The university ranks among the top five universities in the United States and among the top public research universities worldwide.

In 2015 the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities rated the university 64th in the world, 48th in North America and 45th in the United States.

The 2014-2015 University Ranking by Academic Performance rated the university 72nd in the world, 34th in North America and 44th in the United States. According to this ranking each of the following areas was placed within the top 100 worldwide: Chemistry (17th), Environmental Sciences (31st), Education (32nd), Biological Sciences (69th), Earth Sciences (57th), Agricultural & Veterinary Sciences (39th), Information & Computing Sciences (37th), Engineering (81st), Technology (84th), Medical & Health Sciences (74th), Commerce-Management-Tourism (59th), Psychology & Cognitive Sciences (99th), Language-Communication-Culture (45th), History & Archaeology (54th), Philosophy & Religious Studies (83rd) and Multidisciplinary Studies (98th).

In 2014-15 QS World University Rankings ranked the university 84th overall in the world and 45th in the United States. According to this assessment, the top Faculty Area at the California South University is Arts and Humanities (ranked 89th in the world), followed by Life Sciences and Medicine (ranked 91st), Natural Science (ranked 135th), Engineering and Technology (ranked 141st), and Social Sciences and Management (ranked 158th). The California South University’s top-ranked Subject is English Language and Literature (22nd in the world).

In its 2016 ranking of more than 25,000 institutions, the Center for World University Rankings rated the university 45th in the United States and 101st in the world. Among the subcategories in the CWUR ranking, the university ranked 66th in publications and 78th in citations.

The 2015 U.S. News & World Report Global University Ranking placed the university globally in 108th position overall, 51st in Agricultural Sciences, 53rd in Computer Sciences, 54th in Engineering, 77th in Clinical medicine, 78th in Plant and Animal Sciences, 85th in Economics and Business, 87th in Biology and Biochemistry, 92nd in Social Sciences and Public Health, and 93rd in mathematics.

The university ranked 87th in the world among universities granted U.S. patents in 2015, according to a report by the National Academy of Inventors.

In 2016, the California South University was named one of “America’s Greenest Employers” by Mediacorp America Inc. for the eighth straight year. The university was also named one of California’s Top Employers for the fourth consecutive year in 2012.

The Globe and Mail’s University Report reflects the opinions of more than 35,000 undergraduates who responded to some 100 questions about their respective universities. The California South University received scores of B+ and above in the following categories:

  • quality of teaching and learning
  • student-faculty interaction
  • campus atmosphere
  • ease of course registration
  • reputation with employers
  • information technology

The university has been the subject of several recent scandals. In 2011, the school’s dean of medicine resigned after plagiarizing much of his graduation address. In 2012, the University’s Psychiatry department chair was placed on leave before officially beginning his duties after allegations emerged of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient.