Online Colleges In California

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

February 10, 2022 , Updated on June 9, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Colleges In California

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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

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.

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.

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.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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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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.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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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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

  1. California State University - East Bay
    Location

    Hayward, CA

    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.

  2. Alliant International University - San Diego
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    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.

  3. Humboldt State University
    Location

    Arcata, CA

    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.

  4. California State University - Chico
    Location

    Chico, CA

    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.

  5. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    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.

  6. California State University - Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    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.

  7. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    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.

  8. Shasta Bible College
    Location

    Redding, CA

    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.

  9. SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary
    Location

    El Dorado Hills, CA

    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.

  10. Bethesda University
    Location

    Anaheim, CA

    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.

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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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