Colleges in Southern California | Schools in Southern California

Southern California generally refers to the region extending from Ventura County to the border, including the metropolitan areas of Riverside, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and San Diego. There are hundreds of 2- and 4-year colleges and universities, as well as certificate and degree programs at every level, in this part of California. Read on to learn more about three of the major public institutions below.

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Popular Colleges and Universities in Southern California

University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a large research institution located in the west side of the city of Los Angeles. UCLA is part of the University of California public university system, which also includes several other institutions in the area, such as the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

UCLA is one of the largest and highest-ranked institutions in Southern California. U.S. News & World Report ranked UCLA number 35 on its 2010 list of the top 400 universities in the world and in the same year Times Higher Education magazine ranked UCLA as the 11th best research university in the world.

Students at UCLA can earn degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels in almost any subject. Popular majors include anthropology, economics, history, education, political science and sociology. There are also many opportunities for graduate professional study through UCLA's arts, business, law, medicine, engineering and architecture divisions.

Riverside Community College District

The Riverside Community College District (RCCD) consists of three campuses in the cities of Moreno Valley, Riverside and Norco. Together, they make up the largest 2-year college system in the region and the fifth largest in the state. The RCCD institutions offer programs at the certificate and associate's levels.

There are almost 100 degree programs offered at the RCCD schools, separated into two main types: vocational and transfer-oriented. Students who are preparing to enter the workforce can receive training in a very wide range of fields, such as nursing, office technology, construction and fire science. There are also many different academic degree programs available to students who plan to transfer to a 4-year college or university. Sample transfer programs include English, foreign language, biology and history.

San Diego State University

Located just outside of downtown San Diego, San Diego State University (SDSU) is part of the California State University (CSU) system, which is the second large network of public universities in the state. Other CSU institutions in the Southern California region include California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Long Beach. SDSU is another highly regarded research institution and was ranked among the top 100 universities in the top public schools and best education schools lists, as well as the 183rd university in the country by the U.S. News & World Report in 2011.

SDSU confers degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. There are over 80 undergraduate majors offered at SDSU in the humanities, sciences and social sciences, ranging from accounting to classics to environmental engineering. Many of these same fields also offer master's degrees, and there are 16 doctoral programs in the fields of education, psychology and science.

Top Schools in Southern California By Size

School NameTotal Student EnrollmentLocation
University of California, Los Angeles38,550Los Angeles, California
Riverside Community College36,586Riverside County, California
California State University, Fullerton36,262Fullerton, California
East Los Angeles College35,717Monterey Park, California
California State University, Long Beach35,557Long Beach, California
California State University, Northridge35,198Northridge, California
University of Southern California34,824Los Angeles, California
San Diego State University32,817San Diego, California
Santa Monica College32,313Santa Monica, California
Santa Ana College31,073Santa Ana, California
Mt. San Antonio College29,935Walnut, California
University of California, San Diego28,418La Jolla, California
Long Beach City College27,894Long Beach, California
Palomar College27,442San Marcos, California
El Camino Community College District27,237Torrance, California
University of California, Irvine27,142Irvine, California
Pasadena City College26,453Pasadena, California
Orange Coast College25,316Costa Mesa, California
Saddleback College23,260Mission Viejo, California
University of California, Santa Barbara22,850Santa Barbara, California
Fullerton College22,469Fullerton, California
Rio Hondo College22,432Whittier, California
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona22,273Pomona, California
Los Angeles Pierce College21,928Woodland Hills, California
Cerritos College21,776Norwalk, California
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  • School locations:
    • California campus Stanford
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts campus Cambridge
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
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  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania campus Philadelphia
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island campus Providence
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina campus Durham
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Indiana campus Notre Dame
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) campus Washington
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee campus Nashville
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Florida campus Gainesville
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
    • Architecture
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    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
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