Distance education in California is growing as more colleges and universities offer online courses and degree programs. The reasons that California has so many online colleges relate to the population size and the limitations in the state’s budget. Population plays a critical role in the changes to the education system in the state. The state has roughly 400,000 new high school graduates and the numbers are expected to rise as the population continues to grow. That means colleges and universities need to find solutions to allow more students to complete degree programs and advance into their careers.
A secondary reason for the online colleges throughout the state is efficiency when addressing the needs of working adults. Individuals who are working in a full-time position do not have the time to attend traditional classes. That means the college must find a solution to help them obtain a degree when they have time. Online colleges and programs are a solution that helps working adults complete a degree program and move into a higher level of their career.
Ranking the Best Online Colleges in California
Our ranking of the best accredited online colleges in California begins with the College Consensus method, which aggregates published rankings and student reviews for one overall Consensus Score. To be featured in the Best Online ranking, an institution has to have both a Consensus Score and at least 3 online bachelor’s degree programs.
Institutions are ranked by their Consensus Score.
Loyola Marymount UniversityLos Angeles, CA
Loyola Marymount University has a large selection of online degree programs. LMU’s online programs are unique because there are many minors and even graduate degrees available in addition to the usual bachelor’s degrees. Loyola Marymount’s programs are focused on preparing students for higher learning, with unusual offerings like African American Studies, Animation, and Art History. More career-centered programs include Accounting and Applied Information Management Systems.
The availability of various minors and graduate degrees makes LMU one of the best online colleges in California for both undergraduate and graduate students, which means that it’s one of the best accredited colleges in California overall. LMU is one of the most prestigious schools on this list. It is often ranked in the top 10 of all universities in the region. Many individual programs, such as the film school, are especially highly ranked. LMU is a Roman Catholic university, but students can be of any faith.
Biola UniversityLa Mirada, CA
Biola University offers three different online bachelor’s degrees. The online degree programs at Biola include a B.S. in Applied Psychology, a B.S. in Biblical Ministries and B.S. in Business Management. Biola’s online degree in Biblical Ministries is unique, as universities, even Christian universities, offer this degree. Biola is one of the best accredited online colleges in California for theology, making it one of the best online colleges in California for theology overall.
Biola is a Christian university that offers a unique combination of religious study and secular degree programs. There are many religious degrees available at Biola. However, the school also offers many secular degrees that incorporate a religious component. Biola is an independent Christian university, meaning it does not have any official ties to the various denominations.
California Baptist UniversityRiverside, CA
California Baptist University offers quite a few different online degree programs in a wide variety of areas. There are ministry programs, of course, such as Christian Ministries, but also numerous education programs including Early Childhood Studies. Numerous business programs like Accounting and Organizational Leadership join programs in criminal justice, cybersecurity, and sociology. CBU even offers programs unusual for online study, such as Kinesiology and Sport, Recreation, and Fitness Management. The number of programs, as well as the disparate fields that these programs cover, makes CBU one of the best accredited online colleges in California, which means that it’s one of the best online colleges in California period.
CBU is known for its alumni network in various Christian organizations and large churches throughout the country. Many alumni are available to mentor students and recent grads. Alumni also fund quite a few scholarships at CBU. CBU is affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention.
Fresno Pacific UniversityFresno, CA
Fresno Pacific University is well-known for its online degree programs. The many programs offered by FPU’s online division include Business Administration, Criminology, Early Childhood Development, and Health Care Administration. With a focus on practical, career-based programs, Fresno Pacific offers working adults the opportunity to change their lives. That makes FPU one of the best online colleges in California period.
FPU is known for its extremely high graduation rate. The graduation rate is at around 60 percent, which is much higher than the national average. FPU has implemented multiple programs to maintain and even raise this rate. Online students should be happy to hear this, because a low graduation rate is something many online programs struggle with. FPU guarantees graduation in four years to students who follow their academic program.
Mount Saint Mary’s UniversityLos Angeles, CA
Mount Saint Mary’s University has online bachelor’s programs in Business Administration, Criminology, Liberal Arts and Pre-Health Sciences. The Liberal Arts program is unique in that it is targeted toward students who plan to create their own degree track under the guidance of faculty and staff. MSMU is one of the best online colleges in California for liberal arts and one of the best accredited online colleges in California in general.
MSMU does admit male students, but the student body is made up primarily of female students. The student body is also very diverse, being overwhelmingly made up of students of color. MSMU is one of the few universities in the country where the majority of students are women of color. MSMU has a Roman Catholic affiliation.
California State University-ChicoChico, CA
California State University – Chico has multiple online undergraduate degree programs. These undergraduate degree programs are currently offered at CSUC: Liberal Studies, Religious Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Specialization Studies, Sociology/Applied Sociology. The most flexible of these degree programs is the Liberal Studies degrees. This program allows students to essentially choose their own area of studies within the liberal arts, which is an opportunity that few online students offer. This degree, and the others offered by CSUC, make it one of the best accredited online colleges in California and puts it high on the list of the overall best online colleges in California.
CSUC is a public university run by the State of California. As prospective students might expect, it is quite affordable in terms of tuition. Students anywhere in California can benefit further from the lower in-state tuition fees. CSUC is ranked in the top 50 of all universities in the region according to multiple media outlets.
Holy Names UniversityOakland, CA
Holy Names University has several different business degrees available online, with specialized concentrations in Marketing, Management, Preparation, and a general degree completion. HNU is unique because its online programs focus specifically on business. This makes it one of the best online colleges in California for business and one of the best accredited online colleges in California for entrepreneurial students.
HNU is known for keeping class sizes as small as possible. Many online students struggle because of huge class sizes. At HNU, even the online classes are relatively small. HNU is affiliated with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and incorporates Catholic values, ethics, and faith into every aspect of their curriculum.
Azusa Pacific UniversityAzusa, CA
Azusa Pacific University offers several online degree programs. APU’s online programs are unique in that they include two different bachelor’s degree completion programs. There is a Bachelor of Business Administration degree completion program as well as a Bachelor’s degree completion program in Psychology. Other online degrees offered by APU include an associate’s degree in nursing and an RN to BSN nursing program. This selection of in-demand programs makes APU one of best online colleges in California, and as a fully accredited university, one of the best accredited online colleges in California.
APU is well-known for its online programs. In fact, the school is often considered to be something of a pioneer in the field of online higher education. Some schools are just figuring out how to run an online degree program, but APU has been doing it for years. APU has been recognized as one of the top private universities in the nation for diversity.
California State University-FullertonFullerton, CA
California State University – Fullerton has three online undergraduate degree programs. These include a degree completion program, a Bachelor’s in Professional Business and a Bachelor’s in Sociology. The Bachelor’s in Professional Business is what makes the online division unique, because many universities offer online business degrees but few offer this concentration. Prospective business students should put CSUF on their lists of the best online colleges in California and the best accredited online colleges in California.
CSUF is one of the most diverse universities in the State of California. This makes it one of the most diverse schools in the entire country. Students of color are served by several different student organizations and have access to a wide range of financial aid resources. CSUF is a designated Hispanic-serving institution.
California State University-San MarcosSan Marcos, CA
California State University – San Marcos has multiple online bachelor’s degree programs. There are degrees in Fire Protection Services, Nursing (RN-to-Nursing Degree) and Sociology/Applied Sociology available through CSUSM’s online division. The most notable of these degrees is the Bachelor’s in Fire Protection Services because few universities in California offer this major online. Students that want to go into firefighting should definitely add CSUSM to the list of the best online colleges in California for fire science, especially because CSUSM is also one of the best accredited online colleges in California period.
CSUSM prides itself on offering students as many financial aid opportunities as possible. There are many grants, scholarships, fellowships and work study opportunities available to all students. Students of color can also benefit from the many scholarships set up specifically for them. CSUSM is affiliated with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
What Kinds of Degrees Can California Students Get Online?
When you are looking into the best online degrees in California, you want to recognize the options that fit your situation. You can obtain a degree from a fully online community college California with an associate’s degree, or you can move forward with more advanced degrees by transferring into a traditional college or university for an online degree program.
Online college degrees in California give you a variety of options for your education. You can pursue degree programs that range from an associate’s degree up to a doctorate degree. Many California online college degrees offer a bachelor’s program in different industries and fields of study to give students a chance to work on their career goals.
When it comes to seeking an associate’s degree, you may consider online community college programs. You can also pursue a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctorate through private universities, state colleges, or even Christian colleges. Many colleges and universities throughout the state offer online programs that allow students to complete a degree when they have time in their schedule. Depending on the program, you may have fully online classes or you may need to spend time working in a lab as part of the education process. The details about any program may vary, but you do have options that allow you to work on a higher level of education based on your situation and schedule.
What Kinds of Online Degrees are In-Demand in California?
When you are looking into online BA degrees in California, you may want to focus on programs that have a high demand from the students. The in-demand degree programs are likely to offer classes throughout the year and have a low risk of the school deciding to stop the program due to a lack of students.
California online nursing programs are a popular choice for students who want to work in medicine. A nursing degree program offers students the training to start working as a nurse or to advance in a career when seeking a higher level of education in nursing. Online programs for nursing help schools keep up with the needs of students and allows the school to run a program without the challenges of hiring a large staff for the students. It gives the school more flexibility to work around the shortage of nurses that complicate the hiring process in colleges and universities.
Online business degrees in California are a popular choice when students plan to work in a corporate environment. In many cases, schools offer business degrees with a concentration in specific areas of business and corporate studies. The programs allow students who are working full-time to complete a degree and advance in their career while working around a complex schedule.
When you want to pursue online accounting degrees in California, you have a variety of options for your career. Accounting degrees are a popular choice due to the opportunities associated with the degree program. Many colleges and universities offer online programs to help students learn the skills they need to work as an accountant in an accounting firm or a corporate environment.