to progress made by the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which is helping to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps and prepare the skilled workforce needed to power the nation’s economy. 

CSU campuses are frequently recognized as engines of upward mobility for helping low-income students find financial success. In fact, all 23 campuses rank in the top quartile of the “Social Mobility Index” (SMI), a ranking developed by PayScale and CollegeNET that measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically-disadvantaged students at lower tuition. 

According to a study released last year by the Equality of Opportunity Project, which examined the mobility rate of every college in America, two CSU campuses—California State University, Los Angeles and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona—are among the top 10 colleges that channel students from low- or middle-income families to the top 20 percent of American wage earners, with Cal State LA ranking number one in the nation.

A full list of the 2018 Top Colleges in America is available on the Forbes website.