Best Colleges Los Angeles 2023
Los Angeles is one of the most populous cities in the United States and is the second largest city in California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood entertainment industry, and as a significant gateway for immigration to the United States. Los Angeles is also the seat of the county of Los Angeles.
This access to the diversity of jobs is one of the many reasons students attend college in Los Angeles. The city’s diverse culture, proximity to other major cities, and beautiful weather aid in the attraction of the city. With 63 colleges and universities to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which one is right for you. To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best colleges in Los Angeles.
Related Programs That Might Interest YouLearn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
EDsmart assesses colleges in Los Angeles based on data that covers four main areas:
- Cost (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)
This ranking assesses the affordability and value of top colleges in Los Angeles so students can make informed decisions about which college to attend.
1. California Institute of Technology
Average Net Price: $26,542 Retention Rate: 96% Graduation Rate: 93% Salary After Attending: $112,166
Caltech is a distinguished science and engineering institute that brings some of the most brilliant minds together to answer fundamental scientific questions and find innovative solutions. The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to increase human knowledge and help society by conducting research that is closely linked with teaching. California Institute of Technology is a highly competitive and rigorous school to get into with an acceptance rate of only 4%. Their low acceptance rate keeps the student population low with a total enrollment of 2,397 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1. Niche.com ranked Caltech with an overall grade rating of A+ for its excellence in every category. U.S. News and World Report ranked the school #9 among National Universities. Students can choose from 28 undergraduate degrees and 30 graduate degrees. Students at Caltech are well-prepared to be world leaders in any profession, including science, engineering, academia, industry, and public service.
2. University of California-Los Angeles
Average Net Price: $15,023 Retention Rate: 96% Graduation Rate: 92% Salary After Attending: $73,744
The University of California in Los Angeles is a prestigious public institution located in Los Angeles. It’s one of the largest universities in California with an enrollment of over 31,000 undergraduate students. Acceptance into UCLA is extremely competitive with the fall 2021 acceptance rate being 11%. With a wide range of potential career paths and job opportunities at UCLA, students most often choose majors in economics, sociology, and biology and are well-positioned to pursue their passions. UCLA received an overall grade rating of A+ for their academics, professors, and value according to Niche. The University of California in Los Angeles has also received a multitude of rankings from U.S. News and World Report including #32 in Undergraduate Research, #15 in Nursing, and #1 in Top Public Schools.
3. Pamona College
Average Net Price: $17,949 Retention Rate: 91% Graduation Rate: 94% Salary After Attending: $69,149
Opening its door in 1887, Pomona College is a private college located in Claremont, California with an acceptance rate of only 7%. They offer an extensive degree selection with 48 majors across the study of art and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Pomona College is an academic institution that fosters close-knit relationships with its students and faculty. These connections result in a diverse and interesting community where people are able to make a difference in their respective fields. Pomona College has a student population of over 1,700 students who represent 61 nations, 49 states, and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. U.S. News and World Report ranked Pomona College #3 in National Liberal Arts College, #9 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, and #4 in Best Value Schools.
4. University of California-Irvine
Average Net Price: $12,209 Retention Rate: 94% Graduation Rate: 87% Salary After Attending: $71,961
The University of California, Irvine operates with a mission to enhance the lives of the local community through rigorous academics and cutting edge research. The University of California at Irvine is a large public school with over 37,000 students with many students attending online. At UCI you’ll never be short of subjects to study, the school offers 87 bachelors degrees as well as 137 graduate programs for both masters and doctorate levels. According to U.S. News and World Report the University of California ranked among top 10 in both top performers on social mobility and top public schools. The institutions top ranked programs for students to study are criminology, aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, business law, political science, fine arts, English, history, sociology, and public health.
5. Claremont McKenna College
Average Net Price: $21,993 Retention Rate: 91% Graduation Rate: 92% Salary After Attending: $86,571
Claremont McKenna College is an independent undergraduate college with a highly selective student body. The school focuses on both a strong academic program and an engagement in the community. The College has a curriculum that is liberal arts-based and focuses on economics and political science. Additionally, students are taught by experienced professors who provide engaging lessons. The student-teacher relationship enables the learners to explore their knowledge in depth. CMC is made up of over 8,500 students and 3,000 faculty members. Students can earn either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Master of Arts in Finance. The top majors in 2021 to earn included Government, Politics, & Economics (PPE), Economics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, Philosophy, International Relations, Philosophy, History, and Literature.
6. Harvey Mudd College
Average Net Price: $33,467 Retention Rate: 95% Graduation Rate: 94% Salary After Attending: $108,988
Founded in 1955, Harvey Mudd College is a highly regarded private institution located in Claremont, CA. Harvey Mudd College has a unique program for students who want to learn engineering, science, math and all the humanities, social sciences and the arts. An education in all of these areas is necessary for any good leader in their field. HMC has a total enrollment of 905 students which allows for smaller classes and student to faculty ratio of 8-to-1. Niche ranked Harvey Mudd College #1 in Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America, #2 in Best Value Colleges in America, and #2 in Best Small Colleges in America. Along with these rankings, Niche also gave Harvey Mudd College a grade rating of A+ for their academics and diversity.
7. University of Southern California
Average Net Price: $32,569 Retention Rate: 94% Graduation Rate: 93% Salary After Attending: $83,426
With over 20,000 undergraduates and more than 28,000 graduate students, the University of Southern California is a prestigious private research university in the city of Los Angeles. USC offers a world class education and is home to the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as well as 22 exceptional academic programs. USC’s Health Sciences campus is home to some of the most renowned clinical and research oncology programs, stem cells, orthopedic care and sports medicine. One of the most popular subjects to pursue at USC is in the health sciences because students get unmatched hands-on experience and knowledge on the most up-to-date information. U.S. News and World Report ranked University of Southern California #8 in Business Programs, #9 in Best Colleges for Veterans, and #25 in National Universities.
8. Soka University of America
Average Net Price: $19,843 Retention Rate: 93% Graduation Rate: 93% Salary After Attending: $48,193
Soka University of America is a private, non-profit university based in Aliso Viejo, CA. They offer an undergraduate degree in liberal arts and postgraduate programs for educational leadership and societal change. Soka University is a smaller school with a total of 435 students and a facutly-to-student ratio of 7:1. Students have the choice of concentrations in international studies, environmental studies, humanities, life sciences or social and behavioral sciences. Soka received a grade rating of A from Niche for their academics, diversity, and value. U.S. News and World Report ranked Soka University of America #11 in Best Value Schools, #29 in National Liberal Arts Colleges, and #70 in Top Performers on Social Mobility.
9. University of California-Riverside
Average Net Price: $11,822 Retention Rate: 90% Graduation Rate: 79% Salary After Attending: $58,880
UC Riverside is an institution of excellence and diversity, as it is a member of the famous University of California system. Besides being one a prestigious institution, they also embody and encourage the California Dream. The University of California Riverside is among the elite universities in the world, ranked 1.3% on the Center for World University Rankings. They consistently rank as one of top public universities for social mobility, according to U.S. News and World Report. UC Riverside offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, geared to the needs of one of the most diverse populations in America. The university's six schools house the core programs (four professional and three colleges): College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, School of Public Policy, School of Business, School of Medicine, and the School of Education.
10. California State University-Long Beach
Average Net Price: $10,054 Retention Rate: 88% Graduation Rate: 79% Salary After Attending: $57,123
California State University- Long Beach is a public university founded in 1949. It is located in the city of Long Beach, California and ranks 137th on national universities , 3rd in social mobility, and 64th for public schools. CSULB provides students with fresh, natural scenery on a daily basis, and the location gives rise to a number of benefits. For example, it promotes higher graduation rates and reduces opportunity gaps among different groups. The most popular majors in this school are Healthcare Management and Physical Education, Business, Psychology, Family Studies and Consumer Sciences, Communications, Sociology, Teaching and Coaching. This university offers a variety of fully online master's degrees, such as Emergency Services Administration, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Engineering Management. There are hybrid programs available too in Public Administration, Finance, Geographic Information Systems, Healthcare Management, , and Social Work.
11. California State University-Fullerton
Average Net Price: $8,003 Retention Rate: 89% Graduation Rate: 77% Salary After Attending: $54,586
California State University – Fullerton is a public university in Fullerton, CA. It was established in 1957 and offers over 50 undergraduate degrees and 50 graduate degrees. In 2023, CSU-Fullerton ranked #42 for engineering programs, #83 for top public schools, and #7 in top performers on social mobility according to U.S. News and World Report. Popular majors pursued at CSU-Fullerton are Early Childhood Education, Business, Communications, Sociology, Psychology, Health Services Preparatory Studies, Physical Education Teaching and Coaching. The most important thing at this university is helping all students reach their full potential. A big part of that is Fullertons online courses which offer a flexible alternative for those who can’t attend traditional face-to-face sessions. There are three online degrees currently being offered: a BA in Business Administration, BA in Sociology, and BA in Humanities and Social Sciences.
12. Pitzer College
Average Net Price: $29,195 Retention Rate: 87% Graduation Rate: 84% Salary After Attending: $62,194
Pitzer College is a liberal arts and sciences college that has been in operation for over 50 years. They keep a focus on environmental studies as well as other topics like the arts, humanities and other sciences. Pitzer College is one of the Claremont Colleges. The association of seven colleges, five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions are situated in the same geographical area. Sharing programs and facilities, they form a close-knit community with 1,000 students among them. At Pitzer, students have the benefits of a major university without having to give up all the benefits of being a small liberal arts college. They provide an experience that is based on personalized education to help you get the most out of your time here at school.
13. Scripps College
Average Net Price: $33,573 Retention Rate: 86% Graduation Rate: 87% Salary After Attending: $64,911
Scripps College is a private liberal arts college located in Claremont, California. The school offers undergraduate programs as well as graduate degrees with majors such as biology, chemistry, economics, English literature and composition, history, mathematics and statistics, psychology and Spanish language. Students learn by going out and doing and they're surrounded by faculty who are experts in their field. Over the course of four years, students are challenged to grow in a way that prepares them for life outside of the classroom. Niche gave Scripps College an overall grade rating of A for their outstanding academics, value, and diversity. U.S. News and World Report ranked the college #33 in National Liberal Arts Colleges and #79 in Best Value Schools.
14. Occidental College
Average Net Price: $34,032 Retention Rate: 87% Graduation Rate: 86% Salary After Attending: $67,388
Occidental College is a liberal arts college located in L.A. that provides high-quality education with the living culture and intellectual resources that Los Angeles has to offer. Located on a 120-acre campus, this beautiful location is the perfect place to begin your education. Oxy keeps a small-classroom environment catering to curious, talented undergrads looking to explore their current passions and find new ones. Students will benefit from the support of a dedicated faculty who are also committed to teaching and mentoring. Oxy is layering a new foundation for what it means to be a liberal arts and sciences student with more than 40 majors and minors. The Oxy experience not only provides students with mastery of traditional skills like writing, reading, speaking, and thinking critically but also creativity, entrepreneurship, confidence and intercultural competence. Graduates are prepared thinkers who can communicate well in any given situation.
15. Chapman University
Average Net Price: $44,198 Retention Rate: 88% Graduation Rate: 80% Salary After Attending: $60,835
Chapman University is a private, non-profit university located in the heart of Orange County, California. At Chapman University, students are encouraged to be original, independent thinkers who can act upon challenges and problems with innovative solutions. With a student population of 7,714, Chapman University is quite large. However they still manage to keep the student-to-faculty output reasonable with 12:1. The most popular majors that students pursue at Chapman University include psychology, business, cinematography, and corporate communications. Chapman University ranked #66 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, #52 in Most Innovative Schools, and #121 in National Universities according to U.S. News and World Report.
16. Loyola Marymount University
Average Net Price: $44,467 Retention Rate: 86% Graduation Rate: 83% Salary After Attending: $68,701
Loyola Marymount University is a well-established and nationally ranked university rooted in the Jesuit, Catholic, and Marymount traditions that's committed to fostering a diverse community. As such, you can expect opportunities for intellectual engagement and development as well as a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Clark University's diversity is one of their greatest strengths and they seek individuals with high academic ambition. The student body is made up of a diverse set of people and the schools faculty commits to excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and creativity. Niche ranked Loyola Marymount University #8 in Best Catholic Colleges in America, #21 for Best Colleges for Film and Photography in America, and #33 in Best Colleges for Performing Arts in America.
17. California Lutheran University
Average Net Price: $27,410 Retention Rate: 81% Graduation Rate: 73% Salary After Attending: $59,684
Established in 1959 and acknowledged as a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2016, California Lutheran University (CLU) has more than 2,513 graduate and undergraduate students. Representing more than 59 countries, students come from all over the world. Here at CLU, they offer 40 majors and 43 minors to choose from. Their Bachelor's Degree for Professionals program has flexible class schedules that are convenient if you're an adult student. If you need some more qualifications, they also offer graduate degrees at the graduate school with a few certifications being offered as well. There's a small, dedicated faculty here whose goal is to help students grow. California Lutheran University welcome open-minded and compassionate students who are willing to put in the effort to get the most out of their program.
18. Pepperdine University
Average Net Price: $38,846 Retention Rate: 88% Graduation Rate: 84% Salary After Attending: $38,846
Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence, Christian values, and personalized learning. Students are academically and spiritually strengthened for lives of purpose, service, leadership, and compassion. With a focus on liberal arts and spiritual exploration, Pepperdine offers a diverse community and many opportunities for self-discovery. Pepperdine offers a large number of majors and minors, emphasizing the broad discovery of all disciplines. According to the 2023 U.S. News and World Report, Pepperdine University ranks #26 in Best Undergraduate Teaching, #49 in Best Value Schools, and #55 in National Universities. Popular majors at this school include public relations, psychology, international studies, kinesiology, and business.
19. Mount Saint Marys University Los Angeles
Average Net Price: $30,938 Retention Rate: 74% Graduation Rate: 67% Salary After Attending: $68,312
Mount Saint Mary’s University is a selective, private, coeducational university of liberal arts and sciences. Located in Los Angeles with two campuses in the San Fernando Valley, it offers undergraduate and graduate programs through 20 departments including: Art, Biological Sciences, Humanities, Nursing, Philosophy, Physical Therapy, Relgious Studies, and Sociology. As a Catholic university and historically women-focused college, they are committed to providing a superb education in an environment that emphasizes leadership skills and service to others. U.S. News and World Report ranked Mount Saint Mary’s University #1 in Top Performers on Social Mobility, #10 in Best Value Schools, and #12 in Regional Universities West.
20. University of La Verne
Average Net Price: $28,260 Retention Rate: 80% Graduation Rate: 65% Salary After Attending: $56,663
The University of La Verne was founded in 1891 as a private non-profit university in the Southern California town of La Verne. The university has five different colleges, each with its own specialized focus. The university encompasses the College of Arts and Sciences the LaFetra College of Education the College of Business and Public Management, the College of Law, and the College of Health and Community Well-Being. The eight ULV campuses are spread out over Southern California and offer both online and on-campus course opportunities. You’ll find more than 50 undergraduate degrees, 20 master's degrees, five doctorates, and six certification programs to explore. Niche rewarded the University of La Verne with an overall grade rating of B- for their academics, diversity, and value.
21. Azusa Pacific University
Average Net Price: $30,744 Retention Rate: 78% Graduation Rate: 68% Salary After Attending: $57,796
Azusa Pacific University is a private, Christian university and welcomes students of all backgrounds. The student body is made up of young men and women who are seeking a transformational education experience. APU provides an environment of scholars who are passionate about making a change in the world. It is near impossible to find a college worth attending that balances rigorous academics with an equally strong spiritual foundation. Following these difficult-to-find schools can be a challenge; however, Azusa Pacific University has established a reputation for being just that. Azusa Pacific University has been ranked among U.S. News and World Report for being the top in Nursing, Top Performers on Social Mobility, and National Universities.
22. Whittier College
Average Net Price: $26,740 Retention Rate: 76% Graduation Rate: 67% Salary After Attending: $54,871
Whittier College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Whittier, California. With a residential college system and small classes, the school provides students with an excellent education that prepares them for success in today's global society. The Whittier College community is a diverse and global student body with more than 1,200 undergraduate students. The idea of a small, intimate class is what attracts students to Whittier College which is why the college prides itself on having a student-faculty ratio of 12:1. To ensure that students are well-prepared for the challenges of the future, Whittier College offers a wide range of academic programs and majors. Students can choose from 32 majors and minors, with new programs being added regularly.
23. California Baptist University
Average Net Price: $26,719 Retention Rate: 77% Graduation Rate: 61% Salary After Attending: $52,941
California Baptist University believes in using each person's unique abilities. As a Christian institution, CBU seeks to instill in students the values of integrity, honesty and respect for others. In order to help students grow spiritually, CBU offers Bible studies, chapel services and spiritual retreats. California Baptist University is a top-notch private university in California that offers more than just a good education. The school provides an array of programs for students at every level and degree. These include associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, doctorate degrees and doctorate of ministry degrees.
24. The Master's University and Seminary
Average Net Price: $30,238 Retention Rate: 84% Graduation Rate: 53% Salary After Attending: $49,159
Master's University has been around for over 90 years now and remains committed to improving the quality of life for its students. Teachers at all levels use their skills, knowledge and experience to help students prepare for the future and to assist in each students career development. There are a number of majors available to choose from, with some of the most sought-after subjects being theology, communications, music history, literature and kinesiology. The Master's University is a smaller school with a total student body of 2,435 and an average student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. U.S. News and World Report ranks them among the top in National Universities, and in the Top Performers category for highest performance on some measures like graduation.
25. Biola university
Average Net Price: $33,269 Retention Rate: 80% Graduation Rate: 70% Salary After Attending: $47,704
Biola is a private, Christian university located in the heart of Southern California. You can choose to attend the school on campus or through one of their online programs. Biola offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs for students making it almost impossible to not find a program that fits your needs. Biola is one of the top christian colleges in the US, according to US News and World Report. They are also listed as one of the nation's best schools for undergraduate teaching and offer great value for your dollar. Biola University offers a wide range of top-notch programs, such as business, psychology, nursing, biblical studies and public relations.