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Best Colleges & Universities in California
Top Consensus Ranked Schools in California 2020

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To identify the Best Colleges in California for 2020 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in California anywhere.

You can read more about our ranking sources and methodology on our about page and find out about California college financial aid with our list of the Top 5 California Scholarships. If you’re interested in distance learning, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in California.

1

Stanford University
Stanford, CA

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AVG: 0 AVG: 0
91.1
College Consensus
98.9
Publisher Consensus
83.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

2

Pomona College
Claremont, CA

carnegie hall
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88.5
College Consensus
92.7
Publisher Consensus
84.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

3

Claremont McKenna College
Claremont, CA

claremont campus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86
College Consensus
88.3
Publisher Consensus
83.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

4

University of California-Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

UCLA
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.9
College Consensus
94
Publisher Consensus
77.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

5

University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

berkeleycampus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.4
College Consensus
93.9
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

6

Harvey Mudd College
Claremont, CA

Hmc dartmouth entrance
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.2
College Consensus
86.8
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

7

California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA

Caltech Entrance
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83.9
College Consensus
93.8
Publisher Consensus
74
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

8

University of California-Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA

UCSB
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.2
College Consensus
83.7
Publisher Consensus
80.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

9

California State University-Stanislaus
Turlock, CA

CSU Stanislaus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82
College Consensus
88.2
Publisher Consensus
75.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

10

University of California-Davis
Davis, CA

UC Davis
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
86.7
Publisher Consensus
75.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020

In order to find the best colleges in California, you must go do your research. Indeed, while every state has its fair share of colleges, not all colleges are created equal. That said, the following is a closer look at the higher education stats for California as well as an overview of the best colleges in California.

Higher Education Stats

In order to know more about the best California universities, you need to know the state’s higher education stats. Some of them are as follows:

  • Demographics: In terms of the demographics in California, secondary education in California is somewhat diverse. The college system is comprised of 32.3% White, 7% Black, 36.1% Hispanic, 15.3% Asian, 0.6% Pacific Islander, and 0.4% Indian/ Alaska Native. In terms of enrollment by sex, the universities in California are comprised of 45.8%  males and 54.2% females.
  • Enrollment: As far as enrollment rates are concerned in terms of the best colleges in California, there are some interesting trends to note. While the vast majority of states in this country followed the trend of higher enrollment rates post-2014, most states rate of college enrollment has been declining since 2012. However, in California, college enrollment rates decreased between 2012 and 2013, but increased in 2013. In other words, with approximately 1,511,300 students enrolled annually since 2014, the rate of enrollment for college students has only changed by 0.3%, which is a much smaller rate than most other states in this country.
  • Costs: In terms of the costs of the best colleges in California, there are also some interesting things to take note of. In 2013-2014, the average in-state cost for most colleges in for a public 4-year school was $8,312, while the average cost for a 4-year was $25,696. Over that same period of time, the costs of public and private colleges in the state of California were $8,903 and $29,678, respectively. Moreover, the cost of public school tuition in California increased by 68% between 2005-2006 as well as between 2015-2016.
  • Retention Rates: In terms of the retention rate of students in colleges in California, California has maintained relatively high retention rates. For instance, between the years of 2013-2014, retention rates were higher than all neighboring states at 76%.
  • Graduation Rates: In terms of graduation rates within colleges in California, we must look at those who graduated in 2 years, 4 years, as well as those who graduated in 6 years. On the one hand, the rates of those who graduated in 4 years were 33.6% for those who attended public colleges, 61.3% for private non-profit colleges, and 13.5% for those who graduated from private for-profit colleges. On the other hand, for those who graduated in 6 years, the rates were 64% for those who attended public colleges, 73.9% for those who attended private non-profit colleges, and 27.1% for private for-profit colleges. Lastly, those who graduated from 2-year programs graduated at a rate of 26.2% for those who attended public colleges and 67.5% for those who attended private for-profit colleges.

Diversity in the Best Colleges in California

As mentioned, the best colleges in California are relatively diverse. Nevertheless, studies have also shown that the faculty at most California colleges is majority white, which means there is some work to be done in that regard. Additionally, colleges such as the Harvey Mudd College have been heralded for being incredibly accomodating to the LGBTQ community. The following is a list of some of the most diverse  and top colleges in California, as well as their diversity scores:

  • Berkley City College (Public)– .82 Diversity Score
  • Los Angeles Film School (Public)– .82 Diversity Score
  • College of Alameda– .80 Diversity Score
  • Laney College (Public)– .80 DIversity Score
  • Cosumnes River College (Public)– .79 Diversity Score

Employment Stats

In terms of post-college employment stats, California was recently recognized for having the highest employment rates for college graduates. Therefore, those who attend the top universities in California have a great chance of securing long-term employment. Nevertheless, the state is ranked at #40 overall, with a 5.3% rate of unemployment.

Related Rankings:

Best Online Colleges & Universities in California

Best Regional Universities – West

Best Regional Colleges – West