The Best Value Online Colleges in California

The best value online colleges in California allow students to get the most bang for their buck, gaining a quality education and increased professional opportunities at an affordable price, and with significant return on their investment. Online degree programs provide the education you need, whether you’re a busy professional seeking an advanced degree, looking for a career change, or simply looking for a flexible option to earn your education on your own terms. The best value online colleges bring you all of this, plus helpful resources and benefits to give you the most for your money.

This article ranks the 20 best value online colleges in California. However, remember that these aren’t necessarily the cheapest. It’s important to keep in mind that value requires affordability and quality, and that while you can find cheaper programs out there, the quality can be dubious, and may not hold much value at all! Every school here has regional accreditation through the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the golden seal for colleges in the western states.

To ensure you get the best value for your money, it’s important to make sure your school of choice has regional accreditation. It’s also important to consider their financial aid and scholarship rates; while some schools might have large price tags attached to their programs, a high rate of financial aid and scholarships suggests that students don’t actually see most of this cost in what they actually pay to attend school. It is also very important that you stay in-state, if possible, as this keeps the tuition cost down; Californians should attend schools in California (online or otherwise). Finally, you should consider what sort of benefits the school offers, such as support for military students, undocumented students, ethnic minorities, and busy adults.

If you’re looking for the best value online colleges in California, the search begins here.

#1. California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton, California


California State University-Fullerton is a public university established in 1957. It has over 40,000 students enrolled, 5% of whom are enrolled fully online. Fullerton is part of the California State University System.

CSU-Fullerton offers 17 fully online bachelor’s degree and certificate program options. Students may choose from three BA degree options in business administration, humanities and social sciences, and sociology. Certificate options include topics such as data science, digital marketing, human resources management, clear education specialist, and geographic information systems.

The university participates in CSU Fully Online, allowing students to take online courses through other CSU campuses. It also offers classes for no credit that allow students to grow their personal and professional skills.

CSU-Fullerton is federally recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly school, serving military students and their families through its Veterans Resource Center.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-Fullerton is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 79% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $8,449.

California State University-Fullerton is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUF’s full list of online degrees!

#2. California State University-Fresno

Fresno, California


California State University-Fresno is a public university established in 1911. It has over 25,000 students enrolled, 1% of whom are enrolled fully online. Fresno state is part of the California State University System

Fresno state offers 19 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree may pursue programs in business administration, liberal arts, or an RN-to-BSN. Graduate students may pick from two MBA tracks, a master’s of public administration, or an MS in water resource management.

The average annual cost of in-state, undergraduate tuition at Fresno State is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 87% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $10,037.

Fresno State is federally recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a military-friendly school with a Veteran’s Resource Center. CSU-Fresno participates in CSU Fully Online, which allows students to enroll in online courses through another CSU campus.

California State University-Fresno is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUF’s full list of online degrees!

#3. California State University-Chico

Chico, California


California State University-Chico is a public university established in 1887. It has over 17,000 students, 3% of whom are enrolled fully online. It is part of the California State University System.

CSU-Chico offers nine online degree programs, at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Undergraduate students may select from BA programs in liberal studies, religious studies, social studies, social work, and sociology. At the graduate level, students may complete master’s in nursing degrees with nurse educator or nursing leadership tracks.

In addition to its degree programs, CSU-Chico has numerous other online offerings. Through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the university offers continuing education for senior students. Open University allows students to take online and on-campus courses for credit, without admission to the university. Chico also participates in CSU Fully Online, allowing students to take online courses through other CSU campuses.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-Chico is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 77% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $8,648.

CSU-Chico is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly school.

California State University-Chico is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUC’s full list of online degrees!

#4. California State University-Sacramento

Sacramento, California


California State University-Sacramento is a public university established in 1947. It has over 31,000 students enrolled, 1% of whom are enrolled fully online. Sacramento is part of the California State University System.

CSU-Sacramento offers 6 online degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Bachelor’s degree options include arts and letters, child development, psychology, and an AD-to-BSN nursing program. Master’s degree options include a program in education with a curriculum and instruction focus, and an MA in nursing. Additionally, CSU-Sacramento participates in CSU Fully Online, which allows students to complete online courses through other CSU campuses.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-Sacramento is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 84% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $8,938.

CSU-Sacramento is federally recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly school.

California State University-Sacramento is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUS’s full list of online degrees!

#5. California State University-East Bay

Hayward, California


California State University-East Bay is a public university established in 1957. It has over 16,000 students, 10% of whom are enrolled fully online. It is part of the California State University System.

CSU-East Bay offers 19 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Undergraduates may pursue a bachelor’s in business administration with six tracks to choose from, as well as bachelor’s programs in areas such as hospitality and tourism, ethnic studies, and human development. At the master’s level, students may pursue programs in recreation and tourism, education, educational leadership, reading and literacy, and healthcare administration.

The university participates in CSU Fully Online, which allows students to take online courses at other CSU campuses. It also offers Dual Matriculatio, which allows high school students to take courses for dual-credit.

CSU-East Bay is federally recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly college with a Veteran Student Services office.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-East Bay is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 79% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $9,411.

California State University-East Bay is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUEB’s full list of online degrees!

#6. California State University-Dominguez Hills

Carson, California


California State University-Dominguez Hills, is a public university established in 1960. It has over 16,000 students enrolled, 9% of whom are enrolled fully online. It is part of the California State University System.

CSU-Dominguez Hills offers 24 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Undergraduate students may pursue bachelors degree programs such as applied studies in public sector management or strategic communications, quality assurance, or an RN-to-BSN for nursing students. Master’s degree options include an MA in negotiation, a master of public administration with three track options, and five MS in nursing tracks.

The university participates in CSU Fully Online, which allows students to complete online courses through other CSU campuses. It also offers professional development courses, which can be taken without admission to the school through Open University.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-Dominguez Hills is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 91% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $9,378.

CSU-Dominguez Hills is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly school.

California State University-Dominguez Hills is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUDH’s full list of online degrees!

#7. California State University-Stanislaus

Turlock, California


California State University-Stanislaus is a public university established in 1957. It has over 10,000 students enrolled, 3% of whom are enrolled fully online. It is part of the California State University System.

CSU-Stanislaus offers eight online degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Undergraduate students may choose from a BA in gender studies with three track options, or an RN-to-BSN for nursing students. At the graduate level, CSU-Stanislaus offers three MBA tracks, as well as a master of science in social work. The university also participates in CSU Fully Online, which allows students to complete online courses from other CSU campuses.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at CSU-Stanislaus is $5,742, and $7,176 for graduate students. 92% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $8,893.

CSU-Stanislaus is federally recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is a military friendly school.

California State University-Stanislaus is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CSUS’s full list of online degrees!

#8. Academy of Art University

San Francisco, California

Academy of Art University’s school logo

Score

73

CA Relative Cost


Academy of Art University is a for-profit university established in 1929. It has over 11,000 students enrolled, 36% of whom are enrolled fully online.

AAU offers a huge selection of 132 fully online degree programs, all focused on or relating to arts and media. Students may select from associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in areas such as graphic design, 3-D animation, video game design, fashion design, music composition and scoring, web design, advertising, and landscape architecture. The programs are built around industry knowledge and career-readiness.

Beyond its degrees, AAU offers continuing education opportunities, courses for non-degree seeking students, and a free program for high school students.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at Academy of Art University is $20,952, and $23,568 for graduate students. 57% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship. AAU is a military friendly school, offering tuition assistance and scholarships to veterans and their families.

Academy of Art University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See AAU’s full list of online degrees!

#9. Hope International University

Fullerton, California

Hope International University’s school logo

Score

74

CA Relative Cost


Established in 1928, Hope International University is a private, non-denominational Christian University. Around 1,000 students are enrolled at HIU, 44% of whom are enrolled fully online. HIU is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, and was opened as a Bible school. Over time, its offerings expanded to cover a more complete curriculum, and the institution earned full university status in 1997.

HIU offers 10 fully online undergraduate degree programs. Its AA in general studies provides a quick foundational education for all students. HIU’s nine bachelor’s degree options include programs in criminal justice, business administration, teacher preparation, Christian ministry, and human development.

Hope International University is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a military friendly school.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at HIU is $30,700, and for graduates tuition is $11,480. 95% of HIU students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

See HIU’s full list of online degrees!

#10. Concordia University-Irvine

Irvine, California


Concordia University-Irvine is a private, Lutheran university established in 1976. It has nearly 4,000 students enrolled, of whom half are enrolled fully online. The university is affiliated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and is part of the national Concordia University System.

Concordia University-Irvine offers more than 25 fully online bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and certificate programs. Undergraduate students have four bachelor’s options: a bachelor’s of business administration, a BS in leadership studies, a BS in healthcare management, or a BS in organizational psychology. Graduate students may select from more than 15 master’s degrees, such as an MA in organizational leadership, an MA in curriculum and instruction, an MA in educational administration, a master’s in public administration, an MA in counseling, an MA in coaching and athletics administration, and five MA in theology tracks. The university also offers dual-enrollment options for high school students.

Concordia University-Irvine is a military friendly school that is a VA Work Study location and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program. It is a disability friendly school and a first-generation student friendly school.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at Concordia University-Irvine is $36,740, and for graduates tuition is $7,953. 100% of CUI students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $19,601. The university offers a tuition guarantee, so your cost of tuition will never increase as long as you are enrolled.

See CUI’s full list of online degrees!

#11. Vanguard University

Costa Mesa, California


Bachelor’s Ranking Highlights

Vanguard University is a private, Christian university established in 1920. Over 2,000 students are enrolled at Vanguard, and 4% are enrolled fully online. The institution is affiliated with the Assemblies of God Church and achieved full-university status in 1999; originally, it was a Bible school.

Students at Vanguard University may select from five fully online undergraduate and graduate programs. At the undergraduate level, Vanguard offers an RN to BSN program, a BA in early childhood, and a BA in religion. Graduate students may earn an MA in leadership studies. The university also offers an online certificate in early childhood.

Vanguard University is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a military friendly school, a first-generation student friendly school, and a disability friendly school.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at Vanguard University is $31,980, and for graduates tuition is $10,854. 100% of Vanguard students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

See VU’s full list of online degrees!

#12. California Baptist University

Riverside, California


California Baptist University is a private university established in 1950 and associated with the Southern Baptist Church. It has around 10,000 students enrolled, 22% of whom are enrolled fully online.

CBU offers 43 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Undergraduate students may select from a wide range of bachelor’s degree options, including graphic design and digital media, business administration, marketing, cybersecurity, public administration, and psychology. At the master’s level, students have options including an MBA, organizational leadership, information technology, five education tracks, public administration, Christian leadership, and public health. Students seeking an online doctoral degree may complete a DBA, an EdD in organizational change and administration, or a doctor of public administration.

The average cost of in-state, undergraduate tuition at CBU is $30,446, and for graduate students is $13,287. 95% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

CBU is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a Yellow Ribbon School, supportive of military students and their families, and offers some credit for military experience and training. CBU supports homeschool students, and offers dual credit for high schoolers taking college courses.

California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See CBU’s full list of online degrees!

#13. Brandman University

Irvine, California


Brandman University is a private university established in 1958. It has over 25 campuses in California and Washington, in addition to a sizable online degree division. Brandman University has over 10,000 students enrolled, with the majority of students, 79%, enrolled fully online. Brandman University is part of the Chapman University System.

Brandman University offers more than 20 fully online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. For undergraduate students, online bachelor’s degree options include BA programs in leadership, criminal justice, early childhood education, legal studies, and applied studies. Graduate students have 10 MA options to choose from, including organizational leadership, curriculum and instruction, educational administration, teaching and learning, counseling, and marriage and family therapy. The university also offers online dual credit opportunities for high school students.

Brandman University is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a military friendly school. It serves veterant students and their families, as well as undocumented and documented, non-resident students.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at Brandman is $12,440, and for graduates tuition is $11,880. 89% of Brandman students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship, averaging $6,714.

See BU’s full list of online degrees!

#14. Fresno Pacific University

Fresno, California


Established in 1944, Fresno Pacific University is a private Christian university with more than 4,300 students enrolled. 9% of FPU students are enrolled fully online. The university is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Churches and was originally opened as a Bible school, and gained full regional accreditation in 1965.

FPU offers 15 fully online bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and certificate programs. The university offers five BA programs to choose from, in healthcare administration, early childhood development, criminology, and business administration in organizational leadership or business management. Master’s students have seven options, including an MA in ministry, an MA in athletic training, an MA in sport administration, and an MBA.

Fresno Pacific University is federally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It is also a military friendly school, providing support to veteran students and their families.

The average cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at FPU is $29,998, and for graduates tuition is $14,999. 100% of FPU students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

See FPU’s full list of online degrees!

#15. The Master's University and Seminary

Santa Clarita, California

Score

68

CA Relative Cost


The Master’s University and Seminary is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See The Master’s University and Seminary’s full list of online degrees!

#16. National University

La Jolla, California

Score

50

CA Relative Cost


National University is a private university established in 1971. It enrolls over 17,000 students, 69% of whom are enrolled fully online. Because of this majority, the university caters especially to the online student experience.

The university offers a huge array of 89 fully online degree programs, at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Undergraduate students may select from degrees in areas including art and design, business and finance, computers and technology, education and teaching, liberal arts and humanities, nursing and healthcare, and science and engineering. Master’s degrees fall into similar categories, with highlights including an MFA in creative writing, an MS in data science, an MBA, an MS in cybersecurity and information assurance, a master of public administration, and a master of public health. Educators seeking a doctoral degree may earn an EdD in organizational leadership.

On average, the annual cost of undergraduate in-state tuition at National University is $13,032, and is $14,976 for graduate students. 52% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

National University is a Yellow Ribbon School, supportive of military students. It offers a military tuition discount. It also has a generous transfer credit policy, and is focused on serving the needs of working adults.

National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See NU’s full list of online degrees!

#17. Biola University

La Mirada, California


Biola University is a private, non-denominational Christian university established in 1908. It has around 6,000 students, 9% of whom are enrolled fully online.

Biola University offers 26 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels. Undergraduate students may select from bachelor’s degrees in business management, public relations, biblical ministries, and applied psychology. At the graduate level, master’s degree options include an MBA, an MA in public relations, an MA in education, and several biblical degrees.

Online courses are taught in an accelerated, seven-week format, and are offered at 33% the cost of on-campus undergraduate courses. Biola offers dual-credit enrollment for high school students, and serves adult learners seeking continuing education through the Lifelong Education and Resource Network (LEARN).

Biola University supports undocumented students, home schools students, and veteran students. It is a Yellow Ribbon School with a Veteran Center.

The average annual cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at Biola is $38,448, and for graduate students is $10,656. 99% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

Biola University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See BU’s full list of online degrees!

#18. Mount Saint Mary's University

Los Angeles, California


Mount Saint Mary’s University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See Mount Saint Mary’s University’s full list of online degrees!

#19. Touro University Worldwide

Los Alamitos, California

Score

53

CA Relative Cost


Touro University Worldwide is a private university system headquartered in New York, with schools around the world and online. It was established in 1971, and has over 1,300 students enrolled, 95% of whom are enrolled fully online.

Touro University Worldwide offers 19 fully online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. At the undergraduate level, students may select from degree programs including an AA in general studies, and bachelor’s degrees in business administration, social work, health sciences, and psychology. Master’s degree students may pursue programs in areas such as dispute resolution, human resource management, public administration, health sciences, and marriage and family therapy. The university offers two online doctoral degree options: a PhD in management, and a PsyD in human and organizational psychology.

The annual average cost of undergraduate tuition for in-state Touro students is $14,400, and $9,000 for graduate students. 94% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

Touro University allows high school students to take lower-level courses for credit, and welcomes homeschool students. The university is recognized as a military friendly institution, offering credit for some military experience and training, as well as military student tuition discounts.

Touro University Worldwide is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See TUW’s full list of online degrees!

#20. William Jessup University

Rocklin, California


William Jessup University is a private, non-denominational Christian university established in 1939. It has around 1,500 students, 5% of whom are enrolled fully online.

William Jessup University offers 10 fully online degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Undergraduates may pursue BS degrees in accounting, management, entrepreneurship, computer science, or healthcare administration, as well as a BA in psychology. Graduate students may pursue an online MBA, an MA in leadership, an MA in sports management, or an MS in kinesiology.

The average annual cost of in-state undergraduate tuition at WJU is $29,950, and for graduate students is $11,284. 97% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarship.

WJU is a Yellow Ribbon School.

William Jessup University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

See WJU’s full list of online degrees!

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