Masters Programs in California with University Information

California is home to over 200 schools offering graduate programs, including many that offer master's degrees. Compare four of the universities in California to determine which schools might be right for you.

School Ranking Overview

With 209 institutions offering graduate education in California, there is a substantial number of choices for students wanting to earn a master's degree within the state. Less than 20% of these schools are public institutions, leaving the vast majority of options to be private non-profit universities, colleges and religious institutions. To aid prospective grad students in their education decisions, this article uses multiple statistics to compare four of California's largest public universities. The schools are then ranked in the following categories:

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

Program Variety

Students who are unsure of the field they want to pursue in school and in their careers have no shortage of options to discover among the profiled universities. The top three all have at least 95 programs, and two of them have well over 100 undergraduate and graduate options.

1. University of California - Los Angeles

Offering 287 academic programs, the University of California in Los Angeles easily claims the number one position. The school awards master's degrees, certificates and doctorates to graduate students, as well as bachelor's degrees to undergrads. A few of the fields of study offered through master's degree programs at UCLA include biostatistics, library science, environmental health, nursing, social work, art, foreign literature, engineering, business and computer science.

2. University of California - Berkeley

The University of California in Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) has 151 programs to choose from, and they culminate in graduate certificates and degrees from the bachelor's to doctoral levels. Students at UC - Berkeley who are enrolled in master's degree programs study journalism, architecture, engineering, history, astrophysics, biology, psychology, music, economics and more.

3. California State University - Northridge

The last of the top three is California State University in Northridge (CSUN). The institution gives undergraduate and grad students 95 program options. Some of the subjects available for study at the master's degree level include accounting, computer science, school counseling, engineering management, public health, anthropology, public administration, theatre arts and biochemistry, among others. Along with master's degrees, students at CSUN can earn bachelor's degrees and doctorates.


The cost of earning a master's degree is a major consideration for many prospective grad students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the three institutions that follow had the lowest 2013-2014 in-state graduate tuition among the four compared. The figures below do not take into account other educational expenses that students should consider when planning their budget, such as room and board, textbooks and academic supplies.

1. California State University - Fullerton

California State University in Fullerton (Cal State - Fullerton) takes the top spot for its cost to grad students. The institution, which awards bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, charged $6,738 on average for a year of in-state graduate enrollment. Out-of-state students paid around $17,898. Average graduate fees amounted to $714.

2. California State University - Northridge

CSUN also charged an average in-state graduate tuition of $6,738, but it falls behind Cal State - Fullerton due to its higher average fees of $1,053. Those students from outside of California pursuing graduate studies at CSUN were charged about $17,898 for the academic year.

3. University of California - Los Angeles

Both UCLA and UC - Berkeley charged an average graduate tuition of $11,220 for California residents and $26,322 for out-of-state students. However, UCLA is the institution that makes it into the top three due to its less expensive graduate fees; students paid $1,351 for the year on average, which was nearly $300 less than UC - Berkeley's grad fees.

Graduation Rate

The greater a school's graduation rate, the more likely it is that the institution provides a high-quality education to its student body. Of those profiled, the three universities below have the highest graduation rates, per NCES data. The percentages are based on full-time undergrads who enrolled in programs in fall 2007 and earned their degrees or certificates within 150% of normal time - that's six years or less for a bachelor's degree.

1. University of California - Berkeley

UC - Berkeley has very high graduation and retention rates, which suggest that most students at this university are satisfied with their academic experience. Its graduation rate stands at 91%, and the school's fall 2012 to fall 2013 retention rate for full-time bachelor's-level students was 96%.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

Just missing out on the number one position is UCLA, which has a graduation rate of 90%. According to the NCES, the university -- like UC - Berkeley -- had a 96% retention rate for full-time students seeking bachelor's degrees during the fall 2012 to fall 2013 time period.

3. California State University - Fullerton

Ranking third is Cal State - Fullerton; it has an overall graduation rate of 53%. The institution has a high student retention rate as well; of those full-time undergrads who were pursuing bachelor's degrees in fall 2012, 89% remained at the Fullerton university a year later.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Students eager to get personal attention in the classroom and regular one-on-one interaction with professors should look for institutions with low student-to-faculty ratios. According to the NCES, the following schools have the lowest of these ratios among the four compared.

1. University of California - Los Angeles

With a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, UCLA takes the lead among the profiled schools. The institution had a faculty of 5,467 in 2013, of which 4,221 were employed full-time. Most worked primarily in providing instruction, but about a quarter held research positions.

2. University of California - Berkeley

Ranking second is UC - Berkeley, which has 17 students for every one member of faculty. The university's faculty in 2013 included 3,072 full-time and 1,040 part-time members. Of those professionals, roughly 57% had teaching responsibilities while the rest worked mostly in research positions.

3. California State University - Fullerton

CSUN and Cal State - Fullerton both have 24:1 student-to-faculty ratios, but the latter takes the third spot in the category due to its slightly larger student population. In 2013, Cal State Fullerton employed 893 full-time and 1,039 adjunct faculty members in instructional positions.

California Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
California State University - Fullerton Fullerton, CA Public Bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #1 in Tuition, #3 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
California State University - Northridge Northridge, CA Public Bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #3 in Program Variety, #2 in Tuition
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #2 in Program Variety, #1 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #3 in Tuition, #2 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio

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