Most Affordable Colleges in California 2023

Most Affordable Colleges in California 2023

Here are the most affordable colleges and universities in California. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you, at a price you can afford.

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?

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There are 59 colleges and universities in California with stated tuitions and fees under $20,000/year. The following list of the most affordable colleges and universities in California is composed entirely of schools offering bachelor’s degree programs, have stated tuition and fees near or under the national average of $16,000/year, and are fully accredited colleges.

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Most Affordable Colleges in California 2022

These schools are ranked by academic excellence, and all under $20,000/year.

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1420/32

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    46K

  3. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

  4. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    San Diego State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 49-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 51-60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #10

    San Francisco State University

    San Francisco , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/19

  6. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    California State University, Northridge’s Online Degrees

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

    $7K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    36K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/20

    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
  8. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    965/17

  9. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    22K

    Median SAT/ACT

    995/18

    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: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    California State University, Chico’s Online Degrees

    BA in Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 17 courses
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Religious Studies
    • Required Credits: 34
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Multidisciplinary Studies Option
    • Specialization Studies Option
    • Required Credits: 36-42
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 70
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
  11. #18

    Golden Gate University

    San Francisco , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Student body

    2K

    Golden Gate University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business
    • 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
    • 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: Online
  12. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    California State University, Sacramento’s Online Degrees

    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 48
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Child Development
    • Required Credits: 50
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BA in Arts & Letters
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BS in Career and Technical Studies
    • Required Credits: 48
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    AD to BNS in AD to BNS
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

  14. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    15K

    California State University, East Bay’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Finance
    • General Management
    • Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior
    • Information Technology Management
    • Operations and Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 75
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Hospitality and Tourism
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Ethnic Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Comparative Ethnic Studies Concentration
    • Genders and Sexualities in Communities of Color Concentration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Human Development
    Degree Concentrations
    • Adult Development and Gerontology Concentration
    • Early Childhood Development Concentration
    • Women’s Development Concentration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  15. #23

    Sonoma State University

    Rohnert Park , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

  16. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

  17. #25

    Santa Monica College

    Santa Monica , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    18K

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California’s Most Affordable Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive
  1. Antelope Valley College
  2. Solano Community College
  3. Santa Monica College
  4. San Diego Mesa College
  5. Santa Ana College
  6. Modesto Junior College
  7. Shasta College
  8. West Los Angeles College
  9. Bakersfield College
  10. MiraCosta College
  11. Rio Hondo College
  12. Skyline College
  13. Feather River College
  14. Foothill College
  15. California State University, Fresno
  16. California State University, Los Angeles
  17. California State University, Long Beach
  18. California State University Channel Islands
  19. California State University, Fullerton
  20. California State University, Northridge
  21. California State University, San Bernardino
  22. California State University, Dominguez Hills
  23. California State University, East Bay
  24. California State University Maritime Academy
  25. California State University, Stanislaus