Ready to start your journey?

CC Best Colleges California

California has more colleges and universities than any other state in the United States and has a reputation for being exceptionally supportive of higher education. The University of California system is widely regarded as one of the best public university systems in the country. The state also has a number of exceptional private universities for students to choose from.

The College Consensus ranking of the Best Colleges in California combines the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings. Visit our about page for information on which rankings and review sites were included in this year’s consensus rankings.

Ranking Methodology

The Best Colleges in California category is limited to schools in California both Northern California and Southern California. Schools that did not qualify for a Consensus Score were ranked by their Student Review score.

Find out about California college financial aid with our list of the Top 5 California Scholarships. If you’re interested in a distance learning California institute, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in California.

Recommended Online liberal arts colleges in California

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
92.2
College Consensus
99
Publisher Consensus
85.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88.8
College Consensus
94.1
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
87.3
College Consensus
94.1
Publisher Consensus
80.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
87.2
College Consensus
94.8
Publisher Consensus
79.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.9
College Consensus
93.9
Publisher Consensus
79.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022

Recommended Online Schools in California

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.7
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
84.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.9
College Consensus
89.7
Publisher Consensus
80.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.9
College Consensus
89.3
Publisher Consensus
76.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.7
College Consensus
88.5
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.3
College Consensus
91.3
Publisher Consensus
73.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2022

Recommended Online Schools in California

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

dk blue starIn 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.

star gold 1

  • 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 in academic excellence. 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 with a quality education 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.

Colleges in Popular California Cities:

San Francisco (Bay Area) — UC Berkeley, Stanford University, California State University (CSU – San Francisco), San Francisco State University

Los Angeles, California — Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University, Occidental College, University of Southern California

Claremont, California — Claremont Mckenna College, Pomona College

San Luis Obispo, California — California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)

Santa Barbara, California — UC Santa Barbara

Davis, California — UC Davis

Pasadena, California — California Institute of Technology

Santa Clara, California — Santa Clara University

San Diego, California — University of California, Azusa Pacific University, San Diego State University

light blue star 1Diversity 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

dk blue starEmployment Stats in California

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
Best MBA Programs in California


For licensing requests, please click here

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?