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California State University, San Marcos

Program Overview 

Location: San Marcos, California
Culture: Supportive, research-driven
Neighborhood: Scenic, outdoorsy
Housing: On-campus apartment
English level: Intermediate - advanced 

Founded in 1989, California State University San Marcos (Cal State San Marcos) opened its doors to students in fall 1990 and became the 20th campus to be established in the 23-campus CSU system. Today, more than 14,000 students attend the 304-acre campus, which is located in the foothills of northern San Diego County, just a short distance from some of Southern California's best beaches and an hour from the U.S. - Mexico border. 

Cal State San Marcos is a dynamic university with a global vision. A distinctive feature of the university curriculum is its emphasis on hands-on experiences. The campus's modern, state-of-the-art facilities provide SAF Scholars access to science and computer labs featuring some of the finest equipment available today. 

Cal State San Marcos prepares students to become life-long learners and productive contributors to a global society by helping them acquire knowledge and develop skills and values. Cal State San Marcos is one of 34 public universities in the U.S. recognized by the Carnegie Foundation in the Community Engagement Classification for both Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships. 

Student Profile

Study at Cal State San Marcos program is an ideal fit for SAF Scholars who want to enroll in university classes for credit that can transfer to the students' home universities. Personalized one-on-one meetings each week with academic tutors and cultural liaisons allows for personalized attention, a valuable component of the program for international students. 

Other Programs at University

Language and Progression are available

Other Comparable Programs

University of California - Riverside ; San Francisco State University

Program Details

Program Dates by Term Availability

Fall Semester (August - December)
Spring Semester (January - May)

Progression or Concurrent Notes


Program Strengths

The hands-on student support services at Cal State San Marcos' ALCI office include the university writing center, mathematics lab, faculty and volunteer mentoring program, peer monitoring and study groups, all available to SAF Scholars. The Global Connections student organization provides a haven for international students who need guidance in their studies.

# of Credits (per term)

12 units per term

Course Registration Policies & Procedures

SAF Scholars will register for classes via a process called 'course crashing' in which they will attend classes the first week and register for the class at the class itself.

Course/Departmental Restrictions

Some courses and departments have limited access. Therefore, SAF Scholars cannot enroll in the following courses prior to their arrival. However, if they choose, they can attend the course on their first day, check to see if there are any open seats, and then obtain permission from the professor.

  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • International Business 
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Management and Business Administration

Graduate Courses

Available for qualified scholars


Housing Type

On-campus apartment; Cal State San Marcos offers a unique apartment community to SAF Scholars at The QUAD. The fully-furnished, modern apartments offer single-level floor plans with private and shared room options. Amenities at each complex include a multi-system game cave, recreation areas, a fitness center and a resort-style pool.



Type of Room

Double/triple/quad bedrooms available

Student Life

Co-/Extra-Curricular Opportunities or Programs

Students at CSU San Marcos can choose from more than 100 student organizations, Greek affiliations, and a variety of multicultural programs. Students have the opportunity to enjoy leadership development, build a support network, and plan activities. The diverse array of student organizations offers students numerous opportunities to enhance their academic and social life on campus. Every student who is motivated can take a leadership role in a student organization. 

Life on Campus

With more than a million square feet of facilities, all of which have been constructed since 1990, Cal State San Marcos offers the best amenities for life on campus. Students enjoy a fitness center (The Clarke), including indoor/outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, running track, soccer field and a wide variety of rental sports equipment. A new Sports Center is home to Division II NCAA basketball and volleyball teams. Aside from housing, participating SAF Scholars would enjoy a fast developing city life off campus. Students will find affordable restaurants adjacent to campus, and will have the opportunity to get active by hiking local trails and bowling across the street at the Urge Public House pub. 

Last Updated: 1/18/19