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Difference Between UC and CSU


The difference between UC and CSU goes beyond price. When choosing a university, it is a comparative factor. UC is significantly more expensive than CSU, because CSU is a state school. State schools are able to keep their costs lower, largely due to state funding. Each school system is based on different strengths and weaknesses, especially when you consider the major you’re planning to study.

Differences Between Undergraduate and Postgraduate-1

UC systems are known for their approach in developing students that have strengths in research, theory and studies, while the CSU system is more developed for practical applications and non-research oriented career candidates. This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, but it does indicate that you should choose according to your post graduate plans.

CSU schools tend to focus on maintaining small, direct class sizes, while UC systems are based on a self-motivated style of learning. The reputations of UC schools are higher than those of the CSU system, but this is a skewed understanding. They are not necessarily schools that will provide the appropriate education for those that wish to enter the work force in their chosen field, unless they are interested in research. This is why the reputation needs to be considered as an opinion, and not a fact.

UC is often more appropriate for those seeking postgraduate educational options, rather than for those who are going straight from AP classes in high school to their college education. While CSU can offer very good postgraduate options, there are also more options for freshmen coming directly from high school.

UC credits do not transfer easily to CSU schools. Likewise, CSU credits are not likely to be easily transferred to UC schools.

When attending CSU classes, you are more likely to have direct educational benefits because the class is taken by a professor. UC classes are likely to have numerous assistants, and even graduate students, doing a percentage of the instruction. This can be problematic for some students, while other students don’t find it a challenge, as the classes are still overseen by the professor of the course.


1. UC schools are more expensive.

2. UC offers research oriented education.

3. CSU offers education appropriate for professional positions that are not research oriented.

4. CSU leans toward developing smaller class sizes.

5. UC schools carry a better reputation.

6. UC schools are a good choice for postgraduate studies. Undergraduate options are research orientated.

7. Credits are not easily transferred between the two systems.

8. CSU classes are more likely to be taught by a single, consistent professor.

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  1. “When attending CSU classes, you are more likely to have direct educational benefits because the class is taken by a professor. UC classes are likely to have numerous assistants, and even graduate students, doing a percentage of the instruction. ”

    I think that is misleading. It’s actually the other way around. I went to both a UC and Cal state. I graduated from a UC and quit Cal State. I didn’t get quality education at the Cal state because ALL my classes with the exception of 1 were taught by graduate students. All my classes at the UC were taught by professors with Phds. The labs were taught by graduate students. My friend had a similar experience.

  2. This is totally not true, both systems could be good according to the student’s needs and goals. UC offers lots of degrees that can be terminal and can provide students opportunities to graduate and get a job. Uc has lots of opportunities for internships. Also some CSU offer BA that can be good for graduate schools.
    UC is more expensive, but it also provides much better financial aid, so if students qualify, they will get a much better deal at a UC.
    CSU and UC credits do transfer to each other system.
    Most UC classes are taught by professors.

  3. I disagree with this description of the two systems. From my experience, courses at the UC school I attended (UCLA) were all taught by highly qualified Professors with Ph.Ds from prestigious universities. The “discussion” sessions were facilitated by a graduate student. I did my teaching credential courses at a CS school and can say the differences in the quality of Professors, students, and administration are hands-down in favor of the UC system.

  4. of course, the UCs are also state schools that receive considerable state funding.

  5. UCs most teachings were done by GA, not CSU is true fact.

    Another way to understand is UC more like = WalMart; whereas, CSU is Target.

    WalMart More Selections (Majors, even sub-majors within a field)
    CSU is plain just the simple Majors, but offer great instructions by professors, better customer services just like as Target.

    • I graduated from UCLA and did my teaching credential work at CSU, and would strongly disagree with your assessment.
      First of all, your analogy using Walmart and Target is not a very good one, but I will make reference to it in saying that “Customer Service” at CSU is NO WHERE close to being better. My time at a CSU was nighmarish, to say the least. I felt like I was in a factory and was just another number. When I finally received my credential, I didn’t feel like I was educated, but rather that I had survived a process.
      When you graduate from a UC school, there is no doubt you have been educated.

  6. This article must me the most blatantly false work I have ever seen in comparing the new.

    1. UC and CSU’s are BOTH state funded schools.

    2. Virtually all credits from the UC transfer to the CSU but not Vice Versa

    3. CSU and UC both offer professional degrees, UCSF ONLY offers professional degrees,

    you my sir are a failure

  7. I am a High School Junior who is currently in AP Courses. I currently have a 4.33 GPA and just finished my second semester finals. How do you recruited by a UC or CSU. I want Vanderbilt or Pepperdine, but I want to see if the UC or CSU system would offer me an education. Thank you for you time.

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