Colleges, Universities and Online Colleges in San Diego

Updated September 8, 2022 • 4 Min Read

The second largest city in California, San Diego is home to an array of community colleges, public universities, private colleges and universities, and law schools. These institutions strive to provide the academic preparation and workforce training needed for San Diegans to compete in a global economy. Available degree programs span a broad range of interests: Biblical Studies, Military Leadership, Health Law and Peace Studies. 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 Schools In San Diego

  1. University of San Diego
  2. San Diego City College
  3. San Diego Mesa College
  4. San Diego Miramar College
  5. San Diego State University
  6. University of California, San Diego
  7. Point Loma Nazarene University
  8. National University
  9. Alliant International University

Colleges in San Diego

The San Diego Community College District serves approximately 130,000 students each year through three two-year colleges and seven Continuing Education campuses. The three colleges offer occupationally driven associate degrees and certificates to help prepare students for entry-level jobs, and arts and sciences degree programs that transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

San Diego is also home to a variety of public and private four-year colleges and universities. The University of California, San Diego is one of the top 10 public universities in the country, with six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions, and five graduate and professional schools. San Diego State University, which offers bachelor's degrees in 84 areas, master's degrees in 76 areas, and doctoral degrees in 21 areas, has educated more of San Diego's civic leaders than any other institution – in fact, 80 percent of graduates stay in San Diego to pursue careers.

As for private nonprofit schools, the University of San Diego serves more than 8,000 students and offers a unique master's degree program in peace and justice studies. National University is the second largest private nonprofit institution of higher education in California and the 12th largest in the United States, offering 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as 30 certificates and 22 credential programs. At Point Loma Nazarene University, which serves more than 3,500 students through 60 undergraduate areas of study and graduate centers, 30 percent of graduating seniors have studied abroad.

Take a glance at a few of San Diego's colleges and universities:

San Diego City CollegePublic (2-year)Certificates, Associate degrees
San Diego Mesa CollegePublic (2-year)Certificates, Associate degrees
San Diego Miramar CollegePublic (2-year)Certificates, Associate degrees
San Diego State UniversityPublic (4-year)Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees
University of California, San DiegoPublic (4-year)Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees, Continuing education
University of San DiegoPrivate NonprofitUndergraduate degrees, Certificates, Graduate degrees
Point Loma Nazarene UniversityPrivate NonprofitUndergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees, Certificates
National UniversityPrivate NonprofitCertificates, Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees
Alliant International UniversityPrivate NonprofitUndergraduate degrees, Certificates, Graduate degrees
Azusa Pacific UniversityPrivate Nonprofit (Christian)Certificates, Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees
San Diego Christian CollegePrivate Nonprofit (Christian)Undergraduate degrees, Certificates
Thomas Jefferson School of LawPrivate NonprofitJD, LLM, JSM, JD/MBA degrees
California Western School of LawPrivate NonprofitJD, LLM, MCL, JD/MBA, JD/MSW, JD/PhD, MAS-Health Law degrees

Online Colleges in San Diego

SPOTLIGHTSan Diego State University — San Diego, California

Part of the massive California State University system, San Diego State University serves the community through diverse online and hybrid programs. SDSU's College of Extended Studies administers most of the university's online programs as part of its mission to provide professional development and lifelong learning opportunities. The College of Extended Studies (CES) also reaches out to San Diegans through the Open University, which allows high school graduates, working adults and students from other colleges to sign up for classes, if space is available. While individual courses are open to the public and enrolled students, online degree and certificate programs may have specific admission requirements.

SDSU offers online master's degree programs in subjects ranging from public administration to education leadership to learning design and technology. A graduate program in regulatory affairs focuses on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Another master's degree program in hospitality and tourism management uses a blended model, combining a week of face-to-face team-building and leadership exercises with 17 months of web-based instruction and a final on-campus capstone project. Interested individuals can ask university advisors whether online programs involve in-person participation or practical experience through internships.

Many of the online programs at SDSU's College of Extended Studies focus on career training. Business-related certificates dive into leadership, process improvement, human resources and accounting. Other areas include education and information systems, covering in-demand fields such as emerging mobile technologies. Several certificates are offered within construction management, encompassing green building practices. Additional noncredit online offerings aim to enhance professional knowledge or prepare students to sit for certification exams in areas such as project management.

Further details about SDSU's online programs are available at:

COLLEGE NAMESan Diego State University
SUBJECTSBusiness, Education, Public Administration, Technology
LEVELSMaster's, Certificate

Students at any of San Diego's community colleges can take online courses through the Online Learning Pathways website of the San Diego Community College District. Online courses are offered in subjects such as anthropology, business, music, psychology and real estate.

At the four-year public university level, UC San Diego Extension offers online courses and certificates in areas of study such as digital arts, engineering, information technology and writing. The College of Extended Studies at San Diego State boasts a wide range of online programs, from degree and certificate programs to career-building courses and personal enrichment opportunities.

Private colleges and universities provide a variety of online learning opportunities as well. The Division of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of San Diego offers online courses in areas such as business, classroom management, leadership, and Common Core standards. The University College of Azusa Pacific University offers fully online certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in health sciences, leadership, liberal studies, management and psychology. Thomas Jefferson School of Law features fully online master's degrees in law, such as the LLM and JSM, with five different concentrations.

Top Industries, Careers and Employers

The San Diego region boasts one of the most diverse, dynamic economies in the country. According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the area's major industries include:

  • Clean Tech
  • Information & Communications Technologies
  • Military
  • Tourism
  • Health Care
  • Higher Education

The home port to more than 60 percent of the ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet and more than one-third of the combat power of the U.S. Marine Corps, San Diego hosts the largest concentration of military service personnel in the world. In fact, the defense industry represents one out of every four jobs in the region.

According to the San Diego Daily Transcript, San Diego County's 10 largest employers are:

  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • Federal Government
  • State of California
  • University of California, San Diego
  • County of San Diego
  • San Diego Unified School District
  • Sharp Healthcare
  • Scripps Health
  • Qualcomm
  • City of San Diego

In addition to government-related activity, San Diego is one of the top 10 visitor and meeting destinations in the country, making tourism the third largest industry in the area. As seen from the list of top employers, education, whether postsecondary or K-12, is the focus for hundreds of thousands of San Diego professionals.

Colleges & Universities in San Diego


San Diego State University34,999$5,472Public
University of San Diego9,106$38,150Not For Profit (Private)
Alliant International University4,517$16,350Not For Profit (Private)
Point Loma Nazarene University4,330$27,700Not For Profit (Private)
Thomas Jefferson School of Law1,231N/ANot For Profit (Private)
California Western School of Law1,026N/ANot For Profit (Private)


San Diego Mesa College40,844$864Public
San Diego City College29,873$864Public
San Diego Miramar College23,179$864Public

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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