Best Research Universities in California 2022

Best Research Universities in California 2022

Interested in attending a STEM school in California? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

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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A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. We’ve identified 29 research universities in California. To be included in our ranking, schools must be a fully accredited universities and must must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

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Best Research Universities 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

    $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
  7. #15

    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
  8. #17

    University of San Diego

    San Diego , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

  9. Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

  10. #19

    Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

  11. #20

    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

    $14K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/22

  13. 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
  14. #23

    University of La Verne

    La Verne , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

  15. #24

    Northcentral University

    La Jolla , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Student body

    7K

    What is Northcentral University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    8%

    Student body

    8K

    What is University of Massachusetts Global known for?

    University of Massachusetts Global’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    University of Massachusetts Global’s Online Degrees

    BA in Applied Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Leadership
    • Multiple Subject Teaching Pre-Credential
    • Applied Communication
    • Applied Humanities
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Legal Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Law
    • Paralegal Profession
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Find the Best Research Universities in California for 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. University of Southern California
  5. University of California, Los Angeles
  6. University of California, San Diego
  7. Pepperdine University
  8. University of California, Santa Barbara
  9. University of California, Santa Cruz
  10. Santa Clara University
  11. University of California, Davis
  12. University of California, Irvine
  13. University of California, Riverside
  14. Loyola Marymount University
  15. University of California, Merced
  16. University of San Diego
  17. Chapman University
  18. University of San Francisco
  19. Biola University
  20. University of the Pacific
  21. San Diego State University
  22. Azusa Pacific University
  23. University of Massachusetts Global
  24. California State University, Fresno
  25. University of La Verne