Best Christian Colleges & Universities California 2024


California is not a state people usually associate with any single religion, but several Christian colleges call California home. As indicated by the Pew Research Center 63% of California's adult population professes religious adherence to Christianity, inclusive of Baptists, Episcopalians, Orthodox Christians, Latter-day Saints, Protestants, Catholics, and additional denominations. California is a state full of diversity, and that is certainly represented within the state's Christian colleges.

Students attending religious schools have the privilege to take religion courses, attend campus-based church services and devotionals, and enjoy the other spiritual benefits that come with living among others whose beliefs match their own. For those looking for a spiritually-minded atmosphere on their school campus, then finding the right Christian institution is essential. There is a level of comfort found in attending a college or university that supports an individual's fundamental values.

California's Christian colleges offer a broad and comprehensive education. Christian schools consistently make top rankings among all colleges and universities in the nation. California's private Christian universities typically feature modest student populations, advantageous student-to-faculty proportions, and more affordable tuition fees compared to other diminutive educational institutions within the state.

For students who prioritize strengthening their faith as they go to college, California colleges offer a wide range of opportunities to grow both academically and spiritually.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.


EDsmart assesses colleges based on data that covers four main areas:

  • Affordability (average net price)
  • Academic quality (graduation rate)
  • Student satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Salary After Attending (the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school)

All data was gathered from the U.S. Dept of Education websites, College Scorecard and College Navigator.

This ranking aims to help students assess the affordability and value of top Christian colleges in California so they can make informed decisions about which college to attend.

Best Accredited Christian Colleges & Universities in California for 2024

1. Pepperdine University

  • Average Net Price: $35,167
  • Graduation Rate: 84.41%
  • Retention Rate: 89.03%
  • Median Earnings: $78,224

Established in 1937, Pepperdine University ranks among the finest Christian academic institutions within California. It ranks #49 among National Universities according to U.S. News and the World Report’s list of Best Colleges. The school runs its operations following the principles of the Churches of Christ, and students attend 14 spiritual events each semester. They are also required to take a minimum of three religion courses before they qualify to graduate. First-year students and sophomores live on campus, and spiritual life directors reside in each hall.

The university accepts 42% of applicants and upholds an enrollment of around 3,400 students. Many students choose to major in fields like public relations or psychology. Pepperdine also has facilities in exotic foreign locales like Argentina, China, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Additional graduate courses are offered at campus locations in West Los Angeles, Encino, and San Jose. This school graduates 85% of its students. An extensive assortment of sororities and fraternities exists, with approximately one third of the student body participating in Pepperdine’s prominent Greek life. The school also competes in the Division I West Coast Conference. Pepperdine sits just 24 miles from Beverly Hills and an easy 54 miles from Disneyland. Overall, this school sits at #9 among the Best Christian Colleges in America.

2. California Lutheran University

  • Average Net Price: $21,442
  • Graduation Rate: 72.55%
  • Retention Rate: 80.80%
  • Median Earnings: $65,401

Incepted in 1959, California Lutheran University is a private liberal arts establishment situated in the municipality of Thousand Oaks. Its campus spans over 290 suburban southern California acres, and it accepts 74% of all applicants, with enrollment totaling around 4,200 students. CLU operates exclusively under the principles of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. This schools athletic programs also compete in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III in football. It graduates 71% of students.

California Lutheran offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Numerous scholars opt for undergraduate disciplines spanning the creative arts, humanities, social sciences, business, education, science, and technology realms. As for graduate programs, California Lutheran has field-specific schools of Management, Education, Psychology, and the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Additionally, the university provides “4+1” schemes, enabling learners to accomplish both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees within a five-year timeframe. Overall, California Lutheran ranks #447 among the Best Colleges of America and earns an overall grade of B+, according to It also ranks #8 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Regional Universities West.

3. Fresno Pacific University

  • Average Net Price: $11,531
  • Graduation Rate: 66.75%
  • Retention Rate: 71.43%
  • Median Earnings: $55,044

Fresno Pacific University opened its doors in 1944, operating in close affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren Church as a largely Christian institution. Its campus spans 42 urban acres and is home to about 2,900 undergraduate students yearly. Fresno Pacific accepts 65% of applicants. Over 14,000 students worldwide participate in the university’s renowned professional development studies programs. The graduation rate sits at around 64% annually.

FPU ranks at #115 on’s list of Best Christian Colleges in America, #41 Among Regional Universities West, and #13 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges. The school hosts students from 31 foreign countries and 31 different religious denominations, fostering a culturally diverse and generally academic atmosphere on campus. Overall, Fresno Pacific University ranks at #117 among Safest College Campuses in America, earning a rating of B from

4. Point Loma Nazarene University

  • Average Net Price: $33,537
  • Graduation Rate: 76.32%
  • Retention Rate: 84.29%
  • Median Earnings: $64,114

Academics - PLNU offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs taught by dedicated faculty. Small class sizes promote meaningful interactions and mentoring relationships with professors.

Christian Mission - As a Christian liberal arts school, PLNU provides opportunities for spiritual development through chapel, ministry groups, service learning, and faith-based coursework.

Location - The campus is situated on the Pacific coast near San Diego, providing access to beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and an ideal climate for outdoor activities.

Community - PLNU has a close-knit, friendly campus community with over 70 clubs/groups as well as NAIA sports teams. It's easy to get involved and feel connected.

Student Success - PLNU invests heavily in student success through academic advising, career counseling, tutoring, and other support services to help each student thrive.

Value - PLNU delivers a high-quality four year college experience at a competitive price thanks to generous financial aid and scholarships.

With its personalized approach, vibrant campus culture, Christian heritage, and scenic Southern California location, PLNU offers students unparalleled opportunities for intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth.

5. Azusa Pacific University

  • Average Net Price: $24,811
  • Graduation Rate: 70.89%
  • Retention Rate: 77.62%
  • Median Earnings: $61,701

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical Christian institution spanning 103 acres of sunny southern California hillsides. Today, with an acceptance rate of 94%, APU hosts a community of about 4,500 undergraduate students in total. Many students choose majors in nursing, psychology, or business, and the graduation rate sits at 68%.

Asuza athletes participate in the NCAA Division II with football, as well as in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. The school received a grade of B+ from, and it sits at #66 on their list of Best Christian Colleges in America. On U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges, it ranks #263 among National Universities. 

6. Westmont College

  • Average Net Price: $31,438
  • Graduation Rate: 76.65%
  • Retention Rate: 79.07%
  • Median Earnings: $63,267

Westmont College has operated as a nondenominational Christian liberal arts institution since 1937. The campus covers 111 beautiful suburban acres of the Santa Barbara coast. The school accepts 70% of all applicants, and total undergraduate enrollment sits at about 1200 students. The institution graduates 76% of students. In the 2022 edition of the US News and World Report’s Best Colleges, Westmont ranks #114 among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Though it does not offer any graduate instruction, Westmonts class sizes are small, giving students the benefit of highly personalized instruction and the chance to thrive in a vibrant, close-knit community. Westmont teams participate in the Golden State Athletic Conference and the NAIA Division I.

7. Biola University

  • Average Net Price: $27,161
  • Graduation Rate: 71.79%
  • Retention Rate: 82.39%
  • Median Earnings: $53,148

Established in 1908, Biola University sprawls across 95 suburban acres of La Mirada, California, operating in close affiliation with multiple Protestant denominations. Overall, Biola ranks 196th among National Universities, according to U.S. News and World Report. gives it a grade ranking of A- placing it at 9th among the most conservative colleges in America and 27th among the best christian colleges in America, as well as 72nd among best colleges for religious studies in America.

8. Vanguard University of Southern California

  • Average Net Price: $20,181
  • Graduation Rate: 65.45%
  • Retention Rate: 74.90%
  • Median Earnings: $53,394

Infusing faith into every element of campus life, Vanguard welcomes spiritual curiosity through worship services, ministry groups, and academia that broaches life's deepest questions. Classrooms capped at ten students ensure scholars receive personalized coaching that catalyzes intellectual and personal growth under the diligent guide of professors who double as mentors. Nestled amid Southern California’s sensational scenery, Vanguard’s Costa Mesa grounds grants students access to the region’s lush beaches, bustling entertainment, and abundant internships.

A intimate community blossoms through shared adventures found in over forty clubs and organizations, intramural sports teams, and NAIA athletic squads. Holistic support scaffolded by internship programs, career counseling, and job placement transform students into society-enriching trailblazers. As a private, non-profit institution, Vanguard makes investing in a values-driven education feasible through generous financial aid and scholarships. For students seeking a soul-shaping college experience illuminated by faith and fellowship, Vanguard shines bright.

9. California Baptist University

  • Average Net Price: $21,812
  • Graduation Rate: 61.27%
  • Retention Rate: 77.50%
  • Median Earnings: $56,253

Founded in 1950, California Baptist University sprawls over 160 scenic acres of Riverside, California, operating in close affiliation with the Southern Baptist denomination. It has an acceptance rate of 80% and total enrollment sits at nearly 8000. This school hosts educational centers in other cities outside of Riverside, and it provides 75 bachelor’s programs with 159 different concentrations and 50 minors. At the graduate level, it offers 30 master’s degree programs with 46 concentrations and two doctoral programs. Many students choose majors in business, nursing, or psychology. CBU provides many opportunities for student service projects and international programs. With over 20 different sports teams, California Baptist is a member of NCAA Division II and participates in the Pacific West Conference.

10. Concordia University-Irvine

  • Average Net Price: $24,483
  • Graduation Rate: 64.90%
  • Retention Rate: 71.93%
  • Median Earnings: $59,831

Concordia University spans 70 suburban acres of SoCal oceanside scenery in Irvine, California. It has operated in close affiliation with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod since its founding in 1972. Today, the school admits 78% of all applicants and hosts an undergraduate population of 1,700 students in total. Concordia graduates 66% of its students. Concordia promotes systematic inquiry, clear communication, health and well-being, sociocultural responsiveness, aesthetic responsiveness, Christian literacy and life, and servant leadership principles within its community. In addition to upholding these seven statutes, Concordia’s athletic teams participate in NCAA Division II and the Pacific West Conference.

This college ranks #55 among Regional Universities West on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Colleges. It also ranks #25 in Best Colleges for Veterans and #26 for Best Value Schools. Concordia University–Irvine sits at #66 on’s list of Best Value Colleges in California, earning an overall grade of B-.

11. La Sierra University

  • Average Net Price: $23,480
  • Graduation Rate: 51.14%
  • Retention Rate: 75.73%
  • Median Earnings: $60,858

As an Adventist institution, La Sierra integrates faith and learning with a focus on service and social justice. Students can grow spiritually through religion courses, chapels, and mission opportunities. La Sierra maintains an intimate academic setting with a student-faculty ratio of 16:1. This facilitates close mentoring relationships with professors.  La Sierra fosters a diverse, welcoming community of students from many backgrounds. This enhances learning through exposure to different perspectives.

The campus near Riverside and Redlands provides access to the natural beauty of Southern California and close proximity to arts/culture in Los Angeles. As a private non-profit university, La Sierra offers competitive tuition pricing and substantial financial aid. Over 90% of students receive financial assistance. Signature undergraduate research, clinical placements, student media opportunities, and internships provide applied learning experiences. 

12. Pacific Union College

  • Average Net Price: $21,770
  • Graduation Rate: 56.46%
  • Retention Rate: 65.74%
  • Median Earnings: $67,209

Angwin is home to another of California’s best Christian schools. Pacific Union College spreads across 200 rural acres of Napa Valley scenery. Since its founding in 1882 it has worked in close affiliation with the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. The school accepts 59% of applicants, and undergraduate enrollment sits at approximately 1,000 students. With more than 70 degrees and programs to choose from, PUC also operates as a leading research institution. About a quarter of students complete undergraduate research in areas like biotechnology and biochemistry. Nearly 80% of students are involved in some form of practical work experience before they graduate–of which 60% of students will.

This school offers study abroad opportunities in countries like Brazil, Spain, and France, and Pacific Union athletes get to participate in the NAIA Division II athletic division and the California Pacific Conference. ranks it at #148 among the Best Christian Colleges in America and gives it an overall grade ranking of B.

13. The Master's University and Seminary

  • Average Net Price: $29,357
  • Graduation Rate: 53.78%
  • Retention Rate: 83.13%
  • Median Earnings: $53,478

The Master’s University and Seminary campus sit on 110 suburban acres of sunny Santa Clarita, California. Since its founding in 1927, the university has operated in close affiliation with the fundamentalist Baptist denomination. Master’s admits 60% of applicants, and total enrollment sits at around 1,600 students. The school offers 13 majors in over 60 areas of study, awarding master’s degrees in fields like biblical counseling and biblical studies. Master’s sister seminary building is about 15 miles away in Sun Valley, and it runs programs in theology, divinity, and ministry. The graduation rate is 53%. During their time at the school, students have the opportunity to engage in campus ministry programs like community service, outreach, internships, and spring break mission trips. They can also attend a 15-week semester abroad in Israel.

On U.S. News and World Report’s list of Regional Universities West in Best Colleges, Master’s University sits at #53. gives the school an overall grade ranking of B+. It is #28 among the Best Colleges for Religious Studies in America and #45 on’s list of Best Christian Colleges in America, as well as #51 among the Safest College Campuses in America.

14. Hope International University

  • Average Net Price: $18,248
  • Graduation Rate: 46.30%
  • Retention Rate: 76.38%
  • Median Earnings: $43,659

Located on 18 suburban acres of Fullerton, California, Hope International University has operated as a nondenominational Christian institution since its founding in 1928. With an acceptance rate of 38%, total enrollment sits at 1,232, with 580 full-time and 290 part-time undergraduates. The student-to-instructor ratio is 13 to 1. The school graduates 41% of its students. HIU athletes compete in NAIA Division I and are members of the Golden State Athletic Conference.

Overall, Hope International University ranks #77 among Regional Universities West on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Colleges. It ranks #37 among Best Colleges for Religious Studies in America and #160 for Best College Locations in America with an overall rating of B from Hope International’s mission is to empower students to serve in Christ’s name at home and abroad.

15. Simpson University

  • Average Net Price: $25,093
  • Graduation Rate: 61.43%
  • Retention Rate: 63.98%
  • Median Earnings: $47,218

Situated on 85 suburban acres of Redding, California, Simpson University has operated in close affiliation with the Christ and Missionary Alliance Church since 1921. With an acceptance rate of 52%, Simpson hosts just over 700 undergraduate students. Popular majors include business, psychology, and nursing. The school graduates 74% of its students. Its athletic teams also participate in NAIA Division II athletics and in the California Pacific Conference.

In the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges category, Simpson ranks #88 among Regional Universities West. ranks the institution at Best Colleges for Religious Studies in America and gives it an overall grade of a B-. Ultimately, Simpson University’s mission is to provide a Christ centered learning environment that fosters growth in mind, faith, and character.

16. Providence Christian College

  • Average Net Price: $22,004
  • Graduation Rate: 35.59%
  • Retention Rate: 53.57%
  • Median Earnings: $53,391

As an intimate campus numbering under five hundred scholars, Providence College fosters a rich sense of community while empowering students through self-directed education etched by Christian truths. With a student-to-faculty ratio of eleven-to-one, lessons cultivate critical discourse and catalyze students to dwell faithfully at the intersection of varied schools of thought. Students hone their skills of analysis within the humanities, sciences, and visual arts as well as their abilities to communicate concepts with clarity and grace.

College costs are allayed by generous aid and scholarships that make earning a Providence degree within financial reach. Learners can augment perspectives through study abroad offerings in Europe, Asia, and Central America. For those seeking a transformative Christian education from dedicated mentors invested in the success of every student, applying to Providence promises great reward.

17. Life Pacific University

  • Average Net Price: $24,055
  • Graduation Rate: 49.44%
  • Retention Rate: 59.05%
  • Median Earnings: $40,331

At LPU, all academic pursuits are blended with Christian beliefs to not only boost intellectual growth but also nourish the soul. With an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, LPU offers intimate classroom settings where professors provide individualized attention. At LPU, whether your passion lies in business or kinesiology, counseling psychology or graphic design, you'll find career-oriented programs that let you dive deep into your chosen field.

At LPU, you don't just learn from textbooks - you get your hands dirty with real-world work like internships, lab experiments, and even teaching students yourself. There's so much more to LPU than just classes - you can join sports teams, take part in arts programs, lead student groups, participate in clubs and give back through service learning. LPU, as a private non-profit institution, gives out heaps of scholarships and financial help to make sure getting a degree isn't just a dream but attainable.

Being smack-dab in San Dimas, LPU gives you a front-row seat to all the action and possibilities that come with being part of Greater Los Angeles. With its vocational programs, experiential learning, Christian environment, and California location, LPU prepares students for purposeful careers and lives.

18. San Diego Christian College

  • Average Net Price: $34,359
  • Graduation Rate: 41.08%
  • Retention Rate: 59.58%
  • Median Earnings: $50,020

SDCC integrates a biblically-grounded Christian perspective throughout its degree programs to nurture students spiritually and intellectually. With a student-faculty ratio of just 13:1, classes are small and facilitate personal attention from professors and mentoring relationships. SDCC fosters a friendly, welcoming atmosphere through chapels, bible studies, mission trips, student groups, and NCAA DII athletics.

Graduates are equipped for employment aligned with their calling through hands-on learning, ministry training, business internships, and career services. With an intimate campus size and dynamic professors, connecting with faculty and peers is effortless, fostering a tight-knit college experience.

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