California Ph.D. Programs with University Information

There are more than 160 public and private nonprofit schools offering graduate degrees, often including Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, within California. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

This article examines four Ph.D.-granting postsecondary schools in California with some of the highest student populations. Three of the universities featured are public institutions; there is also one private nonprofit university profiled. The top three out of the four schools were ranked in each of the following areas:

  • Program Variety
  • Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

While many students looking to earn their Ph.D. degree may already have an area of specialization in mind, considering schools with a high number of program offerings could be beneficial. Schools with a greater variety of study options may also house more learning prospects once students are out of class, such as teaching assistantships or research opportunities. Below are the top three schools offering the overall highest number of educational programs.

1. University of Southern California

This private nonprofit university in Los Angeles offers students approximately 340 educational paths from which to choose. Graduate studies are available through this school's business, engineering, education, law and medical schools. USC students interested in earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree have options in such fields as:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Communication
  • Dental Surgery
  • Epidemiology
  • Gerontology
  • Public Policy and Management
  • Social Work
  • Urban Planning and Development

2. University of California - Los Angeles

One of the most well-known institutions in the University of California system, UCLA was ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 25 national universities in 2014. There are a total of more than 280 different learning options offered at this Los Angeles school. Ph.D. programs are available within the university's professional schools, the health sciences division and the College of Letters and Sciences. Students can earn Ph.D. degrees in the following fields, among others:

  • Architecture
  • Art History
  • Biomedical Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Environmental Health Sciences
  • Information Studies
  • Nursing
  • Oral Biology
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Theater and Performance Studies
  • Urban Planning

3. University of California - Berkeley

This Berkeley-based school has around 150 programs, including more than 100 graduate offerings. In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked this school as 20th among national universities. Some Ph.D. programs available include:

  • Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Earth and Planetary Science
  • Education
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Endocrinology
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Performance Studies
  • Statistics
  • Vision Science


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) offers school-specific information about average tuition costs for graduate students. The following data accounts for the 2013-2014 academic year.

1. California State University - Fullerton

Full-time graduate students at this Fullerton-based university spent an average of $6,738 if they were classified as residents or $17,898 if they were categorized as non-residents. All graduate students were also responsible for additional fees of $714.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

In-state tuition for graduate students averaged $11,220, while out-of-state tuition was $26,322. Additional fees of $1,351 were also imposed.

3. University of California - Berkeley

Graduate students at this University of California campus spent the same in tuition costs as those who attended UCLA. However, this university charged slightly higher fees of $1644.

Graduation Rate

While the NCES doesn't offer graduation information for doctoral students, it does compile details for undergrads. It offers data specific to each school regarding the percentage of bachelor's degree seekers who earn their degree within 150% of normal time, which is considered to be six years or less. The following rankings can provide insight into the overall attitude on campus toward timely completion.

1. University of Southern California

Out of all full-time bachelor's degree seekers who began earning their degrees in 2007, 91% completed their studies by 2013. Additionally, out of those students who started in 2012, 96% returned for a second year of study in 2013.

2. University of California - Berkeley

The University of California - Berkeley had the same graduation and retention rates as the University of Southern California. However, this school slipped into second place because of its lower overall student population. In 2013, 36,198 attended here compared to USC's total student enrollment of 41,368 in the same year.

3. University of California - Los Angeles

Not far behind the first two schools is UCLA. Using the same years and time frames previously mentioned, this school had a 90% graduation rate among undergraduates and a 96% retention rate.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Another consideration that doctoral students might want take into account is the average number of students per faculty member. The data used for the rankings below was taken from the NCES and is based on 2013.

1. University of Southern California

This school boasted an impressively low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. This was based out of an overall student enrollment of more than 41,000, of which nearly 23,000 were graduate students.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

On average, there were 16 students to every one faculty member here. This was out of a total student population of almost 40,800. Approximately 14,800 of these enrollees were graduate students.

3. University of California - Berkeley

Out of a total student enrollment of 36,198, there was an average of one faculty member for every 17 students. Interestingly, more than 10,200 of the total student population was studying at the graduate level.

California Schools: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool Type Programs OfferedArea Ranking
California State University - FullertonFullerton, CA4-year, publicDoctoral degrees#1 Net Price
University of California - BerkeleyBerkeley, CA4-year, public Doctoral degrees - research/scholarship, Doctoral degrees - professional practice#3 Program Variety,
#3 Net Price,
#2 Graduation Rate,
#3 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of California - Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA4-year, public Doctoral degrees - research/scholarship, Doctoral degrees - professional practice#2 Program Variety,
#2 Net Price,
#3 Graduation Rate,
#2 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA4-year, private not-for-profit Doctoral degrees - research/scholarship, Doctoral degrees - professional practice, Doctoral degrees - other#1 Program Variety,
#1 Graduation Rate,
#1 Student-to-Faculty Ratio

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