Largest Southern California Colleges & Universities

Southern California is commonly defined as everything from Ventura County to the Mexican border, including such cities as Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and Riverside. There are hundreds of colleges and universities in this region, from 2-year community colleges and vocational schools to sprawling 4-year research universities. Read on to learn more about the largest postsecondary institutions in Southern California.

Top Colleges and Universities in Southern California by Size

University of California, Los Angeles

Located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is part of the University of California public university system. Other UC institutions in Southern California include the University of California, Riverside and the University of California, San Diego.

UCLA is more than just the largest public research university in Southern California. It was ranked #11 in the world in the Times Higher Education international rankings ( The college also boasts a 91% success and progress rate, which refers to the percentage of students who either graduate or are in good standing by their fourth academic year.

Students can study almost any subject at UCLA, which confers degrees at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional levels. The College of Letters and Sciences includes programs in the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and life sciences ranging from English to evolutionary biology. Graduate students can also pursue professional degrees at UCLA in such areas as business, law, education, architecture, engineering and the arts. Additionally, students who are interested in health may study medicine, nursing, psychiatry, dentistry or public health.

Riverside Community College

The Riverside Community College District (RCCD) is the largest 2-year college system in Southern California and the fifth-largest in the state. It includes three institutions spread throughout Riverside County in the cities of Norco, Riverside and Moreno Valley. RCCD colleges focus on training students for the modern workforce and preparing them for transfer to a 4-year college or university.

RCCD institutions grant degrees at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Students who are seeking entry to the workforce can major in such diverse areas as business, nursing, computer information systems (CIS), construction, engineering and microbiology. Specific vocational programs at RCCD range from geographic information systems (GIS) to welding technology.

Many options are also available for students who are preparing to transfer to a 4-year postsecondary institution. A wide range of degrees is offered in the sciences and humanities, including anthropology, chemistry, foreign language, health care, sociology and beyond.

California State University, Fullerton

Located in Fullerton, CA, just north of Anaheim, California State University (CSU), Fullerton is part of the other major public university system in California. Other large CSU institutions in Southern California include California State University, Long Beach and California State University, North Ridge.

U.S. News and World Report has ranked Fullerton among the top public universities in the country and the top 10 master's institutions in the Western United States. Fullerton also boasts a very diverse student body. It has been ranked fifth in the nation by Diverse Issues in Higher Education for the number of bachelor's degrees it awards to minority students.

Fullerton awards bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees in a wide range of disciplines. Divisions at Fullerton include health and human development, business, the arts, humanities, social sciences, education, communication, mathematics, natural sciences, computer science and engineering.

Largest Colleges and Universities in Southern California

School NameTotal Student EnrollmentLocation
University of California, Los Angeles38,550Los Angeles, California
Riverside Community College36,586Riverside, California
California State University, Fullerton36,262Fullerton, California
East Los Angeles College35,717Monterey Park, California
California State University, Long Beach35,557Long Beach, California
California State University, Northridge35,198Northridge, California
University of Southern California34,824Los Angeles, California
Santa Monica College32,313Santa Monica, California
Santa Ana College31,073Santa Ana, California
Mt. San Antonio College29,935Walnut, California
University of California, San Diego28,418La Jolla, California
Long Beach City College27,894Long Beach, California
Palomar College27,442San Marcos, California
El Camino Community College District27,237Torrance, California
University of California, Irvine27,142Irvine, California
Pasadena City College26,453Pasadena, California
Orange Coast College25,316Costa Mesa, California
Saddleback College23,260Mission Viejo, California
University of California, Santa Barbara22,850Santa Barbara, California
Fullerton College22,469Fullerton, California
Rio Hondo College22,432Whittier, California
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona22,273Pomona, California
Los Angeles Pierce College21,928Woodland Hills, California
Cerritos College21,776Norwalk, California
College of the Canyons21,575Santa Clarita, California

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