Why This Matters

  • 212 COLLEGES IN CALIFORNIA

    A report made by College Navigator discloses that of all colleges in California, 47 are public, 104 are private non-profit, and 61 are private for-profit.

  • $9,930 AVERAGE IN-STATE TUITION & FEES

    As reported by College Board, this amount was paid by a typical college student in California who went to an in-state public college for the 2021-22 school year.

  • $14,800 IN FINANCIAL AID GIVEN PER STUDENT IN THE U.S.

    This represents the dollar amount most undergraduate students received in financial aid for the 2020-21 school year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in California. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Colleges in California

badges
01
Intelligent Pick
Stanford University
01
Best for STEM
California Institute of Technology
01
Best Public University
University of California at Berkeley
01
Best for Entertainment Majors
University of California at Los Angeles
01
Best Alumni Network
University of Southern California
01
Best Dual Degree Programs
University of California at Santa Barbara
01
Best Campus Location
University of California San Diego
01
Best Honors College
University of California at Irvine
01
Best for Agriculture Degrees
University of California, at Davis
01
Best Christian University
Pepperdine University
01

Santa Clara University
01

Loyola Marymount University
01

University of San Diego
01

University of San Francisco
01

Pomona College
01

Chapman University
01

University of La Verne
01

University of the Pacific
01

San Diego State University
01

Biola University
01

Claremont McKenna College
01

Azusa Pacific University
01

Harvey Mudd College
01

Soka University of America
01

Pitzer College
01

Scripps College

 

What You Should Know About Graduating From College in California

When thinking about the income potential and the employability of a particular academic field, it is important to pay attention to the current job opportunities and industry trends in your state. In a recent report from October 2021, the top five industries that were notable for marked changes in growth in the state of California were trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; professional and business services; government; and goods-producing.

For workers with a bachelor’s degree, the five fastest growing jobs in California are data scientists, logisticians, medical and health services managers, software developers, and market research analysts.

Some of the biggest employers in California are the Los Angeles International Airport-Lax, UCLA Community Based Learning, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and eBay Inc., among others.

What’s Next?

While college can get very expensive, there are financial aid programs available to offset some, most, or even all of the costs. Listed below are federal and state resources to help you find financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, for college students in California.

  • The California Student Aid Commission. This site helps with Chafee, CADAA, or FAFSA applications to help college become more affordable for California students.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education provides over $120 billion annually in federal financial aid for students. Federal Student Aid can be received in the form of loans, work-study opportunities, grants, and scholarships. For more information about FAFSA eligibility, go to FAFSA4caster, or go to the online FAFSA form to apply.
  • CareerOneStop. Sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop contains financial aid information for each state that includes the availability of grants and scholarships.