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About Us

Extended Learning (EL) at California State University San Marcos serves as the academic outreach arm of the university.  As a unit within the Academic Affairs Division, EL is North San Diego County’s premier provider of continuing education and training programs.  Cal State San Marcos, and—by extension, EL—is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Mission Statement

Extended Learning is the premier provider of continuing education, training, and lifelong learning programs for individuals in North County San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties and beyond. It will use its resources and capabilities in ways that demonstrate imagination, creativity, and entrepreneurship in meeting the unique educational needs of individuals, and will do so in ways that are ethical, prudent, customer-focused, and academically sound. Increasingly, Extended Learning will provide a vital link between the University and members of the community, making a positive difference for both through its commitment to lifelong learning.

Extended Learning programs are built to respond to the educational needs of the multitude of individuals and organizations in North County San Diego and beyond.  These include individuals interested in expanding their knowledge in a certain field, or exploring options in other careers.  EL audiences also include employers in business, industry, nonprofit, government agencies, education, health organizations and military establishments interested in custom-designed programs for their workforce. In some instances, programs are designed and delivered on a contract basis for special audiences in other countries.

In an effort to achieve its mission, Extended Learning builds its programs, activities, and services upon six fundamental objectives:

  • Provide continuing education and training opportunities for professional groups and key industry clusters in the region
  • Provide opportunities for members of the general community to pursue continuing education and lifelong learning goals
  • Assist the University in meeting its enrollment, service, and access goals through creative, flexible, and responsive self-support academic programming
  • Serve as a conduit to the University for degree-bound students who have not achieved matriculation status
  • Encourage and support University faculty to develop new and innovative courses and programs
  • Build partnerships with various communities throughout the region in order to identify and solve mutual concerns


As an integral part of the institution’s Academic and Student Affairs division, its purpose is to extend the academic and instructional resources of the institution to the region it serves and expand access for audiences that the University may not be able to serve through traditional channels. Extended Learning develops and delivers high quality educational programs—both noncredit and credit—which are designed to respond to the educational needs of the diverse populations in the region and assist these constituent groups in achieving their lifelong learning goals.

Currently, EL provides a variety of pre-designed continuing education programs in the areas of supervision, leadership, project management, human resources management, education, nursing , biotechnology, social and behavioral sciences, technology and various other professional enrichment programs, including a program for curious learners over 50 years of age.  EL also serves as a vehicle to offer any number of the university’s degree-level courses via the Open University or as “special session” programs.  Beyond these, EL has the capacity to:

  • Develop, conduct, and evaluate educational needs assessments
  • Develop individual courses or full certificates of completion or competency (credit and noncredit) in a defined area
  • Provide access to university courses for non-matriculated students
  • Assist the university in achieving its academic outreach goals through the development and delivery of special session degree programs
  • Custom-develop courses and programs for employers in any number of specialized areas, such as:
  • Create programs that are client-driven, flexible, and built wholly in partnership with the organization
  • Develop programs in online or web-based formats
  • Deliver programs via compressed video and network multiple audiences at various locations
  • Deliver programs on-site and at times and in formats convenient to the participants
  • Assist in the development of grants, contracts and special projects
  • Where applicable, provide university credit for community-based programs, especially teacher in-service programs

EL functions as a financially self-supporting unit within the university; that is, it receives no funding from the State of California and relies solely on revenues generated from its various programs to operate.  As such, it is a highly entrepreneurial organization that understands how to be immediately responsive to identified training and education needs. Because EL is a self-supporting operation, all programs are developed on a course-recovery basis, including both the direct and indirect costs of creating and implementing the program.  Programs are budgeted on a case-by-case basis depending upon their specific requirements.  In all cases, EL works with the client to ensure that a course or program is as cost-effective as possible for the client.

Core Values

Extended Learning has at its core the same values that guide the University:

  • Intellectual Engagement: learning, teaching, discovery, and application of knowledge
  • Community: shared commitments to service, teamwork, and partnership
  • Integrity: respect, honesty, trust, fairness, academic freedom and responsibility
  • Innovation: creativity, openness to change, flexibility, responsiveness, and future focus
  • Inclusiveness: individual and cultural diversity, and multiple perspectives