Private Universities in Southern California

There are roughly 90 postsecondary institutions throughout the Southern California region. Read about the top schools in several categories to find the right one for you.

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School Ranking Overview

Many private non-profit universities are located in Southern California. This article compares four of the largest universities in the region and ranks the top three of those four in each of the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Students who aren't sure which field of study to pursue may be wise to consider a university with many program options. The three colleges ranked below offer the highest number of programs among the four compared in this article.

1. University of Southern California

University of Southern California (USC) is located in Los Angeles and ranks first in this category with roughly 340 total programs. Students at this school can choose from bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, along with graduate certificates.

2. National University

Located in La Jolla, National University comes in second place with 85 programs available. As of the 2012-2013 school year, some popular fields of study for undergraduate and graduate students included business administration, psychology, education and registered nursing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

3. Loyola Marymount University

Ranking third with nearly 80 programs available, Loyola Marymount University is located in Los Angeles. Popular undergraduate and graduate areas of study included law, English, marketing and business as of the 2012-2013 academic year, per NCES data.

Net Price

Prospective students should keep a close eye on the price tag of any 4-year private university - the cost of attendance is often higher than that of a comparable public institution. The NCES determines net price by subtracting the average amount of undergraduate financial aid from the average yearly cost of total undergraduate expenses. These figures come from the 2012-2013 academic year. The three private universities with the lowest net price of the four compared in the article are ranked below.

1. National University

National University ranks first in this category with a net price of $21,142 per year. Only about 41% of first-time, full-time undergraduates received financial aid of any kind for the 2012-2013 academic year, which is relatively low.

2. University of Southern California

Coming in second is University of Southern California with a net price of $29,889. According to NCES data, roughly 67% of first-time undergraduates were awarded grants, scholarships and/or student loans.

3. Azusa Pacific University

Located in its namesake city of Azusa, Azusa Pacific University comes in third with a yearly net price of $29,990. Roughly 92% of first-time, full-time undergraduates at the school were awarded some kind of financial aid, which is higher than any other school in these rankings.

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate is one way prospective students can shed light on a school's overall academic quality. These rates only apply to first-time, full-time undergraduates who graduated within 150% of normal time - for a bachelor's program, that would be six years or less. The following schools had the highest graduation rates of the four profiled here, per NCES data.

1. University of Southern California

University of Southern California takes first with an overall graduation rate of 91% for students first enrolling in fall 2007. Roughly 96% of full-time undergraduates who began their studies in fall 2012 returned in fall 2013.

2. Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University has a graduation rate of 76% for a second-place rank in this category. The school's retention rate was strong, with 91% of first-time students in fall 2012 continuing their studies in fall 2013.

3. Azusa Pacific University

With a graduation rate of 65%, Azusa Pacific University ranks third. About 82% of full-time, first-time undergraduates who initially enrolled in fall 2012 returned in fall 2013.

Student-Faculty Ratio

A low student-faculty ratio is one potential indicator of relatively small class sizes and the opportunity for one-on-one time with professors. Per NCES data from fall 2013, the three schools ranked below had the lowest student-faculty ratios of the four compared in this article.

1. University of Southern California

Ranked first is University of Southern California with a low student-faculty ratio of 9:1. As of 2013, the student population at USC was close to 41,400, and there were roughly 2,200 full-time and 1,500 part-time instructors employed.

2. Loyola Marymount University

Coming in second is Loyola Marymount University with a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. As of 2013, the school enrolled about 9,700 students, and they were taught by about 1,100 full-time and part-time faculty members.

3. Azusa Pacific University

The student-faculty ratio at Azusa Pacific University as of 2013 was 14:1, leading to a third place rank. This school employed about 1,000 full-time and part-time instructors to teach roughly 10,800 students.

Southern California Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA 4-year, private non-profit Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; undergraduate and graduate certificates #3 in Net Price, #3 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-Faculty Ratio
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4-year, private non-profit Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates #3 in Program Variety, #2 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-Faculty Ratio
National University La Jolla, CA 4-year, private non-profit Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; undergraduate and graduate certificates #2 in Program Variety, #1 in Net Price
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, private non-profit Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates #1 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price, #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 Student-Faculty Ratio
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