The Best Online Colleges in California

by TBS Staff

Updated September 26, 2022

reviewed by TBS Rankings Team
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Online Universities and Colleges in CA

Online colleges in California allow students in the nation's most populated state to pursue the college experience that best suits their needs. Approximately 3 million learners attend one of California's public colleges and universities each year, according to the state's Public Policy Institute. Community colleges and private institutions also see strong numbers, and have begun to broaden their distance offerings, allowing students to attend a California college online.

California is home to a variety of popular schools as well as a few lesser-known options that offer quality programming. California's workforce is both strong and competitive, meaning that learners need to set themselves apart by acquiring additional skills and credentials.

Selecting the best school and program goes a long way in this regard, but the sheer number of available opportunities can make the decision difficult. Our guide to the best online colleges in California is designed to help prospective learners assess their options and select the program that best meets their needs. It also answers a few common questions about online college in California and offers a ranking of 25 of the best schools and programs in California.

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Colleges in California

#1

San Diego State University

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 34%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

San Diego State University is a leader in online education. Remote programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are available at this public institution. Distance learners often choose this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for academic strength.

Online learners can receive assistance from career and academic service associates located at the school's physical campus in California. These advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

Those interested in applying to these online degree programs should contact the school directly for more information.

San Diego State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 17,691

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Online Master's Programs: 6

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 4%

Admission Rate: 34%

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#2

California State University, Chico

School Information
Location Chico, California
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Anyone interested in pursuing a degree online should consider California State University, Chico. Remote students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have five options through this public institution. Distance learners benefit from the school's track record in online education and its strong academic reputation.

All learners, including those studying online, can take advantage of the academic and career services professionals hosted at the school's Chico, California, campus. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their programs, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. The school also emphasizes hands-on learning through its internship programs. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

For more information on how to apply and what programs are available online, contact the school directly.

California State University, Chico at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 6,024

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 5%

Admission Rate: 72%

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#3

William Jessup University

School Information
Location Rocklin, California
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

William Jessup University is a popular choice among those seeking a degree online. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this private institution, which hosts a total of five online degree programs. Distance learners benefit from the school's track record in online education and its strong academic reputation.

Academic and career preparation services are available to all students, even those far from the Rocklin, California, campus. Degree-seekers benefit from virtual job fairs and other career-planning services, as well as academic advising. The internship program that the school offers helps many students prepare for their future careers. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Those interested in applying to these online degree programs should contact the school directly for more information.

William Jessup University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 678

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 16%

Admission Rate: 65%

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#4

California State University, East Bay

School Information
Location Hayward, California
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

California State University, East Bay is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. Remote degrees at graduate and undergraduate levels are available to enrollees at this public school. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

The physical campus in Hayward employs academic and career service professionals that are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers who choose to connect with academic advisors can participate in virtual job fairs and other career-planning events. Internship programs are also available to students, helping them gain valuable field experience. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion of their program.

Ask the school directly for more information about online degree options and how to apply.

California State University, East Bay at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,361

Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Online Master's Programs: 4

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 10%

Admission Rate: 76%

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#5

Fresno Pacific University

School Information
Location Fresno, California
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 67%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Online degree-seekers should consider Fresno Pacific University. Students who enroll at the private institution can choose between 12 online offerings at undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance learners appreciate the way the school brings its reputation for academic success to its online programming.

Career and academic service associates located at the California campus also assist online learners. These advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. The school also facilitates internship opportunities that help students gain real-world experience. Completing their program grants graduates an accredited degree.

Additional details regarding program availability and application processes are available by contacting the school.

Fresno Pacific University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,738

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 8

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 8%

Admission Rate: 66%

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#6

Hope International University

School Information
Location Fullerton, California
Admission Rate 37%
Graduation Rate 54%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hope International University is a fantastic choice for online learners. Remote students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have 19 options through this private institution. The school's proven track record in online education and reputation for quality academics lead many distance learners to apply.

Career and academic service associates located at the Fullerton, California, campus also assist online learners. Degree-seekers connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs and career-planning events. Hands-on learning through internship programs helps many students prepare for work in the field. Completing all requirements results in graduates receiving an accredited degree.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

Hope International University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 564

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 9

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 59%

Admission Rate: 37%

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#7

Brandman University

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Those looking for an online college program should consider Brandman University. The private institution offers 50 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school has experience facilitating online classes and a reputation for strong academics, attracting many remote students.

Online learners are also able to work with academic and career services professionals located at the Irvine, California, campus. Degree-seekers can get help planning their academic and professional futures with offerings such as academic advising and virtual career fairs. The school also helps facilitate internships to help students gain hands-on experience. Those who complete all program requirements receive an accredited degree upon graduation.

Representatives at the school can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

Brandman University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 9,772

Online Bachelor's Programs: 16

Online Master's Programs: 13

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 91%

Admission Rate: 89%

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#8

California Baptist University

School Information
Location Riverside, California
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 63%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

California Baptist University is one of the best options available to online degree-seekers. The 39 online programs offered by this private institution consist of both undergraduate and graduate offerings. The school has a track record in academic success through online coursework.

The school offers additional support to online learners through the academic and career services offices at its Riverside campus. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their programs, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. Hands-on learning through internship programs help many students prepare for work in the field. Those who complete all program requirements receive an accredited degree upon graduation.

Anyone interested in learning more about available online programs and how to apply should contact the school directly.

California Baptist University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 6,112

Online Bachelor's Programs: 24

Online Master's Programs: 13

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 31%

Admission Rate: 78%

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#9

Concordia University Irvine

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 63%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A quality online college education is available at Concordia University Irvine. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have 20 online degree opportunities to choose from at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school's substantial track record in online education and good academic reputation attract many distance learners.

Academic and career service professionals are available to help online learners. Degree-seekers benefit from virtual job fairs and other career-planning services, as well as academic advising. Many students also prepare for future careers by gaining hands-on experience during internships. A degree with full accreditation is awarded to all enrollees upon completing their program.

Those interested in applying to these online degree programs should contact the school directly for more information.

Concordia University Irvine at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,478

Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Online Master's Programs: 11

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 42%

Admission Rate: 71%

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#10

University of La Verne

School Information
Location La Verne, California
Admission Rate 55%
Graduation Rate 73%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of La Verne is a popular choice among those seeking a degree online. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have four online degree opportunities to choose from at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school's proven track record in online education and reputation for quality academics leads many distance learners to apply.

Career and academic service associates located at the California campus also assist online learners. Academic advisors and virtual job fairs help set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Upon completing their program, graduates receive an accredited degree.

Those interested in applying to these online degree programs should contact the school directly for more information.

University of La Verne at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,743

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 5%

Admission Rate: 55%

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#11

San Diego Christian College

School Information
Location Santee, California
Admission Rate 55%
Graduation Rate 53%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 83% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

San Diego Christian College offers online programming that ranks highly among similar offerings. Those who choose to enroll at this private college can choose from 10 different programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school's experience with online education and strong academic reputation make it a great choice for distance learners.

Online learners can benefit from the academic advisors and career services professionals at the Santee, California, campus. These advisors facilitate career-planning events like virtual job fairs for interested degree-seekers. Hands-on learning through internship programs helps many students prepare for work in their field. The degree that graduates receive upon completing their program is fully accredited.

Contact the school directly to receive more information about online program opportunities and application procedures.

San Diego Christian College at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 456

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 48%

Admission Rate: 55%

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#12

Loma Linda University

School Information
Location Loma Linda, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Loma Linda University offers online programming that ranks highly among similar programs. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have 20 online degree opportunities to choose from at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

The academic and career advisors located at the California campus are also available to assist online learners. Academic advisors and virtual job fairs help set degree-seekers up for long-term success. Many degree programs include an internship, helping students gain experience in their field. Graduates are awarded a fully accredited degree upon completing their program.

For more information on how to apply and what programs are available online, contact the school directly.

Loma Linda University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,227

Online Bachelor's Programs: 4

Online Master's Programs: 8

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 11%

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#13

Touro University Worldwide

School Information
Location Los Alamitos, California
Graduation Rate 100%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Touro University Worldwide is a fantastic choice for online learners. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have 14 online degree opportunities to choose from at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school has experience facilitating online classes and a reputation for strong academics, attracting many remote students.

The school's main campus in Los Alamitos, California, hosts academic and career services offices that are available to online learners. Virtual career fairs, academic advising, and other programs support the long-term success of degree-seekers. The school's internship programs give students a chance to gain hands-on field experience. Program graduates are awarded a bachelor's degree with full accreditation upon completing all requirements.

Additional information about how to apply and what programs are available can be obtained by contacting the school directly.

Touro University Worldwide at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,903

Online Bachelor's Programs: 4

Online Master's Programs: 8

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 93%

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#14

National University

School Information
Location La Jolla, California
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 29%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

National University is a leader in online education. Students who enroll at the private institution can choose between 98 online offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

The physical campus in La Jolla, California, employs academic and career service professionals that are also available to assist online learners. Career-planning events like virtual job fairs are available to degree-seekers who connect with these advisors. Internships help students gain hands-on experience. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Representatives at the school can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

National University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 8,769

Online Bachelor's Programs: 40

Online Master's Programs: 41

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 72%

Admission Rate: 89%

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#15

Golden Gate University

School Information
Location San Francisco, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

For many online degree-seekers, Golden Gate University is an attractive choice. The school, a private institution, hosts 62 programs for remote learners at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

The school offers additional support to online learners through the academic and career services offices at its San Francisco, California, campus. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their program, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. Many students also gain hands-on field experience through the school's internship programs. A degree with full accreditation is awarded to all enrollees upon completing their program.

Representatives at the school can provide additional information about application and program specifics.

Golden Gate University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,631

Online Bachelor's Programs: 10

Online Master's Programs: 22

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 85%

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Online Colleges in California Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in California based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Employment in California

Educational attainment and gainful employment go hand in hand. Understanding which job sectors enjoy the most demand can help prospective learners choose a major that will pay off. According to the California Employment Development Department, trade and transportation, education, healthcare, and business and professional services are the top industries in the Golden State.

These sectors see the most localized demand, employ the highest concentration of workers, and promise industry growth in coming years. As the table below indicates, these industries also support some of the highest-paying and fastest-growing occupations in California. Those interested in medicine and nursing in particular will continue to see especially favorable conditions.

Aspiring professionals should weigh these trends against additional factors, like cost of living and unemployment rates. While recent BLS data lists California's unemployment rate at just 3.9%, its cost of living exceeds the national average by nearly 50% due to housing expenses. This means that while incoming learners and recent graduates should fare well in the workforce, they need to make smart and informed decisions in order to take advantage of job opportunities that do not jeopardize their finances.

Top Online Bachelor's in Healthcare

Highest Paying Careers
Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)
Anesthesiologists $288,420 11.5%
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $264,380 N/A
Psychiatrists $255,790 11.1%
Chief Executives $228,270 -2.3%
Surgeons $221,490 11.5%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral
Fastest Growing Careers
Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)
Solar Photovoltaic Installers $46,390 130.6%
Home Health Aides $33,680 41.0%
Software Developers, Applications $127,950 40.1%
Personal Care Aides $27,210 39.9%
Nurse Practitioners $133,780 35.1%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

Associate and Graduate Degrees

Associate programs help prepare learners for more focused study and often act as stepping stones to bachelor's degrees. Graduate programs work similarly: After baccalaureate graduation, some degree-seekers proceed to further advanced study. This route hones existing skills, develops additional areas of expertise, and qualifies learners for a broader, more lucrative set of job opportunities.

Most colleges and universities in California now offer online options at every level of educational attainment. This means that prospective students can feasibly complete their entire education using more convenient methods. Many schools extend associate degrees by offering built-in pathways to undergraduate and graduate study. Learners who take full advantage of these benefits may be able to reduce their total time spent in school.

Business management, nursing, and criminal justice are among the most common fields of study in this regard. Many online colleges in California offer associate and graduate programs in these areas. Unlike traditional on-campus programs, these opportunities do not involve travel or relocation and administer most if not all requirements online. Some schools may even offer opportunities for internships or field placements within degree-seekers' own communities.

Best Online Associate Degrees

Questions About College in California

Is Online College Cheaper in California?

California is not the most expensive state for college, but median tuition rates do exceed the national average. The National Center for Education Statistics provides a handy table with recent expense figures.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in California?

This depends on prior academic experience and current work commitments. Those with transfer credits finish faster, while those beginning study from the ground up take longer. Most undergraduate students graduate in 3-5 years.

Does an Online Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree?

Yes! Most of the online schools in California listed in our ranking use the same faculty, share the same learning objectives, and award the same diplomas as on-campus offerings.

Is California a Good State for Higher Education?

It is. California is home to a number of reputable institutions, including one of the largest public university systems in the country (California State University). It continues to expand financial aid opportunities as well as distance learning options.

Popular Online Associate Degrees

Popular with our students.

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