Imagine, Dream, and Consider Humboldt as a Polytechnic

Humboldt State explores becoming state’s third polytechnic university

A 21st-century polytechnic would incorporate cutting-edge STEM and applied sciences, robust liberal arts, Indigenous perspectives, and a focus on sustainability and social justice.

IN A NOD to Humboldt State University’s programs, location, and commitment to environmental and social responsibility, the California State University has asked HSU to undertake a self-study toward becoming designated as a polytechnic.

The request offers the momentous possibility of HSU becoming one of just three polytechnic universities in the state and the only one in Northern California. It would better position HSU to meet specific workforce needs on the North Coast and statewide, and it would significantly raise HSU’s profile among prospective students and grant-funding organizations.

HSU President Tom Jackson, Jr. shared his enthusiasm for the request in a message to campus, calling it an “incredible, transformative opportunity.”

“This is our moment. First, let’s allow ourselves to imagine, dream, and consider Humboldt as a polytechnic,” Jackson wrote. “What are the possibilities for this region and future students? What are the possibilities for new grants and research?”

Polytechnic institutions traditionally feature hands-on and career-focused programs, an emphasis in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and applied science programs like health and agriculture, along with a strong liberal arts foundation.

In the requested self-study, to be completed by Spring 2021, HSU will have a chance to build upon the collective vision from its academic and strategic planning to reimagine the polytechnic for the 21st century. It could incorporate Humboldt State’s broad expertise in sustainability, along with areas like traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), renewable technologies, equitable and ethical practices, tribal and rural community development, and more.

In many ways, HSU is the obvious candidate to become the state’s third polytechnic. HSU has among the highest percentage of courses with a hands-on component in the CSU, and it has the third highest percentage of students in natural resources and STEM programs. HSU also has the CSU’s highest percentage of STEM graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees, ranking eighth nationally among 660 master’s level institutions.

Working groups have been formed to explore academic programs, naming options, the role of the liberal arts, business plans, facilities, external partnerships, inclusive student success, and more.

“Like many universities in the country, Humboldt State University is facing unique challenges due to COVID and changing conditions for higher education,” says Congressman Jared Huffman (California District 2). “In California, we are lucky to have a strong model of polytechnic universities that could bring new opportunities to HSU and the students it serves while continuing to offer its current curriculum. Becoming the third polytechnic university in the CSU system could be an exciting way forward for HSU, its students, and the North Coast community.”

Learn more by visiting