2017 Top-Ranked Colleges and Universities in California

The information below is based on U.S. News College Rankings, which classifies colleges into categories (in order to compare schools with similar goals) and then ranks them into four tiers.  We present here the top-ranked California colleges and universities from the four major categories.

Please remember that rankings are only one tool to help you select and compare schools. They are, by their very nature, somewhat subjective, and excellent schools will be found in all four “tiers” of the rankings. We hope that this list will encourage you to investigate some fine California colleges and universities you may not have been aware of. Students should gather information on colleges in many ways: talking to parents, high school teachers, and counselors; reading college catalogs, viewbooks, and Web sites; scheduling appointments with college representatives; and visiting campuses to form first-hand impressions. And remember, a private liberal arts college may be far cheaper than a public university once financial assistance and merit scholarships are factored in! Because private schools work to increase their endowment funds every year, they often have far more money available to help their students than the public universities, which depend mainly on government subsidies.

How to Use This Guide

The table lists top-ranked colleges and universities in California. They are grouped into four major divisions, as explained in the headings. Each listing includes a link to the college’s website, information on tuition, and number of students enrolled. Think about the size of college you would like to attend. Will you be lost in a campus with 10,000 or more students or will you be able to handle all the many bureaucratic problems of living in such a large community? Would you prefer a smaller campus where you can meet and get to know most of the students in your graduating class? The percentages of classes over 50 and under 20 students will help you get a feel for how many large lecture-hall classes you may be attending and how many smaller seminar-type classes will be on your schedule. The acceptance rate suggests how likely you are to be accepted if you meet the qualification standards. Schools with 20% or lower acceptance rates are very well-known and so many students apply that only a small percentage can be accepted. Other excellent schools are not as well known and have much higher acceptance rates of qualified students.

The National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges listed below show percentages of entering freshmen in the top 10% of their high school class.  Master’s Universities and Baccalaureate Colleges show percentages in the top 25% of the high school class.  If a college generally accepts 90% students in the top 10% and you’re somewhere in the middle, most of the students in the college classes will have far better study skills than yours and you may have a very hard time keeping up with class expectations. 

The SAT/ACT 25th-75th percentile numbers help evaluate your reading, writing, and analysis skills.  If the school has 1200-1420 numbers, it means that 25% of the students scored higher than 1420 on their SAT, 25% of the students scored lower than 1200, and half of them scored between.  Where will you stand?  In order to compete successfully in reading, discussing, writing, and research, you need skills that are similar to the students around you, not 300 or more points below. 

Many schools prefer to admit a widely diverse student body and look for other indicators of personal leadership and academic ability than just grade-point average. You can find these schools by looking for lower numbers in these two columns.

Which school is the best? That depends on you, your goals, your abilities, and your needs. Every college and university listed below is accredited and has a top-notch reputation. As long as you attend a good school, future employers, graduate schools, etc., will care far more about your accomplishments than about the schools “number” on the rankings. A CSU Chico graduate with a strong transcript and excellent teacher recommendations will easily breeze right by a Stanford or Berkeley graduate with a mediocre transcript and so-so recommendations. 

Best advice:  Find the school that’s right for YOU!


National Universities offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s, and doctoral degrees.  These colleges are also committed to producing groundbreaking research.

Name & Address

Website

2016-17

Tuition

& Fees

2015 Under-graduate

Enrollment

Fall 2015 Acceptance

Rate

SAT/ACT

25th-75th

Percentile (2015)

Freshmen in

Top 10% of

High School Class

High School GPA

25th-75th

Percentile

Classes with

Under 20 Students (2015)

Classes with

50 or More Students (2015)

Stanford University

Stanford

$47,940

6,999

5%

1390-1580

96%

(average 4)

71.3%

11.3%

California Institute of Technology; Pasadena

$47,577

1,001

9%

1500-1600

99%

N/A

62.2%

10.4%

University of California Berkeley

Berkeley

In-State: $13,509

27,496

15%

1250-1500

98%

(average 3.9)

59.6%

15.8%

University of Southern California; Los Angeles

$52,217

18,810

18%

1270-1500

88%

3.6-3.9

60.6%

11.8%

University of California Los Angeles;Los Angeles

In-State:

$12,836

29,585

17%

1190-1470

97%

4-4

50.6%

22.3%

University of California Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara

In-State:

$14,022

20,607

33%

1130-1370

100%

3.8-4

48.7%

18.7%

University of California Irvine

Irvine

In-State:

$14,750

25,256

39%

1040-1310

96%

3.8-4

58.4%

20.6%

University of California-Davis Davis

In-State:

$14,046

28,384

38%

1070-1340

100%

3.5-4.0

35.8%

27.3%

University of California San Diego; La Jolla

In-State:

$14,705

28,384

34%

1210-1450

100%

3.9-4

35.1%

37.7%

Pepperdine University

Malibu

$50,022

3,533

38%

1100-1320

48%

3.4-3.9

69.2%

2.2%

University of California Santa Cruz; Santa Cruz

In-State:

$13,559

16,231

51%

1070-1310

96%

3.6-3.9

47.5%

24%

University of San Diego

San Diego

$46,140

5,711

52%

1070-1310

36%

3.6-4

38%

0.4%

University of San Francisco

San Francisco

$44,44

6,782

65%

1070-1260

25%

3.4-3.9

47.6%

1.9%

University of the Pacific

Stockton

$44,588

3,735

65%

1010-1280

33%

3.2-3.7

56.1%

4.6%

University of California Riverside

Riverside

In-State:

$13,581

18,608

56%

1020-1250

94%

(average 3.7)

21.3%

33.7%

San Diego State University

San Diego

$7,084

29,234

34%

1010-1230

33%

3.5-3.9

28.3%

24.6%

University of California Merced

Merced

$13,262

6,237

61%

900-1120

N/A

3.3-3.8

30.1%

26%

University of La Verne

La Verne

$39,900

2,864

47%

940-1120

18%

3.2-3.8

64.8%

0.7%




Liberal Arts Colleges emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.

Name & Address

Website

2016-17

Tuition

& Fees

2015 Under-graduate

Enrollment

Fall 2015 Acceptance

Rate

SAT/ACT

25th-75th

Percentile (2015)

Freshmen in

Top 10% of

High School Class

High School GPA

25th-75th

Percentile

Classes with

Under 20 Students (2015)

Classes with

50 or More Students (2015)

Pomona College

Claremont

$49,352

1,663

10%

1360-1530

92%

N/A

67.8%

1%

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont

$50,945

1,328

11%

1340-1530

73%

N/A

83.5%

1.1%

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont

$52,916

815

13%

1400-1560

93%

N/A

59.3%

9.1%

Scripps College

Claremont

$50,983

973

28%

1280-1448

72%

(average 4)

83.2%

0.6%

Pitzer College

Claremont

$48,660

1,067

13%

1250-1440

60%

(average 3.9)

72.7%

0%

Soka University of America

Aliso Viejo

$31,076

433

46%

1070-1390

33%

3.6-4

96.2%

0%

Occidental College

Los Angeles

$51,070

2,112

45%

1200-1380

55%

3.4-3.9

63.8%

0.2%

Thomas Aquinas College

Santa Paula

$21,400

360

60.4%

1170-1400

75%


100.0%

0.0%

Westmont College

Santa Barbara

$33,170

1,337

73.2%

1080-1310

45%


61.6%

4.2%




Master’s Universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s programs but few doctoral programs.

Name & Address

Website

2008-09

Tuition & Fees

2007 Total Enrollment

Fall 2007 Acceptance Rate

SAT/ACT

25th-75th

Percentile (2007)

Freshmen in

Top 25% of High School Class

Classes with Under 20 Students (2007)

Classes with 50 or More Students (2007)

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara

$34,950

8,248

61.3%

1110-1320

73%

35.6%

1.3%

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles

$34,537

8,977

52.2%

1050-1280

65%

48.9%

1.3%

Mills College

Oakland

$35,190

1,454

64.4%

1010-12150

78%

77.5%

1.2%

University of Redlands

Redlands

$32,294

4,188

62.9%

1060-1240

70%

71.9%

0.6%

California State Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo

In-State:

$5,043

19,777

44.8%

1080-1290

79%

16.1%

12.9%

Chapman University

Orange

$34,716

6,022

49.4%

1105-1334

91%

36.0%

1.9%

St. Mary's College of California

Moraga

$33,250

3,809

82.2%

960-1180

N/A

47.4%

0.0%

California Lutheran University

Thousand Oaks

$27,850

3,411

67.7%

980-1210

68%

68.9%

0.8%

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego

$25,120

3,480

73.5%

1010-1240

72%

44.0%

2.4%

California State Univeristy Long Beach; Long Beach

In-State:

$3,394

36,868

47.0%

900-1130

84%

24.8%

10.1%

Mount St. Mary's College

Los Angeles

$27,100

2,366

86.2%

900-1090

64%

56.2%

0.4%

California State Polytechnic University Pomona

In-State:

$3,288

21,477

68.8%

890-1130

N/A

35.2%

7.6%

California Sate University Chico

Chico

In-State:

$4,010

17,034

94.7%

900-1120

76%

36.0%

8.7%

California State University  Fullerton

In-State:

$3,382

37,130

60.5%

870-1090

48%

26.6%

8.7%

Sonoma State University

Rohnert Park

In-State:

$3,996

8,769

72.7%

900-1110

N/A

87.9%

7.9%

California Baptist University

Riverside

$22,330

3,775

72.5%

930-1130

52%

50.2%

5.2%

Fresno Pacific University

Fresno

$23,202

2,353

68.1%

860-1130

61%

70.6%

2.3%

Notre Dame de Namur University

Belmont

$25,580

1,491

99.0%

870-1060

41%

80.8%

0.0%

Dominican University of California

San Rafael

$32,290

2,125

55.9%

893-1080

44%

61.3%

0.8%

San Jose State University

San Jose

In-State:

$4,938

31,906

64.3%

880-1110

N/A

24.5%

14.3%

Concordia University

Irvine

$23,700

2,392

67.3%

900-1140

56%

56.4%

1.1%

Humboldt State University

Arcata

In-State:

$4,134

7,773

82.4%

900-1170

N/A

33.8%

11.0%

California State University  Stanislaus; Turlock

In-State:

$3,663

8,836

65.3%

850-1070

N/A

31.0%

7.7%

San Francisco State University

San Francisco

In-State:

$3,762

30,125

67.0%

880-1120

N/A

21.3%

21.0%




Baccalaureate Colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

Name & Address

Website

2008-09

Tuition & Fees

2007 Total Enrollment

Fall 2007 Acceptance Rate

SAT/ACT

25th-75th

Percentile (2007)

Freshmen in

Top 25% of High School Class

Classes with Under 20 Students (2007)

Classes with 50 or More Students (2007)

Master's College and Seminary

Santa Clarita

$23,120

1,516

83.7%

970-1260

53%

77.2%

5.2%

Vanguard University of Southern California; Costa Mesa

$24,310

2,251

81.5%

860-1100

49%

65.5%

5.4%

California Maritime Academy

Vallejo

N/A

865

78.3%

1095

N/A

N/A

N/A

Pacific Union College

Angwin

$22,695

1,363

75.2%

900-1150

N/A

67.2%

6.2%