Best Colleges in Riverside

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Choosing a college can be overwhelming. When looking at universities and programs, one factor to consider is the college's location. Where you go to school can determine which internships you pursue or lay the groundwork for career networking.

California is home to nearly 300 colleges, which offer many diverse programs to choose from. Located 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Riverside is a populous city where the manufacturing and arts industries collide. 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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Students attending colleges in Riverside have access to many large businesses that focus on manufacturing and aeronautics. Learners can also take advantage of the city's art and history museums, attend large yearly festivals in the area, and scope out other events.

For more information about going to college in the Golden State, check out our Resources for Students in California page.

Why Study in Riverside?

Riverside County is located in southeastern California near the Santa Ana River. Situated within the Inland Empire, Riverside County is known as the founding location for the citrus industry. Several large cities are located within Riverside County including the city of Riverside, Temecula, and San Bernardino.

The University of California has a Riverside campus, which serves over 26,000 students. Several other universities and community colleges are located within Riverside County.

Educational Opportunities

One of the most popular colleges in Riverside is UC Riverside. However, Riverside is home to many schools. Other universities in Riverside County include:

Students who are interested in vocational schools and other educational opportunities will find many options nearby, too. Platt College, North-West College, and Stanbridge University all offer programs in high-demand areas such as healthcare and information technology.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Riverside metro area's economic patterns have closely mirrored nationwide trends and averages. The average hourly wage for those working in the Riverside metro area is about $26 an hour. Many professionals — including registered nurses and construction workers — make well above the national average hourly wage for those positions.

Trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and education and health services represent some of the largest sectors of employment in Riverside. Many of these jobs saw substantial growth between 2020 and 2021.

Cost of Living

Although many occupations in Riverside earn salaries above the national average, the cost of living in the area is also higher than the average cost of living in the United States. However, the average cost of living in Riverside is lower than California's state average.

The high cost of living is mostly due to housing and rent costs, which are significantly above the national average. Yet, as with Riverside's overall average cost of living, the area's average housing cost is beneath California's state average.

Cultural and Community Offerings

Riverside is well-known for its art and cultural offerings. You can find monuments, sculptures, and murals scattered throughout the city, especially downtown. Riverside is home to 11 museums including:

Riverside is also home to the National Historic Landmark Mission Inn Hotel and Spa. In the city, there are several places to see live shows and theater including the Fox Performing Arts Center and the Riverside Municipal Auditorium.


Riverside offers a pretty consistent, arid climate. Typically, the temperatures stay between 43°F and 94°F. There is some topographic diversity in Riverside. Parts of the area experience wind throughout the year, but more so in the fall through spring months.

The summers are hot and dry with an average daily temperature above 89°F. The hottest month of the year is August. The temperature cools off in the winter with a daily average temperature below 72°F. December is the coldest month of the year.

Top Degree Programs in Riverside

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Riverside Employment Outlook

Riverside residents can find many employment opportunities in various fields because of the city's diverse industries and location within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Overall, the unemployment rate is lower in Riverside than in the rest of California.

According to the BLS, jobs in trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and education and health services have all seen noticeable growth in the last year. In May 2020, the average national hourly wage for those in trade, transportation, and utilities was over $26, and the median annual salary earned by teachers was roughly $60,000.

Some occupations in Riverside pay higher than average salaries. For instance, registered nurses in Riverside make a median hourly wage of $63, whereas the national median was $54 an hour.

5 Riverside Jobs in Demand

Computer Systems Analyst

  • 2020 Annual Median Salary in Riverside: $87,050
  • 2020-2030 Job Outlook in the U.S.: 7%

Although many computer systems analysts hold bachelor's degrees, an advanced degree is not always a requirement. Many professionals seek technical degrees, instead. Computer systems analysts review a company's current computer systems and work to help the technology run more efficiently and effectively.

Human Resources Assistant

  • 2020 Annual Median Salary in Riverside: $45,870
  • 2018-2028 Job Outlook in Riverside: -1%

Human resources assistants typically work for companies or HR firms. Taking on administrative assistant duties, HR assistants may answer phones, provide customer service, schedule appointments with HR managers, and file paperwork. Depending on the company, HR assistants may also help with recruiting new team members or with organizing training for fellow staff members.

Registered Nurse

  • 2020 Annual Median Salary in Riverside: $109,280
  • 2018-2028 Job Outlook in Riverside: 17%

Registered nurses work as part of a medical team. RNs can take vitals, administer medication, and prescribe treatments. RNs may find employment in hospitals, small medical facilities, nursing homes, and schools. Some RNs work in general medicine, while others focus in specialized areas like pediatric or geriatric medicine.

Dental Assistant

  • 2020 Annual Median Salary in Riverside: $38,870
  • 2018-2028 Job Outlook in Riverside: 15%

In most dentist offices, dental assistants are the first people to work with the patients. Dental assistants administer patient care, which can include cleaning teeth and taking x-rays. The dental assistant may convey information to the dentists and take detailed records. In some instances, the dental assistant may schedule future appointments.

Hospitality Manager

  • 2020 Annual Median Salary in the U.S.: $56,670
  • 2020-2030 Job Outlook in the U.S.: 9%

A hospitality manager works for a hotel, resort, or spa. The hospitality manager may focus on day-to-day operations behind the scenes, or they may log hours working at the front desk. Hospitality managers should be comfortable providing customer service and managing a team.

Popular Career Paths in Riverside

Best Accredited Colleges in Riverside

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

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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.

Best Colleges in Riverside

  1. California State University-San Bernardino

    San Bernardino, CA



    Students at CSUSB study on a campus situated at the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. Undergraduate degrees at CSUSB require at least 120 semester units. Majors include fields such as biology, economics, kinesiology, and public health.

    Students interested in a customizable curriculum can choose to earn a BA in liberal arts. CSUSB offers unique bachelor's programs such as the BA in design studies and BS in intelligence and crime analysis. Students can also pursue online degrees, such as a BA in criminal justice and an RN-to-BSN pathway.

    CSUSB's comprehensive catalog of graduate programs include options like business administration, counseling, school psychology, and national cybersecurity studies.

    Admission requires a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA for first-year applicants.

  2. University of California-Riverside

    Riverside, CA



    UC Riverside enrolls about 26,000 students. Undergraduate programs emphasize experiential learning and research. Students can choose from roughly 80 majors. Popular degrees include business administration, political science, and psychology.

    UC Riverside offers UC's only public policy major. Students in this program choose from six specialized tracks, including economic policy and urban/environmental policy. The school also oversees a graduate school with 50 programs. Students can pursue one of several affordable master of engineering degrees online.

    Residents pay $15,510 per year for full-time tuition and fees. Nonresidents pay an additional $29,754 in supplemental tuition. Ninety percent of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The school features a quarter-based schedule.

    Admission to UC Riverside — one of the best colleges in Riverside — requires a minimum 3.0 GPA for first-year applicants. However, the school does not require SAT or ACT scores.

  3. University of Redlands

    Redlands, CA

    Redlands offers a private liberal arts education on several campuses and online. Undergraduates can choose from more than 40 programs, which are delivered through small classes. Traditional majors include economics, management, and public policy. Redlands also offers more unique programs, such as the human-animal studies major — the only one of its kind in California.

    Redlands also offers on-site and online programs for nontraditional learners, and students interested in professional programs can enroll in pre-law or pre-med coursework. Graduate students choose programs such as business, education, and geographic information science.

    As one of the best colleges in Riverside, more than 90% of students at Redlands receive financial aid. Undergraduate tuition costs $53,716 per year. However, the Redlands promise ensures students with a minimum 3.5 GPA pay no more than $22,000 for tuition in 2022. Admission does not require SAT or ACT scores.

  4. La Sierra University

    Riverside, CA

    La Sierra is a small private college with about 2,300 students. Undergraduates can choose from over 60 programs. Available majors include chemistry, English, graphic design, and healthcare management.

    The BS in computer science program offers specializations such as bioinformatics and software engineering, while the BS in neuroscience can prepare enrollees for graduate programs in medicine and pharmacy. The school offers 23 pre-professional programs, including law, medicine, nuclear medicine, and dental hygiene.

    La Sierra is also one of the best colleges in Riverside for a graduate-level education. The school offers several programs in curriculum and instruction and school psychology. Other popular programs include an MBA and an MA in administration and leadership.

    Undergraduate tuition costs $33,228 per year for full-time students. Graduate tuition costs $412-$777 per unit. Undergraduate applicants need not submit SAT or ACT scores.

  5. California Baptist University

    Riverside, CA

    Established in 1950, CBU offers programs on campuses in Riverside and San Bernardino. CBU also operates a comprehensive virtual college. The school's undergraduate programs include traditional fields such as business, elementary education, and health science.

    CBU also offers less common bachelor's degrees in aviation flight and aviation management. Additionally, distance learners can complete degrees online in various fields. Degree-seekers with at least 24 applicable college units can transfer into programs like accounting, criminal justice, and human services. One of the best accredited colleges in Riverside, CBU also offers graduate programs in various disciplines.

    Undergraduate tuition at CBU costs a flat rate of $16,965 per semester (for 13-18 units) for traditional programs. Online undergraduate programs cost $450-$613 per unit, while graduate programs cost $605-$950 per unit.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Riverside

How many colleges are in Riverside?

There are over 20 colleges and universities in Riverside County. Four colleges have campuses in the city of Riverside: California Baptist University, Riverside City College, UC Riverside, and La Sierra University.

Does Riverside have good colleges?

Riverside County has a large offering of colleges. Students can choose from public and private universities, as well as two-year and four-year colleges. Riverside County is also home to several community colleges and trade schools.

Many Riverside colleges have been ranked as some of the best in California, including UC Riverside, California Baptist University, and La Sierra University.

How much does it cost to go to college in Riverside?

Although each college lists its tuition and fees, you must consider several factors to determine a program's true cost. Whether a college is public or private, online or in-person, or in your home state or out-of-state, you should consider your cost of living, additional fees, and amount of awarded financial aid.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, California Baptist University, a private university, is charging almost $50,000 in tuition, fees, and room and board. The 2021-2022 tuition, fees, and room and board for La Sierra University is over $43,000 for first-year students living on-campus.

What is the cheapest college in Riverside?

What is cheapest for you depends on your residency status, whether you are taking online or in-person classes, and any additional school funding you receive, like grants and scholarships.

Looking strictly at the cost of tuition and fees, the cheapest four-year public university is UC Riverside, and the cheapest public community college is Riverside City College.

UC Riverside cost $15,510 in tuition alone for in-state residents and $45,260 for out-of-state residents during the 2021-2022 academic year. Riverside City College costs only $46 per unit for in-state students and $290 per unit for out-of-state students for the same academic year.

Is Riverside a good place to live and study?

For many, Riverside is a great place to live and study. In comparison to the rest of California, Riverside has a lower cost of living. The county is home to several cities with different institutions of higher education, industries, and cultural centers.

There are several colleges to choose from in Riverside, and many include degree programs in prominent career paths for the area. Riverside also has a strong arts and culture scene, offering many festivals and events.

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