About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is on the horizon — on the edge of everything. It’s on the edge of an international border, on the edge of the Pacific, on the edge of innovation, breakthroughs and discovery.

USD is on the edge of changing the world.

For more than seven decades, the University of San Diego has been 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 the city, took its name from San Diego de Alcalá. The Franciscan friar was an infirmarian at the Franciscan Monastery at Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid. He also was invited to preach at, and eventually took up residence at, the nearby University of Alcalá de Henares.

Indeed, it was that university, which was established in 1499 and is now more than 500 years old, that inspired Alcalá Park, the name given to USD’s 182-acre campus, as well as the Spanish Renaissance architecture for which our campus has become so well known.

The University of San Diego 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. The University of San Diego began as separate colleges for men and women. The founding charters of the San Diego College for Women and San Diego University — comprised of the San Diego College for Men and the School of Law — were 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. In 1972, the academic institutions merged to become what is now known as 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 Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science; the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies; the Knauss School of Business; the School of Law; the School of Leadership and Education Sciences; the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering; and the division of 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 became the first institution on the West Coast to be 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 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.