Why This Matters


    A bachelor’s degree is an investment that can pay off. High school graduates without a bachelor’s earned a median weekly wage of $746 for 2019, but bachelor’s degree holders earned a median weekly wage of $1,248.


    For the 2020-21 school year, California students enrolled in an in-state undergraduate program paid $9,940 for tuition and other costs.


    According to College Board, U.S. college students were awarded $14,940 in financial aid for the 2019-20 academic year.

Our Research

To choose the best online colleges in California, we reviewed small and large educational institutions. These public and private schools range from liberal arts colleges and technical schools to large research universities. We looked at costs needed to graduate, tuition costs per credit, course format, and accreditation when selecting schools for our list.

The online California colleges on this list are accredited, most by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. This accreditor is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education (CHEA) and accredits colleges in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific region based on strict peer-reviewed quality standards.

  • 96hours to write this article
  • 149universities and colleges we assessed
  • 177education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Colleges in California

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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in California

Review the highest-paying occupations in California for bachelor’s degree holders when choosing a program. Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers earned the most in 2020, and chief executives came in second on the list. Computer and information systems managers also earned comparatively high wages, as did natural science managers and architectural and engineering managers.

When it comes to bachelor-level California jobs with the most projected job openings, general and operations managers rank first. Registered nurses are also expected to have plenty of job potential, along with business operations specialists and accountants and auditors.

You might also want to review the careers for bachelor’s degree holders with the highest decline rate. Reporters and correspondents are at the top of the list, followed by adult basic, secondary, and literary teachers and instructors. Computer programmers and airline pilots come in third and fourth when it comes to decline rate, with buyers and purchasing agents in the fifth spot.

What’s Next?

Check out the financial aid opportunities for undergraduate students when researching the best online colleges in California. To help you get started, we’ve compiled the following list of state and federal resources:

  • California Student Aid Commission. The California Student Aid Commission website contains comprehensive financial aid information for students. Learn about the state scholarships and programs for which you can apply, including the Cal Grant Program and the Middle Class Scholarship.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Billions in financial aid is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education annually. Find out whether you’re eligible for federal student aid by visiting FAFSA4caster, and then, apply for aid by completing the online FAFSA form.
  • CareerOneStop. Find scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities at this website, which lets you search by state and degree level. You’ll find application requirements and deadlines, specific dollar amounts, and contact information for financial aid programs at this government-sponsored resource.