10 Best Colleges In San Diego 

San Diego boasts some of the best beaches in the country and more than 260 days of sunshine every year. With over 20 universities and colleges, San Diego is home to some of the best colleges in the state and the country. 

Some of these schools have some of the best research facilities in the country, while others have stellar reputations in fields like business administration, engineering, public health, and the arts. Students with various job ambitions can find a degree option that motivates them at one of the best colleges in San Diego.

Why Study In San Diego? 

Students will find many activities, sights, and cultural diversity inside San Diego’s 4,200 square miles as California’s second-largest city. La Jolla, with its picturesque coastal environment, and Coronado, which may be reached by ferry, water taxi, or a two-mile-long bridge, are two of the most well-known communities. La Jolla, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Santee are among the cities with some of the most popular colleges.

1. Educational Opportunities

San Diego’s four-year universities all have something unique to offer. The University of California, San Diego, is regarded as one of the most excellent research universities in the country, and its collegiate campus is conveniently located near the ocean. Forbes recognized San Diego State University as the 23rd most entrepreneurial university.

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2. Economy

Aerospace and defense, clean technology, tourism, healthcare, cybersecurity, and manufacturing are all important industries in San Diego. San Diego has one of the greatest concentrations of military assets globally that employs one out of every five people in the area. UC San Diego, Sharp Healthcare, and Qualcomm are just a handful of the other top San Diego employers.

San Diego’s unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with average weekly wages of $1,430.

3. Cost of Living

San Diego’s cost of living is 44 percent more than the national average, according to PayScale. Housing is significantly greater than the national rate, at 136 percent, while transportation is 29 percent higher than the national average. A median home price of $817,184, a typical rent of $2,560, and a loaf of bread costing $3.76 are examples of average prices.

Of course, the coastal locations, like most cities, have greater costs, but inland communities have cheaper housing prices and living expenditures.

San Diego Employment Outlook

From 2014 to 2024, the Employment Development Department predicts 569,200 job opportunities, with professional and business services leading the way, followed by educational services, healthcare, social assistance, and leisure and hospitality.

San Diego is also one of the greatest locations in California for finding IT jobs, second only to San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. Qualcomm, Northrop Grumman, and Booz Allen Hamilton are among the top corporations in the area employing tech workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in San Diego was $30.91 in May 2020, which was roughly 14% higher than the national average. San Diego is also known for its venture capital industry, with several of the nation’s fastest-growing firms. 

Best Colleges in San Diego 2023

Here’s a list of the best colleges in San Diego:

#1. University of California-San Diego

UC San Diego is regarded as one of the best colleges in San Diego. Students attend classes on a primary campus that is located directly adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. Undergraduate majors in the arts and sciences are available, and the school has excellent public health, psychology, and political science programs with a variety of specialties.

UC San Diego’s engineering school offers a BS in mechanical engineering with five concentrations. Master’s degrees in bioengineering, economics, physics, and education studies are available to graduate students. UC San Diego is one of the best colleges in San Diego, with medical and pharmacy schools.

Tuition for undergraduates is around $14,700 per year. Tuition for non-residents is an extra $29,800. Graduate students pay around $17,500 per year, plus an extra $15,100 for non-residents. First-year candidates must finish college-level coursework but are not required to submit SAT or ACT results. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted UC San Diego regional accreditation.

Location: La Jolla, CA

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#2. San Diego State University

SDSU, which was established in 1897, enrolls over 36,000 students each year and provides bachelor’s degrees in 97 fields. Astronomy, child development, financial services, and sports training are many majors available. A BSBA in accounting, finance, or management is also available.

SDSU Global provides online degree completion programs in business, education, healthcare, and fitness, among other professions. SDSU is also one of San Diego’s finest institutions for graduate students. The university provides master’s degrees in 84 different subjects.

Traditional undergraduate programs in California cost $8,140 per year for California citizens. Non-residents must pay an extra $11,880. Graduate students in California pay $9,570 per year, with nonresidents paying an extra $7,130.

First-year candidates must have completed college preparatory courses with a minimum grade of C-. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted SDSU regional accreditation.

Location: San Diego, CA

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Read also: SDSU- San Diego State University Acceptance Rate, SAT/ ACT, GPA.

#3. University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a private Catholic liberal arts college. The institution offers 42 bachelor’s degree programs, several of which students may customize. Students can receive a BA or BS in English, behavioral neuroscience, sociology, and engineering, among other fields. A BBA is also available, with six majors to select from, including finance and marketing. The liberal studies BA degree offers a broad curriculum with 12 focus options.

Unique graduate programs, such as the MA in peace and justice, are available to students. USD provides a BSN-to-Ph.D program, making it one of the finest nursing institutions in San Diego. Applied data science and applied artificial intelligence are two of USD’s online master’s degrees.

Undergraduate students at USD must reside on campus for their first and second years. Tuition for undergraduates is $52,120 per year. Per credit, graduate students pay between $925 and $1,620. First-year candidates must take college preparation courses and may submit SAT or ACT results.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted USD regional accreditation.

Location: San Diego, CA

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#4. Point Loma Nazarene University

PLNU is a good option for a faith-based liberal arts education. There are 60 programs available in the institution’s humanities, sciences, and social sciences. A student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 encourages customized learning and mentorship.

Undergraduates can study finance, biology, chemistry, multimedia journalism, and kinesiology, among other subjects. PLNU has a solid pre-professional program that includes optometry and medicine among its offerings.

Nontraditional students can get a degree online or through satellite campuses. The institution provides an entirely online BBA, RN-to-BSN, and BA in organizational leadership degree completion program. PLNU offers part-time, evening, and online degrees for working graduate students.

At PLNU, undergraduates spend $38,800 per year in-tuition. Graduate school tuition ranges from $320 to $1,160 per unit. Standardized test results are not required for undergraduate candidates. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted PLNU regional accreditation.

Location: San Diego, CA

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#5. California State University-San Marcos

The city of San Diego is 35 kilometers away from CSUSM. On campuses in San Marcos and Temecula, the school has roughly 16,000 pupils. CSUSM offers 43 bachelor’s and 24 master’s degree programs.

Bachelor’s degrees are available in various topics at CSUSM, including business, STEM fields, modern languages, and sociology. The college also permits students to create their unique curriculum with the “special major” BA. The institution also oversees extensive nursing and teacher education programs for undergraduates and graduates.

CSUSM provides MBA, MPH, MSW, and master of biotechnology degrees, making it one of the finest institutions in San Diego for graduate study.

For seven or more units, California residents pay around $5,740, while nonresidents pay $15,240. For 7 units or more, resident graduate students pay $7,180 in-tuition. Non-residents pay an extra $16,680.

Undergraduate candidates must finish college preparation courses and maintain a grade point average of C or above. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted CSUSM regional accreditation.

Location: San Marcos, CA

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#6. John Paul The Great Catholic University

JPCatholic, named after Pope John Paul II, focuses on creative arts activities. Each year, the college enrolls less than 300 undergraduates. 

The three-degree programs offered by JPCatholic include a core curriculum and project-based learning. At JPCatholic, students finish their degrees in three calendar years rather than the typical four.

Students can get a bachelor’s degree in communications media, a bachelor’s degree in humanities, or a bachelor’s degree in business. JPCatholic, one of San Diego’s premier universities for artists, focuses on illustration and graphic design. Specializations in animation and game development are also available to students. Enrollees can get experience and establish portfolios in a variety of filmmaking fields.

Those interested in the business aspect of the arts might focus on marketing and advertising, for example. Each year, students spend $36,000 in-tuition. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.6, but no SAT, ACT, or CLT results are required.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted JPCatholic regional accreditation.

Location: Escondido, CA

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#7. San Diego Christian College

SDCC offers both on-campus and online programs in Santee. Biblical studies, business administration, and communication are among the bachelor’s degree programs offered on campus. SDCC’s flying school, located less than a mile from campus, prepares future pilots for missionary and commercial aviation professions.

A BS in business management and a BA in psychology are among the online majors offered by SDCC. The AA in liberal studies can also start a student’s education. Nontraditional learners can explore job alternatives and move to a bachelor’s degree program at SDCC with this online degree.

SDCC, one of San Diego County’s premier universities, offers two graduate programs: an MS in leadership and an MA in teaching. Residential tuition for undergraduates is $24,500 per year, whereas online pricing is over $400 per unit. The cost of graduate school is $605 per unit.

Standardized exam scores are required for applicants with fewer than 24 college units. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted SDCC regional accreditation.

Location: Santee, CA

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#8. National University

Although NU has campuses around California, it is headquartered in San Diego. The institution creates programs only for unconventional students. Students may pick from 75 different degrees, many of which are available online, and they can study for four weeks at a time.

NU offers a liberal arts education through its associate and bachelor’s degree programs. General studies, biology, psychology, and interdisciplinary studies are available majors.

Those interested in a more career-oriented degree might pursue a BS in healthcare administration, allied health administration, or criminal justice administration. RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN degrees are available in the nursing program. NU also has a complete bachelor’s and master’s degree program in teacher education.

Undergraduates at one of San Diego’s most economical institutions pay $370 each quarter unit. Graduate students pay between $442 and 760 dollars each quarter unit. To guarantee that any past credits are transferrable, first-year students must submit ACCUPLACER results and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted NU regional accreditation.

Location: La Jolla, CA

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#9. Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Law, business, and government are among the ten academic fields in which Thomas Jefferson provides programs. Thomas Jefferson University offers a JD, an LL.M., and an LL.M. in practice skills on campus, making it one of the finest law schools in San Diego. Online students can earn an LL.M., JSD, or M.S.L.

Family, criminal, and intellectual property law are among the specializations available to students. Students can also gain practical experience by volunteering and doing other tasks in the school’s community. On-campus graduate programs cost $1,110-$1,340 each unit, whereas online graduate programs cost $1,620 per unit.

A JD degree is required for admission to the LL.M. programs. A bachelor’s degree in business is required for the M.S.L. Applicants must have at least an associate degree and submit LSAT scores to be considered for the JD program. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted Thomas Jefferson regional accreditation.

Location: San Diego, CA

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#10. California Western School of Law

CSWL is San Diego’s oldest law school, having been founded in 1924. Students study in the center of San Diego’s political and legal world. Around 650 students are enrolled in JD programs at the university to prepare for the bar test. The College of Social Work and Law provides four degrees: JD, JD/MBA, JD/MSW, and a Spanish language LL.M.

Criminal law, civil procedure, and legal skills are all covered in the first year of the JD program. Upperclassmen take classes on constitutional law, evidence, and criminal process, among other topics. Electives include topics like entertainment and sports law. CSWL is one of San Diego’s premier universities for hands-on learning. Clinical externships, clinics, and simulation courses are all required of students.

The JD program costs $28,040 each trimester in-tuition. Applicants to JD programs must have a bachelor’s degree and LSAT scores. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has granted CSWL regional accreditation.

Location: San Diego, CA

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San Diego colleges are affordable, offer decent financial aid, and allow students to apply what they’ve learned in real-world circumstances. San Diego public and private recognized colleges meet all students’ prerequisites. These are some of San Diego’s best colleges, and you should take advantage of the opportunity to attend one of them. 



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