Online colleges in California make it possible for any student, regardless of location, to attend one of the state’s top schools.
California, US’s most heavily populated state, is home to some of the largest education systems in the country, including three public segments and hundreds of private institutions. In total, the state’s colleges and universities enroll almost three million students!
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The size is matched by quality. Even as the state has shifted its focus and funding to meet increasing demands for community college and online college programs, its public and private universities have continued to rank among the top in the nation.
Online Colleges in California
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 40% of California’s college students were enrolled in exclusively online programs, while 31.2% were enrolled in hybrid programs. Hybrid programs consist of a mix of online courses and on-campus requirements.
Top universities across the state offer online degree programs at all levels, including California online bachelors degree programs. The state’s focus on online learning opportunities is most apparent at the community college level.
California has turned to online learning as a budget-friendly way to meet enrollment demands. Schools worked to develop more robust online offerings, and the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (OEI)) was established to ensure access to and success of those programs.
OEI’s mission to connect the state’s community colleges resulted in the CVC Exchange. This tool allows students to register for an online course at a participating college if that same course is full or unavailable at their home school.
Common Online Degrees in California
Online colleges in California offer many different degrees. While there may be some programs available only from a handful of schools, many popular degree options are widely available.
Some of the most common online degrees in CA include:
- Accounting: An accounting bachelor’s degree program can help you learn how to prepare taxes and keep accurate financial records. This degree program may prepare you to offer accounting services to individuals or companies or give you the option to continue on into a master’s program for additional education.
- Business Administration: Studying business can equip you with valuable skills that are relevant to a variety of industries, including manufacturing, community development, and sales. If you’re interested in advancing to management in a department like human resources or marketing, having a business degree could help.
- Healthcare Administration: Providing leadership in a healthcare organization requires understanding business principles and also knowing about the healthcare system. The training you receive in a healthcare administration program can help prepare you for such roles and be transferable to other business settings.
- Nursing: If you want to invest in others’ health and well-being, then earning your nursing degree from a California school may be a good choice for you. The state has nursing programs for people who are entering this field for the first time as well as RN-to-BSN programs for those with prior nursing training.
- Psychology: Psychology programs typically explore topics such as cognition, memory, personality, and group dynamics. Knowledge learned in these programs may be applied to jobs that require working with people or help you advance into a graduate program for counseling preparation.
If you’re interested in one of these popular degree programs, you may have several California colleges from which to pick.
Overview of Higher Education in California
California boasts 384 higher education institutions, more than any other US state. The NCES states that 150 of these are public, 142 are non-profit, and 92 are for-profit.
With so many schools to choose from, many students looking for CA online degrees will compare tuition prices.
NCES reported that the average in-state student pays $8,401 per year in tuition to attend one of California’s public 4-year institutions, a considerable amount less than the national average of $9,375. Out-of-state students pay $34,398, on average.
Unlike most states, California does not have a coordinating body that oversees its higher education systems. Instead, the state relies heavily on the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in California
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 16,500,000 people are employed in California. Job sectors employing over 1 million people include office support, sales, transportation, food service, business and finance, and healthcare support.
Technology is a key industry in California. In addition to employing people with STEM abilities, this sector also needs employees with a range of other business and professional skills.
California’s large population depends on a robust healthcare system. For that reason, there’s a strong need for healthcare providers, such as nurses, and healthcare support personnel, such as medical records specialists.
Tourism and entertainment are important to the California economy as well. Theme parks are some of the largest employers in the state. Many people are employed in higher education also. In particular, the public university system creates many jobs.
Overall, California expects to see continued job growth over the next several years.
Careers & Salaries in California
There are numerous different occupations you could consider after completing one of the many California online degree programs. While your interests and skills are important to take into account, it’s also helpful to know some of California’s top career choices.
Finance is an important sector in the state. If you start as a financial analyst or a loan officer, you might eventually become a financial manager.
Healthcare is important in this state too. If you want to get a job in healthcare, it could be as a provider. For example, many facilities employ registered nurses. Another option is to work in a support position, such as in medical services management.
Business careers are quite common also. Whether you want to work in an industry like tourism, technology, healthcare, education, or retail sales, a business degree could help provide your way in. Potential jobs in business include being a human resources specialist or a management analyst.
With experience, a management position. like operations manager or sales manager, might become available.
Technology is a sector that California is known for. Studying computers in college could potentially lead to a job as a computer systems analyst, software developer, or hardware engineer. Eventually, you might qualify to work as a computing manager.
Entertainment is another one of California’s famous industries. Over 45,000 people in the state are employed as producers or directors. Other entertainment roles include film editors, special effects artists, scriptwriters, and camera operators.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California offers many exciting career opportunities.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$176,860|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$125,900|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$117,920|
|General and Operations Managers||$107,850|
|Producers and Directors||$107,290|
|Human Resources Specialists||$76,480|
The above salaries are averages within the state of California. Wage amounts and career opportunities will vary depending on location, job availability, experience, and other factors.
How to Know If an Online Degree Is Right for Me
Online education offers promising opportunities, but before committing, it makes sense to determine whether it’s a good fit for you.
You might do well in online classes if you:
- Are organized and motivated
- Can manage your time well
- Care more about academic experiences than extracurriculars
- Communicate effectively through written channels (e.g. emails, discussion boards, and papers)
- Plan to get schoolwork done on weekends or in the evenings
- Want to go to a college that’s far from your home
If you’d rather engage with professors and students face-to-face and jump into campus life, then you might prefer a traditional on-campus program.
Choosing a California Online Degree Program
Before signing up for an online California college, it’s important to make sure it fits your preferences. You may want to think about these characteristics as you evaluate a school:
- Accreditation: It’s important to check whether a college holds regional accreditation. You may also be interested in programmatic accreditation for your chosen degree.
- Cost: California colleges vary in price, so it can be beneficial to compare the cost of several different schools before committing to one. It’s also useful to see how much financial aid each school will offer you too.
- Online course options: You may prefer a college that holds live online classes or one that gives you unlimited access to course materials.
- Programs: It makes sense to choose a college that offers training for your chosen field. When you’re exploring program offerings, it can be beneficial to pay attention to faculty members’ backgrounds in the field.
- Support services: Some students are interested in online options for tutoring, library access, or mental health services.
- Transfer policies: A college may give you credit for previous college or work experience. If you’ve taken other college classes or completed a professional certification program, you may want a school with generous transfer policies.
Your college experience will likely be smoother if you’ve taken the time to evaluate the school’s pros and cons before enrolling.
Online Universities in California Admissions Requirements
Each California college sets its own admissions requirements, but you’ll generally need to have a high school diploma or the GED equivalent.
Before admitting you, a school may ask to see:
- An essay or personal statement
- High school transcripts (possibly requiring a minimum GPA)
- Letters of reference about your character and abilities
- Records of your work, volunteer, or extracurricular experiences
In California, only some colleges require ACT or SAT scores for admission. Some schools never consider test scores, and others tell applicants that scores are optional.
CA Online Universities Accreditation
For your California degree, it’s important to check for regional accreditation. Schools with accreditation have been approved as reputable academic institutions.
There are two organizations that issue regional accreditation in California. They are the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
There are multiple advantages to selecting a regionally accredited school. This distinction is useful for obtaining federal student aid, transferring credits between schools, and getting into further education programs. Accredited studies may also be necessary for qualifying for industry licensure or finding a good job.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
To secure financial aid in California, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will be used to determine what financial aid you are offered. If you are not a US citizen, you may also need to fill out the California Dream Act Application (CADAA).
To supplement federal financial aid, California offers the CalGrant program.
There are three types of Cal Grants — A, B, and C — but you don’t have to figure out which to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA or CADAA responses, your GPA, the colleges you list on your FAFSA, and whether you’re a recent high school graduate.
Scholarships are another form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Here are a few available to California residents:
- California Association of Collectors Educational Scholarship: 1st Place: $2500, 2nd Place: $2000, 3rd Place: $1500
- Clair A. Hill Scholarship: $5000
- Dorothy and Robert DeBolt Scholarship: $3000
- Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship: $5000 per year
Individual colleges and universities in California also offer their own scholarships and grants. You can find out more about these by checking with the financial aid office at the school(s) of your choice.
California Online Education Resources
If you want to be a student in California, there are many free resources available to you to help you with your search.
- CaliforniaColleges.edu: Run by the state, this website has tools to help future students make college and career plans.
- California Community Colleges: The state’s community college organization has a website where you can learn about advancing your education at one of its many schools.
- California Student Aid Commission: To learn about financial aid opportunities or get started with aid applications, you can visit CSAC.
These organizations aim to support California students as they consider college opportunities and work their way toward graduation.
How Much Does College Cost in California Online?
College tuition in California varies from school to school, but data from the NCES offers a general overview. The average annual tuition for an in-state student at a 4 year public California university is $8,401. The average annual tuition for an in-state student at a 2 year public college is $1,285.
Out-of-state students often pay more. Private colleges typically cost more too. Whether in-state or out-of-state, students pay an average of $38,477 for tuition at private colleges in California.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Public universities typically cost far less for in-state students than out-of-state students, but you may not have to rule out a California school just because you live elsewhere. You could potentially still qualify for a reduced rate.
California belongs to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). One of this group’s initiatives is the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Through this program, students can attend colleges in other member states at a reduced rate.
Out-of-state students that qualify don’t pay any more than 150% of the in-state rate. Only some colleges offer the WUE benefit to online students. You can check with WUE to find the ones that do.
What Are the Easiest Colleges to Get into California?
Colleges with open admissions policies are often considered some of the easiest to get into. At those schools, any applicants meeting the admission requirements, such as having a high school education, are admitted. Community colleges often operate this way.
Schools with high admission rates are also thought of as easy to get into. These schools send welcome letters to a large percentage of the people who apply. Such schools may set 2.0 as the minimum GPA for admission, which means that you won’t have to be at the top of your class for your application to be considered.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors Degree in California?
You might spend about 4 years getting your bachelor’s degree in California. Many colleges use a traditional school calendar. They hold two 16 week semesters per year. With that format, full-time students usually finish in about 4 years.
Students pursuing California online degrees may not need as much time to complete their studies. Some online programs take 3 years or less to complete.
Online colleges often move students through school more quickly by holding courses in 8 week terms instead of 16 week terms. The classes are held throughout the year so that students can keep progressing during the summer months.
What Are the Fastest Growing Careers in California?
To increase your job security, you might want to pursue training for a career path that’s greatly in demand. California’s Employment Development Department projects remarkable growth for the following job categories:
- Restaurant cooks: 74.6% job growth
- Manicurists and pedicurists: 70.7% job growth
- Amusement and recreation attendants: 68.4% job growth
- Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers: 65.0% job growth
- Bartenders: 63.4% job growth
These projections from the state’s employment department represent estimated growth rates in California over the next 10 years.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in California?
Jobs in healthcare, science, and business management often pay more than other careers. If you want to earn one of the highest salaries in California, you may want to consider one of the following jobs. On average, these are some of the highest-paying jobs in California:
- Specialty Dentists: $198,140 per year
- Dermatologists: $195,830 per year
- Chief Executives: $193,360 per year
- Animal Scientists: $192,130 per year
- Orthodontists: $187,510 per year
Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the median hourly wage by 2,080 hours, the average hours worked by full-time employees. Median wage information is compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
List of Online Colleges in California
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Academy of Art University offers online programs that may be attended part-time or full-time with asynchronous or synchronous classes.
The school offers certificate programs and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Fields of study offered include animation and visual effects, fashion, motion pictures and television, and more.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Azusa Pacific University offers online degree programs that are designed to provide students with a God-focused education. Many of their graduate programs are available in low-residency formats.
APU offers certification programs and degree programs for associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Degrees are offered in the music industry, higher education, criminal justice, and more.
Azusa Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Biola University strives to give its students a high-quality education while also integrating Biblical values. Courses in Bioloa’s bachelor’s degree programs are typically 7 weeks long.
Fields of study offered include early childhood education and biblical ministries. Master’s degree options include public health, public relations, and intercultural studies.
Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California Baptist University is committed to giving its online students a quality education at a fraction of the cost. Bachelor’s students can potentially earn their degrees in 2 years, while master’s and doctoral candidates may be able to finish a year earlier.
Fields of study offered include cybersecurity, kinesiology, and sociology.
California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
California Southern University aims to make the online learning experience easier by putting everything students need in one centralized hub. New classes start each month.
Certificates and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees can be earned in a variety of fields. Degrees offered include a PsyD, a BBA, an MBA, a DBA, and a BS in Nursing.
California Southern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California State University—Bakersfield offers a limited number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees through its Extended Education program. Students can also earn professional certificates and undergo online training.
CSUB offers online bachelor’s degrees in communications and sociology. They offer master’s degrees in computer science, social work, education, administration, and kinesiology.
California State University – Bakersfield is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Chico has a distance and online education program featuring fully online and hybrid degrees. Only some courses are asynchronous. Many of the school’s online classes follow a traditional semester, but some are shortened.
Chico State offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees that may be earned at least partially online. Degree options include a BA in Sociology and an MS in Math Education.
California State University – Chico is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Dominguez Hills has received several recognitions for its distance learning programs. Many of its programs are fully online and asynchronous. There are also a few hybrid programs available.
CSUDH offers an online degree completion program for students who have already completed 60 credits toward their bachelor’s degree. There are bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in public administration, science, nursing, and more.
California State University – Dominguez Hills is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—East Bay offers degree programs that are either fully online or hybrid. Students taking accelerated classes can potentially earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in just 2 years.
Cal State East Bay offers nine degrees, including a BA in Ethnic Studies, a BS in Recreation, and a Master’s in Education Leadership.
Californing State University – East Bay is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Fresno’s Continuing and Global Education program offers online degree programs, certification programs, and workshops.
Fresno State is dedicated to helping nontraditional students earn degrees and advance in their careers. They offer undergraduate and graduate programs in fields like business administration, water resource management, and social science.
California State University – Fresno is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Fullerton is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution. They work with Extension and International Programs (EIP) to provide students with online degrees.
CSUF students can earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees in a limited number of fields, like business administration or social work. Students may also participate in the Pre-Health Postbaccalaureate program.
California State University – Fullerton is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Northridge has offered online degrees for over 20 years. While a good portion of each program can be completed asynchronously, CSUN has virtual, live class meeting requirements. CSUN guarantees a tuition rate lock.
Online students can earn a Bachelor’s in Public Sector Management or master’s degrees in fields like humanities or taxation.
California State University – Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—Sacramento’s online program is designed to give students virtual classroom experiences and flexible courses to fit into their schedules.
Students can choose from bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs in fields like sign language, criminal justice, and emergency medical services. Sacramento State also has degree completion programs for those who want to finish their bachelor’s degrees.
California State University – Sacramento is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
California State University—San Bernardino gives students the option between entirely online courses and hybrid programs. Some fully online programs still require students to come to campus once near the end of their program.
The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in several fields, including social sciences, business administration, and nursing.
California State University – San Bernardino is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
California State University—Stanislaus’s online degree programs are only for California residents because the school isn’t authorized to offer online degrees to non-residents.
Stanislaus State offers five different degree programs. Four of the degrees can be earned completely online: the BA in Gender Studies, the BS in Leadership Studies, the BS in Nursing, and the MBA. The MSW in Social Work can be earned in a hybrid program.
California State University – Stanislaus is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Fresno Pacific University is recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The school is also dedicated to giving students a Christian-focused education along with strong academics.
FPU online offers 20 online programs ranging from degree completion to master’s degrees. Online courses are either 6 or 12 weeks long. Majors offered include administrative services and school counseling.
Fresno Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Golden Gate University has been innovating the online degree experience since 1998. They strive to give online students the same academic excellence as their on-campus counterparts.
Students may attend asynchronous or synchronous classes. GGU isn’t authorized to offer online degrees to students residing in certain states. The school offers certification, bachelor’s, and master’s programs in fields like finance, marketing, and more.
Golden Gate University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Hope International University’s goal is to give its online students the same attention on-campus students receive. Courses are taken in 8 week modules, with three modules per term.
The school offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in fields like human development and Christian ministry. Master’s degrees are offered in fields like education and marriage and family therapy.
Hope International University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Humboldt State University is dedicated to providing online students with a high-quality education that is equivalent to what they would get on campus.
At Humboldt, online students may pursue 3 different degrees: a BA in Leadership offered in a bachelor’s completion program, an MSW in Social Work, and an MA in Applied Anthropology.
Humboldt State University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
La Sierra University’s School of Education offers hybrid online programs. The programs are mostly online, but most require some on-campus courses as well. Online classes are typically asynchronous with a few synchronous options. New classes start quarterly.
Online students may pursue an MA in Teaching Elementary Education or an MA in Teaching Secondary Education.
La Sierra University is accredited through the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
National University is dedicated to offering online and on-site programs that fit in with a nontraditional student’s busy life. To help with this, the school offers courses that are just 4 weeks long.
NU offers online programs for associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees and certificates and credentials. Students may major in fields like forensic sciences, paralegal studies, sport psychology, and more.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Pepperdine University strives to instill Christian values in its rigorous academic programs. Students are typically required to attend live online classes and at least one residency program.
Pepperdine’s hybrid online program offers a Bachelor’s in Management. It also offers several master’s degree programs in areas like clinical psychology, human resources, public policy and leadership, and legal studies.
Pepperdine University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges—Senior College and University Commission.
San Joaquin Valley College is devoted to preparing students for professional careers immediately after college. SJVC offers accelerated programs to help get students into their careers faster. The school offers training, certification, and bachelor’s degree programs.
Students can choose to pursue studies in several professional fields, including respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, and health care management.
San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Santa Barbara City College works to provide students with a convenient way to continue their education. Many programs can be completed entirely online, but some do require experiences on campus.
SBCC currently offers associate degrees and certificates, as well as skill competencies and department awards. Areas of study offered include computer information systems and film and media studies.
Santa Barbara City College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Saybrook University has been helping students meet their career goals through distance education since the 1970s. The school offers individualized mentorships that can be accessed throughout its programs. All programs are low residency, but Saybrook has quite a few locations to make it easier to attend.
Saybrook offers master’s and doctorate degrees in fields like mind-body medicine and psychology.
Saybrook University is accredited by the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Stanford University’s online program aims to provide students with a rigorous education from its world-renowned professors. Online degrees come with the prestige of the Stanford name.
Stanford Online offers 60 graduate and certificate programs in fields such as aeronautics and astronautics, genetics and genomics, and artificial intelligence.
Stanford University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Trident University International offers entirely online degree programs that are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Trident strives to provide students with an affordable and flexible education from an elite college.
Students may pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Fields of study offered include homeland security, educational leadership, and information technology management.
Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of California—Los Angeles offers continuing education programs for learners looking to finish their education, advance in their careers, or switch careers.
The school is divided into several centers focused on specific fields. Students may earn graduate certificates in fields like entertainment, law, medicine, early childhood education, dentistry, or neuroscience.
The University of California – Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of La Verne offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, many of which can be completed entirely online. Online degrees are currently only available in certain states.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Laverne as one of the top online colleges for bachelor’s degrees. Students may earn degrees in fields like nursing or public administration.
The University of La Verne is accredited by the Senior College Commission of the
Students at the University of San Diego may earn their graduate degrees while continuing to work. Courses are asynchronous to help fit students’ schedules. Students may earn master’s degrees in a variety of fields, including humanitarian action and cybersecurity.
USD is authorized to offer degrees to residents of all but nine states.
The University of San Diego is accredited by the Western Association and Schools and Colleges.
The University of San Francisco is rooted in the Jesuit faith and, as such, has a deep commitment to social justice and helping others in the community. Students in USF’s online degree programs earn the same diplomas as their counterparts attending on campus.
USF currently offers an MS in Nursing and a Master of Public Health that can be earned online.
The University of San Francisco is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Vanguard University is committed to offering students an academically rigorous, Christ-centered education. Its online programs are designed to provide students with the same education students on campus receive.
Programs are designed to be flexible to fit into the schedules of working adults and nontraditional students. Students may continue their education in academic fields like nursing, psychology, anti-human trafficking, theology, and early childhood education.
Vanguard University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Getting Your Online Degree in California
California’s higher education system is vast, with thousands of degree programs available to millions of students.
But even with such staggering numbers, California’s colleges and universities continue to be recognized as some of the best because of the state’s dedication to providing access to and success in higher education. You can start your educational journey by researching accredited online schools in California today.
You can also view our Online Colleges in Arkansas and Online Colleges in Colorado guides for more options.