Colleges in San Diego: Full List of Schools

Considering colleges in San Diego? Learn more about San Diego colleges, including acceptance rates, popular career choices, and the cost of living.
portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Read Full Bio


An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D., has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a writer and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern...
Updated on October 18, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Danika Miller
Danika Miller
Read Full Bio

Writer & Editor

Danika Miller is a senior writer at BestColleges and Accredited Schools Online. Her writing has also appeared in Grad School Hub, Best Value Schools, Affordable Colleges Online, and Her Campus. Her financial expertise has been featured in The Simple ...
Learn more about our editorial process 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.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

Sunny skies, scenic beaches, and some of the best food and breweries in the country make San Diego a top destination for college students. In fact, over 125,000 college students enroll in San Diego colleges.

Want a major public research institution? An affordable, diverse university? Or a prestigious private college? San Diego has something for everyone.

We've got a list of every college in San Diego to help you compare your options and find the right fit for your degree.

3 Popular San Diego Colleges

Check out our breakdown of some of the most popular colleges in San Diego County. We chose these schools based on factors like number of applicants, academic quality, and overall reputation.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1. University of California, San Diego

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $14,906 (in-state), $44,978 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 24%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 42,006

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, UCSD is one of the most popular colleges in San Diego. And as part of the UC system, it offers a significant tuition discount for Californians.

Known for its research focus and strong academics, the public college reports that 17.5% of undergrads major in biology, making it the most popular major. Psychology, economics, math, and cognitive science are other top five majors.

2. San Diego State University

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,174 (in-state), $20,054 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 39%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 37,402

When it comes to San Diego colleges, SDSU is a popular and affordable choice. Part of the CSU system, the public university is a leading Hispanic-serving institution. It's also San Diego's oldest college.

Students of color make up over half the student body, and SDSU ranks highly for its military and veteran programs. Learners choose from nearly 100 undergraduate majors and over 100 graduate programs.

3. University of San Diego

  • Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $54,554
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 8,815

A private Catholic institution, USD welcomes over 8,000 students to its Spanish Renaissance-style campus. Overlooking San Diego and the Pacific, USD offers a liberal arts education with over 40 majors.

USD is also one of the only colleges with a School of Peace Studies — where students can dedicate their education to social change. Graduates go on to work in government, at nonprofit foundations, or start grassroots organizations.

Featured Online Programs

List of All Colleges in San Diego

Here is a complete list of all four-year nonprofit universities in San Diego and greater San Diego County. Use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.

All data comes from NCES. Schools that enroll fewer than 500 undergraduates were not included in this table.

Colleges in San Diego County
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
California State University, San Marcos 15,109 $10,463 95% 14,774
National University 18,631 $30,527 100% N/A
Point Loma Nazarene University 4,319 $34,933 82% 3,149
San Diego State University 37,402 $13,017 39% 77,250
University of California, San Diego 42,006 $16,111 24% 131,197
University of San Diego 8,815 $36,008 53% 14,334
Source: NCES

Featured Online Programs

The 10 Fastest-Growing Careers in San Diego

San Diego's booming economy features many ideal careers for bachelor's degree graduates. According to the California Employment Development Department, most of San Diego's fast-growing careers are in tech, healthcare, and entertainment.

The fastest-growing job in San Diego that requires a degree is information security analyst, with a projected growth rate of 47%. The number of IT analyst jobs in San Diego will nearly double over the next decade — and it also reports a six-figure median income.

Other fast-growing careers include medical and health service managers, logisticians, market research analysts, software developers, coaches, and event planners.

You can prepare for these exciting careers by attending college in San Diego and connecting with the local professional community.

San Diego County Fastest-Growing Careers 2020-2030
Job Projected Growth Median Annual Wage
Information Security Analysts 47.7% $106,303
Medical and Health Services Managers 40.1% $126,758
Logisticians 36.0% $86,369
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 35.1% $66,031
Operations Research Analysts 31.3% $86,889
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers 30.1% N/A
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Programas 29.8% $52,098
Coaches and Scouts 28.4% $49,075
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners 28.2% $58,740
Financial Managers 27.5% $144,707
Source: California Employment Development Department

Cost of Living in San Diego

It's no secret that California reports some of the highest cost of living in the country. San Diego is no exception, though it's slightly more affordable than Los Angeles or the Bay Area. For example, housing in San Diego costs 121% more than the national average.

College students can lower expenses by living with roommates and utilizing student discounts. Check for student discounts with local and national businesses — many offer significant discounts and perks for college students.

You should also take advantage of campus resources. Many colleges offer discounted transportation passes and campus health services that are more affordable.

Average Cost of Living in San Diego
Cost of Living Category Average Price
Home Price $902,500
Apartment Rent $3,067
Energy Bill $219.78
Gasoline $5.27
Phone Bill $183.87
Doctor Visit $118.44
Dentist Visit $120.65
Haircut $66.13
Movie Ticket $16.26
Coffee $6.16
Bread Loaf $4.25
1 Dozen Eggs $4.14
Pizza $13.04
Beer $10.38
Wine $8.59
Veterinarian Services $10.38
Source: Redfin

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in San Diego

How many colleges are in San Diego?

There are six nonprofit four-year universities in San Diego County — including the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University. These public colleges are the largest in San Diego, enrolling nearly 80,000 of the city's 126,000 students.

Is UCSD hard to get into?

Yes, UCSD is difficult to get into. The public university reports a 24% admission rate, meaning around 1 in 4 applicants receives an acceptance letter. UCSD also receives over 130,000 applications every year.

Other San Diego colleges with low admission rates include San Diego State at 39% and the University of San Diego at 53%.

What is the No. 1 college in San Diego?

The top college in San Diego is the University of California, San Diego. A public university and part of the UC system, UCSD enrolls 42,000 students. The university also ranks highly for the entire state of California. The major research university offers degrees in over 140 majors, with strong graduate programs in many disciplines.

What is the biggest college in San Diego?

The biggest college in San Diego is UCSD, which enrolls 42,000 students. SDSU ranks closely behind, with over 37,000 students. These two colleges enroll nearly two-thirds of the college students in San Diego County.

Is San Diego a college town?

San Diego is home to over 126,000 college students, making it a great town for college. It's also a major city, with over 3 million people in San Diego County. That means San Diego is larger than the typical college town, but it's still a great option for students. 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.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.