California’s Best Christian Colleges & Universities of 2021

For prospective college students looking for schools that align with their Christian faith and demonstrate academic excellence, here are the best Christian colleges and universities in California.

California’s Best Christian Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in California

California’s higher education institutes span across the entire state, allowing students to study by the beach, in the forest, in small towns, and in large cities. The largest university, the University of California, Los Angeles, serves nearly 44,000 students and offers a tuition rate around $13,000. This isn’t the only school with a large student body though. California is home to 23 colleges and universities with student populations of over 20,000 students.

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However, more than half of the state’s schools serve smaller student populations, offering plenty of options for students who crave a more intimate campus experience. Additionally, California boasts 50 religiously affiliated schools. Many of these schools have high graduation rates, though tuition costs can range greatly, from $8,000 at Bethesda University up to $54,000 at Pepperdine University.

Additionally, many of California’s colleges and universities boast influential faculty and alumni, including Neil Armstrong, Jerry Lewis, and Weird Al Yankovic. In addition to famous alumni and professors, California’s schools are also home to some of the country’s top degree programs, including nursing, business, religious studies, education, literature, and law.

Though Hollywood has given an inside look into California’s most popular landmarks and attractions, these one-of-a-kind places aren’t the only reason people flock to The Golden State. With hundreds of colleges and universities to choose from, students have countless opportunities to further their education in California.

To learn more about earning your degree in California, check out some of the state’s top programs and career paths.


What are California’s Colleges & Universities?

California’s Best Overall


There are 37 Christian colleges and universities in California. The following list of the 25 best Christian schools in the state consists entirely of colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees and the following three conditions:

  1. It must self-identify as Christian.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor degree programs.
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How do we determine California's best Christian colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.


Best Christian Colleges & Universities in California

  1. #1

    Pepperdine University

    #484 institution's historical influence
    #903 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/29

    Malibu, CA

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    What is Pepperdine University known for?

    Pepperdine University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Loma Linda University

    #761 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Student body

    3K

    Loma Linda, CA

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    What is Loma Linda University known for?

    Loma Linda University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
  3. #3

    Santa Clara University

    #359 institution's historical influence
    #1245 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1360/30

    Santa Clara, CA

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    What is Santa Clara University known for?

    Santa Clara University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

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  4. #4

    Loyola Marymount University

    #738 institution's historical influence
    #1202 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    Los Angeles, CA

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    What is Loyola Marymount University known for?

    Loyola Marymount University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    University of San Diego

    #937 institution's historical influence
    #104 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

    San Diego, CA

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    What is University of San Diego known for?

    University of San Diego’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Chapman University

    #705 institution's historical influence
    #1410 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1285/28

    Orange, CA

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    What is Chapman University known for?

    Chapman University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Engineering
  7. #7

    University of San Francisco

    #392 institution's historical influence
    #339 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    San Francisco, CA

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    What is University of San Francisco known for?

    University of San Francisco’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Biola University

    #788 institution's historical influence
    #1377 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/24

    La Mirada, CA

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    What is Biola University known for?

    Biola University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

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  9. #9

    Westmont College

    #1367 institution's historical influence
    #565 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    Santa Barbara, CA

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    What is Westmont College known for?

    Westmont College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Pacific Union College

    #2115 institution's historical influence
    #1437 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/21

    Angwin, CA

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    What is Pacific Union College known for?

    Pacific Union College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • History
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    San Diego Christian College

    #3955 institution's historical influence
    #1426 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    Santee, CA

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    What is San Diego Christian College known for?

    San Diego Christian College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    La Sierra University

    #1959 institution's historical influence
    #1278 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    Riverside, CA

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    What is La Sierra University known for?

    La Sierra University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Notre Dame de Namur University

    #2169 institution's historical influence
    #1014 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/18

    Belmont, CA

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    What is Notre Dame de Namur University known for?

    Notre Dame de Namur University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Saint Mary's College of California

    #1462 institution's historical influence
    #500 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/25

    Moraga, CA

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    What is Saint Mary's College of California known for?

    Saint Mary's College of California’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    California Lutheran University

    #3288 institution's historical influence
    #356 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Thousand Oaks, CA

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    What is California Lutheran University known for?

    California Lutheran University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Psychology
  16. #16

    Mount St. Mary's University

    #4873 institution's historical influence
    #627 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/19

    Los Angeles, CA

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    What is Mount St. Mary's University known for?

    Mount St. Mary's University ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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  17. #17

    Point Loma Nazarene University

    #2056 institution's historical influence
    #1175 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/26

    San Diego, CA

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    What is Point Loma Nazarene University known for?

    Point Loma Nazarene University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
  18. #18

    Azusa Pacific University

    #1352 institution's historical influence
    #733 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    Azusa, CA

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    What is Azusa Pacific University known for?

    Azusa Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    Concordia University Irvine

    #5270 institution's historical influence
    #397 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Irvine, CA

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    What is Concordia University Irvine known for?

    Concordia University Irvine’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    California Baptist University

    #2034 institution's historical influence
    #1289 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Riverside, CA

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    What is California Baptist University known for?

    California Baptist University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. #21

    Fresno Pacific University

    #6284 institution's historical influence
    #1463 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/20

    Fresno, CA

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    What is Fresno Pacific University known for?

    Fresno Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #22

    Simpson University

    #6593 institution's historical influence
    #1116 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    Redding, CA

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    What is Simpson University known for?

    Simpson University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
  23. #23

    Hope International University

    #4936 institution's historical influence
    #117 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/19

    Fullerton, CA

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    What is Hope International University known for?

    Hope International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    William Jessup University

    #8413 institution's historical influence
    #1373 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    Rocklin, CA

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    What is William Jessup University known for?

    William Jessup University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
  25. #25

    Vanguard University

    #5151 institution's historical influence
    #922 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Costa Mesa, CA

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    What is Vanguard University known for?

    Vanguard University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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