What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
 Cal Poly
Cal Poly
 Cal Poly Pomona
Cal Poly Pomona
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Cal Poly Pomona vs. Cal Poly: Which College is Right for You?

What’s Covered:


Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly in San Obispo are two of three polytechnic universities in the California State University system, and each offers an education centered around the mantra “Learn by Doing”. This philosophy carries through both of the schools, however, there is an abundance of differences between not just the two schools, but the experiences of students at each of them. In this post, learn more about how Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly measure up against one another.


Learn more about Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly and see your chances of acceptance.


Cal Poly Pomona vs. Cal Poly: A Quick Overview



Cal Poly Pomona

Cal Poly


Pomona, CA

San Luis Obispo County, CA

Campus Type



Undergraduate Enrollment



Acceptance Rate



U.S. News Ranking

14 (Regional Universities in the West)

2 (Regional Universities in the West)

Middle 50% SAT



Middle 50% ACT



Sticker Price

$24,009 (in-state)

$35,889 (out-of-state)

$26,527 (in-state)

$44,437 (out-of-state)

Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need?




Cal Poly Pomona vs. Cal Poly: A Closer Look


Location and Weather


While both schools are in California, there are major differences between their campuses in terms of culture and climate. Cal Poly Pomona is located in Pomona, CA, which is just 30 miles east of Los Angeles. While the campus itself is isolated, Pomona has a population of nearly 150,000 people and is located right near campus. And being less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, students who attend Cal Poly Pomona will have access to a major metropolitan hub with nearly endless activities to do and sites to see. 


That being said, Cal Poly Pomona’s campus and surrounding area could be considered lacking in terms of student life, and the school is primarily known as a “commuter school”, signifying most students will either commute to and from class during the day or just go home on the weekends.


Cal Poly, on the other hand, is located far from any major city, basically being perfectly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s central coast. That being said, the school is only 10 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean and is located in the sprawling and lively town of San Luis Obispo. 


Cal Poly has an all-around great reputation, between its natural beauty, restaurant scene, and small-town feel of just under 50,000, with many of those being students, it’s no surprise that the city has been nicknamed the “happiest place on Earth” as well as being called “America’s Happiest City” on the Oprah Show. It’s far more regarded as a college town, being ranked frequently on Forbes’ best college cities and towns list


Students who attend Pomona can also expect a much drier climate year-round, with summers inching close to 100 degrees, while Cal Poly’s coastal location keeps it more temperate and generally mild throughout the year.




Cal Poly Pomona is home to 26,974 undergraduate students and 2,130 graduate students, while Cal Poly  has 21,093 undergraduates and just under 1,000 graduate students, meaning both schools are primarily undergraduate-focused. 


Similarly, the schools have low-ranking student-to-faculty ratios, with Pomona having a 26:1 ratio and Cal Poly having only a marginally better ratio of 19:1.




Both Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly are polytechnic schools, meaning that there is a greater focus on applied learning, or learning that is far more hands-on focused, than traditional colleges. As such, there are a lot of similarities and overlap between the two schools.


Cal Poly Pomona is home to 9 schools and colleges:


  • Don B. Huntley College of Architecture
  • College of Business Administration
  • College of Education and Integrative Studies
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Environmental Design
  • Collins College of Hospitality Management
  • College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • College of Science
  • College of Professional and Global Education


Of these schools, Cal Poly Pomona’s undergraduate program for Engineering is ranked #10 in the country, the Collins College of Hospitality Management is ranked at #5 in the world, among other strong programs in terms of Environmental Design and Architecture. Additionally, the school has several unique programs that often overlap between multiple schools and colleges, totaling into around 80 different degree programs. For instance, the landscape architecture program was ranked at #11 in the nation. 


Cal Poly has many of the same programs as Cal Poly Pomona, and is split into six colleges:


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


While Cal Poly does not offer as many major programs, coming out to about 60, Cal Poly’s programs are known to be more academically prestigious and rigorous. For instance, Cal Poly’s Engineering program ranks at #6 in the country, 4 places higher than Cal Poly Pomona, and similar accolades could be thrown towards the school’s highly ranked Agricultural Science and Architecture programs.


At both schools, students are encouraged to declare their major as soon as possible, and the process to switch majors can be somewhat difficult. However, advising is very much integrated into each student’s curriculum, and students will be able to meet with their advisor to help facilitate any changes to their education.


Additionally, study abroad is far more popular at Cal Poly than Cal Poly Pomona, with 23% of students opting to study abroad at Cal Poly across 500 programs in 75 countries, compared to only 1% of students at Cal Poly Pomona choosing to study abroad at some point during their time.




The housing experiences at the two schools are vastly different. Cal Poly Pomona is largely referred to as a “commuter school”, meaning most students choose to drive to and from home every day rather than choosing to live on or around campus. As such, only 3,500 students live on-campus, in one of the school’s dorms, residential suites, or university apartments, totaling to less than 25% of first-year students who live on-campus.


Cal Poly, however, requires all of its first-year students to live on-campus, in the hope that it will instill a greater sense of community and make students feel closer to their campus. Some programs even require their students to spend an additional year living on-campus. All in all, nearly 8,000 students live on-campus in one of 14 residence halls.


Financial Aid


CPP and Cal Poly have similar sticker prices – Cal Poly Pomona is $24,009 for in-state students and $35,889 for out-of-state students, while Cal Poly is $26,527 for in-state students and $44,437 for out-of-state students. That being said, Cal Poly Pomona offers a wide variety of financial aid for its students, with 75% of its total students receiving some form of financial aid and 43% of students being Pell Grant recipients. All in all, the net cost of Cal Poly Pomona ends up around $14,457 after financial aid is taken into consideration.


Cal Poly does end up being a fair bit more expensive, and the school tends to give out a considerably less amount of financial aid to its students. Only about 34% of students receive financial aid in the form of loans or scholarships, and the net cost winds up at around $20,491. While Cal Poly is need-blind, meaning it does not factor in cost into its admissions, it does not guarantee to meet 100% of a student’s need.


Sports and Extracurriculars


Overall, the athletics scene at each Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly are vastly different. Cal Poly Pomona is classified as a Division II college, while Cal Poly is a Division I school that competes in the Big West conference in most major sports, with a notable exception being football, in which the school competes in the Big Sky Conference. That doesn’t mean that athletics are not a part of Cal Poly Pomona’s culture, in fact, they play an active role – Cal Poly Pomona is currently the most successful team in their conference and have 14 NCAA Division II Championships under their belt. That being said, Cal Poly’s program generally has more resources and notoriety.


Both schools, however, have an exuberant variety of extracurricular options outside of athletics. Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly each have hundreds of clubs to choose from, with many popular student organizations taking advantage of California’s weather and pursuing adventure in the outdoors. Between the two, however, the two jointly host an organization known as the Cal Poly Rose Float, which accepts submissions to design a joint float for the Rose Bowl. The effort has been a tradition since 1949, and the two schools continue to gain recognition for their work whilst the program continues to serve as a unique and fruitful learning experience for all involved.


But if float building and the outdoors aren’t your thing, there are so many other organizations to find community in. Greek life is a part of both schools, albeit to a higher degree at Cal Poly, where over 4000 students make up 38 Greek organizations, compared to Cal Poly Pomona’s 12 social fraternities and sororities.


Culture and Diversity


  • What percentage of students identify as people of color? If the school lists demographic percentages, list them in a table, like below:


Cal Poly Pomona



Percentage of Student Body

African American


Asian American


Hispanic or Latino


Native American


Native Hawaiian



Cal Poly



Percentage of Student Body

African American


Asian American


Hispanic or Latino


Native American


Native Hawaiian



Both Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly are generally LGBTQ-friendly, and both have 3.5 out of 5 ratings according to Campus Pride Index, a benchmarking tool for a school’s commitment to LGBTQ students, faculty and community.


How to Decide Between Cal Poly Pomona vs. Cal Poly


Cal Poly Pomona is especially strong for students who:


  • Want a strong education that they can afford, Forbes ranks Cal Poly Pomona as #59 out of 300 schools that made the list of America’s Best Value Colleges while Money Magazine ranked the school as #28 in its Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value 2022 list.
  • Want to be close to a major city, in this case, the sprawling city of Los Angeles and all it has to offer.
  • Want to commute to class from home, either to save money on housing or to have a full college experience not far away from home.
  • Are interested in unique programs such as Hospitality, Environmental Studies, Architecture, and more, and hope to learn in a hands-on environment.


Cal Poly is especially strong for students who:


  • Want a college experience with a true college town, the San Luis Obispo area has restaurants, shops, and activities galore all while maintaining a tight sense of community that students love to call home.
  • Hope to study abroad at some point over the course of their education, with 23% of students choosing to do so.
  • Care about Division I athletics and seeing your school compete in the national spotlight. Cal Poly is represented by the Mustangs each year in the NCAA.
  • Hope to live on campus. All first-year students at Cal Poly are required to live in dorms in order to foster community.
  • Want a vibrant area around your school. On top of just the surrounding college town, the region surrounding San Luis Obispo is an outdoor-lover’s paradise. Farmer’s markets, hikes, vineyards, and just 10 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, Cal Poly students reap all the benefits of California weather.


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


Which ever of these two California State Universities you prefer, understanding your odds of admission at these schools is valuable when building a list of prospective colleges. It’s here CollegeVine can help—our free chancing calculator uses a number of factors (such as grades, test scores, and extracurriculars) to estimate your odds of acceptance into hundreds of schools across the country, including Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly. It can also provide tips to improve your profile, which is particularly useful if you’re locked into attending a specific school.


Blog Writer