Colleges and universities in California help thousands of students earn online degrees each year. Like the state itself, California’s buffet of educational offerings is expansive, varied, and colorful. With more than 3.2 million students studying at any of the state’s universities and community colleges, California’s higher education system is the largest in the U.S.
Eight California universities rank among the very best in offering robust online degree programs. Several branches of the University of California and California State University, as well as a number of private universities also offer many useful online services, which help to make the student’s experience easy and productive.
Four reasons to find an online college in your state:
- Guaranteed in-state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking guidelines for the best online colleges in California:
We selected the online colleges and universities here based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.
Note: In ranking the best online colleges in California, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in California may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school to rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in California.
- See who ranks as the best college and university in California today.
- Azusa Pacific University and California Baptist University rank among the 100 Best Online Colleges for 2017.
- Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, University of Southern California, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz all rank among the 100 Best Universities in the World.
The Best Online Colleges in California
Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical Christian university founded in 1899. Over 10,000 students attend the university’s seven campuses throughout southern California. The university is known for its extensive library, both in print and online. Among the crown jewels of its collection are a set of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and first-edition prints of the King James Bible.
University College at Azusa Pacific University offers online associate, bachelor, master and certificate programs. Associate’s degrees include arts and health science. Bachelor’s degrees make up the bulk of the university’s online offerings with management and applied psychology. Master’s degree options include leadership and organizational studies while available certificates include business and pre-nursing.
Students have access to multiple online resources, including an online library with scholarly article database, 24/7 math and writing tutoring, career and vocation center, an online chapel, disability services and financial services.
University College at Azusa Pacific University is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
California Baptist University, established in 1950, is a Christian liberal arts university affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The university has seven academic departments, teaches roughly 8,000 students and offers over 100 degree programs in topics including everything from music to kinesiology. The university’s library holds the P. Boyd Smith Hymnology Collection, a massive 2,100-volume work containing hymns spanning 300 years and in over 20 languages.
California Baptist University offers more than 30 bachelor, master and doctoral programs online with an excellent variety of majors. Online bachelor’s degree offerings include graphic design, criminal justice, liberal studies and political science. Online master’s degree options include accounting, business, communication and disability studies. Available online doctoral programs include public administration.
California Baptist University’s online student resources include an online library, a scholarly article database and an online job board.
California Baptist University is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
Brandman University, established in 1958 as part of Chapman University, has several campuses in California and Washington as well as an online campus. Between these, the university offers over 50 degree and certificate programs. The university originally served soldiers of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, and has since developed a military-friendly reputation.
Brandman University offers an impressive variety of associate, bachelor, master, doctoral and certification programs online. The university offers an associate’s degree in general education. Brandman University focuses more on its bachelor’s degree offerings, which include criminal justice and sociology. It also offers master’s degrees online, including education and psychology. Doctoral options include nursing and organizational leadership, while certificate options include business and health administration.
In keeping with its military-friendly reputation, the university offers many useful online services including an online library with a scholarly article database, career services, writing community, disability services, military community and technical support.
Brandman University is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
The Tseng College California State University Northridge was originally a satellite campus for Cal State Los Angeles but struck out on its own in 1958. Since then, it has swelled to over 40,000 students and more than 200 degree programs. The university is home to the National Center on Deafness and hosts the International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities annually.
The Tseng College California State University Northridge offers a variety of online bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include public sector management and liberal studies. Online Master’s degree options include education and public health. Certificate programs include media and radiology.
Students have access to a variety of resources to help them during their time with the university, including live chat with a librarian, an online scholarly article database, technical support, veterans’ affairs and a career center.
The Tseng College California State University Northridge is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
(San Marcos, CA)
California State University – San Marcos, established in 1989, has four academic colleges, nearly 100 degree programs and more than 10,000 students. The campus used to be a chicken farm more than 300 acres in size.
California State University – San Marcos has four colleges: The College of Business Administration, the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences; the College of Science and Mathematics; and the College of Education, Health and Human Services.
California State University – San Marcos offers a number of online certificates and degrees, but it is highly advisable to contact the university directly to find out what specific types of degrees are available online. Subjects include healthcare, software development, business, media, hospitality, management and renewable energy.
Students have access to the university’s library online, as well as an extensive database of scholarly journal articles. Online academic advising is also available after the student has attended orientation.
California State University – San Marcos is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
California State University – East Bay, a public school, offers over 190 degree programs. Three of the university’s academic departments, the business, education and music departments, have earned national respect and recognition. The university has won several awards for its advances in solar energy research.
California State University – East Bay provides online bachelor’s degrees in areas such as hospitality and tourism, and business administration. Online Master’s degrees include education and health care administration. Available certificates include mathematics and cartography.
California State University – East Bay’s online students have access to plenty of resources, including an online library and academic article database, academic advising, career education, online tutoring and an online writing lab.
California State University – East Bay is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
(La Jolla, CA)
National University is one of the largest nonprofit universities in California with over 12,000 students enrolled. Founded in 1971, the university has more than 25 campuses both inside and outside of the United States, as well as a thriving online campus. The university offers over 130 degree programs, many of which are also available online.
National University offers an extensive array of online bachelor, master and certificate programs. Some of the online bachelor’s degrees available include finance, education, engineering and law. Master’s degree options include journalism and psychology, while certification options include hospitality, marketing and criminal justice.
The university’s library offers many services to its online students, including librarian live chat, an ebook collection, streaming video, a scholarly article database and a dissertation database. The university also offers writing center services as well as an online job board.
National University is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).
(San Francisco, CA)
Golden Gate University established in 1901, is a private nonprofit university with approximately 5,000 students. The university’s four colleges specialize in: law, business, accounting and taxation. Its long history also includes distance education, as it first offered this in the form of correspondence in 1993.
Golden Gate University has a number of online bachelor, master and certificate programs. Bachelor’s degree options include business, information technology and marketing. Master’s degree offerings include financial planning and taxation. Available certificates include global supply chain management and public relations.
There are also many resources available to online students, including legal databases, access to multiple law libraries from around the state and an online job board.
Golden Gate University – San Francisco is regionally accredited by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC).