Best Colleges in California 2022

Best Colleges in California 2022

Here are the best colleges and universities in California. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

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. There are over 30 high quality online programs that would allow you to earn a degree from literally anywhere in California, or the world.

The state’s largest university is the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA 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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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. However, 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. Many of these schools offer online courses and complete online programs in these same disciplines.

Though Hollywood has given us 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, as well as community and junior colleges, to choose from, students have countless opportunities to further their education in California.

Many of these opportunities are also accessible through online courses and online colleges. A growing number of online programs in California have received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools, which means online students have a higher level of quality assurance than ever before. It’s also worth noting that students who live in California can still get an in-state discount on their associate degree or bachelor’s degree even when completing online courses or online programs.

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

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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We’ve identified 113 colleges and universities in California that meet our criteria. This list of the top 30 colleges in California below focuses on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees. The ranking features fully accredited public and private colleges and universities in California.

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Best Colleges in California 2022

  1. #1

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/33

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is University of California, Los Angeles known for?

    University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

  6. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

  7. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    San Diego State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in American Indian Studies
    • Required Credits: 50-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 50-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 50-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Economics
    • Required Credits: 50-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. #14

    San Francisco State University

    San Francisco , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

  9. #17

    Pepperdine University

    Malibu , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/29

    Pepperdine University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Management
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. #18

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

  11. #21

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  12. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/19

    California State University, Northridge’s Online Degrees

    BA in Public Sector Management
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

    California State University, Fullerton’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 54
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/17

  15. #25

    University of San Diego

    San Diego , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

  16. Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

  17. #28

    Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

  18. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/19

    California State University, Fresno’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Accelerated Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 61
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Law Enforcement
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Arts
    • Required Credits: 25-50
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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California’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. California Institute of Technology
  2. Stanford University
  3. University of California, Berkeley
  4. Pomona College
  5. Harvey Mudd College
  6. Claremont McKenna College
  7. University of Southern California
  8. University of California, Los Angeles
  9. Occidental College
  10. Pitzer College
  11. University of California, San Diego
  12. Pepperdine University
  13. Scripps College
  14. University of California, Santa Barbara
  15. University of California, Santa Cruz
  16. Santa Clara University
  17. University of California, Davis
  18. Golden Gate University
  19. Mills College at Northeastern University
  20. University of California, Irvine
  21. University of California, Riverside
  22. Loyola Marymount University
  23. Whittier College
  24. University of California, Merced
  25. University of Redlands