Best California Colleges

Ranked list of Colleges and Universities in California for 2024

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 278 colleges and universities in California enrolling 2,298,396 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 Pomona College. 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.


278 results

List of the Best California Colleges

California State Polytechnic University Pomona
C
Pomona, CA

California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#37 Best Colleges in California

  • 29,456enrollment
  • $14,457net price
  • 61%acceptance rate
  • 1010-1250SAT range
  • 19-27ACT range
  • 3.69Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Mount St. Mary's College
M
Los Angeles, CA

Mount St. Mary's College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#38 Best Colleges in California

  • 2,625enrollment
  • $27,346net price
  • 90%acceptance rate
  • 900-1110SAT range
  • 18-23ACT range
  • 3.59Avg GPA

Fresno Pacific University
F
Fresno, CA

Fresno Pacific University

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#39 Best Colleges in California

  • 3,524enrollment
  • $18,728net price
  • 78%acceptance rate
  • 970-1240SAT range
  • 17-24ACT range
  • 3.54Avg GPA

Applications Due Aug 1

University of California Merced
C
Merced, CA

University of California Merced

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#40 Best Colleges in California

  • 9,093enrollment
  • $13,578net price
  • 87%acceptance rate
  • 960-1140SAT range
  • 19-24ACT range
  • 3.55Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

San Jose State University
S
San Jose, CA

San Jose State University

Public 4 Year

3 reviews

#41 Best Colleges in California

  • 37,133enrollment
  • $15,995net price
  • 84%acceptance rate
  • 1010-1240SAT range
  • 19-26ACT range
  • 3.35Estimated Avg GPA

Applications Due Dec 15

Vanguard University of Southern California
V
Costa Mesa, CA
 

Vanguard University of Southern California

Private 4 Year

4 reviews

#42 Best Colleges in California

  • 2,268enrollment
  • $21,667net price
  • 69%acceptance rate
  • 980-1200SAT range
  • 19-25ACT range
  • 3.31Avg GPA

Applications Due Aug 1

California State University Chico
C
Chico, CA

California State University Chico

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#43 Best Colleges in California

  • 15,702enrollment
  • $16,109net price
  • 85%acceptance rate
  • 970-1170SAT range
  • 18-24ACT range
  • 3.37Avg GPA

Applications Due Dec 15

California Baptist University
C
Riverside, CA

California Baptist University

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#44 Best Colleges in California

  • 11,489enrollment
  • $27,883net price
  • 64%acceptance rate
  • 960-1150SAT range
  • 18-25ACT range
  • 3.58Avg GPA

California State University Fullerton
C
Fullerton, CA

California State University Fullerton

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#45 Best Colleges in California

  • 40,738enrollment
  • $8,322net price
  • 59%acceptance rate
  • 1000-1180SAT range
  • 18-23ACT range
  • 3.77Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Sonoma State University
S
Rohnert Park, CA

Sonoma State University

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#46 Best Colleges in California

  • 7,371enrollment
  • $17,239net price
  • 94%acceptance rate
  • 950-1150SAT range
  • 17-23ACT range
  • 3.4Avg GPA

La Sierra University
L
Riverside, CA
 

La Sierra University

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#47 Best Colleges in California

  • 1,738enrollment
  • $24,891net price
  • 66%acceptance rate
  • 880-1140SAT range
  • 18-28ACT range
  • 3.54Avg GPA

San Francisco State University
S
San Francisco, CA

San Francisco State University

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#48 Best Colleges in California

  • 26,899enrollment
  • $14,757net price
  • 93%acceptance rate
  • 930-1130SAT range
  • 16-23ACT range
  • 3.31Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

Humboldt State University
H
Arcata, CA

Humboldt State University

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#49 Best Colleges in California

  • 5,908enrollment
  • $15,015net price
  • 91%acceptance rate
  • 970-1190SAT range
  • 17-25ACT range
  • 3.33Avg GPA

Applications Due Apr 30

California State University San Marcos
C
San Marcos, CA

California State University San Marcos

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#50 Best Colleges in California

  • 16,255enrollment
  • $12,933net price
  • 93%acceptance rate
  • 950-1130SAT range
  • 17-22ACT range
  • 3.32Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

California State University Sacramento
C
Sacramento, CA

California State University Sacramento

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#51 Best Colleges in California

  • 32,498enrollment
  • $11,473net price
  • 94%acceptance rate
  • 930-1130SAT range
  • 17-23ACT range
  • 3.42Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

California State University Monterey Bay
C
Seaside, CA

California State University Monterey Bay

Public 4 Year

0 reviews

#52 Best Colleges in California

  • 7,503enrollment
  • $13,989net price
  • 93%acceptance rate
  • 960-1160SAT range
  • 17-23ACT range
  • 3.45Avg GPA

Applications Due Jan 15

California State University Northridge
C
Northridge, CA

California State University Northridge

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#53 Best Colleges in California

  • 40,108enrollment
  • $8,882net price
  • 88%acceptance rate
  • 900-1110SAT range
  • 16-22ACT range
  • 3.38Avg GPA

Applications Due Nov 30

California State University Fresno
C
Fresno, CA

California State University Fresno

Public 4 Year

2 reviews

#54 Best Colleges in California

  • 25,047enrollment
  • $6,906net price
  • 97%acceptance rate
  • 890-1100SAT range
  • 16-21ACT range
  • 3.12Estimated Avg GPA

Applications Due Dec 15