Best California Colleges

Ranking top Colleges and Universities in California for 2022

With its desirable climate, dynamic cities, huge economy and reputation the global leader in technology, California is a highly desirable state for students to choose to attend college. The state is home to world-renowned research universities like Stanford in Silicon Valley and CalTech in Pasadena. The University of California (UC) system has ten campuses serving over a quarter of a million students. The UC system is home to the extremely competitive and rival colleges UCLA and UC Berkeley. The 23 campuses of the CSU system comprise the largest public four-year university system in the US and enroll nearly a half million students per year. Also significant is the California Community Colleges system, the largest of its kind, which serves 2.1 million students through its 2-year programs at 116 colleges. Notable highly rated small liberal arts schools like Pomona, Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna also call the Golden State home.

There are 279 colleges and universities in California enrolling 2,423,319 students. Explore the list of top colleges in California below to begin your college search. The CollegeSimply rankings are objective and data-driven in order to help you find good matches for you. Learn how the Best Colleges rankings are calculated on our ranking methodology page. Whether you're searching for a good public, private or community college, this guide to universities in California offers a comprehensive view to the state's higher education options.

 California is home to nationally ranked institutions like Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Claremont McKenna College and University of Southern California. The highest ranked college in California is Stanford University and the top rated public state college is University of California Los Angeles.

Local college options can be explored in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco or other cities.


279 results

List of the Best California Colleges

Stanford University
S
Stanford, CA
Stanford University

Private 4 Year

6 reviews

#1 Best Colleges in California

  • 15,953enrollment
  • $20,023net price
  • 5%acceptance rate
  • 1420-1570SAT range
  • 31-35ACT range
  • 3.96Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 3

California Institute of Technology
C
Pasadena, CA
California Institute of Technology

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#2 Best Colleges in California

  • 2,240enrollment
  • $26,591net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1530-1580SAT range
  • 35-36ACT range
  • 3.97Estimated Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 1

Claremont McKenna College
C
Claremont, CA
Claremont McKenna College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#3 Best Colleges in California

  • 1,264enrollment
  • $22,004net price
  • 13%acceptance rate
  • 1330-1500SAT range
  • 31-34ACT range
  • 3.89Estimated Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 2

University of Southern California
S
Los Angeles, CA
University of Southern California

Private 4 Year

5 reviews

#4 Best Colleges in California

  • 46,287enrollment
  • $39,759net price
  • 16%acceptance rate
  • 1340-1530SAT range
  • 30-34ACT range
  • 3.83Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 10

Santa Clara University
S
Santa Clara, CA
Santa Clara University

Private 4 Year

14 reviews

#5 Best Colleges in California

  • 8,616enrollment
  • $48,284net price
  • 51%acceptance rate
  • 1270-1450SAT range
  • 28-32ACT range
  • 3.68Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 7

University of California Los Angeles
C
Los Angeles, CA
University of California Los Angeles

Public 4 Year

3 reviews

#6 Best Colleges in California

  • 44,589enrollment
  • $16,474net price
  • 14%acceptance rate
  • 1300-1530SAT range
  • 29-35ACT range
  • 3.9Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Loyola Marymount University
L
Los Angeles, CA
Loyola Marymount University

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#7 Best Colleges in California

  • 9,686enrollment
  • $48,758net price
  • 50%acceptance rate
  • 1210-1390SAT range
  • 27-31ACT range
  • 3.85Avg Weighted GPA

Applications Due Jan 15

University of California Berkeley
C
Berkeley, CA
University of California Berkeley

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#8 Best Colleges in California

  • 42,327enrollment
  • $19,329net price
  • 17%acceptance rate
  • 1310-1530SAT range
  • 30-35ACT range
  • 3.86Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Occidental College
O
Los Angeles, CA
Occidental College

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

#9 Best Colleges in California

  • 1,839enrollment
  • $41,102net price
  • 41%acceptance rate
  • 1270-1460SAT range
  • 28-33ACT range
  • 3.62Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 15

University of California San Diego
C
La Jolla, CA
University of California San Diego

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#10 Best Colleges in California

  • 39,576enrollment
  • $15,222net price
  • 37%acceptance rate
  • 1270-1480SAT range
  • 28-34ACT range
  • 4.09Avg Weighted GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

University of California Irvine
C
Irvine, CA
University of California Irvine

Public 4 Year

2 reviews

#11 Best Colleges in California

  • 36,303enrollment
  • $13,106net price
  • 30%acceptance rate
  • 1230-1430SAT range
  • 26-33ACT range
  • 3.75Estimated Avg Weighted GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

University of California Davis
C
Davis, CA
University of California Davis

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#12 Best Colleges in California

  • 39,074enrollment
  • $17,026net price
  • 46%acceptance rate
  • 1160-1400SAT range
  • 25-33ACT range
  • 4.0Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Chapman University
C
Orange, CA
Chapman University

Private 4 Year

4 reviews

#13 Best Colleges in California

  • 9,761enrollment
  • $44,327net price
  • 58%acceptance rate
  • 1170-1350SAT range
  • 25-30ACT range
  • 3.8Avg Weighted GPA

Applications Due Mar 1

University of California Santa Barbara
C
Santa Barbara, CA
University of California Santa Barbara

Public 4 Year

3 reviews

#14 Best Colleges in California

  • 26,179enrollment
  • $17,223net price
  • 37%acceptance rate
  • 1230-1460SAT range
  • 28-34ACT range
  • 4.17Avg Weighted GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Pepperdine University
P
Malibu, CA
Pepperdine University

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#15 Best Colleges in California

  • 9,554enrollment
  • $46,550net price
  • 42%acceptance rate
  • 1200-1410SAT range
  • 26-31ACT range
  • 3.69Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 5

University of San Francisco
S
San Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#16 Best Colleges in California

  • 10,068enrollment
  • $42,801net price
  • 70%acceptance rate
  • 1140-1330SAT range
  • 24-30ACT range
  • 3.54Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 15

California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo
C
San Luis Obispo, CA
California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Public 4 Year

2 reviews

#17 Best Colleges in California

  • 22,440enrollment
  • $20,491net price
  • 38%acceptance rate
  • 1220-1410SAT range
  • 26-32ACT range
  • 3.99Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

University of the Pacific
T
Stockton, CA
University of the Pacific

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

#18 Best Colleges in California

  • 6,263enrollment
  • $32,780net price
  • 71%acceptance rate
  • 1080-1340SAT range
  • 22-30ACT range
  • 3.55Avg GPA