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California Polytechnic State University – Complete Guide

Apr 28, 2022

Students who wish to pursue higher education from this renowned institution must know Cal Poly Acceptance Rate, Cal Poly GPA Requirements, and other necessary details for Cal Poly Admissions. This article provides you with all the necessary information, such as Cal Poly SAT Scores, Cal Poly Average GPA, and what you can do to enhance your chances of getting into Cal Poly.But first, let’s start with an overview of the college.

California Polytechnic State University is a public institution of higher education based in San Luis Obispo, California. Commonly referred to as Cal Poly, it was established in 1901 and is known for offering high-quality academic programs across different fields at both Bachelor’s and Master’s levels.


Brief Overview of Cal Poly State University

California Polytechnic State University has 6 academic colleges that offer more than 150 undergraduate programs and 50 graduate programs across different disciplines. The engineering programs at Cal Poly are the highest-rated ones and also a popular choice among applicants. These programs, irrespective of the discipline, focus on hands-on learning and real-world experiences and try to make it an integral part of their curriculum.

The campus spans 9178 acres and has a quarter-based academic calendar. In addition, the university houses more than 80 state-of-the-art laboratories and 50 clubs. It also has more than 300 student organizations that work in various scholastic and co-scholastic areas. 


It enrolls around 22000 students each year across different colleges. The academic colleges under Cal Poly State University are:

  • College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
  • College of Architecture and Environmental Design
  • Orfalea College of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Science and Mathematics

Cal Poly Acceptance Rate

Cal Poly’s acceptance rate is around 29.3% making it one of the more selective universities in the country. For the Fall Semester of 2022, Cal Poly has received 58,953 applications.


In addition, the university has been named as best public master’s university in California by Forbes, and the school cracked the list of Top 20 public and private universities in the West in the publication’s 2021 list of America’s Top Colleges. This makes Cal Poly a sought-after choice and consequently makes the selectivity of applicants for Cal Poly admissions relatively high.

Cal Poly Admission Requirements

California Polytechnic State University considers the following factors while assessing a candidate for Cal Poly Admissions:

  • Intended Program of Study: You are assessed and evaluated based on the course you chose to pursue. Your past academic performance, SAT/ACT scores, and other variables are seen in the light of your Major
  • High School Coursework: Your College Prep Course Work that you take during High school is also evaluated. The subjects that you have chosen and your performance in them have an impact on your overall selection.
  • GPA: Cal Poly considers your 9th-11th grade weighted GPA. That number is determined from college prep coursework as written on your application. Weightage is given for courses assigned as ‘college-level,’ ‘honors,’ ‘international baccalaureate,’ or ‘advanced placement’ for up to eight semesters.
  • SAT and ACT scores: Cal Poly Admissions considers only ACT or SAT scores in the process. However, you can send as many ACT and SAT scores as before November 30, and the best score for each area will be considered.
  • Extra-Curricular Activities and Work Experience: The University gives weightage to people with all-around personalities. Experiences like leadership roles, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer programs are considered.

Cal Poly GPA Requirements

Cal Poly Admissions Board looks for students who have strong and consistent academic records and are active both inside and outside the classroom. According to the official Cal Poly website, the middle 50% of first-year students admitted for Fall 2022 have an average GPA of 4.08 – 4.25. This makes Cal Poly’s average GPA higher than that of other schools.

Cal Poly ACT Requirements

The official website of Cal Poly does not mention any cutoff or minimum requirement for ACT score, but as per leading Edu-tech websites, the average ACT score of students at Cal Poly is 29. This puts Cal Poly under the Moderately Competitive Category for ACT scores. While the University does not mention any minimum ACT score, a less than 26 will make it difficult to get through. It would require impressive curricular and co-curricular performance. 


Cal Poly SAT Requirements

The average SAT score composite of students who got into Cal Poly is 1335, with a total score of 1600. This makes it a moderately competitive school to get into based on SAT scores. In terms of percentile, The 25th percentile score for the New SAT exam is 1240, and the 75th percentile score is 1430. It, therefore, makes sense to aim for an SAT score of 1350 and above, which places you in the 50th percentile and above.

Cal Poly Admissions has a score choice policy of ‘highest selection.’ This means that you can send as many SAT scores to the Cal Poly Admissions team as possible. They will consider the best score in every section of your application.


Steps to Improve your Cal Poly Admissions Chances

  • Meet the Cal Poly GPA requirements: The GPA score on a candidate’s application reflects your academic consistency and performance. It talks about a candidate’s dedication and commitment to academics and can save their application from getting rejected immediately. 

Many great colleges are looking for students that show such academic rigor. It proves that they would be able to keep up with the academic challenges they will face during their time at college. Therefore high school students should work with a focus on improving and maximizing their GPA score as it acts as a gateway to a good college. 

While it is not the only factor, a good GPA strengthens your application. A host of competitive schools also look for the course’s difficulty level in a candidate’s application. Therefore, you must also look at taking on the challenging courses available at your High School.

  • Aim for Cal Poly SAT Score: Having a high SAT/ACT score is always a plus point for your application. While many college websites don’t mention the SAT/ACT score cutoff, you should aim to get an SAT/ACT score that places you in the top 50 percentile of applicants. This means starting timely preparations and also seeking tutoring/coaching if necessary.
  • Impressive Extracurricular record: Most colleges want active students both inside and outside the classroom. While GPA talks about performance inside the classroom, Extra-Curriculars measure your activeness outside the classroom. Therefore you should find opportunities to take the leadership role, organize events, participate in competitions, hold positions in academic clubs, etc.
  • Write Essays that stand out: While you might have heard this a lot of times, the importance of writing good essays on college applications cannot be understated. Your essays have the potential to make you stand out from all the competition. The key to writing a good essay is to provide your academic information and talk about how you have tackled a great challenge in life. The essay should also discuss why you want to pursue the course you selected and what makes you a great fit.

Life at Cal Poly

Cal Poly is known to have a vibrant student life. Situated on the Central Coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, or SLO is a quintessential college town brimming with cafés, shops, culture, and nightlife. It is also home to the widely popular Farmers’ Market, a week after week block party exhibiting the best the city brings to the table in food, music, and local area each Thursday night.

The University offers a host of opportunities outside of academics for those interested in Sports, Athletics, Performing Arts, etc. Cal Poly Athletics is home to 21 NCAA Division I teams, mainly within the Big West Conference, which have captured almost 50 conference championships. It also has multiple sports teams, student clubs, and music groups that keep the campus abuzz with activities.

The campus also boasts of great physical and mental health facilities. Staffed with certified health, medical professionals, and counselors, the university prioritizes health, well-being, and safety. 


All of this makes Cal Poly a great grad school. Unfortunately, year on year, we have seen that the number of applications for Cal Poly Admissions has been going up, which makes getting into it even more difficult. But you can get your seat in the preferred course by ramping up your preparations, working towards a better GPA, securing a good SAT / ACT score, and writing a persuasive essay.

cal poly acceptance rate


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