San José State University Ranks Among Top Colleges in the West for Diversity

Diverse students talking on SJSU campus

From most transformative to one of the most diverse colleges in the nation, SJSU has proved itself to be a leader, once again, in preparing students to live, work and thrive in an increasingly diverse global world.

San José State University ranks #8 in the nation, and #6 in the west, in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/THE) College Rankings released earlier this month. In WSJ/THE 2021 rankings, diversity accounts for 10 percent of a school’s overall score

These rankings measure diversity in school environments based on factors including the racial and ethnic diversity of students, faculty and academic staff, the percentage of Pell Grant recipients and the percentage of international students. 

Public universities’ ability to draw students from across diverse backgrounds, particularly socioeconomically diverse populations, is largely due to their accessibility and affordability to local and low-income students alike. 

“San José State is incredibly proud of its distinction as one of the most diverse public universities in the country,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

“But diversity, on its own, does not necessarily lead to the kind of transformative learning environment we aspire to. Our university’s shared values of inclusion, equity, fairness, and respect for one another—combined with the richness of ideas, creativity and approaches that diversity offers—define who we are at San José State.”

San José State is home to a uniquely diverse environment, in which 41 percent of its students are first-generation college students, 37 percent are Pell Grant qualified and approximately 3,000 are international students. 

In addition, 42 percent of students identify as Asian American, 28 percent identify as Chicanx and Latinx—making SJSU a Hispanic-serving institution—and 16 percent identify as white, 3.4 percent as Black and 3 percent as Indigenous. 

In total, 14 California universities are among the top 20 schools in this category and eight of them are in the California State University (CSU) system. Only one, La Sierra University, is a private institution.

Within a year ripe with uncertainty from the pandemic, intersected by last summer’s protests and debate for racial equality and justice, San José State has been reinforcing its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and addressing systemic racism

“This national recognition of being one of the most diverse campuses reinforces our focus addressing historical systemic inequities, so that the diversity that we are known for translates into equity, cultural and global engagement, and an atmosphere where our students, faculty and staff can thrive,” said Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong (Lau). 

“At the heart of this work is building our organizational capacity for change, opportunities to learn, and accountability that reflects our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion. We are thrilled to receive this ranking but know that there is responsibility for continued work.” 

Recent SJSU Success in National Rankings

In August, San José State was named the #1 Most Transformative College in the United States by Money magazine. In a region known for constant innovation—and as the second-largest employer in the 10th largest city in the nation—San José State continually transforms to meet the needs of its students, Silicon Valley and the world. 

The university also embodies the diversity of Santa Clara County and the region. 

“This ranking recognizes SJSU as an institution where first-generation college students from economically challenged communities gain the knowledge and skills to not only enter their careers achieving high salaries shortly after gradation but also having low debt—thereby transforming the lives of their families, communities and their workplaces,” said Wong (Lau). 

In addition, the school’s breadth of academic programs, research and applied learning, and its extraordinary legacy of education and opportunity, perfectly position San José State to examine essential questions facing our community and our world—while incorporating a forward-looking view to solve 21st century problems.

These two rankings reflect San José State’s ability to not only attract and prepare a diverse body of students for success in a global workforce but also to transform the world in which they live.


SJSU One of the Best in the West in Newest U.S. News Rankings

College of Engineering remains #3 in the nation among public universities, and university ranks top 3 in Social Mobility, top 10 in Undergraduate Teaching in the West

San José State University’s impressive showing in recent top colleges and universities rankings continued Monday with the release of the 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings.

Fifteen states make up the U.S. News and World Report’s West region. In regional rankings SJSU’s rankings shine in these key areas:

  • #3 in Top Performers in Social Mobility
  • #7 in Top Public Schools
  • #8 in Most Innovative School
  • #10 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #14 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #22 in Best Regional University

“As the reputation of San José State continues to grow nationally, students and families are coming to the realization that a Spartan education is one worth pursuing, even in—perhaps especially in—challenging times,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

“These latest rankings are a tribute to the exceptional faculty, staff and others here on our campus whose dedication and hard work are matched only by their strong commitment to learning and discovery across a wide span of disciplines,” said Papazian. “Their devotion to our students’ personal and academic growth is the engine that powers our university’s promise and mission.”

Nationally, SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering again ranked #3 among public universities — and #17 overall — in Best Undergraduate Engineering Program – Non-Doctorate.

“We are honored to be recognized again as one of the top engineering programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report,” Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Dean Sheryl Ehrman said. “As the largest supplier of engineering talent to Silicon Valley, we remain committed to deliver hands-on learning — safely, even during the pandemic — from experienced and engaged faculty.” 

U.S. News and World Report’s rankings focus on academic excellence, with institutions ranked on 17 measures of academic quality, including graduation and retention rates, social mobility and undergraduate academic reputation.

These rankings come on the heels of SJSU being named the #1 Most Transformative College in the nation by Money. The university also rose 80 spots from last year’s rankings to rank #24 on Money’s list of Best Colleges.

SJSU ranked #1 “Most Transformative College” in the nation by Money

SJSU graduates jumping in the air to celebrate their graduation

San José State University ranks No. 1 in Money’s Most Transformative Colleges list for 2020. Photo: David Schmitz

*Editor’s Note: This story was updated on October 30, 2020, to reflect SJSU”s #5 ranking in Best Colleges Where More Than Half of Applicants Get In.

San José State University is the most transformative college in the United States for 2020-2021, according to rankings announced by Money magazine.

“While likely not surprising to the countless students whose lives and families have been improved and changed forever by the academic and personal journey they have undertaken at San José State, this tremendous honor brings pride to every member of Spartan Nation,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian.

SJSU also was ranked number 24 on Money’s list of Best Colleges, ranked by value, up from its No. 104 ranking last year. Rankings are determined by more than 20,000 data points, including tuition fees, family borrowing, and career earnings. More than 700 universities are analyzed for Money’s rankings.

Other national rankings featuring SJSU were:

“As the nation continues to become more and more diverse, we know that education remains key to the American Dream and the social mobility of our residents,” said Papazian. “We see this every day at San José State, with stories of determination, aspiration and success, and could not be more delighted to be recognized by Money for our efforts to help our diverse students achieve a college degree and develop the tools they need for lifelong learning.”

Adding Value by Beating the Odds

“It’s not surprising that elite schools report high graduation rates or alumni success,” Money said. “What’s impressive is when students beat the odds by doing better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds. We call this a college’s value add.”

For the Most Transformative schools list, Money ranked colleges based on their exclusive value-added scores for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment.

Money estimated a graduation rate of 65 percent for SJSU, a rate that is 31 percent higher than at universities with similar student demographics.

Affordability in a high-cost region

The publication estimates 62 percent of San Jose State students receive grants, and the estimated price of attendance for students who receive aid is $15,200. The publication adds that 86 percent of student need is met.

“For the fall 2020 semester alone, San José State awarded aid to nearly 20,000 students, which is absolutely critical given the current budgetary climate,” said Papazian. “We will continue the important work to make college affordable and help alleviate the heavy financial burden felt by so many students and their families.”

SJSU Ranks #6 Among West’s Top Public Universities and #5 Overall for the Region in Social Mobility in U.S. News and World Report College Lists

Graduates of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering celebrate at Spring 2019 commencement. SJSU ranked among the top public engineering programs on U.S. News and World Report's 2020 college rankings. Photo by Josie Lepe

Graduates of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering celebrate at Spring 2019 commencement. SJSU ranked among the top public engineering programs on U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 college rankings. ( Photo: Josie Lepe, ’03 BFA Photography )

U.S. News and World Report released its 2020 college rankings today, with San Jose State University ranked #6 among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. New this year, the publication added a ranking for social mobility that compares how well universities and colleges do in graduating Pell grant-eligible students. SJSU ranked #3 among public universities in the West, and #5 overall for the region.

SJSU also performed well in a category called “Most Innovative Schools,” ranking #5 among public universities in the West. This ranking is based on nominations by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans of 15 colleges or universities within their Carnegie Classification that they believe are making the “most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.”

SJSU Ranked among the most diverse public universities in the West. Here students from the College of Humanities and the Arts celebrate Spring 2019 Commencements at the Event Center in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. ( Photo: Josie Lepe, '03 BFA Photography )

SJSU Ranked among the most diverse public universities in the West. Here students from the College of Humanities and the Arts celebrate Spring 2019 Commencements at the Event Center in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. ( Photo: Josie Lepe, ’03 BFA Photography )

“San Jose State’s high rankings in such a wide variety of categories reflect our diverse and welcoming nature, and our appeal to students from all walks of life,” said Mary A. Papazian, president of San Jose State. “People are learning what we have known all along. San Jose State offers a superb educational experience, talented staff and faculty, and unmatched opportunities that we are in a unique position to provide as Silicon Valley’s only public university.”

The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering held fast at #3 among best public engineering program for university’s offering master’s and bachelor’s. The college ranked #17 in the nation among all private, public and service academies offering master’s and bachelor’s.

“We are honored by this recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the top engineering programs in the country,” said Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Dean Sheryl Ehrman, upon learning of the rankings. “Our engineering students and faculty come from different backgrounds, life experiences and often non-traditional paths. Their exchange of ideas and perspectives, coupled with our location in the heart of Silicon Valley, makes this a very special place to study and launch their careers.”

Other notable rankings

  • #3 among universities in the public universities in the West for ethnic diversity up from #5 in the 2019 rankings (#11 nationwide)
  • #4 among the West’s top public universities for best value up from #7 last year
  • #13 best university or college in the nation for veterans, up from #18 last year