California’s Best Community Colleges of 2021

The best community colleges provide an effective springboard into higher education, offering students high-quality two-year degree programs in a wide range of disciplines. The top-rated community colleges in California offer a broad selection of associate’s degrees, affordable tuition rates, and strong partnerships with public four-year schools so that students can easily transfer their credits into accredited bachelor’s degree programs.

California’s Best Community Colleges 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.

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, 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.

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There are 96 community colleges in California. The following list shows the 25 best community colleges in the state.

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How do we determine California's best community colleges?

The best colleges pound for pound!

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.

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California’s Best Community Colleges

  1. College of Marin
    #1

    College of Marin

    #3225 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    3K

    Kentfield, CA

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    What is College of Marin known for?

    College of Marin's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Chabot College
    #3

    Chabot College

    #2409 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    8K

    Hayward, CA

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    What is Chabot College known for?

    Chabot College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Columbia College
    #4

    Columbia College

    #8665 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    1K

    Sonora, CA

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    What is Columbia College known for?

    Columbia College 's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Los Angeles Valley College
    #5

    Los Angeles Valley College

    #2920 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    10K

    Valley Glen, CA

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    What is Los Angeles Valley College known for?

    Los Angeles Valley College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • History
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. De Anza College
    #6

    De Anza College

    #1542 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $2K

    Student body

    14K

    Cupertino, CA

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    What is De Anza College known for?

    De Anza College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Sacramento City College
    #7

    Sacramento City College

    #2399 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    15K

    Sacramento, CA

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    What is Sacramento City College known for?

    Sacramento City College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. City College of San Francisco
    #8

    City College of San Francisco

    #1462 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    15K

    San Francisco, CA

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    What is City College of San Francisco known for?

    City College of San Francisco's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Business
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. West Valley College
    #9

    West Valley College

    #5519 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    5K

    Saratoga, CA

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    What is West Valley College known for?

    West Valley College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Fullerton College
    #10

    Fullerton College

    #2776 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    14K

    Fullerton, CA

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    What is Fullerton College known for?

    Fullerton College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Merritt College
    #11

    Merritt College

    #1465 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    4K

    Oakland, CA

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    What is Merritt College known for?

    Merritt College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Lassen Community College
    #12

    Lassen Community College

    #12621 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    1K

    Susanville, CA

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    What is Lassen Community College known for?

    Lassen Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Medical
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Cañada College
    #13

    Cañada College

    #4786 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    3K

    Redwood City, CA

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    What is Cañada College known for?

    Cañada College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Pasadena City College
    #14

    Pasadena City College

    #1137 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    20K

    Pasadena, CA

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    What is Pasadena City College known for?

    Pasadena City College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. San Joaquin Delta College
    #15

    San Joaquin Delta College

    #4468 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    12K

    Stockton, CA

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    What is San Joaquin Delta College known for?

    San Joaquin Delta College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Law
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Cuesta College
    #16

    Cuesta College

    #7403 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    6K

    San Luis Obispo, CA

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    What is Cuesta College known for?

    Cuesta College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Glendale Community College
    #18

    Glendale Community College

    #5110 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    12K

    Glendale, CA

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    What is Glendale Community College known for?

    Glendale Community College 's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Ohlone College
    #19

    Ohlone College

    #4078 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    6K

    Fremont, CA

    View profile

    What is Ohlone College known for?

    Ohlone College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • History
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Berkeley City College
    #20

    Berkeley City College

    #5570 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    4K

    Berkeley, CA

    View profile

    What is Berkeley City College known for?

    Berkeley City College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Orange Coast College
    #21

    Orange Coast College

    #3015 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    13K

    Costa Mesa, CA

    View profile

    What is Orange Coast College known for?

    Orange Coast College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Lake Tahoe Community College
    #22

    Lake Tahoe Community College

    #10022 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    1K

    South Lake Tahoe, CA

    View profile

    What is Lake Tahoe Community College known for?

    Lake Tahoe Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
  21. Grossmont College
    #23

    Grossmont College

    #4984 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    11K

    El Cajon, CA

    View profile

    What is Grossmont College known for?

    Grossmont College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. Folsom Lake College
    #24

    Folsom Lake College

    #7788 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    6K

    Folsom, CA

    View profile

    What is Folsom Lake College known for?

    Folsom Lake College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
  23. Santa Rosa Junior College
    #25

    Santa Rosa Junior College

    #3459 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Student body

    11K

    Santa Rosa, CA

    View profile

    What is Santa Rosa Junior College known for?

    Santa Rosa Junior College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Business
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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