- The California State University, Accessed March 2017, https://www2.calstate.edu/
- Degree Information, California State University Long Beach, Accessed March 2017, http://web.csulb.edu/academics/degrees.html
- About Cal State Fullerton, California State University, Fullerton, Accessed March 2017, https://www.fullerton.edu/about/
- Academics, California State University, Fresno, Accessed March 2017, http://www.fresnostate.edu/home/academics/index.html
- New Online Undergraduate Business Degree Program, October 19, 2016, San Diego State University, http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news_story.aspx?sid=76380
- About CSUN, California State University, Northridge, Accessed March 2017, http://www.csun.edu/about-csun
- About CSUEB, California State University, East Bay, Accessed March 2017, https://www.csueastbay.edu/online/index.html
- Chico Distance and Online Education, California State University, Chico, Accessed March 2017, http://rce.csuchico.edu/online/
- Facts and Figures, San Jose State University, Accessed March 2017, http://www.sjsu.edu/about_sjsu/facts_and_figures/
- Online and Distance Learning, California State University Dominguez Hills, Accessed March 2017, http://www4.csudh.edu/ceie-odl/
- History, California State University, Monterey Bay, Accessed March 2017, https://csumb.edu/about/history
- Financial Aid Programs, California Student Aid Commission, Accessed March 2017, http://www.csac.ca.gov/doc.asp?id=33
- California College Systems, California Career Center, Accessed March 2017, https://www.calcareercenter.org/Home/Content?contentID=278
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
California is home to some of the biggest names in higher education. Stanford, University of Southern California (USC) and Caltech are a few of the schools recognized the world over as leading educational institutions. In addition to these well-known universities, there are many other schools in the state offering high-quality, affordable degree programs.
The State of California funds three systems of higher education. These are California Community College, California State University and University of California. Students who want to start their education at a community college can often easily transfer credits to a school within one of the university systems. Credits may also transfer between the various universities. An online ASSIST tool makes it simple to see how transferred credits will be applied at different schools.
Of course, the public university system isn't the only option for students. More than 70 private colleges and universities offer on-campus and online California degrees as well.
Best 4-Year Colleges in California
California State University Long Beach is the first of many schools from the California State University system which made this list. While the school does not offer any online degree programs at this time, it does offer a number of affordable programs at its Long Beach campus.
Its tuition and fees are the sixth most affordable in the state. What's more, CSULB ranked seventh out of 99 schools for the amount of institutional grant aid it provides. Perhaps as a result of this, graduates from California State University Long Beach have the 11th lowest median student debt in the state.
Business administration is the school's most popular program based upon the number of degrees it conferred in 2015. However, there are a wide range of educational choices. CSULB has eight colleges that cover the arts, education and engineering as well as other fields.
As a leading campus of CSU, the public California State University, Fullerton prides itself on being a model for innovative and high-impact educational programs. What's more, it's been able to do that while keeping its price affordable.
Cal State Fullerton ranks fifth in the state for the low cost of its tuition and fees. Its ninth out of 99 schools for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards. That helps CSUF rank seventh for average net price and fourth for average net price for low-income students.
Those interested in earning an online degree in California can enroll in one of CSUF's degree completion programs. These are intended for those who already have an associate degree or the equivalent education. They allow students to complete their upper level classes with more flexibility with online courses. Sociology and business administration degree programs are currently offered by the university.
Known as Fresno State, the accredited California State University, Fresno has its campus in central California. It offers both on-campus and online degree programs in all the state's most in-demand fields of study. Like most of the other schools on this list, business administration is the most popular major at Fresno State.
The university ranks third in the state for affordable tuition and fees. Its average net price ranks the school fourth out of 99 institutions, and Fresno State has the fifth lowest average net price for low income students. There's more good news for those hoping to receive financial aid from the school. California State University, Fresno ranks fifth for its institutional grant aid. Plus, payment plans are available to make the cost more manageable.
Students enrolled at Fresno State have access to academic advising, career placement, remedial classes and an on-campus writing center.
Although its name doesn't the reflect the fact, the accredited San Diego State University is another member of the California State University system. Founded in 1897, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of San Diego.
SDSU is eighth in the state for the number of educational programs it offers. The university has seven colleges including ones for arts and letters, business administration, education and engineering. In 2017, San Diego State University is launching its first fully online undergraduate degree: a Bachelor of Science in business administration.
The university also excels in the amount of institutional aid it provides as a percentage of its tuition. SDSU ranks third in California for that metric. Students also have access to tuition payment plans to make their costs more manageable.
California State University, Northridge has a history that extends back nearly 60 years. From humble beginnings as a state college, Cal State Northridge has grown to enroll more than 40,000 students on its campus in the San Fernando Valley.
If you want to earn an online bachelor's degree in California, you won't be able to do so at CSUN. The university doesn't offer any online classes, but it does have more than 125 undergraduate and graduate programs available at its Northridge campus.
Cal State Northridge earns high marks for being affordable. The university ranks sixth in the state for average net price. Its institutional grant aid, as a percentage of its tuition, is the eighth best in the state. As a result, students may not need to take out as many student loans, and its graduates have the ninth lowest median debt of the 99 California institutions surveyed.
Located on a campus in Hayward, California State University, East Bay is one of the best online colleges for California. The school ranks 10th for the number of distance education programs it offers. It also ranks 10th for the number of students who enroll in those programs or other distance education classes. Nearly half the student body participated in some form of distance education in 2015.
Cal State East Bay has multiple online learning options, including five online bachelor's degrees and four online master's degrees. These include a B.S. in business administration, the most popular major at the university. Other options include a B.S. in hospitality and tourism, an M.S. in education and an M.S. in health care administration.
As for its cost, CSUEB ranks 10th in the state for its tuition and fees. It also has the 10th best net price. What's more, California State University, East Bay gets strong marks for the low median debt incurred by graduates.
California State University, Chico - also known as Chico State - is one of the only universities on this list to offer credit for some life experiences. The school also allows dual enrollment and credit for AP classes. Both can help students keep costs down and earn their degree more quickly.
Chico State first opened its doors in 1889 and became a part of the California State University system in 1972. Today, it offers a variety of degrees although business administration, psychology and liberal studies are its most popular majors. When it comes to online California degrees, Chico State has bachelor's degree completion programs in social science, sociology and liberal studies. There is also an online master's degree in nursing as well as a career and life planning certificate.
Students at California State University, Chico get access to academic advising and career placement among other student support services.
While the accredited San Jose State University operates under the slogan "powering Silicon Valley," the university predates computer technology by about a century. The school was founded in 1857 and is the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast. It isn't a school only for computer science majors either. SJSU has eight colleges offering 145 areas of study and another 108 concentrations.
The university gets strong marks for the number of programs it offers as well as its ability to help students minimize debt. When it comes to the median debt held by graduates, San Jose State University ranks 13th out of 99 California schools.
Business administration is the most popular major at the school, based on the degrees it awarded in 2015. Graduates are eligible for career placement services, and many find jobs in the area. SJSU notes Silicon Valley firms employ more of its graduates than those from any other university in the country.
Students who want to keep their costs down should consider California State University, Dominguez Hills. The school ranks second for the low sticker price of its tuition and fees. It is also second for average net price and first for average net price for low-income students. CSUDH is sixth in the state for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition. Some students may even get credit for life experiences.
Those who want to earn an online bachelor's degree in California can choose from an RN-to-BSN program as well as a degree completion program for applied studies. Online master's degrees include an MBA and a Master of Public Administration.
Beyond online programs, California State University, Dominguez Hills offers other resources that nontraditional students succeed. There are weekend and night courses, remedial services and academic counseling. Graduates can also receive career placement services from the university.
While the public Cal State Monterey Bay is tenth on this list of best traditional and online colleges for California, it's number one when it comes to cost. The university ranks first out of 99 California schools when it comes to the low sticker price of its tuition and fees. Not only the price low, California State University Monterey Bay offers the most institutional grant aid in the state as a percentage of its tuition.
Located in the former Fort Ord, Cal State Monterey Bay is one of California's younger institutions. It was founded in 1994 as a way to make use of the decommissioned Army base. It doesn't have the extensive number of degree programs found at other, older CSU institutions. However, it does have six colleges awarding 24 undergraduate degrees and seven graduate degrees.
Like other schools on the list, Cat State Monterey Bay offers remedial services, career counseling, career placement and tuition payment plans.
Most Popular Degree Programs in California
Many of the best colleges in California share a common trait. They may all offer the following degree programs which are among the most popular in California.
In-Demand Careers in California
Deciding between available degree programs can be a daunting task. However, it can help if you know which careers are expected to be in demand and then look for on-campus and online programs tailored to those occupations.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||150%||670||$49,080|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||57.9%||3,630||$53,220|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||56.4%||4,550||$60,530|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||48.4%||3,870||$36,780|
|Insulation Workers, Mechanical||46.2%||1,590||$51,360|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||44.8%||3,880||$45,380|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||44.4%||1,570||$80,750|
|Software Developers, Applications||42.5%||129,180||$120,710|
|Operations Research Analysts||42.4%||14,590||$91,800|
|Insulation Workers, Floor, Ceiling, and Wall||40%||2,190||$54,640|
|Home Health Aides||38.9%||25,910||$29,210|
|Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers||37.5%||20,310||$50,790|
|Elevator Installers and Repairers||37.5%||1,730||$92,570|
|Interpreters and Translators||36.6%||7,890||$55,000|
|Personal Care Aides||35.8%||144,310||$25,150|
|Computer Systems Analysts||35.4%||75,750||$101,440|
|Floor Layers, Except Carpet, Wood, and Hard Tiles||35.1%||2,080||$43,710|
|Helpers--Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons||35%||2,210||$32,550|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in California
While the best traditional and online colleges for California offer institutional grant aid, there are other options for financial aid to consider. Federal loans and grants as well as private scholarships are available as additional resources. Plus, the State of California offers its own assistance to college students through programs such as the California Dream Act and the California Middle Class Scholarship.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA and completion of at least 45 credit hours.
- The California State University System
- The University of California System
- California Career Center
- The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities
- California State Aid Commission
- California Postsecondary Education Commission