How to Get Into Cal Poly SLO: Acceptance Rate and Strategies

June 12, 2023

Cal Poly SLO, the shortened name for California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo, is the most selective of the 23 schools within the massive CSU system that serves nearly half a million students. With affordable and well-regarded bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as mechanical engineering, business administration, computer science, and architecture, it’s no wonder the number of applicants to Cal Poly has more than tripled since the turn of the millennium. Given the growing popularity of this increasingly-selective public university–last year’s Cal Poly SLO acceptance rate was only 29%–you will want to be aware of the following:

  • Cal Poly SLO acceptance rate 2023
  • SAT/ACT policy and GPAs of admitted applicants
  • Admissions stats by College
  • Admissions trends at California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo
  • The demographics of current undergraduates
  • Yield rate
  • How Cal Poly admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to Cal Poly
  • How to assess whether applying to Cal Poly is even worth the $70 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to Cal Poly may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent Cal Poly admissions data.

Cal Poly: Acceptance Rate – 2023

The acceptance rate at Cal Poly for freshmen competing for an opportunity to enter campus in fall 2022 was 29%, lower than the previous cycle’s 33% mark. The applicant pool totaled 58,935 hopefuls.

Class of 2027 figures have yet to be released. However, there is reason to believe that the numbers could be significantly lower. A reported 73,000 applications poured in to Cal Poly SLO in the 2022-2023 cycle.

Cal Poly Admissions – SAT/ACT policy, class rank, and GPA

As a test-blind institution, Cal Poly does not consider standardized test scores. That makes GPA the most important metric and those admitted into the Class of 2026 possessed a mid-50% GPA of 4.08-4.25.

Looking back to the previous year, 49% of attending students were in the top decile of their graduating high school class; 82% were in the top quartile. The average weighted GPA for enrolled students that year was 4.01. Back when tests were still considered, the mid-50% ACT range was 28-33 and the equivalent SAT range was 1240-1420.

Cal Poly- Admissions Stats by College

College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences

  • GPA range: 3.94-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 48%

Architecture & Environmental Design

  • GPA range: 4.04-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 30%

College of Engineering

  • GPA range: 4.17-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 22%

Cal Poly SLO Acceptance Rate (Continued)

College of Liberal Arts

  • GPA range: 4.00-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 31%

Science & Mathematics

  • GPA range: 4.14-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 34%

Orfalea College of Business

  • GPA range: 4.11-4.25
  • Acceptance rate: 27%

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • The most significant note is that all CSU schools have adopted a test-blind policy moving forward.
  • There were 341 international students among the Class of 2026 from 61 different countries.
  • Cal Poly also remains the least ethnically diverse school in the CSU or UC system. However, the URM population increased by 6% last year.
  • First-time freshmen increased by 227 students.
  • The average high school GPA for enrolled freshmen was 4.04.

Who Gets In?

Let’s look at the demographics of current students:

Most students hailed from California and paid in-state tuition. The most common counties of residence for in-state students in the Class of 2026 were as follows:

  1. Los Angeles: 15%
  2. Santa Clara: 9%
  3. San Diego: 9%
  4. Orange: 7%
  5. Alameda: 6%

The states sending the greatest number of non-resident students into the Class of 2026 were as follows:

  1. Washington: 31%
  2. Colorado: 15%
  3. Oregon: 12%
  4. Texas: 4%
  5. Hawaii: 4%

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the entire student body is as follows:

  • Asian: 14%
  • Hispanic: 21%
  • African American: 1%
  • Multiracial: 8%
  • White: 51%

Cal Poly SLO Acceptance Rate (Continued)

International students came in the greatest numbers from the following countries:

  1. India
  2. China
  3. Germany
  4. Myanmar
  5. The U.K.

The breakdown by gender of the entire student body shows a fairly even split:

  • Male: 51%
  • Female: 49%

“Feeder schools” into the school who sent the greatest number of new undergrads to the university in 2022-23 included:

  • San Luis Obispo High
  • Salinas High
  • Arroyo Grande High
  • Oakland Technical Senior High
  • Redwood High
  • Bellarmine College Prep
  • Monte Vista High
  • California High

Yield Rate

Cal Poly’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 27%. To compare this school to other California-based public universities, UC Berkeley and UCLA are both above 40%.

How Cal Poly SLO Rates Applicants

There are only two factors that this school ranks as “very important” to their admissions decision process and they are: the rigor of your courses and GPA earned within those courses. They “consider” items such as: extracurricular activities, talent/ability, first-generation status, geographical residence, volunteer work, and paid work experience.

Cal Poly, along with all other California State University schools have gone test-blind, meaning they will no longer consider SAT or ACT scores in the application process. Previously, test scores had been a “very important” component of the review process at Cal Poly.

Cal Poly SLO Acceptance Rate (Continued)

In the words of the admissions office:

  • “For the purposes of your application, we’ll consider your 9th-11th grade weighted GPA. That number is calculated from college-prep coursework as designated on your application. Weight is granted for courses designated as ‘honors,’ ‘college-level,’ ‘advanced placement’ or ‘international baccalaureate’ for up to eight semesters.”
  • “Cal Poly takes activities such as work experience, internships, volunteer programs and extracurricular activities into consideration. We are also interested in any leadership roles you may have held in these activities.”
  • “All candidates are objectively evaluated by the cognitive and non-cognitive variables under our faculty-mandated Multi-Criteria Admission (MCA) process.”

Tips for Applying 

If you plan on joining the 70,000+ Mustang freshmen hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should also know the following:

  • This university does not offer interviews or consider recommendations, essays, or demonstrated interest.
  • You will be required to select a major from a list of more than 60 on your application.
  • Applications can be submitted any time from 10/1 through 11/30.
  • There are no essays for applicants to Cal Poly SLO.

Cal Poly SLO Acceptance Rate 2023 – Final Thoughts 

If you earned a 4.0 (or better) weighted GPA in high school, you are a viable candidate for any program within Cal Poly –San Luis Obispo. Students with a 4.1 or 4.2 in a mostly honors/AP curriculum will fare best. That said, very few students are able to consider Cal Poly as a “safety” these days; all students need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “reach”, “target”, and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in collaboration with a professional who is aware of the latest trends and strategies associated with your prospective colleges.