2021 Best Online Colleges in the Pacific Southwest

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By Bethanny Parker

Published on August 2, 2021

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The Pacific Southwest represents a diverse region within the United States. Although definitions vary somewhat, this area is typically thought of as encompassing California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. Prospective students can find some of the best colleges in the nation within these states. These schools offer programs that align with just about any career goal.

Many schools tailor their curricula to match local industry demands, and popular industries and job opportunities vary by state. For example, Hawaii's Department of Labor and Industrial Relations projects that the healthcare and social assistance sector will account for 43% of new jobs created between 2018 and 2028. Additionally, California's Employment Development Department projects 40.1% job growth for software application developers between 2016 and 2026.

To qualify for many well-paying positions, candidates need at least a bachelor's degree. Fortunately, the Pacific Southwest is home to numerous colleges with programs that prepare students to excel in exciting roles. Online programs may appeal to out-of-state learners, as well as students looking for increased scheduling flexibility.

We ranked the 10 best online colleges in the Pacific Southwest to help applicants find a program that aligns with their career goals.

What Are the 2021 Best Online Colleges in the Pacific Southwest? Here Are Our Top 10:

Ranking compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
#2 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA
#3 California State University-San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA
#4 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
#5 California State University-Northridge Northridge, CA
#6 William Jessup University Rocklin, CA
#7 Biola University La Mirada, CA
#8 Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA
#9 California State University-Chico Chico, CA
#10 California State University-Sacramento Sacramento, CA
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Colleges in the Pacific Southwest

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San Diego State University View School Profile San Diego, CA

SDSU's College of Extended Studies now goes by a new name: SDSU Global Campus. The university offers six online bachelor's degrees and six online master's degrees. SDSU also offers two hybrid bachelor's programs and four hybrid master's programs. These hybrid programs require some in-person classes.

SDSU serves over 36,000 students and has been designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Many undergraduates participate in research at SDSU. They assist professors in the field and in labs. Researchers at SDSU have conducted over 50 interdisciplinary COVID-19 research projects in response to the pandemic.

SDSU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Fullerton View School Profile Fullerton, CA

Cal State Fullerton offers three online degree completion programs: a BA in business administration, a BA in humanities and social sciences, and a BA in sociology. Students complete 66-69 credits over the course of three years to earn their degree. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Among its online options, Cal State Fullerton also offers certificate programs led by experts working in various industries and professional development programs for educators.

The university serves over 41,000 students annually from over 70 nations. The average student age is 23.

Cal State Fullerton is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-San Bernardino View School Profile San Bernardino, CA

CSUSB offers seven online programs. Some of these programs may require an on-campus culminating experience. The university also offers six blended programs, which include both online and in-person instruction.

CSUSB enrolls over 20,000 students annually, and it awards degrees to about 4,000 students each year. The university also serves a diverse student population. It has the second-highest Latino/a and African American enrollments of all public universities in California.

CSUSB is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Some of the university's programs also hold specialized accreditation from organizations like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of Utah View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT

The U offers nine online bachelor's degrees, 12 online master's degrees, and an online minor in gerontology. Additionally, BlockU general education courses are available online for first-year college students. Online learners also can get tutoring help and gain access to the university writing center and library resources.

The U awarded almost 9,000 degrees in 2020. The university maintains a 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and boasts the highest graduation rate among public universities in Utah. The U received over $600 million in research funding in 2020, and maintains over 963,000 square feet of dedicated research space on campus.

The U is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Northridge View School Profile Northridge, CA

CSUN offers two online bachelor's degrees, 14 online master's degrees, and eight online certificates. Programs include a bachelor's degree in public sector management and master's degrees in public administration and social work.

Admission requirements and delivery method vary by program. Learners may also choose from part-time and full-time enrollment options. Online program faculty receive specialized training, preparing to provide effective instruction to distance learners.

CSUN serves more than 38,000 students and over 4,000 faculty and staff members. The university's campus is located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.

CSUN is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

William Jessup University View School Profile Rocklin, CA

Jessup offers 17 online programs, including six bachelor's degrees, three master's degrees, and eight graduate and undergraduate certificates.

Online programs include an undergraduate certificate in biblical studies and bachelor's degrees in business, computer science, criminal justice and healthcare.

For its graduate programs, the Christian university offers an MA in leadership, an MS in kinesiology, and an MBA. Distance learners have access to individualized academic support. Also available to Jessup's online students: access to books and other materials, a success center, tutoring sessions, career planning, and meetings with writing center staff.

Jessup is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Biola University View School Profile La Mirada, CA

Biola offers eight online bachelor's programs, including bachelor's degrees in biblical ministries, business management, and Bible, theology, and apologetics. The university also offers 18 online master's degrees and several online certificates.

Located in La Mirada, California, Biola serves over 6,000 students and offers over 150 academic programs through its nine schools. The university maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 15-to-1. Biola's professors hold doctoral degrees from universities like Oxford, Stanford, Cornell, MIT, and Cambridge.

Biola is a Christian university and all undergraduates, regardless of major, must complete 30 credits of theology and Bible classes. This requirement allows most students to earn a minor in biblical and theological studies.

Biola is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Point Loma Nazarene University View School Profile San Diego, CA

PLNU offers 14 online programs, including adult degree completion programs in organizational leadership and business administration. Distance learners can also enroll in an RN-to-BSN program.

The university maintains a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. PLNU encourages students to participate in honors programs, graduate field experience, study abroad programs, and summer research programs.

Emphasizing service, PLNU also provides opportunities for its students to tutor other students, help people experiencing homelessness, and participate in short-term mission programs. Nearly 90% of graduates complete their programs in four years.

PLNU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Chico View School Profile Chico, CA

Chico State offers nine online degrees and degree completion programs, as well as one online certificate. Prospective undergraduate students can choose from programs in liberal studies, religious studies, sociology, social science, and nursing. The university offers four online master's programs in agricultural education, nursing, math education, and business administration.

Chico State is a Hispanic-Serving Institution that educates over 16,000 students annually and maintains an average class size of 32 pupils. Learners graduate with one of the lowest average student debts in the United States. The university is located about 90 minutes from Sacramento and three hours from San Francisco.

Chico State is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California State University-Sacramento View School Profile Sacramento, CA

Sacramento State offers five bachelor's degree completion programs that students can complete online or through a hybrid format. Students can pursue degrees in arts and letters, child development, psychology, career and technical studies, and criminal justice. Once enrolled, all students receive personalized academic advising.

Sacramento State serves over 30,000 learners each year, including about 7,000 graduate students. The university participates in the California Promise program, which helps keep undergraduates on track to graduate on time.

Sacramento State is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Top Degree Programs in the Pacific Southwest

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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