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.


What are California’s Colleges & Universities?

California’s Best Overall


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

California's Best Community Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine California's best community colleges?

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.

California’s Best Community Colleges

  1. #1

    College of Marin

    #3399 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    3K

    Kentfield, CA

    View profile

    What is College of Marin known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Los Angeles City College

    #808 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    25%

    Student body

    9K

    Los Angeles, CA

    View profile

    What is Los Angeles City College known for?

    Los Angeles City College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Chabot College

    #2475 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    8K

    Hayward, CA

    View profile

    What is Chabot College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Columbia College

    #8298 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Sonora, CA

    View profile

    What is Columbia College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Los Angeles Valley College

    #2994 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    9K

    Valley Glen, CA

    View profile

    What is Los Angeles Valley College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    De Anza College

    #1654 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $2K

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    14K

    Cupertino, CA

    View profile

    What is De Anza College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Sacramento City College

    #2498 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    13K

    Sacramento, CA

    View profile

    What is Sacramento City College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    City College of San Francisco

    #1575 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    14K

    San Francisco, CA

    View profile

    What is City College of San Francisco known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    West Valley College

    #5994 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    5K

    Saratoga, CA

    View profile

    What is West Valley College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Fullerton College

    #3051 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    33%

    Student body

    14K

    Fullerton, CA

    View profile

    What is Fullerton College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Law
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Merritt College

    #1543 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    21%

    Student body

    4K

    Oakland, CA

    View profile

    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

  12. #12

    Lassen Community College

    #13252 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    Susanville, CA

    View profile

    What is Lassen Community College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Cañada College

    #5393 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    2K

    Redwood City, CA

    View profile

    What is Cañada College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Pasadena City College

    #1178 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    19K

    Pasadena, CA

    View profile

    What is Pasadena City College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    San Joaquin Delta College

    #4629 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    29%

    Student body

    15K

    Stockton, CA

    View profile

    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
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Cuesta College

    #8465 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    6K

    San Luis Obispo, CA

    View profile

    What is Cuesta College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Los Angeles Pierce College

    #3417 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    12K

    Woodland Hills, CA

    View profile

    What is Los Angeles Pierce College known for?

    Los Angeles Pierce College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    Glendale Community College

    #5514 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    12K

    Glendale, CA

    View profile

    What is Glendale Community College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    Ohlone College

    #4193 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    7K

    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
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Berkeley City College

    #5744 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    44%

    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
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Orange Coast College

    #3026 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    42%

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Lake Tahoe Community College

    #10206 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    2K

    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
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Psychology
  23. #23

    Grossmont College

    #5378 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    10K

    El Cajon, CA

    View profile

    What is Grossmont College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Folsom Lake College

    #7672 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    35%

    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
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Engineering
  25. #25

    Santa Rosa Junior College

    #3612 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    37%

    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
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By Plasticboob - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0