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Small Colleges in California with Program and School Information

California is home to over 200 small public and private non-profit schools. Compare the institutions in California to determine which schools might be right for you.

While some students are drawn to the big university experience, others may want to complete their education in a smaller, more tight-knit environment. In California, there are about 215 public and private non-profit schools that have 5,000 students or less. Among them are four-year universities and colleges, two-year schools, religious institutions and specialty schools. This information focuses on four categories in the state and compares them using multiple statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

Small Universities in California Near Large Cities

California offers potential college students a plethora of options for their postsecondary experience in education at small universities. Plenty of these options include locations in and around large cities across the state, including San Francisco, Riverside, Oakland, and Los Angels.

  • Golden Gate University-San Francisco (San Francisco)
  • California College San Diego (San Diego)
  • Fresno Pacific University (Fresno)
  • La Sierra University (Riverside)
  • Mills College (Oakland)

Largest of the Small Universities in California

Although these are the small universities in California, they still had decently-sized student populations in the fall of 2014. The largest of these schools were 4-year private non-profit institutions offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

  • College of the Redwoods (4,965 students)
  • Cerro Coso Community College (4,731 students)
  • Loma Linda University (4,600 students)
  • Concordia University-Irvine (4,311 students)
  • California Lutheran University (4,160 students)

Lowest Net Price

The NCES provides a variety of facts and figures on colleges and universities, including their net prices. These numbers are calculated by subtracting an average amount of financial aid from schools' total cost of attendance. Several factors are considered when determining an institution's total cost of attendance, including in-state or in-district undergraduate tuition rates, fees, housing and other educational expenses such as textbooks. Based on this information, the schools below had the lowest 2014-2015 net prices for full-time students.

  • Porterville College ($3,724)
  • College of the Redwoods ($6,266)
  • Woodland Community College ($6,373)
  • Lake Tahoe Community College ($7,113)
  • Cerro Coso Community College ($7,422)

Highest Graduation Rate

Of those profiled, the following institutions have the highest graduation rates. These statistics are based on full-time students who completed undergraduate programs within 150% of normal time, to graduate in 2015. Taking a look at graduation rates can be useful when comparing school options because they give an idea of the level of academic quality provided at universities and colleges.

  • Pomona College (94% graduation rate)
  • Claremont McKenna College (92% graduation rate)
  • Harvey Mudd College (92% graduation rate)
  • Scripps College (92% graduation rate)
  • California Institute of Technology (91% graduation rate)

Use the information presented here to help you decide on the best school for your postsecondary learning experience.


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