Options for Academics & Online Studies in Santa Maria

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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.

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Santa Maria’s Colleges and Career Institutes

The City of Santa Maria estimates that more than 12 percent of residents earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. About 6.5 percent earned associate degrees, 9 percent earned bachelor’s degrees, and almost 4 percent went for graduate or professional degrees.

Santa Maria hosts the main campus of Allan Hancock College, which proudly reports that it is ranked in the top five community colleges in California. Counting its other locations in Lompoc, Solvang and Vandenberg Air Force Base, the college serves about 11,500 for-credit students every semester. Programs range widely, but some reflect the importance of vineyards in the local economy, with courses in agribusiness and enology. Other degree programs target emerging industries such as applied design and media, including animation and graphics.

Additionally, Santa Maria has a campus for the Center for Employment Training, where students learn actionable skills to prepare them for employment opportunities.

Below are colleges and career centers in the Santa Maria area:

Allan Hancock CollegePublic – 2-year
Center for Employment Training – Santa MariaPrivate – not for profit – less than 2-year

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Online Educational Opportunities in Santa Maria

When students require more flexibility in their studies, Santa Maria offers online programs from the area’s colleges. Santa Barbara Business College – Santa Maria has online programs encompassing nine 2-year, 4-year and graduate degrees. These programs range from associate in criminal justice to master’s in business administration.

Allan Hancock College also gives students options via distance learning. With online associate and certificate programs, students typically spend a limited amount of time on-campus. Degree and certificate programs range from fully to partially online. Choices of study for degrees include business administration, English, social science, Spanish, speech communication, accounting, marketing, computer information systems, fire technology and more. Partly online certificate programs span topics such as culinary arts and electronics technology.

Several independent colleges provide online study options for Santa Maria residents, including distance learning giants such as University of Phoenix, which serves students across the country with undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificates.

Leading Employers and Occupations

The Santa Maria Economic Development center lists the following industries as highest in employment:

  • Agriculture
  • Services
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Industrial

Santa Maria is home to these major employers:

  • Santa Maria Bonita School District
  • Marian Medical Center
  • C & D Zodiac Aerospace
  • Allan Hancock College

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that Santa Maria has high numbers of residents employed in areas such as these:

  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities
  • Education and Health Services
  • Government
  • Professional and Business Services

The Santa Maria Economic Development Center expects growth in the following industries:

  • Construction
  • Public Sector
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation, Communication and Utilities

Santa Maria’s colleges and career institutes offer technical and professional studies for students interested in entering high-growth local industries such as aerospace, education and health care.

Colleges & Universities in Santa Maria


Allan Hancock College19,552$1,008Public

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