At UC San Diego Extension, we believe great social and economic prosperity comes from integrating the collective knowledge of the university, community leaders and professionals. Extension strives to combine local impact with national reputation and global reach.
UC San Diego Extension is helping redefine the role of research universities in the 21st century through a wide range of education experiences and civic engagement.
UC San Diego Extension is recognized nationally and internationally for linking the community to expert professionals and the knowledge of the university. We're here to help you learn forward.
UC San Diego Extension has a deep commitment to helping ensure the region’s sustainable prosperity, quality of life and global reputation by partnering with businesses, civic and nonprofit leaders.
UC San Diego Extension harnesses the power of education to transform lives. Our unique educational formats support lifelong learning and meet the evolving needs of our students, businesses and the larger community.
The mission of UC San Diego Extension is to serve the critical lifelong learning and skill development needs of individuals, organizations and the community. We do this through continuing education, certificate and degree-related programs; community initiatives that support economic and social development; and a wide array of public-service lectures, forums and special events delivered both on and off campus and through print, internet, radio and television.
In 1966, in a small wooden building situated among a grove of eucalyptus trees, UC San Diego Extension first opened its doors. Under the guidance of Dr. Martin Chamberlain, a former Peace Corps director in Africa, Extension quickly established a reputation for being a reliable source of knowledge taught by national experts. The first educational programs reflected the social turbulence of the times, with courses in radical rhetoric and international affairs. Other offerings included a statewide lecture series on integrated circuits for engineers and performances by prominent jazz musicians like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.
With an entrepreneurial mindset, Chamberlain's staff assured Extension's viability by providing instruction focused on personal growth and career advancement, with courses in accounting, real estate, nursing and women’s studies. Chamberlain also helped create a lecture series presented by Latino and African American community leaders and launched an English as a Second Language program for international students. “What makes a good administration is looking at what’s going on in society and determining how you can contribute to that,” Chamberlain said.
Interpreting the community's needs was, and is today, key to Extension's programming. Beginning in the 1970's, Extension recruited a diverse pool of local leaders from companies and organizations to sit on an advisory committee, and today Extension's programs are developed collaboratively with multiple advisory committees. To extend the intellectual reach of UC San Diego into the community, Extension recruited professors to offer lectures on the university's cutting-edge research. Extension’s philosophy continues to make UC San Diego's groundbreaking work accessible to the public through outlets such as UCSD-TV and UCTV.
Chamberlain said Extension’s programs today are just as relevant and responsive to the community as they were in the 1960s.
“San Diego has always voiced a desire to pursue education at every stage of life,” he said. “The trick is to try and anticipate what’s going to be needed six months from now.”
One person who has been able to tap into early trends is Mary Walshok, Ph.D., who took over as the dean of UC San Diego Extension in 1981. Through her deep connections to the San Diego community and across the globe, Walshok helped position Extension as a regional, national and global model of university outreach for research, education and assistance for growing companies.
During the 1980s, Extension responded to the needs of the private sector by developing some of the nation’s earliest interdisciplinary education and assistance programs focusing on high-tech and science based industries.
“Today, Extension-originated programs such as Executive Perspective for Scientists and Engineers and CONNECT are helping citizens understand the trends that are changing our world, assisting start-up enterprises and enhancing skill development in critical professions,” Walshok said.
The focus on business innovation was balanced with vibrant intellectual and cultural programs. Inquisitive minds were treated to lectures on energy issues and child development, traditional crafts of the Middle East and study abroad tours.
In the 1990s, Extension launched three pivotal offerings focused on regional needs: online classes, the San Diego Dialogue and UCSD-TV. Identifying a need for on-demand learning, Extension was one of the first providers of online courses, and today offers more than 60 on topics ranging from pharmaceutical sciences to engineering to healthcare. San Diego Dialogue was founded as a public policy research center and has conducted research on long-term challenges and opportunities facing the bi-national region, as well as helping to implement viable solutions to improve quality of life. Helping to connect campus and community, UCSD-TV offers more than two hundred original programs each year, reaching 2 million viewers locally and 15 million homes nationwide through UCTV. The station has been recognized with multiple awards including seven Emmys.
The new millennium saw Extension address the growing needs of San Diego’s health care and biotech sectors by offering instruction in clinical trials design and management, regulatory affairs, medicinal chemistry and drug discovery and development.
Today, Extension's presence is felt throughout the region and around the world. Core offerings have evolved to fulfill a range of needs, including education and professional training, civic and cultural enrichment and regional economic solutions.
UC San Diego is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). UC San Diego Extension—like all other UC San Diego schools, colleges and departments—is accredited by WASC through the University. All courses and certificate programs offered by UC San Diego Extension have been developed and administered in accordance with Extension policy and the regulations of the Academic Senate of the University of California.
Mary Walshok is a thought leader and subject-matter expert on aligning workforce development with regional economic growth. She has authored more than 100 articles, reports, and book chapters on regional innovation, workforce development and the role of research institutions in regional economies. As an industrial social scientist focused on the dynamics of regional economic development and transformation, Walshok has studied various communities across America. She has evaluated 13 WIRED regions funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, studied three innovative regions for a National Science Foundation-funded project and assessed one region’s efforts to grow an industry for a Lilly Foundation-funded endeavor. As head of the continuing education and public programs arm of UC San Diego since 1981, Walshok oversees programs that educate more than 61,000 enrollees annually, which translates to more than 25,000 students in over 4,400 courses. Walshok has developed outreach efforts to help accelerate the San Diego region’s economic vitality, grow the region's globally competitive talent pool and help college graduates transition to high-demand employment areas. She also helps provide access to a vast array of regional intellectual resources through the award-winning UCSD-TV and nationwide through UCTV. During her tenure, Walshok has played an active role in helping the University expand its local impact, national reputation and global reach. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Kellogg Foundation’s Leadership Fellowship and was inducted into Sweden’s Royal Order of the Polar Star. She currently serves on the boards of San Diego CONNECT (which she helped found in 1985), the La Jolla Playhouse, the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science, the International Community Foundation and the Girard Foundation. A native of Palm Springs, California, she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Pomona College in 1964, her master’s degree in sociology in 1966 and her Ph.D. in sociology in 1969 from Indiana University. She has been a visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics for many years and in 2004 held an international appointment in the department of continuing education at Oxford University in England.
UC San Diego Extension partners with businesses, civic leaders, nonprofits and UC San Diego to provide a range of public programs that enhance quality of life.