Best Colleges in Los Angeles
As the most populous city in California, Los Angeles attracts students and professionals from all walks of life. Los Angeles has thriving healthcare and manufacturing industries and is known as the entertainment capital of the world.
Being around some top schools is also one of the perks of living in Los Angeles. Several LA colleges ranked among the best in the world for their education and economic initiatives.
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The city boasts more than 60 colleges and universities. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) are not only the two most populous universities in the city, but they are also among LA's leading employers.
Explore the attractions of sunny Los Angeles, the ultimate West Coast destination. For more information about going to college in the Golden State, check out our Resources for Students in California page.
Why Study in Los Angeles?
The greater Los Angeles area houses diverse industrial, cultural, and educational sectors. Students attending college in LA can explore nearby areas and attractions. These include Hollywood, Disneyland in Anaheim, and Universal Studios near Burbank.
Major university systems like UCLA also feature locations in beach communities like Santa Monica and Long Beach, and extension sites including Woodland Hills.
Educational opportunities abound in Los Angeles, beginning in grades K-12. In 2021, the Los Angeles Unified School District increased its operating budget by a whopping 62%.
Gov. Gavin Newsom broke records with a similarly historic expansion of California's higher learning budget. It aimed to improve college housing, campus facilities, and career training programs. Los Angeles also offers unique access to the entertainment industry, global corporations, and national organizations through internships.
Los Angeles has the third-richest city economy in the world, as the largest manufacturing center in the western U.S. and as the nation's largest retail market. The service sector — including business, finance, healthcare, and tourism — makes up the bulk of LA's economy.
Among the largest public finance, technology, entertainment, and healthcare entities with world headquarters near LA, The Walt Disney Co. also ranks 50th on Forbes' Fortune 500.
Cost of Living
The overall cost of living index in Los Angeles is 173, higher than the national index of 100. College students in Los Angeles can expect to pay nearly three times the national index for housing, though LA ranks lower than 100 for healthcare and utilities.
Students might consider a nationally renowned online program at one of LA's leading colleges or universities as an alternative to residing in Los Angeles.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Named the entertainment capital of the world, LA's glamorous history as the birthplace of Hollywood is well documented. Aside from its link to the golden age of film, Los Angeles continues to cultivate a thriving performing and visual arts culture. This includes more than 200 art museums.
The city has been home to multiple championship collegiate sports teams. It also boasts pro teams in nearly every sport, including baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer.
The draw of Los Angeles weather cannot be understated. People outside of California regularly flock to Los Angeles for its mild, subtropical climate. Similar to the Mediterranean but at a lower latitude, LA boasts warmer winters and slightly cooler summers along the Pacific Coast than near the Aegean Sea.
Los Angelenos enjoy an average of 284 days of sun each year. While tourism booms all year, the weather is especially mild from March to May and September to November, before "LA winter" sets in.
Top Degree Programs in Los Angeles
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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Los Angeles Employment Outlook
Los Angeles has a diverse workforce of nearly 4 million Californians. The education and health services sector employs the largest number of Los Angelenos, with more than 80 hospitals throughout Los Angeles County — including Cedars-Sinai, California's largest. The next-largest employment sector in LA is trade, transportation, and utilities. That is followed by professional and business services.
Popular entry-level healthcare jobs offer much-faster-than-average growth and stability over the long term, with room for advancement. The following jobs are among the fastest-growing in California and LA. They can provide students with established and emerging opportunities in fields like solar energy and healthcare.
5 Los Angeles Jobs in Demand for 2021
Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Solar photovoltaic installers, or PV installers, assemble and maintain solar panels on roofs or other structures. They must develop an installation plan specific to each structure and, once installed, the panels are tested and the surrounding elements (such as shingles) are restored. Most PV installers hold a high school diploma or associate degree in electrical technology or HVAC, and receive on-the-job training.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to provide direct support to patients. They assist therapists in helping patients recover and improve the daily movement and agility skills needed to live and work. Employers typically require occupational therapy assistants to hold an associate degree in occupational therapy assisting with specialized accreditation.
Medical assistants provide clinical and administrative support to hospitals, healthcare facilities, and individual physicians and healthcare providers. They may specialize in providing clinical, administrative, ophthalmic, or podiatric assistance. While not always required, most employers prefer medical assistants with an associate degree and professional medical assisting certification.
Home Health and Personal Care Aide
These aides assist seniors and patients with disabilities and chronic illnesses with daily activities, including exercise, bathing, and housekeeping. They may check vital signs and/or administer medication, only under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner or nurse. Most employers prefer candidates with an associate degree, though typically not required. Some employers and fields, like hospice, require additional certification and experience.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical therapy assistants work under the guidance of physical therapists to treat patients recovering from an illness or injury. They often perform clinical duties such as helping patients stretch or walk to improve daily movement, as well as clerical duties including taking notes, and cleaning and preparing the exam area. Employers require an associate degree, and certification or a state license.
Popular Career Paths in Los Angeles
2021 Best Accredited Colleges in Los Angeles
Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Los Angeles
How many colleges are in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles County is home to more than 70 colleges and universities. This geographical area includes the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas including Santa Monica, Glendale, and Long Beach. The county offers a variety of schools, including public and private, nonprofit and for-profit, and state-run university systems with multiple locations across LA and California. Students can choose from diverse traditional, technical/trade, and creative arts majors. Many colleges offer a choice of on-campus or online course delivery options.
Does Los Angeles have good colleges?
Yes, LA offers exceptional higher learning opportunities for college students. Students can attend a nationally renowned college. This can lead to unique career opportunities in the entertainment industry, finance, business, or healthcare. Los Angeles is home to many award-winning colleges and universities like UCLA, which has its own business and law schools and healthcare system. LA's prestigious colleges draw applicants from around the world. Many students aspire to study in a culturally rich environment and potentially launch a lucrative career.
How much does it cost to go to college in Los Angeles?
The average full-time U.S. undergraduate tuition and fees was $13,360 at two- and four-year colleges in 2019-2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The true cost of tuition depends on factors like a school's reputation and whether it classifies as public or private. In-state and out-of-state status also can determine tuition rates. Students can expect to pay more to attend a four-year university than a two-year community college. While the cost of living is high in LA, enrolling in online colleges may save time and money through accelerated programs and in-state tuition rates.
What is the cheapest college in Los Angeles?
California State University, Los Angeles offers one of the lowest per-credit tuition rates for out-of-state students. While tuition rates and financial aid vary per individual, students can consider a variety of options to pursue college affordably in Los Angeles. Most colleges require students to submit the FAFSA, which determines eligibility for federal and some institutional financial aid, with their application. Additionally, online programs typically offer major financial benefits including accelerated completion options and set or in-state tuition rates for distance learners.
Is Los Angeles a good place to live and study?
Yes. LA's wealth of college and career opportunities, especially in key industries like entertainment and healthcare, is among the best in the United States. Students can benefit from living and learning in close proximity to the international hubs of many finance, business, and hospitality fields. Studying in LA can lead to exclusive internship opportunities and prepare graduates to join the city's global workforce, serving the third-largest economy in the world. Enrollees in an online or hybrid program may still enjoy the benefits of learning in LA while avoiding the high housing and utility costs of becoming a resident.
Featured Image: Andrew Kennelly / Moment / Getty Images
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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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