About the University of San Diego

Dedicated to the ongoing legacy of our founders, the University of San Diego is committed to confronting humanity's urgent challenges and empowering students to live fulfilling lives as responsible, global citizens.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019, the University of San Diego is dedicated to advancing academic excellence with a mission grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition. Students are encouraged to explore how faith and reason are compatible in education and to develop strong moral convictions.

The University of San Diego, like our city, took its name from San Diego de Alcalá, a Franciscan friar from Alcalá de Henares, a monastery near Madrid, Spain. The university’s 180-acre campus is called Alcalá Park, and the Spanish Renaissance architecture that characterizes Spain’s 500-year-old University of Alcalá serves as the inspiration for buildings on the university campus.

The university was founded under the leadership of Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill of the Society of the Sacred Heart and Bishop Charles Francis Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego.

"Beauty will attract them; goodness will lead them; but the truth will hold them," said Mother Hill. This has been interpreted to mean that beauty will initially attract people who come to the campus, and when they are here, they will encounter people in whom they find a certain goodness. This, in turn, will lead them to the truth, which will hold them. For Mother Rosalie Hill, the search for truth was the purpose of the university.

The University of San Diego began as separate colleges for men and women. The founding charter of the San Diego College for Women and San Diego University – comprising the San Diego College for Men and the School of Law – was granted in 1949. The College for Women began classes in 1952. The College for Men and the School of Law, the first professional division of the university, began classes in 1954. Other buildings were soon constructed, including the centerpiece of the university, the blue-domed Immaculata Church, which was consecrated in 1959. In 1972, the academic institutions merged into the University of San Diego.

Now governed by an independent Board of Trustees, the university remains dedicated to the values originally articulated by Mother Hill and Bishop Buddy. Students choose from dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in academic divisions including the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Law; the School of Leadership and Education Sciences; the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies; the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering; the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science; and Professional and Continuing Education.

In 2006, USD was reclassified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral/Research University. This reclassification recognizes the strides the university had made in graduate studies and research.

In September 2011, USD was named an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, recognizing the university’s commitment to finding sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing problems. The university is dedicated to preparing students to be able to make a positive difference in the world.

As a Roman Catholic institution, the university promotes a dialogue between faith and reason, and it pursues the cultivation of knowledge in a community that values intellectual freedom, holistic personal development and mutual respect. The university embraces the ecumenical and interfaith teaching of the Second Vatican Council and is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community of students, faculty and staff of every faith tradition, as well as those who identify with no particular faith tradition.

With more than 9,000 students from 85 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States.

At a Glance

Fall 2019 Number of Students

Undergraduates: 5,919
Graduate/Doctoral/paralegal: 2,450
Law: 812
Total enrollment: 9,181

Fall 2018 Instructional Faculty

476 Full-time faculty
522 Part-time faculty

2018-19 Degrees Awarded

Bachelor's: 1,369
Master's: 1063
Juris Doctor/Master of Laws: 233
Doctoral: 60
Total: 2,725