Who are we?

History of the College

College of the Desert is located on what was once a vineyard and date palm grove until the land was purchased by the newly-formed college district in 1958. A $3.5 million bond measure was passed in 1959 which funded the construction of the nine original buildings on 160 acres at the corner of Monterey Avenue and Avenue 44 (now Fred Waring Drive) in Palm Desert. College of the Desert got its name from a Palm Springs teenager, Douglas Crocker, who won a contest sponsored by the district and local newspapers. The first students arrived in the fall of 1962.

This two-year public college now serves a community of over 400,000 residents in nine local cities and the students of the Palm Springs, Desert Sands and Coachella Valley Unified School Districts. College of the Desert offers certificates and two-year Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.

In 2004, the voters in the Desert Community College District overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to enable the College to renovate its 40-year-old Palm Desert campus and build campuses in Palm Springs, Mecca-Thermal and Indio. The bond issue totaled $346.5 million and the College is nearing completion of a comprehensive renovation, as well as the construction of new buildings and campuses to better meet student needs.

Many of the college’s programs have achieved regional and national acclaim, including the Child Development Center, Alternative Energy, Automotive, Performing Arts, Nursing, and Business and Retail Management. College of the Desert alumni are integral to the success of our community. They work in our hospitality industry. They are our nurses and our public safety officers. They teach our young children. They manage local cities and agencies and are our elected officials. They are our small business entrepreneurs and they work in the newest green energy companies. 

The College currently enrolls over 14,000 students and with a student body that is over 65% Hispanic, COD is a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).


College of the Desert provides excellent educational programs and services that contribute to the success of our students and the vitality of the communities we serve.


College of the Desert will be a center of collaborations and innovations for educational enrichment, economic development and quality of life in the Coachella Valley and surrounding communities.


College of the Desert is a learning-centered institution that values:

Student Success:  Student learning and growth are central to all we do.

Diversity & Inclusion:  We embrace the diversity of our community and uphold the dignity and worth of the individual.

Integrity:  We are open, honest and reliable.

Respect:  We value the thoughts, words, and actions of our students, colleagues, and community.

Dedication:  Our faculty, staff and administrators are responsible leaders who effectively implement programs in support of student learning and efficient college operations.

Professionalism:  We are current in our areas of expertise and embody high standards of conduct.

Communication:  We communicate with authenticity in pursuit of broad understanding, effective dialog, and inclusive decision-making.

Lifelong Learning:  Learning is essential to living, for our students, faculty and staff.

Institutional Outcomes

Critical Thinking and Communication

  1. Apply principles of logic to problem solve and reason with a fair and open mind.  
  2. Compose and present structured texts in a variety of oral and written forms according to purpose, audience, and occasion with implementation of thesis, supporting details and idea development.
  3. Apply standard conventions in grammar, mechanics, usage and punctuation.
  4. Appreciate diversity as it is expressed in multiple disciplines and across various cultures through reading, speaking and writing.
  5. Conduct research, gather and evaluate appropriate information, organize evidence into oral and written presentation, using proper MLA, APA, and other discipline-specific formats to cite sources.
  6. Summarize, analyze, and interpret oral and written texts, with the ability to identify assumptions and differentiate fact from opinion.
  7. Utilizing various communication modalities, display creative expression, original thinking, and symbolic discourse.

Scientific Inquiry

  1. Identify components of the scientific method.
  2. Collect and analyze data. Skills of data collection include an understanding of the notion of hypothesis testing and specific methods of inquiry such as experimentation and systematic observation.
  3. Predict outcomes utilizing scientific inquiry: using evidence and assertions determine which conclusions logically follow from a body of quantitative and qualitative data.
  4. Analyze quantitative and qualitative information to make decisions, judgments, and pose questions.
  5. Recognize the utility of the scientific method and its application to real life situations and natural phenomena.

Global Citizenship

Scientific & Technological Literacy

  1. Synthesize, interpret, and infer, utilizing information, data, and experience to solve problems, innovate, and explore solutions.
  2. Utilize quantitative expression in a variety of contexts. These would include units of measurement, visual representations, and scales and distributions.
  3. Produce oral and written information in various modes and media, using technology such as computers, the Internet, and library databases.

Ethical Behavior

  1. Integrate universally accepted values such as honesty, responsibility, respect, fairness, courage and compassion into judgments and decision-making.
  2. Apply ethical reasoning to contemporary issues and moral dilemmas.
  3. Appreciate the complexity of global relationships between self and others, as well as self and the environment.
  4. Exhibit respect for self and others.


  1. Apply and relate theories of aesthetics to everyday life.
  2. Utilize the creative process to explain universal values such as beauty and truth.
  3. Apply imagination to artistic expression.
  4. Value appearance in terms of how pleasing it is in movement, form, and function.

Personal and Professional Development

  1. Self-evaluate knowledge, skills and abilities.
  2. Develop realistic goals.
  3. Display habits of intellectual exploration, personal responsibility, and physical well being.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues to make sound judgments and decisions.
  5. Value diverse cultures and populations.   
  6. Value the feedback of others.

Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment

In concert with the nationwide effort among colleges and universities to create an evidence-based process which documents the effectiveness of teaching and learning, as well as improvements to that process, College of the Desert is positioned to enrich the lives of our students by stating and assessing learning outcomes. Faculty at the College believe in integrative general education that encompasses not only knowledge and abilities, but values, attitudes and habits that create success within and outside of the academic arena.

Learning is a complex process. Assessing learning should reflect the adequacy and intricacy of its subject. Effective assessment includes diverse methods of measurement designed to give educators an understanding of how students learn and perform over time. Therefore, assessment is ongoing, revealing change, growth and increasing degrees of integration.  As our picture of learning comes into clear view, we provide ourselves with a solid foundation for improving our students’ educational experience.

As we embark upon understanding students’ educational experience in the 21st century, faculty at College of the Desert recognize that student learning is a campus-wide responsibility and assessment is a way of executing that responsibility. While faculty are the main drivers of this movement, we appreciate that we will also rely upon participation from student services, librarians, administrators, and students. Assessment may also involve community members such as alumni/ae, trustees, and employers. It is our shared understanding of assessment as a continual learning cycle which includes measurement, feedback, reflection, and change that will foster teaching excellence as we challenge and support our students’ active engagement in the learning process.

General Education Philosophy

At College of the Desert we provide students with the opportunity to engage in meaningful learning experiences that challenge and encourage them to become lifelong learners. The promise of general education is that it provides an integrative and comprehensive program that is broad and deep, introducing students to skills, knowledge and patterns of learning that foster better understanding of themselves and the world around them.

The need for skills, the quest for knowledge and the curiosity of the human spirit is interdisciplinary in nature, as reflected by the areas of study that comprise general education at College of the Desert. Natural Sciences lay the foundation for understanding living and non-living systems, introducing students to the power of systematic questioning. Social and Behavioral Sciences heighten students’ awareness of social, political and economic institutions and human behavior in contemporary, historical and geographical contexts. Arts, Humanities and Culture allow students to appreciate and develop philosophical, cultural, and literary perspective, encouraging independence and aesthetic sensibility.  Language and Rationality emphasize active participation in clear communication, logical thought and quantitative reasoning. Ultimately, as students are exposed to Personal Growth and Development, they are asked to adapt, respond and grow in the diverse, global and rapidly changing environment of the 21st century as well-rounded global citizens.

General education at College of the Desert prepares students to live productive lives with self-understanding, respect for others and skills critical to lifelong learning.

Supporting Organizations

Alumni Association

College of the Desert Alumni Association was chartered in 1983. The mission and goals of the Association are to enhance the success of COD students and to enrich the campus environment. The Association provides scholarships for students who plan to attend or who are now attending COD; provides recognition of alumni, students, community leaders, faculty and staff; creates awareness of the value of higher education and COD through collaborative efforts; and provides financial support for the enhancement of COD facilities, programs, faculty, and staff.

The Alumni Association annually budgets over $335,000 in scholarships and student financial aid.  

The Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund now totals in excess of $1 million. The Alumni Association Academic Enrichment Endowment Fund of $1,000,000 has been completed.  The Alumni Association operates the popular year-round COD Alumni Street Fair.  Membership is open to alumni, students, staff, and the community.  For more information call (760) 636-7958.

College of The Desert Foundation

College of the Desert Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose, for the last 30 years, is to provide financial support from the private and public sectors to help underwrite those programs and facilities at the College which cannot be funded through other means. The Foundation Board and committees are composed of community leaders who volunteer to work with college staff to support the College’s specific needs, present and future.

Donations to the COD Foundation can be of any size and may be designated to a particular department or project. Estate planning information is available for wills, bequests, and charitable trusts. For more information call (760) 773-2561, or go the Foundation website.

Academic Angels

This organization is made up of over 100 members whose purpose is to serve as Goodwill Ambassadors for College of the Desert and to assist the Foundation in pursuing its goals. The organization hosts luncheons, events and guest speakers throughout the year to raise funds for scholarships and other College programs and services. Membership dues are $250 per year. For more information call (760) 773-2561, or go to the Foundation website.

President's Circle 

The President’s Circle was created by the Foundation in 1983. It is comprised of an exceptional group of individuals and business leaders who are committed to the Mission of COD and its Foundation. The President’s Circle is the largest and most important resource of unrestricted gifts to the College, helping provide critical resources to meet educational needs, as well as help the Foundation to support mission-critical programs and services for the College. Members enjoy a variety of benefits and annual dues range from $1,000 to $5,000. For more information on any of the Annual Giving opportunities at the Foundation, contact the Foundation at (760) 773-2561 or email Jim Hummer, Executive Director.

Friends of The Library

The Friends of the Library of the Desert Library is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the College of the Desert Library through book sales and other fundraising activities. Friends of the COD Library welcomes anyone who would like to join the organization. For more information on becoming a member or to make a donation, please call (760) 568-3138.