Colleges in Southern California | Schools in Southern California

With hundreds of colleges in Southern California, applicants have a number of factors to consider when choosing where to attend. This guide will compare the four universities with the largest enrollment to help guide you in determining which school suits your needs.

School Ranking Overview

Southern California provides numerous options in city and suburban settings for prospective students to consider when choosing an institution. Using this guide as a basis, review the four most populated schools in the region, ranking the top three in the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Deciding on which area of study to pursue is always a difficult decision and schools with a large variety of programs can help students discover an interest that may have previously gone undiscovered. Of the schools considered in this article, the top three schools offering the greatest program variety are listed below:

1. University of Southern California

Supporting 340 academic programs in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California tops the list for program variety. Offering everything from bachelor's degrees to doctoral degrees, USC has classes such as landscape architecture and German language and literature.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

Not far behind and also located in Los Angeles, UCLA has 287 academic areas of study to offer for scholastic pursuit. Whether your interests lie in archaeology or geochemistry, UCLA has a large pool of resources to support their students in their academic pursuits.

3. California State University - Northridge

95 academic programs are offered, from the bachelor's to the doctoral level at California State University - Northridge. Located within the city of Northridge, California State University supplies their students with a number of opportunities to investigate multiple areas of study.

Net Price

The decision of where to attend college is determined by many factors and cost is usually hovering around the top of the list. Thankfully, the NCES College Navigator has researched the average net price of attendance for institutions across the nation for the 2013-2014 school year. Of the four schools in this comparison, listed below are the top three in this category:

1. California State University - Fullerton

Situated in Fullerton, students at California State University - Fullerton paid an average net price of $5,542. At this university, students can apply for federal financial aid as well as local and institutional grants and scholarships, to defer the cost of attendance.

2. California State University - Northridge

California State University - Northridge comes in second on the list with an average net price of $7,654 and with over $183 million in grant and scholarship aid being dispersed, students can greatly reduce how much money they have to pay out of their pockets.

3. University of California - Los Angeles

Third in this ranking is UCLA with an average net price of $12,510. While a bit pricier than the first two institutions on this list, UCLA provides financial assistance through loans, grants, scholarships, and ROTC programs.

Graduation Rate

Prospective students should take into account graduation rates when deciding where to attend college. This statistic may demonstrate how devoted these institutions are to seeing the academic success of their students. The three schools listed below represent the schools in this guide that have the highest six-year graduation rates for their students:

1. University of Southern California

91% of full-time students enrolled at the University of Southern California graduated within six years of first enrollment. This number is coupled with their 97% retention rate for first-year students, demonstrating that students at USC not only graduate in a timely manner, but are also are enjoying their college experience.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

UCLA also has a six-year graduation rate of 91%, and retention rate of 97%. This institution is posting remarkable numbers in both of these categories, helping to ensure the future success of their graduates.

3. California State University - Fullerton

With a graduation rate of 56%, California State University - Fullerton comes in third on the list. This university has a high retention rate of 89% and prospective students should keep in mind that only 50% of the students at this university were eligible for this study.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

With each of these universities containing a student body well over 30,000 students, the individual attention that a student receives from their professors could be the difference between success and failure. The NCES provides statistics from the fall of 2014 and the institutions with the lowest student-to-faculty ratio of the schools considered for this guide are below:

1. University of Southern California

Even though there are 42,453 students attending USC, they have a remarkable student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Not only does this university employ 5,542 faculty members, but also 2,891 graduate assistants to help with their students' academic needs.

2 University of California - Los Angeles

In second sits UCLA with a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1. Still noteworthy considering this public university has 41,845 students; this institution has 5,594 faculty members on staff.

3. California State University - Fullerton

The students of Cal State - Fullerton enjoy moderate class sizes, according to the NCES. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 25:1, students can seek help from any of the 2,044 faculty members on hand, or ask from help from one of the 314 graduate assistants.

Southern California Universities: At a Glance

School NameLocation School TypePrograms OfferedArea Ranking
California State University - Fullerton Fullerton Public Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees #1 in Net Price, #3 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
California State University - Northridge Northridge Public Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees #3 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles Public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #2 in Program Variety, #3 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Southern California Los Angeles Private, not-for-profit Post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificates; bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio

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