Best Private Colleges in California 2022

Best Private Colleges in California 2022

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in California.

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.

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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. 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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 24 private universities in California. To be included in the list below of the best private universities in California, schools must be fully accredited, private, non-profit institution, and must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

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Best Private Colleges in California

  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

    $62K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

  4. 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
  5. #7

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

  6. #10

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  7. #11

    University of San Diego

    San Diego , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

  8. Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

  9. #13

    Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

  10. #15

    Golden Gate University

    San Francisco , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Student body

    1K

    Golden Gate University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Data Analytics
    • Finance
    • General
    • Human Resources Management
    • International Business
    • IT Management
    • Marketing
    • Operations and Supply Chain Management
    • Project Management
    • Psychology
    • Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • General
    • Human Resources Management
    • IT Management
    • Marketing
    • Project Management
    • Psychology
    • Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Hybrid
  11. #18

    Biola University

    La Mirada , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/24

    Biola University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Applied Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Bible, Theology, and Apologetics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Biblical Ministries
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Early Childhood
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    Azusa Pacific University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (Bridge to BSN)
    • Required Credits: 40
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #23

    University of La Verne

    La Verne , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

  14. Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/25

  15. Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

Are you itching to attend Stanford, the #1 private college in California? Find out how you can get into Stanford.

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California’s Best Private Colleges in Your Area 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. Pomona College
  4. Harvey Mudd College
  5. Claremont McKenna College
  6. University of Southern California
  7. Occidental College
  8. Pitzer College
  9. Pepperdine University
  10. Scripps College
  11. Santa Clara University
  12. Golden Gate University
  13. Mills College at Northeastern University
  14. Loyola Marymount University
  15. Whittier College
  16. University of Redlands
  17. University of San Diego
  18. Dominican University of California
  19. Chapman University
  20. University of San Francisco
  21. Biola University
  22. University of the Pacific
  23. Westmont College
  24. Woodbury University
  25. Pacific Union College