12 Most Popular Colleges in California

Find out which schools are "hot" in California and how much it will cost to go there.

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California, known as The Golden State, is one of the largest states in the country and home to hundreds of community colleges, private colleges, and public universities.

The state is also known for having one of the highest costs of living in the country. However, education is becoming more affordable, particularly at California's most popular colleges.

12. San Francisco State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 30,125

Cost: In-state: $6,938, Out-of-state: $18,098

Best programs: general psychology, communication and media studies, English literature, and business administration

Fun fact: Charles Hall, the inventor of the waterbed, was a graduate of SF State.

11. San Jose State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 31,906

Cost: In-state: $8,884, Out-of-state: $17,812

Best programs: business, visual and performing arts, psychology, and engineering

Fun fact: More than a dozen Olympic medalists have graduated from San Jose State University.

10. University of Southern California

Type: Private University

Enrollment: 33,408

Cost: $44,463

Best programs: business, visual and performing arts, journalism, and engineering

Fun fact: George Lucas is a graduate of USC's world renowned School of Cinematic Arts. And films including Legally Blonde, Forest Gump, and The Graduate were all filmed in part on USC's campus.

9. Santa Ana College

Type: Community College

Enrollment: 33,514

Cost: In-state: $1,398, Out-of-state: $6,768

Best programs: liberal arts and health professions

Fun fact: Santa Ana College is the home of the training academy for the Orange County Sheriff's department.

8. American River College

Type: Community college

Enrollment: 33,821

Cost: In-state: $46 per semester unit,

Best programs: management, marketing, fashion interior design, social sciences

Fun fact: American River College transfers more students to UC Davis and CSU Sacramento than any other community college.

7. University of California, Berkeley

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 34,940

Cost: In-state: $11,767, Out-of-state: $34,645

Best programs: social sciences, biology, and engineering

Fun fact: Berkeley has historically been a hot spot for liberal student activity. In the 1960s, Berkeley was home to the Free Speech Movement, a protest in response to the administration's attempt to get rid of student political groups.

6. California State University, Northridge

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 35,446

Cost: In-state: $5,076, Out-of-state: $21,312

Best programs: journalism, psychology, social sciences, business

Fun fact: CSU-Northridge has one of the nation's largest single campus universities and emphasizes a hands-on experience for each student.

5. San Diego State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 35,695

Cost: In-state: $7,076, Out-of-state: $18,236

Best programs: business, social sciences, psychology, English language and literature, health professions

Fun fact: SDSU ranks number 2 in the nation for sending students abroad. Its campus is less than an hour away from the U.S.-Mexico border and many students go to Mexico for an international experience.

4. California State University, Long Beach

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 36,868

Cost: In-state: $6,738, Out-of-state: $17,898

Best programs: journalism and mass communication, kinesiology, film and electronic arts

Fun fact: Steven Spielberg first attended CSU-Long Beach in 1965 but did not complete the program. He returned in 2002 to complete his bachelor's.

3. California State University, Fullerton

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 37,130

Cost: In-state: $6,626, Out-of-state: $17,836

Best programs: communications, journalism, business, and health-related subjects

Fun fact: CSU-Fullerton is among the most highly ranked institutions in the country for degrees awarded to minority students.

2. University of California, Los Angeles

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 37,476

Cost: In-state: $3,740, Out-of-state: $11,366

Best programs: Studies of various ethnicities, like Chicano studies, African-American studies, American Indian studies and more.

Fun fact: UCLA's Film and Television Archive is the second largest collection of films and other types of moving images and the world's largest university-based media collection.

1. City College of San Francisco

Type: Community college

Enrollment: 46,411

Cost: In-state: $46 per semester unit, Out-of-state: $233 per semester unit

Best programs: broadcasting, culinary arts, graphic communications

Fun fact: CCSF is home to Diego Rivera's mural Pan American Unity, which features his wife Frida Kahlo.

Quick Facts

  • California's budget woes have been no secret during this recession. You might be wondering how this will affect financial aid and the resources public schools can offer. With the passing of Prop 30 this year, a significant amount of money is going directly to community colleges. Community colleges throughout the state are already planning additional courses and resources they can offer students with that money.

Stats source: CollegeStats and U.S. News and World Report.

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