Best Online Colleges in California 2022

California offers many options for students seeking an online degree. Here, we outline top careers and the best schools in California.

Updated October 4, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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California Accredited Online Schools

In California, 35% of adults hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Earning a college degree can lead to new career opportunities and higher earning potential. Online colleges in California make it easier than ever to complete a college degree.

California online colleges offer programs in high-demand fields like business, healthcare, and education. Online learners gain the knowledge and skills to pursue diverse careers. This page lists the best online colleges in California. Read on to learn about costs at California online colleges and high-paying California jobs.

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Questions About Online Colleges in California

How long do you need to live in California to get in-state tuition?

Students qualify for in-state tuition after living in California for over one year. These learners must show financial independence and an intent to stay in the state after graduation.

What is the cheapest college in California?

Learners can get the most affordable education at community colleges. California community colleges charge the nation's lowest rates of $42 per credit, according to

How many colleges and universities are in California?

California boasts more colleges and universities than any other state. According to Statista, California has 262 four-year colleges and 154 two-year colleges.

Why Get an Online Degree in California?

California has the world's fifth-largest economy. Earning a college degree can help students increase their earning potential. Bachelor's degree-holders earn about $27,300 more per year than those with a high school diploma.

Online colleges in California offer affordability and flexibility. Enrollees can complete coursework around work and family responsibilities. Many California online colleges offer low tuition rates for distance learners. 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.

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Best Online Colleges in California 2022

  1. San Diego State University

    San Diego, CA



    A leading public research university based in San Diego, California, SDSU's academic programs partnered with the SDSU Global Campus to offer fully online undergraduate and graduate degree completion programs, providing flexible education for working students.

    SDSU's online bachelor's degrees focus on business administration, communication, criminal justice, economics, and public health. The university also offers online master's degrees in teacher leadership, electrical engineering, epidemiology, regulatory affairs, and rehabilitation counseling. SDSU also allows students to attend their courses online or through a blend of on-campus and online classes.

    SDSU does not accept transfer applications from lower-division students with fewer than 60 transferable credits. All applicants must submit their official high school transcripts, complete the CSU common admission application, and pay a nonrefundable filing fee of $70.

    San Diego State University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

  2. Biola University

    La Mirada, CA

    A nationally ranked Christian university in La Mirada, California, Biola offers fully online undergraduate programs to provide students with an affordable, flexible way to finish their studies.

    Biola offers online bachelor's degrees in applied psychology, Bible, theology and apologetics, biblical ministries, business management, communication studies, early childhood, interdisciplinary studies, and public relations and digital media management. The university provides online programs through year-round, seven-week course sessions in an asynchronous format.

    Prospective students can apply to any of Biola's online bachelor's degrees for free. For transfer students, the university requests transcripts from accredited colleges at no cost to its applicants. The school also designates admissions counselors to help each applicant navigate the process.

    Biola University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

  3. California State University-Chico

    Chico, CA



    Located in Chico, California, Chico State offers online courses and degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels to provide a pathway for working students to earn their degrees.

    Chico State Distance and Online Education's programs include bachelor's degrees in social science, liberal studies, religious studies, and sociology. The university also offers an online master's degree in nursing and an online certificate program in career and life planning.

    Students may also pursue an online/on-campus hybrid program in the bachelor of social work distributed learning degree. Students in this program learn through web-based, synchronous courses, offered on a rotating cycle.

    Interested applicants must complete an online application form, and submit all transcripts of records from regionally accredited institutions. Prospective students of the school's online programs must meet the technical requirements in computer and internet access. California State University-Chico is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

  4. William Jessup University

    Rocklin, CA

    A Christian university based in Rocklin, California, Jessup now offers 17 accredited online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Jessup offers online bachelor's degrees in psychology, leadership, business, computer science, criminal justice, and healthcare administration. The school also features online master's degrees in leadership, kinesiology, and a master's in business administration.

    Along with the flexibility of online course delivery, students also access Jessup's success center, online tutoring sessions, and thousands of books and resources in the Paul Nystrom Library.

    Per university policy, applicants may transfer up to 90 credits from a previously attended accredited institution. All applicants must fill out the school's online application form and submit all academic transcripts, along with SAT or ACT scores. William Jessup University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

  5. Concordia University-Irvine

    Irvine, CA

    Located in Irvine, California, CIU offers online bachelor's degrees for working students to advance their education at their own pace.

    CIU's online bachelor's degrees consist of programs in business administration and leadership, Christian education leadership, healthcare management, and organizational psychology. Each of CIU's online courses includes regularly scheduled two-hour classes with professors and peers. This allows students to actively engage in live lectures and discussions. Students of this program still benefit from CIU's support resources and alumni network.

    Applicants must complete an online application form, available on the school's official website. Prospective students should also submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities and write a statement of intent. Applicants must hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.4.

    Concordia University-Irvine is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC).

City Spotlight: Colleges in California

Hayward, CA

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Alameda County, Hayward is home to a range of colleges and universities, including California State University – East Bay. Students searching for flexible scheduling can take advantage of online courses and degree programs. Education is a big player in the local economy, and a popular course of study as well — Hayward is known for producing a large number of California's teachers.

Colleges and Universities in Hayward

California State University-East Bay15,357$5,472Public
Chabot College21,214N/APublic

Stockton, CA

Stockton is a viable option for those students who wish to attend school in California, but find the cost of living in major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles to be too high. Stockton boasts numerous galleries, museums, and festivals, which cater to the city's fairly young and diverse population. According to the most recent census data, 30 percent of Stockton's population is under the age of 18, 40 percent are Hispanic, 12 percent are African American, 21 percent are Asian, and the remaining 27 percent are White, American Indian, and Pacific Islander. The city also offers its young residents a wide array of educational opportunities.

Colleges and Universities in Stockton

University of the Pacific7,310$35,770Not For Profit (Private)
Humphreys College-Stockton and Modesto Campuses1,638$10,620Not For Profit (Private)
San Joaquin Delta College25,367$864Public

Bakersfield, CA

Located in Kern County between Los Angeles and Fresno, Bakersfield is home to approximately 358,500 residents. Boosting the residential population is the student population at area colleges and universities. Bakersfield schools attract regional, national and international students each year, partly because of the diversity of schools available. In addition to traditional four-year colleges and universities, Bakersfield has community colleges and online postsecondary schools. Oversight for Bakersfield's community colleges is managed through organizations such as the California Community College Chancellor's Office, the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

Colleges and Universities in Bakersfield

California State University-Bakersfield9,456$5,472Public
Bakersfield College27,426$1,008Public

Santa Maria, CA

With a size of just over 23 square miles, Santa Maria supports three colleges and training centers for students seeking higher education or career skills. Some of these institutions offer online learning as an extension to their on-campus courses. Wide-ranging studies at these colleges range from viticulture to web design, and certificate programs are available partly online in subjects such as mechatronics and interior design merchandising.

Colleges and Universities in Santa Maria

Allan Hancock College19,552$1,008Public

Cost of Attending an Online College in California

Tuition costs for online colleges in California vary. Cost depends on many factors, including school, program, and students' residency status. In general, in-state residents attending public schools pay the most affordable tuition. At 2.71 million, California has more college students than any other state.

California residents spend an average of $8,362 per year in tuition and fees. The average national cost of in-state tuition is $9,580.

Out-of-state students attending public colleges and universities in California pay more than California residents. These learners spend an annual average of $32,177 in tuition and fees. Some students may qualify for tuition breaks as part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange program.

Public colleges generally charge less than private colleges. For example, California's two-year community colleges charge an annual average of $1,310, making California the most affordable state for community college. Four-year public colleges charge between $8,200-$32,200 in tuition, depending on residency status.

Private schools in California charge less than private schools around the country. Students at private four-year colleges in California spend an annual average of $49,860. As of Jan. 2022, Stanford charges $55,473 in tuition while the University of Southern California charges $60,446. Many private colleges offer institutional aid through grants and scholarships to help students pay for college.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online students should budget for other costs, such as technology and graduation fees. These learners may need to buy new laptops or upgrade their internet. Other expenses include books and supplies, which cost an average of $1,240 per year.

Some online programs include in-person requirements. Learners may need to budget for travel or lodging expenses. Graduates may need to pay for a license or certification, depending on their career. Learners should research these costs and include them when budgeting for college.

Fastest-Growing Occupations in California

California's Employment Development Department projects many careers will grow 30% or more from 2018-2028. A high growth rate indicates an in-demand field. Students considering online colleges in California may benefit from choosing a high-growth career path. See below for some of the state's fastest-growing careers.

Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Occupation Mean Wage Projected Job Growth
Solar Photovoltaic Installers $50,720 65%
Occupational Therapy Assistants $76,580 42%
Statisticians $114,320 41%
Physical Assistants $137,920 34%
Information Security Analysts $128,550 33%
Personal Care Aides $32,390 32%
Nurse Anesthetists $209,530 31%
Nurse Practitioners $148,930 31%
Health Specialty Teachers, Postsecondary $120,820 30%
Speech Language Pathologists $97,510 29%

Source: California Occupational Guide, EDD Data Library

Top-Paying Jobs in California

Some of the top-paying California careers include lawyer, manager, and engineer. While many of the highest-paying jobs require a graduate degree, others only require a two- or four-year degree. Air traffic controllers, financial managers, and computer hardware engineers can begin their careers with a bachelor's degree. See below for top-paying California jobs.

  • Lawyers

    These professionals recommend legal strategies to clients and represent them in court. Most lawyers specialize in an area like criminal law or family law. Lawyers typically attend law school, which takes about three years to finish. They must pass the California Bar Exam to enter the field.
  • Air Traffic Controllers

    These professionals direct commercial airline flights and other air traffic. They follow safety procedures to help flights take off and land. Air traffic controllers must follow federal regulations. They typically hold an associate or bachelor's degree. Air traffic controllers must complete FAA Academy training and receive a certificate.
  • Nuclear Engineers

    These engineers research nuclear energy to develop new uses of nuclear energy and radiation. They also develop ways to dispose of nuclear waste safely. Nuclear engineers may specialize in nuclear power or the industrial use of nuclear materials. These professionals need a bachelor's degree in engineering.
  • Pharmacists

    Pharmacists provide patients with prescription drugs. They work closely with physicians and other prescribers to provide medications. Pharmacists also advise patients on the use and side effects of prescription drugs. They need a four-year doctor of pharmacy degree and a license to practice in California.
  • Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary

    College professors in forestry, conservation, and environmental science typically hold a doctorate in their field. Many teach courses and conduct research in their specialty area. These professionals may publish research and present their work at academic conferences.
Career Salary Potential
Occupation 2021 Median Range
Lawyers $165,310
Air Traffic Controllers $156,920
Nuclear Engineers $154,040
Pharmacists $152,780
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary $151,570
Compensation and Benefits Managers $151,150
Financial Managers $147,480
Computer Hardware Engineers $146,160
Computer Hardware Engineers $145,620
Advertising and Promotion Managers $144,550

Source: California Occupational Guide

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

See All Posts 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.

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