Best Universities in California: Top Colleges Overview

Learn about the best universities in California, including their academic offerings and rankings. Read brief summaries of three top institutions, and find a table that highlights what's unique to some other leading schools in California.

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School Overview

Three of the best universities in California include Loyola Marymount University, Stanford University and the University of California in Berkeley. Each of the three schools has received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences, social sciences and professional fields of study, such as business, education or engineering.

Best Universities and Colleges in California

1. Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA

Loyola Marymount University is a private Catholic university that U.S. News & World Report ranked third among regional schools in the West for 2011. Additionally, the university also made The Princeton Review's list of 'Best Western Colleges' for the same year.

Loyola Marymount offers 56 undergraduate majors and 38 master's degree programs across seven colleges. These include the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, College of Business Administration, Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering and School of Film and Television. Among the 507 full-time faculty members are one Nobel laureate, one Pulitzer Prize-winner and two Fulbright Scholars. Students can also take part in one of the 140 student clubs or work for some of the university's student-run media outlets, such as the radio station KXLU 88.9 or the ROAR television network.

2. Stanford University in Stanford, CA

Stanford University is a leading private research institution that U.S. News & World Report ranked as the fifth-best school in the country for 2011. The same year, The Princeton Review included Stanford among its 'Best Western Colleges' and 'Best Value Private College' lists; it also designated the Stanford University Libraries as the seventh-best college library in the nation.

Stanford offers degrees through seven colleges, three of which offer both undergraduate and graduate programs. Four of Stanford's colleges - business, education, medicine and law - offer only graduate programs. Areas of study include art and art history, bioengineering, economics and mathematics, as well as engineering, neurosurgery, political science, psychology and statistics. Stanford's library system includes more than eight million volumes and one million audiovisual volumes, as well as over one million e-books.

3. University of California - Berkeley

In 2011, the University of California in Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) was the top-ranked public school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. UC - Berkeley was also named a 'Best Western College' and a 'Best Value Public College' by The Princeton Review for the same year. The university offers approximately 7,000 courses through 350 degree programs in 130 different departments. Additionally, the graduate studies program at UC - Berkeley awards more Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees than any other postsecondary school in the U.S.

In 2009, the most popular majors at UC - Berkeley included electrical engineering, political science, molecular biology, computer science and economics. Students have access to many resources, including UC - Berkeley's library system, which was voted the best public university library by the Association of Research Libraries in 2008.

List of Ten Great Universities in California

School Name Distinction Location
California Institute of Technology Had the number one chemistry program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2011 Pasadena, CA
California State University - Long Beach Has 350 California Merit Finalists among its undergraduates Long Beach, CA
Loyola Marymount University First college in southern California Los Angeles, CA
Pepperdine University International locations in Italy, England, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina and China Malibu, CA
Stanford University Home to several innovative achievements, including e-mail security, DSL, genome sequencing and Google Stanford, CA
University of California - Berkeley Had the most highly ranked graduate programs in the country, according to the National Research Council in 2010 Berkeley, CA
University of California - Davis Medical students work at five free clinics that treat underrepresented individuals Davis, CA
University of California - Los Angeles Past and present faculty members include five Nobel laureates and three Pulitzer Prize winners Los Angeles, CA
University of California - San Diego 64% of the diverse student body includes people of color San Diego, CA
University of Southern California Faculty includes approximately 65 National Academy members Los Angeles, CA
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