Best Colleges in California for Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s

California College Guide – What You Need to Know

The idea of the best college or university is not an absolute scale that applies to every student or situation. For each student, the best school is one that meets their needs, preferences, and educational goals. When comparing schools, many educational experts and surveys use ranking factors including reputation to rate colleges. California, beyond doubt, has a wide range of schools that have high accreditation and excellent indicators of quality education. California schools are among the leading research universities in the world; they have produced historical achievements and graduates that have influenced the well-being of the entire nation.

The best colleges & universities should include large public institutions, well-established traditional private schools, and the emerging institutions that are part of a current wave of progressive education. While there is no pure consensus, the frequently listed top California colleges include;

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What are the most popular bachelor's degrees offered in California?

The below-listed categories describe the most common majors in California colleges and universities. Some majors are vocational, as many students at state colleges take a utility view of education and hone-in on a degree that will equip them for a job or to start a career. Many popular majors seem more suited to further education or a non-vocational reward. The humanities or courses of study like literature or philosophy seem unrelated to career directions. It is interesting to note a trend in hiring in recent years for employers to look for graduates with majors that are unrelated subjects but that equip graduates with valuable skills. Philosophy majors that demonstrate critical thinking may be in demand with business employers just as students of finance.

The choice of major is an interesting piece of information for students when reviewing and selecting schools or colleges for a two or four-year degree. Across the US, the Department of Education listed the most popular bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2015. For California, the DOE listed the following:

How Much Can You Make by Having a Degree in California


Salary data always lags a few years in the past as the collection process requires time after the close of a calendar year. One useful survey occurred for the calendar year 2012. The average salary in the state of California was about $52,000 in a scale that put the national average at $45,000. California ranked fifth in that survey among states and the District of Columbia. California salaries averaged about 15% above the national average.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national average salary for 2017 was $44,564. The BLS figure for California was $57,190. Using the 2017 BLS data, California workers averaged about 29% more than the national average. The national average increase in salary for persons with a bachelor’s degree over those without is 108%.

Education Level & National Average Median Compensation

NO FORMAL EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA ASSOCIATE DEGREE BACHELOR’S DEGREE MASTER’S DEGREE DOCTORAL DEGREE
$30,784* $38,792* $43,024* $64,896* $77,844* $96,772*

Best Associate Degrees in California


Starting your college career at the community college level is a smart choice. Look for the best colleges in the state so you get the strongest start possible, whether you plan to transfer to a 4-year university or earn a vocational degree, is an even better one. Here you can find statistics and information that speak to each college’s quality, so that you can decide for yourself which school would be the best one for you.

Foothill College
College Type
4-year, primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
15,123
Graduation Rate
59%
Net Price
$8,752
Grads Salary
$46,500
De Anza College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
18,669
Graduation Rate
65%
Net Price
$7,685
Grads Salary
$41,700
College of San Mateo
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
8,163
Graduation Rate
44%
Net Price
$4,150
Grads Salary
$40,700
Casa Loma College-Van Nuys
College Type
2-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
162
Graduation Rate
37%
Net Price
$21,102
Grads Salary
$49,600
MTI College
College Type
2-year, Private for-profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
756
Graduation Rate
73%
Net Price
$18,013
Grads Salary
$33,300
Irvine Valley College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
12,812
Graduation Rate
51%
Net Price
$5,797
Grads Salary
$36,900
Moorpark College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
14,275
Graduation Rate
42%
Net Price
$4,703
Grads Salary
$38,600
Las Positas College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
8,706
Graduation Rate
44%
Net Price
$6,456
Grads Salary
$38,500
College of the Canyons
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
19,089
Graduation Rate
42%
Net Price
$7,032
Grads Salary
$39,400
Diablo Valley College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
19,871
Graduation Rate
48%
Net Price
$8,369
Grads Salary
$37,600
Full Ranking Report

Best Bachelor's Degrees in California


With more than 300 degree-granting universities and 250 community colleges, you’ll have a wide range of choices when you begin looking for a degree program that will work for your career goals. A bachelor’s degree may be the last degree you ever need, depending on the field you choose to enter. Get the most out of this opportunity by finding the best possible school to earn your education from.

Stanford University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
17,249
Graduation Rate
95%
Net Price
$20,023
Grads Salary
$109,800
California Institute of Technology
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,237
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$26,591
Grads Salary
$115,000
Harvey Mudd College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
904
Graduation Rate
93%
Net Price
$37,192
Grads Salary
$106,300
University of California-San Francisco
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
3,180
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$52,472
Grads Salary
$116,800
University of California-Berkeley
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
43,185
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$19,329
Grads Salary
$90,700
Claremont McKenna College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,346
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$22,004
Grads Salary
$89,000
University of California-Los Angeles
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
44,371
Graduation Rate
91%
Net Price
$16,474
Grads Salary
$84,200
Pomona College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,637
Graduation Rate
94%
Net Price
$30,392
Grads Salary
$87,000
University of California-San Diego
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
38,736
Graduation Rate
87%
Net Price
$15,222
Grads Salary
$82,000
University of California-Irvine
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
36,303
Graduation Rate
85%
Net Price
$13,106
Grads Salary
$78,700
Full Ranking Report

Best Master's Degrees in California


As you ready yourself to return to school for a master’s or doctoral program, you’ll have a plethora of options within the state of California. Here you’ll find a list of the best school in the state if you want to earn a master’s or doctorates in the state in order to advance in your career. If you are interested in an MBA to advance your career, you can check out the best MBA programs in California.

Stanford University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
17,249
Graduation Rate
95%
Net Price
$20,023
Grads Salary
$109,800
California Institute of Technology
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,237
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$26,591
Grads Salary
$115,000
University of California-San Francisco
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
3,180
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$52,472
Grads Salary
$116,800
University of California-Berkeley
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
43,185
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$19,329
Grads Salary
$90,700
Claremont McKenna College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,346
Graduation Rate
92%
Net Price
$22,004
Grads Salary
$89,000
University of California-Los Angeles
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
44,371
Graduation Rate
91%
Net Price
$16,474
Grads Salary
$84,200
University of California-San Diego
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
38,736
Graduation Rate
87%
Net Price
$15,222
Grads Salary
$82,000
University of California-Irvine
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
36,303
Graduation Rate
85%
Net Price
$13,106
Grads Salary
$78,700
University of California-Davis
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
38,634
Graduation Rate
86%
Net Price
$17,026
Grads Salary
$80,500
University of California-Santa Barbara
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
26,314
Graduation Rate
84%
Net Price
$17,223
Grads Salary
$79,600
Full Ranking Report