Online Colleges in California 2022

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

January 4, 2022

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Colleges in California 2022

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Best Colleges & Universities in CA

Online colleges in California educate in- and out-of-state students. Admission requirements vary by school and degree. Applicants to bachelor's programs should hold a high school or GED diploma. Master's and doctoral programs usually accept only bachelor's degree-holders.

Census data indicate that a college education significantly benefits California residents. Good-paying California jobs help workers afford the state's high cost of living. A degree prepares learners for a career in one of the state's largest industries: education, finance, and professional services. The following sections detail possible careers and schools' costs of attendance (COA).

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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in California

true Q. What California colleges offer online programs?

Prospective students choose from many public and private California online colleges. Community and junior colleges offer associate degrees. Four-year colleges and universities feature bachelor's and graduate programs.

true Q. Can California residents go to college for free?

Some in-state public schools offer free tuition to learners living in the same city. However, even these students pay for textbooks, fees, and related expenses.

true Q. Do I need to be a resident of California to attend an online college in California?

No. Many top programs accept out-of-state applicants. However, programs preparing students for licensure may limit enrollment to residents. Out-of-state learners should also avoid online colleges in California with on-campus graduation requirements.

Why Get an Online Degree in California?

Public higher education in California features research universities, public state universities, and community colleges. Colleges in California offer online and hybrid degrees at different levels. Distance learners complete the same coursework as on-campus peers and earn an identical degree.

Earning a degree results in a big return on investment, especially for members of a minority group. Recent data show that African American degree-holders make about 10% more annually than their peers without a degree. Latino/a and Indigenous Americans experience even greater financial benefits. As of Dec. 2021, California actively invests in these groups' education.

Cost of Attending an Online College in California

A California degree-seeker's COA depends on many factors, including school, residency, and living arrangements. Some public and private schools attract online learners with a lower per-credit tuition rate. Others attract students with reduced fees. In-state students attending a public school save significantly on tuition. Private institutions charge more, but all degree-seekers pay the same rate, no matter their residency.

The details in the following sections reflect the latest data as of Jan. 2022. Consult a school's tuition or financial aid website for more information.

Additional Online Student Fees

Prospective students researching online colleges in California should consider how other fees and expenses impact COA. California online colleges' technology requirements mean some degree-seekers must purchase a new computer or better internet connection. Other technology costs may include course-specific software. Learners in a hybrid program should save money for commuting to campus or a practicum site.

Online students approaching graduation should budget for a graduation fee. Some upcoming and recent graduates also spend out of pocket for a professional certification. These certifications can increase their career potential. Fortunately, many organizations awarding certifications offer student members a discount.

Fastest Growing Careers in California

The fastest-growing California jobs offer a median salary exceeding the U.S. average by 25% or more. Some of these professions, including solar photovoltaic installer, do not require a four-year degree. However, remember that projected growth may rise or fall due to changing economic conditions.

Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Occupation 2021 Statewide Median Annual Wage Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)
Solar Photovoltaic Installers $50,723 65.4%
Occupational Therapy Assistants $76,583 42.3%
Statisticians $114,323 40.7%
Physician Assistants $137,922 34.2%
Information Security Analysts $128,546 32.7%

Source: California Occupational Guide, EDD Data Library

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic installers must hold a high school or GED diploma. Some employers provide training or an apprenticeship program. Others limit job applicants to those with electrical or general construction experience. The position involves installing solar panels, performing maintenance, and applying weather sealing. The career requires many hours working outdoors.

Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistants teach patients therapy exercises, record patients' progress, and follow other healthcare professionals' instructions. Other job responsibilities include assessing patients' unique needs. Most employers consider applicants with an associate degree or higher. New workers may need on-the-job training or a professional certification.

Statisticians

Statisticians analyze data and make conclusions. Many fields need their expertise, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and marketing. Job titles for these workers include biostatistician and clinical data manager. These and other statisticians publish peer-review articles, make reports to stakeholders, and evaluate different statistical methods' effectiveness.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants work alongside doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. They interpret test records, review patients' medical histories, and prescribe medication. Individuals enter the profession by completing an approved physician assistant program. The programs take about two years for bachelor's degree-holders. Graduation requirements include supervised clinical experiences.

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts use their computer science expertise to encrypt data and create security systems. They also research the latest information on security trends. Most analysts work in an office setting during regular business hours. Requirements may include a bachelor's in computer science or an MBA in information systems. Significant computer science work experience makes applicants more competitive.

Top-Paying Jobs in California

The table below introduces the top-paying California jobs in 2021. Please note that it provides median salaries. Workers living in large cities often earn more than those in suburban or rural areas. Other factors affecting pay include degree, years of experience, and professional certifications. Click the embedded links to learn more about each career.

Median Wages
Occupation 2021 Median Wage
Lawyers $165,307
Air Traffic Controllers $156,916
Nuclear Engineers $154,043
Pharmacists $152,778
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary $151,574
Compensation and Benefits Managers $151,145
Financial Managers $147,484
Computer Hardware Engineers $146,157
Dentists, General $145,616
Advertising and Promotion Managers $144,551

Source: California Occupational Guide

Online Colleges in California 2022

California State University - East Bay true View School Profile Hayward, CA Unconfirmed

California State University, East Bay, better known as Cal State East Bay, is a California school that excels in research, giving students a chance to study outside of a traditional classroom and get hands-on experience. It offers over 100 degree programs, and students can study toward their degree at one of the school's two campuses. Along with their campuses, California State University East Bay also has a professional center in downtown Oakland, giving students access to professional resources. Another popular method of study at Cal State East Bay is through their online program. There are over 50 courses offered either online or in a hybrid format, making it one of the biggest online schools in California while also allowing students to study specific courses without needing to commute or keep a tight schedule.

Alliant International University - San Diego true View School Profile San Diego, CA Unconfirmed

Alliant International University, San Diego is just one of the many campuses under the Alliant International University umbrella. The San Diego campus is home to more graduate students than undergraduates. Because Alliant offers different programs of study at different campuses, those who are interested in a graduate degree might find their San Diego campus to be more fitting. However, students can also study through the school's online program. Via their online degree programs, students can study toward one of many master's degrees, some of which are considered to be among the best online degrees in California. Popular options include their master's in clinical counseling, educational psychology and clinical psychopharmacology.

Humboldt State University true View School Profile Arcata, CA Unconfirmed

Lovers of the outdoors will find that Humboldt State University has a lot to offer. Thanks to their prime location in Northern California, Humboldt State gives students the unique opportunity to study sciences while practically immersed in the field. Some of the degrees offered by Humboldt State include zoology, wildlife, fisheries biology and environmental resources engineering. Also, students can study toward some of the degrees entirely online, making it one of the only online schools in California to offer these types of degrees. The option depends largely on which degree students are studying toward. Another benefit of Humboldt State is their small class sizes, making each course a personalized experience with a professor that will help students along the way.

California State University - Chico true View School Profile Chico, CA Unconfirmed

California State University, Chico is one of the oldest of the CSU schools in California, and since they were established they've built a reputation as one of the top online schools in California. Their online degrees are all accredited, and they allow students who don't live in Chico to earn the same quality education as those on-campus via online education. Online classes are popular with students who want to create their own schedule and expedite their graduation. Because of this, online schooling is also often paired with summer and winter courses, giving students a chance to get their studies done at their own pace. Chico's master's programs are also considered to be some of the top in the nation, including those that can be studied and completed online.

National University true View School Profile La Jolla, CA Unconfirmed

San Diego based National University was founded by a retired member of the US Navy, and their curriculum and ethos reflects many of the same values that one might find in the Navy. Military members also get a tuition discount at National University, a way to pay back those who served. While National University is based in San Diego, they have more than 20 locations that students can study at, and online options as well. The school's online format is unique for being the only online school in California that uses four-week classes – something that is also used for on-campus studying. There are also over 100 degrees offered at National University, meaning there's no shortage of programs for students who might still be trying to figure out what they want to major in.

California State University - Fullerton View School Profile Fullerton, CA Unconfirmed

California State University, Fullerton is nationally recognized for its innovative style as well as its quality education. There is a dedication to making sure that students feel welcomed as well as supported, and they are helped through school with a level of attention that not all schools can offer. Students also have the opportunity to study toward both an undergraduate degree and graduate degree in some fields. While many students end up studying on-campus, Cal State Fullerton does offer online programs for students that are unable to study on-campus or prefer to study at their own pace. The online program for educators is also worth noting since not every online school in California offers this type of education. Students can also study toward finishing some bachelor's degree through the online courses offered.

San Diego State University View School Profile San Diego, CA Unconfirmed

As the oldest institution of higher learning in San Diego, San Diego State University has had over 100 years to grow and establish their current culture. While they're based in San Diego, the international community has become an important part of the school. Graduates of SDSU end up with a strong foundation of education in regard to globalism, helping them prepare for a future career with the global community. The academics at SDSU are well respected, and there are plenty of different undergraduate and graduate degrees offered. Students can also choose to study abroad, strengthening their global approach. There are plenty of online options offered as well at different levels, including the master's level and for extended studies.

Shasta Bible College View School Profile Redding, CA Unconfirmed

Consistently considered to be among the best online colleges in California, Shasta Bible College and Graduate School understands that their students are busy and might not have the time or resources to make it to campus on a regular basis. With this in mind, they've crafted their online programs to allow students to study at their own pace. Most of the online degrees offered involve biblical studies or Christianity, two important aspects of Shasta Bible College. However, students can also study online toward degrees in education.

SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary View School Profile El Dorado Hills, CA Unconfirmed

SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary is one of the only online schools in California that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in biblical studies in a high-quality format. That's because SUM bases its history in theology and Christianity. Students who chose to learn at SUM can only study toward one undergraduate degree – a bachelor of arts in biblical studies – but can bolster their education with different minors and concentrations. After studying toward a specific minor and/or concentration, students can then apply their specialty to the graduate programs offered at SUM. One of the core values at SUM is to breed leadership in their students, helping them become leaders in their community. This education is ideal for someone who wants a strong background in biblical studies and has a desire to become a leader or teacher in theology.

Bethesda University View School Profile Anaheim, CA Unconfirmed

Accredited by multiple organizations including the California Department of Education and the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Bethesda University has established itself as a leader in theological studies regarding Christianity. Based in Anaheim, BU is home to students from across the country, as well as plenty of international students. Many international students are Korean natives who want to strengthen their faith and bring their knowledge back to Korea. But not all students who study at BU live in Anaheim. One of many great online schools in California for biblical studies, BU offers online education to students who prefer the flexibility to study at their own pace. Their online program still combines the same principles of a strong education with an emphasis on faith, so distance learning students – including those outside the country – can still earn the same quality undergraduate or graduate degree.

Golden Gate University - San Francisco View School Profile San Francisco, CA Unconfirmed

College students aren't always fresh out of high school, many people end up studying toward a college degree at some point later in their adult life. Golden Gate University, San Francisco, understands that adults also understand the importance of a college education, so they strive to educate adults to help them advance in their career or switch career fields. Because adults often have busy lives and can't study on campus on a regular basis, Golden Gate University offers online degrees and courses, all of which are accredited. Golden Gate University is often considered to be the best online school in California for adults, particularly because they understand how busy life can be when you work and have a family. All online degree programs are designed to help students make a leap in their career.

World Mission University View School Profile Los Angeles, CA Unconfirmed

One of the top online schools in California for Korean natives, World Mission University is a leader in developing Christian leaders in the Korean community. World Mission doesn't just want to educate Koreans, but to help give them a chance to build a strong community through faith wherever they end up living. Their biblical studies programs give students a firm education in the Bible while also developing the leadership skills necessary to become teachers and educators. Their online education programs offer students the chance to study toward a degree while living anywhere in the world. Graduate programs are also available for students that want to further their education and faith.

Touro University Worldwide View School Profile Los Alamitos, CA Unconfirmed

Touro University Worldwide is committed to social justice and developing philanthropic behavior, along with giving students a high quality education. One thing that makes Touro University stand out is that they are one of the only full online schools in California. All of their degree programs can be completed 100% online, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world. But just because they're a fully online school doesn't mean that they don't have options. There are four schools within Touro where students can focus their studies on business, health, psychology and general studies. Each of these four schools also offer numerous degrees. Each degree is meant to teach students how to become leaders in a global world, while also giving them the tools they need to advance their career.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, CA Unconfirmed

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology may have started in Chicago, but they have three campuses open in California. Along with those campuses, they have partners around the world, giving students access to unique study abroad experiences. As their name demonstrates, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology specializes in psychology. More specifically, they offer a number of graduate level psychology degrees to help students advance through their psychology career. Even with multiple campuses across the nation, some students might find that studying remotely is best for them. To help, the school offers online programs that match the same quality of their on-campus courses. It is one of the only psychology specializing schools where students can get an online degree in California.

Brandman University View School Profile Irvine, CA Unconfirmed

Not all students are able to study at specific times in specific places, so Brandman University has structured their school to fit best for students who need more flexibility. Because of this, their online school is a big part of their education. The online courses give students access to their studies wherever and whenever they want, and they can communicate with instructors and students to help with their studies. One of the more flexible online schools in California, Brandman also offers hybrid programs that allow students to study in person and online. Brandman also has over 25 locations where students can study in person and on-campus, ideal for students who are looking for a more traditional college experience.

Azusa Pacific University College View School Profile San Dimas, CA Unconfirmed

Azusa Pacific University College is a subsection of Azusa Pacific University, located just northeast of Los Angeles. University College is the entirely online format, available to students anywhere as long as they have internet access. Home of some of the most affordable online degrees in California, popular options include criminal justice, psychology, information systems and management. Many other degree options are also available at Azusa Pacific University College, and programs range from certificates, associate's degree, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. Each program is designed to give students the flexibility to study when they are able, and all programs are accredited. University College also has accelerated degree programs for students that want to complete a four-year degree at a faster pace.

Horizon University View School Profile San Diego, CA Unconfirmed

Christian faith and critical thinking are two of the pillars at Horizon University. By integrating the Bible with their studies, students who earn a degree at Horizon University will be well-versed in their faith, and they take that knowledge into whichever professional field they end up in. While Horizon University only offers three online degrees in California, they all help students achieve more out of their career and life. The three undergraduate degrees offered are Biblical studies, leadership & ministry and organizational leadership. However, Horizon also offers associate degrees for students who want to bolster their education at a Christian school. Certificates are also offered through Horizon, so there's no shortage of educational options.

Southern California Seminary View School Profile El Cajon, CA Unconfirmed

Southern California Seminary, also known as SoCalSem or SCS, is a private school that combines higher education with the teachings of the Bible. One of the top seminaries to earn an online degree in California, SCS has taken all the curriculum they've developed over the years and applied it to their online programs. There are eight programs currently available through SCS, but the flexibility of these courses is what sets them apart. Classes begin every seven weeks, so students can jump in and out of their studies depending on how busy their lives are. Graduate programs are also offered through SCS, some of which can be completed in as little as one year. Another benefit of SCS is that they offer their courses in Korean. A degree from SCS shows that a student has acquired a sufficient understanding of the Bible and its teachings.

Pacific Oaks College View School Profile Pasadena, CA Unconfirmed

Founded with Quaker values, Pacific Oaks College began as a school to educate teachers who wanted to teach little kids. Since its foundation, it has developed into a college that is based on four main principles: diversity, respect, social justice and inclusion. Students who want to end up in the field of education or working with children will find most of the degree programs at Pacific Oaks fitting. For those that are unable to commute to campus regularly or want to study at their own pace, Pacific Oaks is also one of the best online schools in California for undergraduate degrees in education. They offer many different specialized childhood education degrees, as well as other bachelor's degrees in similar fields. For students that want to round out their education, Pacific Oaks also offers master's degrees online. Online students can get all the experience they need through Pacific Oaks to embark on a teaching career in California.

John F. Kennedy University View School Profile Pleasant Hill, CA Unconfirmed

With so many specialized and niche degree programs at different schools, it can be difficult for students to find a degree that can serve them throughout their career. John F. Kennedy University takes a practical approach to education. A fully accredited school, John F. Kennedy University challenges students to push themselves in their studies, no matter what degree they end up pursuing. The goal is to give students a strong foundation for a future career while also preparing them to be learners in the future. For students who want to earn an online degree in California, John F. Kennedy University offers courses and programs online, ideal for students who want the same quality education but don't want to study on-campus in a traditional format.

Palo Alto University View School Profile Palo Alto, CA Unconfirmed

With beginnings as a school of psychology, Palo Alto University has since evolved into a school that offers different variations of psychology at multiple levels. Their undergraduate programs include a bachelor's in psychology & social action as well as a bachelor's in business psychology. For students that have already earned their bachelor's degree in psychology, Palo Alto also offers master's degrees in different psychology fields. While Palo Alto University does have multiple campuses for students to study at, they also offer some of their courses entirely online . For example, both of their undergraduate programs can be completed entirely online, in person or through a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. Thanks to their strong background in psychology, Palo Alto has become a great place to get an online degree in California for those interested in psychology. However, some programs are only offered in person, so students should keep that in mind before applying.

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