Best Online Colleges in California

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Looking for reasons to go to school in California, but can’t actually move away? Perhaps you have a career already and need to complete a degree, or maybe you have domestic obligations that preclude you moving to another state.

If so, you should consider a digital education program from one of the best online colleges in California.

What kind of online college in California should I attend?

Some of the best online colleges are in California. With diverse program offerings from online programs at large national research universities to the parochial, private digital classrooms of Christian colleges, one can find an assortment of program offerings, from the best online MBA programs to the best online nursing programs.

How much money will you make with an online degree?

Because you can earn an array of degrees online, from nursing to engineering, fine arts to criminal justice, there’s no way to determine an average salary. However, we can say this much. A degree on your resume ups the ante. Employers will see that you’re committed to your education, that you have experience, and that you’ve developed the skills necessary to move you up the career ladder.

Plus, an online degree is often way more affordable than “traditional” education. This makes the return on investment even better. And it makes the decision to earn a degree even more incentivizing.

What can you do with an online degree?

The opportunities are as many as the state is big! With an online degree from one of these esteemed colleges in California you can find yourself in a variety of industries. Indeed, while some of the programs below are focused on professional development, others are academically oriented. It all depends on your career goals.

For example, graduates from these schools have earned degrees in:

  • Business Administration
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology and Sociology
  • Engineering, and so much more

Top 10 Best Online Colleges in California

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What are the requirements for an online degree?

The requirements for earning an online degree from one of these California universities and colleges varies depending on the program itself. For example, an environmental engineering degree will look worlds different than a degree in clinical psychology.

However, one thing you can anticipate are due dates. With distance education, you can work flexibly through your program, but you’ll have to meet deadlines in order to progress. You’ll also be required to connect with professors online. And you may even take virtual classes or participate in online forums.

Best Online Colleges in California Badge

What are the best online colleges in California?

Alongside diverse programs offerings, California schools have diverse classrooms serving multi-cultural student populations. This goes for non-traditional students who take online classes. Perhaps you’re over the age of 25 or are returning to school after a significant absence or are trying to complete a degree while you support a family. All of these might make attending one of the best online colleges in California a better decision than dropping your responsibilities and enrolling in a traditional-format higher ed program.

No matter your circumstance, College Choice is committed to helping you discover the schools that best fit your needs, so take a look at our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in California to see what’s right for you. Happy hunting!

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Vanguard University of Southern California
    Location

    Costa Mesa, CA

    Overview

    The Vanguard University of Southern California is one of the best online colleges in California. It confers a small number of online degrees that are highly respected in the professional world. This university is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    The online portal at Vanguard is undergoing changes, and it is expected that the new portal, when unveiled, will far exceed expectations. For now, however, the school confers three degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels along with a group of online courses. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
    • Master of Science in Nursing

    Features

    Online courses also offer students the opportunity to access Vanguard’s online library, which currently hosts 80 databases and over 60,000 eBooks and eTextbooks. Along with 24/7 tech support and personalized coaching, students are set up for success with an online degree from Vanguard. Courses are taught in the eight-week format and are asynchronous, allowing a student to choose when what time is best for them to attend class.

  2. Mount Saint Mary's University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Overview

    Mount Saint Mary’s University is ranked as one of the top online colleges in California. The school, which confers over 10 degrees 100 percent online, is also one of the leading ranked regional university in the West by U.S. News and World Report. The online portal has its own team of advisors and support staff and offers students the traditional MSMU experience tailored to fit their needs.

    Features

    The school currently confers 10 undergraduate and graduate degrees online as well as certificates and programs for professionals. Fields of study include entrepreneurship, business, health sciences, and more. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
    • Bachelor of Science in Criminology
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

    Notables

    MSMU takes an experiential-based approach to online education. The faculty teaches using a combination of some lectures, team projects, research papers, and independent study to strengthen a student in critical reasoning and communication skills as well as give them accomplishments within their area of study. This school is a top-tier institution that believes in online education so much that the online portal is considered a sister school, not a division, to MSMU.

  3. Hope International University
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Overview

    Hope International University is one of the best online schools in California for Christian students. By marrying Christian ideals to an online education, the school is providing students with the ability to go forward in ethical and moral service. The school offers all of its programs 100 percent online. There will never be a need for a student to attend campus; the only exception would be to walk for graduation, which all students are welcome to do.

    Features

    HIU offers a dozen degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as professional certificates and a vast array of online courses from all departments. Students can find online programs for just about anything, including business, theology, education, and psychology. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies: Teacher Preparation
    • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Master of Business Administration, Non-Profit Management Concentration

    Notables

    Students will also be treated to a tailored study program and one-on-one attention with their faculty. The school also provides online tutoring and advising services, access to library resources, and 24/7 online support. That’s why this school is so highly respected by current students and alumni.

  4. California State University—Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Overview

    California State University at Fullerton believes that online education should be accessible for everyone. That’s why it’s considered one of the best online schools in California. This university is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    Fullerton offers two bachelor’s degrees and nine master’s degrees as well as a variety of credentials and certificates for professionals and educators. The majority of the programs are focused on education and STEM subjects, making the school a great choice for students who are interested in either field of study. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
    • Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology
    • Master of Science in Environmental Engineering

    Notables

    Fullerton students are treated to a few unique features. The school uses the cohort model for these degrees, pairing students together based on estimated graduation date. This helps students build a tight-knit community and engage more in online discussions and team projects. Courses are also taught asynchronously with lax due dates on exams and assignments, allowing students the opportunity to study when it is best for them.

  5. California State University—Chico
    Location

    Chico, CA

    Overview

    California State University at Chico offers students the chance to learn from one of the top online colleges in California. This university offers a variety of online degrees, certificates, and courses through the Distance and Online Education division. This university is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    This university currently confers four bachelor degrees and two masters degrees. These programs are of a general nature but are great foundations for a career or further education at the graduate level. There are hundreds of courses as well that can be taken. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
    • Master of Science in Nursing
    • Master of Science in Agricultural Education

    Notables

    CSU Chico is part of CSU Online, the virtual college that encompasses all 23 campuses within the California State University system. The university takes online education seriously, so all degrees were designed in partnership with eLearning professionals and created to be as flexible as the students who study the programs.

  6. Fresno Pacific University
    Location

    Fresno, CA

    Overview

    Fresno Pacific University is one of the best online colleges in California for students who are looking for flexible degrees. The school has a good array of online degrees and is poised to help every student find a way towards graduation. This university holds regional accreditation by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    FPU currently confers four bachelor’s degrees and eight masters degrees. The school also has various credential programs and certificates at the graduate level. The fields of study vary and include education, health management, bible studies, and leadership. All courses and degrees listed are 100 percent online. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership, and Culture
    • Bachelor of Arts in Business Management
    • Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies

    Notables

    This school knows that an online degree should mean exactly that: a student earns the degree entirely online. While some of these degrees may require an internship or a practicum, the school works with students to ensure all requirements happen in the student’s community, eliminating the need to ever step foot on campus. However, just because a student isn’t on the FPU campus doesn’t mean they won’t get the FPU experience. Courses are generally taught by the same faculty that teaches the subject on campus and students will have the opportunity to speak with their instructors if they need to. Classes are also taught asynchronously, allowing a student to study on their own time and work on projects that strengthen their skill set and see them shine.

  7. California Baptist University
    Location

    Riverside, CA

    Overview

    California Baptist University is easily among the top online colleges in California. This university offers more than 40 fully online degrees at all levels of education and continues to be one of the most affordable as well.CBU is one of the most flexible colleges when it comes to online learning. Designed with working professionals in mind, this university allows students to transfer in with little trouble, can fit around any schedule, and is affordable enough to make it worth a student’s time and energy. This university is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    The university currently confers undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees. It is an amazing school for students looking for online doctorates, as these degrees are rare to be found wholly online. From education to business to public policy, the CBU Online portal is where a student can find these programs.

    The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Technology
    • Master of Business Administration in Accounting
    • Doctorate of Public Administration

    Notables

    The school offers students the chance to learn on their own schedule. Using online apps built just for the school and an asynchronous schedule, students can choose to study when they have time, relieving the stress of having to attend class at a certain time. The school also has a dedicated online student support services desk, ensuring that students will always find the answer to their question.

  8. California State University—Monterey Bay
    Location

    Seaside, CA

    Overview

    California State University at Monterey Bay is one of the best online colleges in California for students. It is a particularly great choice for underserved and low-income students who need extra help to get their degree. This university is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    The school currently confers one bachelor and two master degrees online; however, the school has already announced that more are on the way. With skilled instructors who are trained in online learning and a friendly and helpful tech support team, students will be well on their way to making their educational dreams come true. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Master of Science in Instructional Science and Technology
    • Master of Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

    Notables 

    CSUMB prides itself on making online education affordable and accessible to everyone. This school has some of the lowest tuition rates for online students and has exceeded all expectations by providing financial aid specifically for this demographic.

  9. California State University—Sacramento
    Location

    Sacramento, CA

    Overview

    California State University at Sacramento has one of the largest selections of online degrees and programs. It is one of the best online schools in California and it continues to be a premier example of what online education should look like. It is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    CSUS offers a dozen degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as professional certificates and programs. These span the range of fields of study but generally include those degrees that are most in demand from both students and employers. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
    • Master of Science in Accountancy
    • Bachelor of Science in Career and Technical Studies

    Notables

    The university’s online portal is supported by CSU online, the home for the California State University System virtual college. Together with the department, CSUS has designed an engaging online curriculum for all programs that are asynchronous and flexible.

  10. California State University—Northridge
    Location

    Northridge, CA

    Overview

    California State University at Northridge is one of the largest universities in the country. It is also one of the best online colleges in California. This school provides students with a variety of options in online education. It is regionally accredited by the WASC SCUC.

    Features

    CSUN offers nine undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as a variety of professional certifications. From public health to speech-language pathology, this school focuses on making health and management degrees available online for the growing number of students who are demanding them. The most popular online programs for this school include:

    • Master of Social Work
    • Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science, Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services
    • Master of Arts in Humanities

    Notables

    The university carefully designed each program to ensure that the degrees are helpful and useful to the working professional who earns it. CSUN teamed with leading practitioners in each field as well as eLearning professionals to build an asynchronous and interactive online portal that was built to meet every student’s needs, from 24/7 technical support to a list of approved proctored exam sites.

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