2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in California

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public institutions also rank highly among the best colleges and universities in many states, California included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in California

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

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.

Showing 30 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    University of California-Los Angeles

    Los Angeles, CA

    Graduation Rate

    92%

    Enrollment

    44,371

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13240

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $42994

    From its campus in California, University of California-Los Angeles enrolls students in 333 programs. Students benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. Information on the average student-to-faculty ratio is unavailable. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Students earn their degree from the school at a rate of 92%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates on the job market. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

    #2

    University of California-Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA

    Graduation Rate

    93%

    Enrollment

    43,185

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14253

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $44007

    University of California-Berkeley, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Berkeley, California. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Academic programs can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete, depending on degree or certificate type. Applicants may qualify for a standardized test score waiver. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can provide additional resources on applying. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. University of California-Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #3

    University of California-Irvine

    Irvine, CA

    Graduation Rate

    84%

    Enrollment

    36,908

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13727

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $43481

    University of California-Irvine, which offers programs from its Irvine, California campus, often ranks among the top schools. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Applicants may qualify for a standardized test score waiver. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The admissions department can provide more information on the process. Degree-seekers at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. University of California-Irvine has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #4

    University of California-San Diego

    La Jolla, CA

    Graduation Rate

    87%

    Enrollment

    38,736

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14415

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $44169

    Located in California, University of California-San Diego enrolls students in 228 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer a rigorous course of study. The average student-to-teacher ratio is unknown. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Enrollees graduate from the school at a rate of 87%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Prospective applicants can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

    #5

    California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo, CA

    Graduation Rate

    82%

    Enrollment

    21,426

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $9943

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $23833

    From its San Luis Obispo, California campus, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo offers 123 program options for students. The institution's rigorous programs rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-instructor ratio is unknown. Information on the average amount of aid students receive is unavailable. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 82%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps students enter the workforce. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

    #6

    University of California-Santa Barbara

    Santa Barbara, CA

    Graduation Rate

    83%

    Enrollment

    26,314

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14391

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $44145

    University of California-Santa Barbara ranks as a top school from its campus in Santa Barbara, California. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Typical time for program completion ranges from a few months to seven years depending on the type of degree or certificate offered. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The admissions department provides additional resources on applying to the school. Learners also use financial aid to pay for their college degree or certificate. University of California-Santa Barbara has received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #7

    University of California-Davis

    Davis, CA

    Graduation Rate

    87%

    Enrollment

    38,634

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14495

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $44249

    A public institution located in Davis, California, University of California-Davis offers multiple programs. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of California-Davis holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #8

    California State University-Long Beach

    Long Beach, CA

    Graduation Rate

    74%

    Enrollment

    38,674

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6834

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18714

    From its Long Beach, California campus, California State University-Long Beach offers 180 program options for students. Learners benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The student-to-teacher ratio is currently unknown. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Students in the school's programs graduate at a rate of 74%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates on the job market. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Prospective applicants can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

    #9

    San Diego State University

    San Diego, CA

    Graduation Rate

    73%

    Enrollment

    35,544

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7510

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19390

    A public institution, San Diego State University grants degrees from its campus in San Diego, California. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their career goals. Students gain knowledge and skill specific to their field by completing their program's coursework requirements. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The school supports enrollees with tutoring and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant. San Diego State University holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #10

    California State University-Fullerton

    Fullerton, CA

    Graduation Rate

    69%

    Enrollment

    40,445

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6924

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18804

    A public institution in Fullerton, California, California State University-Fullerton offers a variety of degree and certificate programs. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. Students earn their bachelor's degree from the school at a rate of 69%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. The school holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #11

    California State University-Los Angeles

    Los Angeles, CA

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    26,671

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6768

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18648

    From its campus in Los Angeles, California, California State University-Los Angeles enrolls students in 152 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer a rigorous course of study. The average student-to-faculty ratio is unknown. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. The school reports a 52% graduation rate. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates become more competitive in the job market. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs no longer require test scores for admission. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

    #12

    California State University-Fresno

    Fresno, CA

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    24,298

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6589

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18469

    California State University-Fresno, located in Fresno, California, grants degrees and certificates as a public institution. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. Students who complete an academic or technical program enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The public school reports a 56% graduation rate. The institution's admission rate is unknown at this time. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. California State University-Fresno has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #13

    University of California-Riverside

    Riverside, CA

    Graduation Rate

    76%

    Enrollment

    25,547

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13853

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $43607

    University of California-Riverside enrolls students at its Riverside, California campus as a public institution. Learners study with experts in many different fields. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. Students can fund their education with financial aid such as federal loans, scholarships, and grants. Students earn their bachelor's degree from the school at a rate of 76%. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements and start dates. University of California-Riverside has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #14

    California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

    Pomona, CA

    Graduation Rate

    69%

    Enrollment

    28,058

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7396

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19276

    California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, located in Pomona, California, offers 93 programs for degree-seekers. Degree-seekers enroll in rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. Information on the student-to-teacher ratio is unavailable. How much aid students receive on average is currently unknown. The public school reports a 69% graduation rate. Students should explore how workplace experience makes them more competitive employee candidates. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying.

    #15

    Santa Monica College

    Santa Monica, CA

    Graduation Rate

    29%

    Enrollment

    27,497

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1144

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8840

    From its campus in California, Santa Monica College administers 127 total programs. Degree-seekers enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. Information on the student-to-instructor ratio is unavailable. Data on the amount of aid students receive per year on average is unavailable. Students earn their degree from the school at a rate of 29%. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements.

    #16

    De Anza College

    Cupertino, CA

    Graduation Rate

    65%

    Enrollment

    18,669

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1561

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9526

    From its campus in Cupertino, California, De Anza College offers multiple programs as a public institution. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Learners at the school choose from academic and technical programs. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements depending on their program. The school's accreditation is unknown.

    #17

    California State University-Northridge

    Northridge, CA

    Graduation Rate

    55%

    Enrollment

    39,910

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6977

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18857

    A public institution, California State University-Northridge educates students on its campus in Northridge, California. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. A test score waiver makes it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. California State University-Northridge is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #18

    University of California-Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz, CA

    Graduation Rate

    75%

    Enrollment

    19,494

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13991

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $43745

    From its campus in Santa Cruz, California, University of California-Santa Cruz awards degrees and certificates as a public institution. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. Students who complete an academic or technical program often enter the workforce right away. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. The institution reports a graduation rate of 75%. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. University of California-Santa Cruz holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #19

    California State University-San Bernardino

    San Bernardino, CA

    Graduation Rate

    55%

    Enrollment

    20,638

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $6885

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18765

    A public institution located in San Bernardino, California, California State University-San Bernardino educates students through multiple programs. Enrollees complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, enrollees complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. California State University-San Bernardino holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #20

    Ohlone College

    Fremont, CA

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    8,900

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1164

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7524

    From its campus in California, Ohlone College administers 113 total programs. Degree-seekers enroll in rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The student-to-instructor ratio is unavailable. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 47%. Real-world experience helps candidates stand out on the job market. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

    #21

    Mt San Antonio College

    Walnut, CA

    Graduation Rate

    36%

    Enrollment

    29,799

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1350

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9610

    Located in California, Mt San Antonio College offers 180 programs for students. Learners enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The student-to-teacher ratio is unknown. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. The public school reports a graduation rate of 36%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates become more competitive in the job market. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Prospective applicants can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying.

    #22

    Irvine Valley College

    Irvine, CA

    Graduation Rate

    46%

    Enrollment

    12,812

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1144

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6952

    Located in California, Irvine Valley College offers 133 academic programs. The institution's rigorous programs rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-teacher ratio is unavailable. The average amount of aid awarded to students is unknown. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 46%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates become more competitive in the job market. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Prospective applicants can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying.

    #23

    Glendale Community College

    Glendale, CA

    Graduation Rate

    36%

    Enrollment

    13,584

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1175

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6575

    Glendale Community College, located in Glendale, California, offers 145 programs for students. Students enjoy rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The student-to-instructor ratio is unavailable. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 36%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning makes graduates more competitive. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying.

    #24

    Moorpark College

    Moorpark, CA

    Graduation Rate

    40%

    Enrollment

    14,275

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1394

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7398

    From its campus in Moorpark, California, Moorpark College awards degrees and certificates as a top school. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. The school's academic and technical tracks help students meet diverse career goals. Academic programs can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete, depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The admissions department can help students apply to the school. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The institution's accreditation status is currently unavailable.

    #25

    San Jose State University

    San Jose, CA

    Graduation Rate

    64%

    Enrollment

    36,085

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $7852

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $19732

    A public institution located in San Jose, California, San Jose State University enrolls students in several programs. Students leave the school with credentials that prepare them for the workplace. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Learners at the school choose from academic and technical programs. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. San Jose State University has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

    #26

    Feather River Community College District

    Quincy, CA

    Graduation Rate

    27%

    Enrollment

    2,058

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1461

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9441

    A public institution, Feather River Community College District educates students on its campus in Quincy, California. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their professional goals. Students strengthen their knowledge of the field by completing coursework. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal student aid programs. The school's accreditation status is currently unknown.

    #27

    Foothill College

    Los Altos Hills, CA

    Graduation Rate

    61%

    Enrollment

    15,123

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1563

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9528

    Foothill College, which operates a campus in Los Altos Hills, California, often ranks as a top school. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Consult the institution's website to find information on the typical timeline for program completion. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help students complete the process. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The institution's accreditation status is unknown.

    #28

    Pasadena City College

    Pasadena, CA

    Graduation Rate

    37%

    Enrollment

    26,971

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1168

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7552

    From its campus in Pasadena, California, Pasadena City College offers academic programs as a public institution. Enrollees complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution provides academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school boasts several programs that appear in national rankings. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. The school's accreditation status is currently unknown.

    #29

    College of the Canyons

    Santa Clarita, CA

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    19,089

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1156

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $7804

    A public institution, College of the Canyons enrolls students from its campus in Santa Clarita, California. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Enrollees graduate from the school at a rate of 38%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. The institution's accreditation status is currently unknown.

    #30

    Diablo Valley College

    Pleasant Hill, CA

    Graduation Rate

    48%

    Enrollment

    19,871

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $1312

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8564

    Diablo Valley College enrolls students at its Pleasant Hill, California campus as a public institution. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The public school reports a 48% graduation rate. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. The school's accreditation status is not available at this time.

    Why Choose a Public College or University in California?

    California is the most populous state in the U.S., so it is no surprise that it is home to a sizable list of public colleges and universities. Whether a community college or part of the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) systems, the best public colleges in California offer standout academics at an affordable price.

    Along with their affordability, some of the best colleges in California include prestigious institutions like UC Berkeley and UCLA, which have a reputation worldwide as elite research universities. But whether a student applies to an elite school like UCLA or a STEM-centric school like Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, students have access to top-notch academics.

    On the following page, we explore the pros and cons of attending public colleges and universities in California, how much students can expect to pay, and the benefits of attending a nonprofit college. Keep reading to see if a public college or university in California is the right choice for you.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in California

    Pros

    • When compared to private institutions, public colleges and universities in California offer affordable tuition. Students also have access to a wider variety of on-campus employment.
    • Public institutions in California are home to a diverse student population, with students from varying backgrounds.
    • Public institutions tend to offer a wide variety of academic majors and minors. Students also have greater access to internships and career training.

    Cons

    • The larger size of public institutions might turn off students who thrive in small classes. Some students feel anonymous in large classes.
    • Some students may feel intimidated by the large size of public colleges. The transition can feel challenging, especially for those living away from home for the first time.
    • Due to their larger size, communication with professors is often challenging. Some students perform better when they have easy access to instructors.

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in California

    For-profit colleges and universities in California advertise high acceptance rates and flexible programming, but the best public colleges in California are nonprofit institutions. Whether through the UC or CSU system, nonprofit institutions in this state offer standout academics with an affordable price tag. Public, nonprofit institutions in California also hold accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Most public institutions in California derive the majority of their funding through tax dollars. As a result, these schools can maintain relatively low tuition rates year over year. Conversely, for-profit institutions must consider the needs of investors and stakeholders, often prioritizing profits over the needs of faculty, staff, and students.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in California?

    The cost of college in California can vary between schools and even more dramatically between public and private institutions. A learner’s status as an in-state or out-of-state student can also impact their tuition rate.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition rate for in-state learners in California exceeds $8,000 annually. Including room and board, the total cost is about $23,000 per year. Out-of-state students in California can expect to pay around $32,000 per year, while students enrolling at private schools can anticipate the total cost to exceed $50,000 per year.

    When evaluating potential colleges, prospective students should consider the actual cost of studying and living in California. Having clear financial expectations can help dismiss some misconceptions about paying for college.

    Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

    Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in California

    How many public colleges and universities are there in California?

    California is home to a sizable list of public institutions through the CSU and UC systems. The CSU system includes 23 campuses all over the state, in places such as Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. The CSU system is also home to California Polytechnic schools in San Luis Obispo, Humboldt, and Pomona.

    The UC system has ten campuses and is home to elite institutions such as UC Berkeley and UCLA. California also oversees 115 accredited community colleges that enroll over 2 million students.

    What is the most expensive public college or university in California?

    The best public colleges in California provide students with standout academics at a relatively affordable price. That said, the more prestigious UCs cost more than Cal State schools. The UCs have an average tuition of $13,100 for in-state students for the 2022-23 academic year.

    College is expensive, and when evaluating potential schools, financial considerations are paramount. Prospective students in California should consider costs beyond tuition to understand the real cost of college. Public colleges and universities in California offer a wide variety of financial aid opportunities.

    What is the least expensive public college or university in California?

    CSUs have lower tuition rates compared to UCs. The average CSU tuition for the 2022-23 academic year is $5,740.

    When determining the cost of studying and living in California, the location may also impact the cost of living. Students in places like San Bernardino and Chico inevitably have a lower cost of living than those living in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Before enrolling at a four-year school, students can complete many general education requirements at community colleges at a lower cost.

    What is the biggest public college or university in California?

    California is home to many large public institutions. While UCLA is the largest public institution in the state, schools like UC Berkeley and Cal State Fullerton are only slightly smaller. Many public institutions in California have enrollment numbers that exceed 30,000 students.

    Degree-seekers wanting public tuition rates with fewer students can consider schools like Cal State-Monterey Bay, Humboldt State University, and Cal State-Channel Islands — these public schools have fewer than 8,000 students.

    Is a public college or university right for me?

    Selecting the best college is an individual choice, and prospective students should consider several factors. Financial considerations are important, but academic, social, and other personal concerns also play a role in this decision. A public institution is a solid choice for students wanting a college experience with a large student body, Division I sports, and an active Greek life.

    For the student wanting smaller class sizes and a more personalized experience, a private school is a better fit. And while private institutions tend to cost significantly more than public schools, applicants with a strong academic record often receive scholarships. Students can also offset the cost of private school if they complete general education requirements at a community college.