Largest Southern California Colleges & Universities

There are over 400 2- and 4-year schools located in Southern California, which is commonly defined as everything from Ventura County to the Mexican border, including such cities as Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and Riverside. Read on to learn more about the largest postsecondary institutions in Southern California.

Learn about the largest schools in Southern California, including which have the highest graduation rates, have the lowest net prices, or are located near large cities, according to information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Largest Schools in Southern California

The top ten largest 2- and 4-year colleges or universities in Southern California each have respective student populations greater than 30,000. The largest of those is the University of Southern California. Located in the city of Los Angeles; this private not-for-profit university has a total population of 43,401, of which 18,810 are undergraduates. The next five largest schools in this area are listed below.

  • Ashford University (42,452 student population)
  • University of California - Los Angeles (41,908 student population)
  • California State University - Northridge (41,548 student population)
  • California State University - Fullerton (38,948 student population)
  • California State University - Long Beach (37,446 student population)

Southern California Schools Near Large Cities

Large cities in Southern California include Anaheim, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Ana, among others. The largest of those is Los Angeles, home to many large colleges and universities. One of the biggest is the University of California - Los Angeles. Other urban schools with large student populations are listed below.

  • University of California - San Diego (La Jolla)
  • San Diego State University (San Diego)
  • California State University - Long Beach (Long Beach)
  • California State University - Northridge (Northridge)
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles)

Lowest Net Price

The NCES calculates a school's net price by subtracting the average amount of financial aid received by undergraduate students from the total cost of attendance. Among the ten schools with the lowest net price, the largest is California State University - Los Angeles, with a net price of $3,160. This school has a total student population of 27,680. The schools below have the next lowest net prices, although many are small in terms of student population. The figures represented here are from the 2014-2015 school year.

  • Los Angeles ORT College - Van Nuys Campus ($1,088)
  • Grossmont College ($2,296)
  • Downey Adult School ($3,276)
  • Cuyamaca College ($3,576)
  • Oxnard College ($3,756)

Highest Graduation Rate

The NCES determines a school's graduation rate by looking at the percentage of full-time undergraduate students to complete their degree within 150% of normal time. The highest graduation rate within the top ten largest schools in Southern California belongs to the University of Southern California, which has a 92% graduation rate. Many of the highest graduation rates come from small schools, or schools with a specialty focus which are not listed here. These rates represent students who began their studies in fall 2009.

  • CET-Coachella (95%)
  • Pomona College (94%)
  • Claremont McKenna College (92%)
  • Harvey Mudd College (92%)
  • Scripps College (92%)

As you can see, students who value cost, location or graduation rate as well as size have many options in Southern California.

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools