Skip to content
Home » California Degree Programs » Best Online Colleges in California

Best Online Colleges in California

Dreaming of a college degree but worried about juggling work, family, or life’s other commitments? California’s dynamic online education scene might be your answer.

Combining top-notch academics with unbeatable flexibility , online colleges in the Golden State offer a unique blend of opportunity and convenience.

Earning your degree from a prestigious university like UC-Riverside or San Diego State, all while setting your own pace and learning from the comfort of your couch.

Whether you’re a busy professional, a parent on the go, or simply someone seeking a flexible pathway to success , California’s online programs cater to diverse needs and ambitions.

Key Takeaways

  • California offers a broad selection of accredited online degree programs catering to diverse needs.
  • Prospective students should assess academic resources, financial aid opportunities, and degree accreditation.
  • Career support services are essential for long-term success following graduation from online universities.

Exploring Online Colleges in California

best online colleges in california campus illustrated

With over 250 four-year colleges and universities, many of which offer online programs, California presents a wide array of options for distance learners.

The California State University system alone offers 170 fully online and 140 hybrid programs across its 23 campuses.

For those seeking affordability, San Diego State University and UC-Riverside were among the most economical choices for the 2022-2023 school year, with in-state tuition and fees at $6,488 and $13,233, respectively.

Top 5 Online Colleges in California

1. San Diego State University

  • Average Net Price: $6,488
  • Graduation Rate: 79.43%
  • Retention Rate: 89.45%
  • Median Earnings: $61,522

San Diego State University offers a wide variety of online programs through SDSU Global Campus. Some of their programs include:

  1. Online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree completion program which is 100% online and asynchronous so you can study at your own convenience.
  2. Online degree completion programs, certificates, and career training programs
  3. Bachelor’s in Communication degree online completion program where you can learn to develop integrated, interactive, and intercultural communication strategies.
  4. Public Health Online Degree Completion program which is designed to help degree completion candidates find entry-level and mid-level employment.

These programs are designed to be flexible and convenient, with courses running in eight-week blocks. This allows for full-time study to be possible even for those with busy schedules.

2. University of California-Riverside

  • Average Net Price: $13,233
  • Graduation Rate: 79.03%
  • Retention Rate: 89.55%
  • Median Earnings: $63,645

The University of California-Riverside (UCR) offers various online programs for students, most of which are offered through UCR Extension and the Bourns College of Engineering. Some of these programs include:

  1. UCR Extension: They offer a variety of online learning options, from single courses to professional certificates, in a variety of fields.
  2. Online Graduate Engineering Program: UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering offers an online Master’s in Engineering program that can be completed in as few as 13 months. This program has been ranked 18 out of 93 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
  3. Free Online Courses: UCR also offers a selection of free online courses on platforms like edX and FutureLearn. Students can study subjects such as sustainability, politics, and more, although these may not translate directly to a degree.

Please note that the availability and details of these online programs can change, so it is best to check the official UCR website or contact the university directly for the most accurate information.

3. California State University-Chico

  • Average Net Price: $13,384
  • Graduation Rate: 74.36%
  • Retention Rate: 82.27%
  • Median Earnings: $61,010

California State University-Chico (known as Chico State) offers several online degree completion programs, providing students with affordable, high-quality academics with flexibility and support. Here are some of the online undergraduate degree programs offered:

  1. Bachelor of Arts in Humanities
  2. Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Multicultural & Gender Studies
  4. Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

Also, the university offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) Distributed Learning Program.

Please note that the availability and specifics of these online programs can change, so it’s best to check the official Chico State website or contact the university directly for the most accurate information.

4. California State University-San Marcos

  • Average Net Price: $14,048
  • Graduation Rate: 65.77%
  • Retention Rate: 81.31%
  • Median Earnings: $59,495

California State University-San Marcos offers several online undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its Extended Learning division. Here are some of the online programs available:

  1. ADN to BSN Nursing: This is an online nursing program for Registered Nurse (RN) students who want to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN).
  2. BA in Criminology and Justice Studies: The online Bachelor’s degree completion program explores the social and systematic aspects of crime and the concepts of justice.
  3. BA in Sociology: This is an online accelerated program focusing on the study of society, social behavior, and the social institutions that make up the world.
  4. BS in Cybersecurity: This interdisciplinary program is designed to prepare students for careers in the fast-growing field of cybersecurity.

Please note that the availability of online programs can change, so it’s best to check the official CSUSM website or contact the university directly for the most accurate information.

5. Pepperdine University

  • Average Net Price: $35,167
  • Graduation Rate: 84.41%
  • Retention Rate: 89.03%
  • Median Earnings: $78,224

Pepperdine University offers a variety of online degree programs. Some of these include:

  1. Business Degrees: This includes a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Business Analytics, and a Master of Science in Human Resources.
  2. Psychology Degrees: Pepperdine offers various online programs in psychology such as an Online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and an online Masters in Clinical Psychology.
  3. Law Degrees: Pepperdine Caruso School of Law provides online law graduate programs.
  4. Education Degrees: Including a Master’s in Education program with specializations in areas such as Leadership in Higher Education, Learning Design and Technology, and Leadership in Pre K to 12 Education.

It’s recommended to visit the university’s official website or contact the admissions office directly for detailed information about tuition, admission requirements, course structure, and more.

Understanding the Costs

The average in-state tuition for public four-year institutions in California was $8,559 for the 2021-2022 academic year, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Out-of-state students faced a steeper average of $34,454, although many online programs offer waivers for these additional charges, potentially reducing costs for non-resident online learners.

Private institutions, on the other hand, had an average tuition of $39,068. It’s important to note that online education can also lead to savings in other areas, such as transportation and childcare, making it a potentially more economical option.

Reducing Education Costs

California residents can further minimize education expenses by taking advantage of free community college programs, subject to eligibility. This can significantly lower the cost of obtaining a four-year degree by transferring credits to an online college. Additionally, students nationwide can explore scholarships and grants to offset costs without the burden of repayment.

Is Online College in California Worth It?

With California’s economy ranking among the world’s largest, the state offers abundant career and entrepreneurial opportunities for college graduates. The decision to pursue an online degree in California should be informed by a careful consideration of costs, potential salary outcomes, and personal career goals. Ensuring the chosen program aligns with your professional aspirations and financial capacity is key to maximizing the return on your educational investment.

Academic and Financial Information

A laptop displaying a list of top online colleges in California, surrounded by books, calculators, and financial documents

When exploring the best online colleges in California, prospective students consider two crucial factors: the cost of education and the variety of available programs. Detailed information on tuition and available financial aid, as well as an overview of the degrees and programs offered, informs students’ decisions.

Tuition and Aid

San Diego State University and California State University-Chico offer competitive in-state tuition rates for California residents, which can be contrasted with the cost of living in the United States to determine the overall affordability. At National University, students are presented with a range of financial aid opportunities to help manage their tuition and fees. Understanding the net price—the amount students pay after scholarships and aid—is pivotal when drawing a comparison between institutions.

  • Scholarships and Aid:
    • Scholarships: Available for various majors and achievements.
    • Grants: Need-based aid that does not require repayment.
    • Loans: Federal and private options with varying repayment terms.
    • Work-Study: Provides part-time work to earn money while studying.

Degrees and Programs

Regarding degrees offeredCalifornia State University-San Marcos and University of California-Riverside exhibit academic quality through their diverse online programs. They offer degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Criminal JusticeMaster’s Degree in Business Administration, and Associate Degree in NursingPepperdine University stands out for programs in Law Degree and Psychology, emphasizing both academic quality and comprehensive online enrollment.

  • Popular Programs:
    • Business Administration: For entrepreneurship and management careers.
    • Criminal Justice: Prepares for law enforcement and legal professions.
    • Public Health: Addresses health policy, administration, and education.
    • Computer Engineering: Focuses on software and hardware development.

With the flexibility of online education, California’s community colleges also play a significant role, providing foundational coursework that can lead to advanced degrees in fields like economicskinesiology, and communication.

Career Support and Outcomes

When considering online colleges in California, prospective students should examine the career support and outcomes each institution offers. These services are pivotal in shaping a student’s readiness for the current job market and in forging valuable industry connections.

Job Market and Industry Connections

The University of Southern California and San Jose State University stand out with strong industry ties, particularly in the tech sector. These connections provide students with internship opportunities, mentoring, and potential pathways into top industries. For example, California State University – East Bay facilitates interactions with renowned businesses, preparing graduates to become future business managers and leaders in their fields.

Services and Accessibility

Pepperdine and Golden Gate University offer robust career centers dedicated to helping students achieve their career goals. With services like academic advisingvirtual writing centers, and comprehensive accessibility services, these reputable institutions use platforms such as Blackboard to deliver both course material and career support effectively. Students at Touro University Worldwide and Loma Linda University benefit from hybrid courses which combine the flexibility of online study with valuable face-to-face interactions.

High-Paying Careers in California

Investing in a college degree in California can be particularly rewarding given the state’s robust job market in high-paying sectors such as IT, engineering, and business. For instance, Computer and Information Systems Managers in California enjoyed a mean annual salary of $215,130 in May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other lucrative fields include architectural and engineering management, financial management, marketing, and software development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing an online college in California requires considering factors like flexibility for working adults, affordability, program reputation, and accreditation.

Which online colleges in California are known for accommodating working adults?

Online colleges like San Diego State University have structured their programs to cater to working adults, with various degrees that offer flexible scheduling and self-paced study options.

What are the most affordable online colleges in California that also accept FAFSA?

Schools like those listed by Forbes Advisor commit to affordability and accept FAFSA, enabling students to apply for federal financial aid to reduce their education costs.

What institutions offer the best online business degree programs in California?

According to Academic Influence, institutions with leading online business degree programs in California include those with a strong academic reputation and alumni success.

Which online community colleges in California are highly regarded for their programs?

Some California online community colleges are recognized for their comprehensive programs and support services – information which can be found through resources like

Are there acclaimed online colleges in California that cater specifically to international students?

Certain online colleges stand out for their focus on serving international students, providing a wide range of supports and globally recognized curricula, which reflect their commitment to a diverse student body.

Which online colleges in California hold regional accreditation?

Regional accreditation, a benchmark of educational quality, is held by several online colleges in California, ensuring that they meet rigorous academic standards. The WASC Senior College and University Commission is one such accrediting body.