Top 10 Online Universities in California |  Online Programs

Considering the necessity for distance learning, the number of universities offering online programs in most parts of the world continues to increase. But for countries like the United States, there is a skyrocketing move.

This is because almost all the states in the country have institutions that provide an outstanding and wide variety of online degree programs, more than most top countries.

In this article, we will talk about one of the states in the country: California. California is renowned for academic excellence in traditional and online learning systems.

The state has many accredited California-based institutions offering online programs. These institutions provide students interested in earning a degree with greater flexibility.

Most of these schools offer robust distance education programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and some offer non-degree certificate programs as well.

However, considering the number of online programs offered within these institutions, you must ensure your choice of a program aligns with your vision and goals for your professional career.

This is where choosing a university that offers the right program for you is of great importance.

To help you make the right choice, reading this article is paramount because in this article, you will learn about the top 10 Online Universities in California and the programs they offer.

The table of contents below gives an overview of all discussed in this article.

Carefully navigate through!

Why Should I Study Online?

Unlike traditional learning or classes, online studies offer a lot to students.

First, many online services provide asynchronous coursework, enabling students to access online lectures and complete assignments conveniently. This schedule versatility also helps grade-seekers parent children or work full time.

Also, it allows students to study outside their country by eliminating the distance barrier, which is one major challenge most students face. Students can choose schools and services beyond their geographical region.

Furthermore, studying online means you do not have to pay multiple fees applicable to on-campus students: room and board, meal plan, etc.

Why Should I Choose California?

California is one state in the United States that boasts top universities that can give students over 400 online program options. The universities educate over 83,000 undergraduate and graduate students (Undergraduate students: 52,945, 30,347). Out of these figures over 3,671 are international students,

These universities also allow students to work while studying. They can study full-time or part-time, depending on their schedule. Statistically, over 3,500 international students earn their degrees through online California colleges and universities.

However, California’s most competitive online degrees offer low school fees, and distance learners also save on commuting and living expenses. In addition, colleges usually cancel campus fees for online students.

There are over 400 accredited online programs offered at California Universities. These programs align with the needs of its job market. Some of the most popular programs include:

  • Business Administration and Management Degree
  • Psychology Degree
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Liberal Studies Degree
  • Education Degree
  • Health/Healthcare Administration/Management Degree
  • Organizational Leadership Degree
  • Bible/Biblical Studies Degree
  • Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration Degree
  • Early Childhood Education and Teaching Degree
  • Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse Degree

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What will it Cost To Take an Online Program in California?

The cost of taking an online program in California varies. It depends on factors like the program, type of school, and residential area. For instance, in-state students attending an online school in California save approximately 75% on tuition at public colleges and universities compared to online out-of-state students.

Note in-state tuition for a four-year public school is about $7,896, while for a two-year school is about $1,262. On the other hand, out-of-state tuition for a four-year public school is about $28,253, while for a two-year school is about $7,120.

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What are the Top Online Universities in California?

There are over 100 universities in California that offer online degree programs. As mentioned earlier, these universities offer over 400 program options for students worldwide. That means no matter where you are; you can study in California.

All you have to do is get a list of the universities and choose the program you want to study. Aside from the program, it’s expedient you consider some other factors like student-to-faculty ratio, acceptance rate, and the rate at which students graduate.

On this note, we have decided to help you out knowing that considering a large number of universities in California making a choice would be a daunting task for you. The stress alone can drain you out!

Based on our research, we created a list of the top 10 online universities in California. We looked at the universities’ quality of programs, acceptance rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and student-to-faculty ratio.

This list shows what excellent online universities offer students regarding majors, flexibility, and online learning resources. In other words, pay close attention to each university’s top qualities.

  • Bethesda University
  • California State University-Chico
  • San Diego State University
  • Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
  • California State University-Fullerton
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • Biola University
  • California State University-Northridge
  • The California State University-Dominguez Hills Carson, CA
  • California Lutheran University

#1. Bethesda University

Address: 730 N. Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92801

Acceptance Rate: University’s Website

75%Graduation Rate

18%Online Enrollment

26%Student to Faculty Rate

6 to 1

Bethesda University is one of the top online universities in California, established in 1976. The Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools accredits the university.

The university offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certificate programs in different areas and concentrations. Their online programs are in the:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies, Pastoral Ministry, and Christian Education)
  • Master of Arts in Biblical Studies
  • Master of Divinity within the United States and overseas.

However, the school was accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation.

Undergraduate programs tuition fee is $29,610 per year, while that for the post-graduate program is $15,435 per year.

Furthermore, the university has 295 online enrolled students, a total faculty of 288, a Student-to-faculty Ratio of 6 to 1, and an acceptance rate of 75%. Visit the school’s official website to learn more about the school.

School Website

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#2. California State University-Chico

Address: 400 W 1st St, Chico, CA 95929, United States

Acceptance Rate

72%Graduation Rate

66%Online Enrollment

16,099Student to Faculty Rate

California State University-Chico is another top online university in California. The university is a public university established in 1887. It is the second-oldest campus in the California State University System, with over 16,630 student enrollment.

Generally, the university offers 126 bachelor’s and 35 master’s degree programs, including three online programs. Online education at Chico State includes five bachelor’s programs, a master’s program, and a certificate program.

The university boasts one of only four online bachelor’s in religious studies programs in the U.S., and the school’s master’s in the nursing program allows California nurses working in rural areas to advance their careers and salary potential. Programs use a mix of synchronous and asynchronous courses.

Online students can pick up the phone to receive support programs from Chico State, including tutoring and job preparation. Students living in the Chico area will also attend on-campus seminars that express critical time management and test planning skills. In addition, students can use IT help at any time.

University’s Website

#3. San Diego State University

Address: 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182

Acceptance Rate

70%Graduation Rate

66%Online Enrollment

31%Student to Faculty Rate


Students may take a short test, or even view a course tutorial, to decide if online education at San Diego State University is acceptable.

The College of Extended Study, approved by the WASC Senior College and the University Board, offers a variety of hybrid and entirely online classes for both SDSU and non-SDSU students.

Completely online opportunities include pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management or a Master’s degree in Education, Hospitality, Public Administration, Public Health, and Regulatory Relations. There is also a hybrid master’s degree in recovery counseling.

The period needed for completion and workload depends on the program and the number of past loans.

Programs train candidates for various occupations, such as medical office assistants, medical interpreters, licensed health care and adult care mediators, and paralegals.

There is also an array of career learning offerings, including written grant credentials, forensic psychology, and human resource management.

If you wish to learn new talents, SDSU offers a range of 6-week, non-credit enrichment courses covering topics such as photography or creative composition.

Not all states accept online degrees from SDSU, so it is necessary to verify which coursework can be extended to your residence.

University’s Website

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#4. Azusa Pacific University

Address: Azusa, CA

Acceptance Rate

68%Graduation Rate

63%Online Enrollment

58%Student to Faculty Rate


Azusa Pacific University was established in 1899 as an Evangelical University. The school has seven actual campuses all over southern California. The online division was founded in 2010 in response to a rising number of students who want to pursue their studies.

However, the university offers a wide number of degree programs including two degrees online in business Administration and BSN Rn.

Many online offerings are for those pursuing Master’s degree programs that include business.
Management, Art Education, Hospital Management and Leadership, Educational Technologies, and More. There’s a Psychiatrist online, too.

Furthermore, the university offers an online success mentor to each student and allows them access to various other coaches.

Online students have access to a robust library facility and 24/7 access to online tutors, a support desk, and a job. Note Azusa Pacific University is accredited to the WASC Senior College & University Board (WSCUC).

University’s Website

#5. California State University-Fullerton

Address: 800 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831, United States.

Acceptance Rate

53%Graduation Rate

74%Online Enrollment

31%Student to Faculty Rate


California State University, Fullerton, is known nationally for its creative style and professional education.

There is a commitment to ensuring that students are accepted as well as encouraged and that they are helped across the school with a degree of care that not all schools can provide.

Students will have the ability to study both undergraduate and advanced degrees in some areas.

Although many students end up studying on campus, Cal State Fullerton provides online services to students who cannot learn on campus or want to study at their own rate.

The online curriculum for educators is also worth remembering, as not every online school in California provides this kind of education. Students may also study to complete a bachelor’s degree with the online courses available.

University’s Website

#6. University of California-Berkeley

Address: Berkeley, CA, United States.

There are several online learning opportunities at the University of California, Berkeley. The MOOCLab project has contributed to creating hundreds of Large Open Online Courses (MOOCs), free online classes on subjects ranging from business research to emotional intelligence. Students can obtain a certificate upon completion for a small fee.

The school is also partnered with EdX, which links students to hundreds of confirmed and credible courses around the world. MicroMasters are entirely online services delivered at a discounted rate relative to their campus counterparts.

From supply chain management and artificial intelligence, students are given a diploma that can be passed to a university for credit to a master’s degree.

UC Berkeley Extension also provides a range of online technical education programs, including paralegal research, applied biosciences, and wellness activism.

Any of these classes are continuous, enabling students to register and finish their work at any time of year. Other courses are on a set calendar. The length and conditions for completion of each program vary.

Most classes use a variety of readings, podcasts, audio or video conferencing, and small group work to keep students connected and active. Visit UC Berkeley Extension for information on pre-requisites, transition credits, or state reciprocity.

You can also keep in touch with your field-specific delegate, who can support you with your online experience.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits all UC Berkeley programs.

University’s Website

#7. California State University-Northridge

Address: 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330, United States.

Acceptance Rate

59%Graduation Rate

54%Online EnrollmentAcceptance Rate

59%Graduation Rate

54%Online Enrollment

32%Student to Faculty Rate


California State University Northridge was founded in 1958 but originally named San Fernando Valley College. The school is now a huge organization for absolutely everything.

It’s 30,000 students. The school has nine colleges and several bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Online graduation programs include social work, Public Service, the Arts.
Each online program is managed by a staff member who serves as the academic leader and is the program coordinator.

Online Students have, in effect, access to all the same resources as conventional students; library services, scholarly guidance, and financial services. California State University Northridge is licensed to the WASC Senior College and the University Board (WSCUC).

University’s Website

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#8. Biola University

Address: 13800 Biola Ave, La Mirada, CA 90639, United States.

Acceptance Rate

73%Online Enrollment

70%Graduation Rate

62%Student to Faculty Rate


Biola University, an independent, non-profit college, provides post-secondary programs rooted in the Christian heritage of the Gospel. Founded by local religious figures in 1908, Biola runs over 150 on-campus and online services through nine schools and universities.

The university attracts more than 6,000 students yearly from its 96-acre suburban campus.

Biola offers online bachelor’s degrees in disciplines such as

  • Applied psychology
  • Corporate administration
  • International relations
  • Biblical ministries
  • Interdisciplinary studies.

The school also extends an online minor in applied psychology requiring 18 credits. Biola stands out among online colleges in California by pairing each student with a committed performance mentor for their studies.

Prospective degree-seekers require a GED or high school diploma. They may also apply an acceptance essay detailing their expectations and making a declaration of faith.

Students can pass up to 70 credits from an approved institution to a degree. Note the university has a retention rate of 80%.

University’s Website

#9. California State University-Dominguez Hills Carson, CA

Address: 1000 E Victoria St, Carson, CA 90747, United States.

Acceptance Rate

71%Graduation Rate

45%Online Enrollment

21%Student to Faculty Rate


California State University-Dominguez is a public research university in the heart of Los Angeles. The university offers various degree programs in business, human services, arts, and humanities.

It is among the top 10 online universities in Calfornia that is globally recognized because of its outstanding academic performance. The university has a graduation rate of 45%, an online enrollment of 21%, and a retention rate of 77%.

Currently, the school has six colleges, including an extended education school focusing on innovative distance-learning experiences. The online programs at this university help students build academic careers in different fields.

The online programs are in the following areas:

  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology Management
  • International business
  • Logistics Management
  • Marketing
  • Nursing

Furthermore, the university is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

This is more you will find out when you visit the school’s official webiste is why we have ranked it as one of the top 10 universities offering online programs.

University’s Website

#10. California Lutheran University

Address: 60 West Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Acceptance Rate

71%Graduation Rate

72%Online Enrollment Student to Faculty Rate


California Lutheran University is a private liberal arts university in California established in 1959. The University is home to more than 2,804 undergraduate and 1,223 graduate students from more than 49 countries and representing a wide variety of faiths.

California Lutheran University is dedicated to helping students fulfill their interests and, above all, to explore their goal of eventually helping to change their communities and the world.

The school prides itself on small classes (15:1); its alumni number around 30,000 alumni worldwide; and 97 percent of students who, after completing Cal Lutheran’s undergraduate program, are working or completing graduate school.

Most students interested in business management will obtain their degree online in the MBA program and the Master of Science in Management.

Not all MBA degrees (including the Executive MBA) are offered exclusively online. Each curriculum offers various configurations (e.g. the Executive MBA is a hybrid program) so students can review the structure of each program.

Educational leadership candidates can also obtain their degree in a blended format (60 percent on campus, 40 percent online) with a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership or a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and a truly online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.

University’s Website

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What are the Available Scholarships for Online Students in California?

In California, different opportunities are available for online students taking one or two programs in any of California’s Universities. These opportunities come in the form of scholarships, grants, waivers, or loans.

In this session, I will be discussing briefly some of the available scholarships as an online student can have access to.

Scholarships for Online Students in California

In-state students pursuing the best online degrees in California often pay competitive tuition rates. However, learners can further reduce out-of-pocket expenses by applying for scholarships. The scholarship opportunities below can help degree-seekers minimize debt.

Each of the following scholarship programs will accept applications in 2023. Students should research each award’s eligibility, application, and deadline requirements.

CAA Youth Scholarship Program

CAA Youth Scholarship Program is for children of active-duty firefighters and police officers. However, the scholarship committee considers each applicant’s high school GPA, extracurricular activities, and community service. Interested students apply by April 12. Note the worth of this scholarship varies.

CACESF Scholarship

This California Association of Collectors, Inc. award is for California high school seniors who plan to attend an accredited college or university within 12 months of graduation. Applicants submit an essay explaining the importance of maintaining good credit. Note the scholarship is worth $1,500-$2,500.

Single Parent Scholarship

Just as the name, this scholarship is for single parents living in the San Francisco Bay. The date for submission of applications is from April 1 to June 30. Note the scholarship is available during the fall semester, and the worth is $1,000.



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