With more than 450 institutions of higher learning, picking a school in California is harder than it might seem. Nearly all of them are world-class universities, nationally ranked, and performing on par with many ivy league schools on the East Coast. It also helps that the campuses are, more than not, situated close to the beach with the California sunshine streaming onto the quad through swaying palm trees. The universities listed below are among the top schools in the state for academics and value, but you can visit just for the views if you like!
Stanford University - Stanford
- 7,019 enrolled - Santa Clara sits adjacent to Palo Alto, just south of San Francisco on the sunny, windswept shores of central California. In league with the Ivy's, Stanford is currently ranked fourth nationally for best universities in the country. They are also among the most strict and only accept 5.1% of applicants every year, so if you're looking at this California beauty, get cracking! Here, the scenic campus sprawls over red-tile roof Spanish buildings, filled with passionate students and a faculty that have been named Nobel laureates and have founded many notable companies including Google and Hewlett-Packard among others.
University of California, Los Angeles
- 29,633 - Lauded as one of the best and most applied to schools in California, this legendary L.A. university is ranked 16th in the world for academics based on Times Higher Education. It's also one of the largest schools in the state with nearly 30,000 undergraduates enrolled and more than 10,000 graduates in any given year. This incredible school is among the top for scientific research, though they have programs in everything from Anthropology to World Arts and Cultures. UCLA is part of the Public Ivies for its Ivy League-level education and public status.
University of California, Berkeley
- 27,126 - Located in the San Francisco suburb of Berkeley, this University of California institution is ranked third as one of the Best Global Universities. Several of Berkeley's departments have put it on the map including science, engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics among others. To support this, Berkeley is home to a number of nationally acclaimed laboratories for research and teaching with professors who have been awarded Nobel Prizes, Wolf Prizes and Field Medals, Turing Awards, MacArthur Fellowships and so much more. Berkeley is an incredible institution that takes higher learning to a new level.
Caltech - Pasadena
- 983 - Otherwise known as the California Institute of Technology, Caltech is ranked as the tenth best university in the United States for its wonderful science-related programs. The university, since its early days, has drawn in famous scientists and researchers, 34 Nobel Prize winners, six Turing Award winners, and 71 that have won the U.S. National Medal of Science or Technology. It may be a tiny campus but it's powerful and continuously graduating passionate and highly intelligent individuals who go on to change the face of science. The Pasadena campus is also beautiful and in close proximity to bustling Los Angeles for fun weekends away from school.
Santa Clara University - Santa Clara
- 5,486 - Number two for Regional Universities in the West, Santa Clara University is a private, Catholic college with incredible value. Since its founding in 1851, the Jesuits have offered bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs over six colleges including engineering, business, law, and theology. Many of Santa Clara's graduates have gone on to politics, becoming mayors of major California cities, as well as the governor of California. The Bay area scenery is stunning and will captivate your touring group as you walk through the Spanish-style buildings, palm trees, and pines, and tour the incredible libraries and classrooms. This university is full of history and prestige, which is fully evident as soon as you step foot on the lush lawns.
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
- 19,246 - Also known as Cal Poly, this central Californian university comes in at the tenth position for Regional Universities in the West. Though the college does not currently offer doctorate degrees, there are 64 bachelor's and 32 master's degrees available over six colleges on campus. The most popular major at Cal Poly is business administration, though mechanical engineering and biological sciences are also high on the list. Located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is stunningly gorgeous, framed by rolling mountains and history as it was founded by Saint Junipero Serra as part of the Alta California Missions.