30 Top California Colleges 2024

California is home to a wealth of top-tier colleges and universities, offering diverse academic programs, vibrant campus life, and excellent professional outcomes. Whether you’re looking for a large public university or a small private college, California has something for everyone. Here, we present the 30 top California colleges in 2024, complete with details on GPA, median SAT and ACT scores, acceptance rates, admission requirements, professional outcomes, and academic highlights.

Top California Colleges will match your interests, career goals, and what you want out of your college experience. Think about things like campus vibe, location, size, and the programs they offer. The right college should not only give you a good education but also help you grow as a person and get ready for a successful and happy life. By looking closely at what each school offers, you can find the perfect California college to help you reach your dreams.

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30 Top California Colleges

1. Stanford University

GPA: 3.96
Median SAT: 1500
Median ACT: 34
Acceptance Rate: 4%
Requirements: High GPA, top SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, essays, recommendation letters.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed by leading companies, high average salaries, strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Academic Highlights: Known for innovation and research, offers interdisciplinary programs, strong STEM and business schools.

2. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

GPA: 3.97
Median SAT: 1550
Median ACT: 35
Acceptance Rate: 6%
Requirements: Exceptional GPA, top SAT/ACT scores, strong math and science background, essays, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: High placement in tech and research fields, excellent graduate school placements.
Academic Highlights: Emphasis on STEM fields, small class sizes, extensive research opportunities, collaborative environment.

3. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

GPA: 3.89
Median SAT: 1415
Median ACT: 32
Acceptance Rate: 16%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong academic rigor, essays, activities.
Professional Outcomes: Strong alumni network, high employability, significant number of graduates in tech, business, and academia.
Academic Highlights: Renowned for research and innovation, diverse range of programs, strong emphasis on public service.

4. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

GPA: 3.87
Median SAT: 1405
Median ACT: 31
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, essays, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates employed in top industries, strong alumni network, high average starting salaries.
Academic Highlights: Comprehensive academic programs, leading research university, vibrant campus life.

5. University of Southern California (USC)

GPA: 3.83
Median SAT: 1440
Median ACT: 32
Acceptance Rate: 12%
Requirements: High GPA, strong SAT/ACT scores, essays, extracurricular involvement, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: High employability, strong connections in entertainment, business, and tech industries.
Academic Highlights: Offers extensive professional programs, strong emphasis on research and innovation, diverse student body.

6. Pomona College

GPA: 3.9
Median SAT: 1480
Median ACT: 34
Acceptance Rate: 8%
Requirements: High GPA, top SAT/ACT scores, strong personal essays, recommendations, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently accepted into top graduate programs, high employability in diverse fields.
Academic Highlights: Small class sizes, personalized education, strong liberal arts curriculum, extensive research opportunities.

7. Claremont McKenna College

GPA: 3.85
Median SAT: 1450
Median ACT: 33
Acceptance Rate: 10%
Requirements: High GPA, strong SAT/ACT scores, leadership and extracurriculars, essays, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: High placement rates in finance, business, and government, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Focus on economics, government, and public affairs, small class sizes, strong emphasis on leadership.

8. Harvey Mudd College

GPA: 3.92
Median SAT: 1510
Median ACT: 34
Acceptance Rate: 13%
Requirements: Exceptional GPA, top SAT/ACT scores, strong math and science background, essays, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: High placement rates in tech and engineering, strong salaries, excellent graduate school placements.
Academic Highlights: Focus on STEM fields, rigorous curriculum, extensive research and project-based learning.

9. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

GPA: 3.85
Median SAT: 1350
Median ACT: 30
Acceptance Rate: 29%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in tech, business, and academia, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Renowned for research, strong programs in environmental science, engineering, and humanities.

10. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

GPA: 3.84
Median SAT: 1360
Median ACT: 30
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, essays.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in tech and healthcare, strong connections with local industries.
Academic Highlights: Known for research and innovation, strong programs in sciences, engineering, and social sciences.

11. Scripps College

GPA: 3.87
Median SAT: 1420
Median ACT: 32
Acceptance Rate: 24%
Requirements: High GPA, strong SAT/ACT scores, personal essays, extracurricular involvement, recommendations.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently pursue advanced degrees, high employability in diverse fields.
Academic Highlights: Strong liberal arts curriculum, small class sizes, focus on women’s education and leadership.

12. Loyola Marymount University

GPA: 3.72
Median SAT: 1280
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 44%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in business, entertainment, and education, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Comprehensive academic programs, strong emphasis on ethics and social justice, vibrant campus life.

13. Santa Clara University

GPA: 3.79
Median SAT: 1340
Median ACT: 30
Acceptance Rate: 51%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, personal essays.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in tech and business, strong connections with Silicon Valley.
Academic Highlights: Known for business and engineering programs, strong emphasis on ethics and social responsibility.

14. University of California, Davis (UC Davis)

GPA: 3.78
Median SAT: 1320
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 46%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in agriculture, tech, and healthcare, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Renowned for agricultural and environmental programs, strong research opportunities, vibrant campus life.

15. University of California, Irvine (UCI)

GPA: 3.80
Median SAT: 1330
Median ACT: 29
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, essays.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in tech and healthcare, strong industry connections.
Academic Highlights: Known for strong research programs, comprehensive academic offerings, diverse student body.

Top California Colleges 2024

16. Pepperdine University

GPA: 3.74
Median SAT: 1290
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 32%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in business, law, and public service, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Focus on leadership and service, strong programs in business and law, beautiful campus.

17. Occidental College

GPA: 3.78
Median SAT: 1340
Median ACT: 30
Acceptance Rate: 37%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently pursue advanced degrees, high employability in diverse fields.
Academic Highlights: Strong liberal arts curriculum, emphasis on social justice, small class sizes.

18. University of San Diego

GPA: 3.77
Median SAT: 1300
Median ACT: 29
Acceptance Rate: 49%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in business and law, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Focus on ethics and leadership, strong business and law programs, beautiful campus.

19. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO)

GPA: 3.92
Median SAT: 1330
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 28%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in engineering, tech, and agriculture, strong industry connections.
Academic Highlights: Emphasis on hands-on learning, strong engineering and agriculture programs, vibrant campus life.

20. University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)

GPA: 3.74
Median SAT: 1300
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 51%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in tech and environmental fields, strong research opportunities.
Academic Highlights: Known for strong programs in sciences and humanities, beautiful campus, emphasis on social justice.

21. California State University, Long Beach (CSU Long Beach)

GPA: 3.56
Median SAT: 1140
Median ACT: 23
Acceptance Rate: 39%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, personal statements.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in business and tech, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Comprehensive academic offerings, strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion, vibrant campus life.

22. Chapman University

GPA: 3.75
Median SAT: 1310
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 58%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in entertainment, business, and law, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Strong programs in film and business, emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, beautiful campus.

23. University of the Pacific

GPA: 3.61
Median SAT: 1230
Median ACT: 27
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in healthcare and law, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Focus on professional programs, strong healthcare and law schools, personalized education.

24. California State University, Fullerton (CSU Fullerton)

GPA: 3.53
Median SAT: 1120
Median ACT: 22
Acceptance Rate: 52%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, personal statements.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in business and education, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Comprehensive academic offerings, emphasis on practical skills and diversity, vibrant campus life.

25. Azusa Pacific University

GPA: 3.54
Median SAT: 1130
Median ACT: 23
Acceptance Rate: 67%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong extracurriculars, personal statements.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in healthcare and education, strong community connections.
Academic Highlights: Emphasis on faith-based education, strong programs in healthcare and education, personalized learning.

26. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona)

GPA: 3.55
Median SAT: 1140
Median ACT: 23
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in engineering and tech, strong industry connections.
Academic Highlights: Emphasis on hands-on learning, strong engineering and business programs, diverse campus life.

27. University of San Francisco

GPA: 3.73
Median SAT: 1290
Median ACT: 28
Acceptance Rate: 66%
Requirements: High GPA, competitive SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in business and tech, strong connections with local industries.
Academic Highlights: Focus on social justice and ethics, strong business and tech programs, vibrant campus life.

28. Whittier College

GPA: 3.46
Median SAT: 1150
Median ACT: 24
Acceptance Rate: 72%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in business and education, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Strong liberal arts curriculum, emphasis on leadership and service, personalized education.

29. Saint Mary’s College of California

GPA: 3.53
Median SAT: 1170
Median ACT: 24
Acceptance Rate: 77%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: Graduates frequently employed in business and education, strong community connections.
Academic Highlights: Emphasis on liberal arts and ethics, strong programs in business and education, small class sizes.

30. San Diego State University (SDSU)

GPA: 3.69
Median SAT: 1210
Median ACT: 25
Acceptance Rate: 34%
Requirements: Competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores, strong essays, extracurriculars.
Professional Outcomes: High employability in business and tech, strong alumni network.
Academic Highlights: Known for strong programs in business and public health, vibrant campus life, emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

California offers a diverse range of colleges and universities, each with its own strengths and unique features. Whether you’re aiming for a prestigious research university, a small liberal arts college, or a school with strong professional programs, California’s top colleges provide excellent opportunities for academic and career success. By considering factors such as GPA, standardized test scores, acceptance rates, and professional outcomes, you can find the right college that aligns with your goals and sets you on the path to a bright future.

Top California Colleges – Conclusion

Choosing the right college is a big decision, and with so many great options in California, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Luckily, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for top-notch academics at places like Stanford and Caltech, or you want a lively campus life and a wide range of programs at UCLA and UC Berkeley, California’s top colleges have you covered. These schools not only provide a great education but also set you up for a successful career after graduation.