Top 10 Biggest Colleges In California (2021)

Sitting on 163,696 sqm, California arguably has the biggest college education system in the United States of America. There are well over a hundred colleges in California, and they all differ in size, disciplines offered, and tuition fees across the state.

I would suggest that you take a seat and grab a yummy bite and/or a cold drink of your choice as we navigate through the biggest colleges in California.

So without further ado, here we go.

Biggest Colleges In California

1. University Of Southern California

Sitting on 299 acres of land, The University of Southern California, a private college, was established in 1880. The central campus is situated in the Los Angeles’ Downtown Arts and Education Corridor. USC governs and administers the functioning of Los Angeles Landmarks such as Shrine Auditorium and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

USC ranked first in the biggest colleges in California with a student population of 49,500 students. Nationally, USC ranked 22nd in the US News & World Report Ranking of National Universities, 2020 edition. Globally, the college ranked 55th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The College offers 130-degree programs in over 30 academic departments. USC Alumni consists of prominent International and National personalities from different walks of life across five continents.

2. University Of California- Los Angeles

UCLA was founded in 1882 as a teacher’s college, and it was later named the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1958. UCLA remains the second-oldest campus of the University of California campuses right after Berkeley. It is a public college situated in Westwood, Los Angeles, not too far from Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. The Campus covers a land area of 467 acres. 

The UCLA campus is often used as a movie location by several filmmakers based on its nearness to Hollywood. The Bollywood movie My Name is Khan(2010) was shot on the UCLA campus.

UCLA ranked as the second-largest college in California with a student population of 45,742 students. Globally, the college ranked 36th in the QS World University Ranking, 2021 edition. Nationally, UCLA ranked first in the U.S. News & World Reports Best College rankings, 2021 edition. The college offers 337-degree programs in the 20 school departments.

3. University Of California- Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley, commonly referred to as Berkeley, is the mother campus of all California campuses across California. It is a public college founded on March 23, 1868, and the campus covers a land area of 1,232 acres. 

Berkeley is situated in the Bay area of California, and it is in proximity to Oakland. For in-state students, the tuition is $14,361, while for students that are not state residents, the tuition fee is $44,115.

Berkeley ranked as the third largest college in California with a student population of 45,057 students. Globally, the college ranked 30th in the QS World University Rankings, 2020/2021 edition. Nationally, Berkeley ranked 4th in the QS World University Rankings of National Universities, 2020 edition.

The college offers over 350 degree programs in its 14 schools and colleges with 180 departments. Berkeley’s Alumni boasts 114 Nobel Laureates, 25 Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 Academy Award winners, 40 Billionaires, several CEOs of many world-famous companies, and many more prominent national and international outstanding individuals.

4. California State University- Fullerton

California State University, also known as CSUF, has the biggest student population of the 23 campuses of California State University. It was first established as the Orange County State College in 1957 and later changed to the California State University- Fullerton in 1972. The CSUF campus covers 236 acres of land in Northeast Fullerton, California. 

The tuition fee for an in-state student in CSUF is $6,975, while a student from another state pays $17,632. The college makes provision for on-campus accommodation for all of its students.

CSUF ranked as the fourth biggest college in California with a student population of 41,408 students. The college was ranked 4th in the U.S. News & World Report ranking for best public university, 2021 edition. The state college offers 109-degree programs in 8 colleges.

5. California State University- Northridge

CSUN is a public college founded in 1958. It is situated in San Fernando Valley, Northridge, Los Angeles, California. The college campus covers a land area of 356 acres. The tuition fee for in-state students is $6,747, while the tuition fee for students from other states is $18,897. CSUN has always been acknowledged as operating one of the best music and film schools in the United States of America and the world.

The college ranked as the fifth biggest college in California, with a student population of 40,381 students. The college also ranked 39th in the U.S. News & World Report of Best Colleges Regional rankings. It also ranked 45th in the Best college rankings of the Money Magazine, 2021 edition. The state college offers 134 different degree programs in its nine colleges.

6. California State University- Long Beach

California State University, also known as CSULB, is a public college first founded in 1949 as the Los Angeles Orange County State College and later named California State University, Long Beach, in 1964. The college campus covers 323 acres, and it is situated at 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, 5km away from the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach, California.

The school is often commended for its architecture and park-like design, which has earned the college several design and gardening awards.

CSULB is ranked as the second-largest campus of the 23-campuses of California State University. It also ranks as the 6th largest college with a student population of 40,069 students. The college ranked second in the Washington Monthly College Guide and Ranking, 2021 edition as the National Master’s level College in the United States of America. CSULB offers 148-degree programs in all of its eight colleges.

CSULB presently functions as one of the colleges with the lowest tuition fee in the USA, with a tuition of $3,425 per semester for in-state full-time students.

7. University Of California- San Diego

UC San Diego, as it is fondly called, is a public college that was founded in 1960. Sitting on 2,178 acres, UC San Diego is situated in the La Jolla community, near the Pacific Ocean, San Diego, California. It is the second most sought-after college in the United States regarding admission applications received due to its Public Ivy status. The tuition for in-state students is $14,733, while for students not resident in San Diego, the tuition fee is $44,487.

UCSD is ranked as the seventh biggest college in California, with a student population of 39,576 students. The college also ranked 35th in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for National Universities, 2021 edition. Globally, the college ranked 16th in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of Global University, 2017 edition.

UC San Diego offers over 200-degree programs in several professional schools and departments. UCSD boasts of Alumni of strong political personalities, successful athletes, award-winning actors, Professors, CEOs, Nobel Prize Laureates, and notable scientists.

8. University Of California- Davis

UC Davis is a public college first founded in 1905 as a University Farm and later named the University of California, Davis in 1959. Situated in a college town, Davis, California, the UC Davis campus covers 5,300 acres. It has 100 acres of Arboretum called UC Davis Arboretum with 4,000 tree specimens. UC Davis is the seventh campus of the University of California.

The tuition fees for students resident in the state is $14,654, and $44,408 is the tuition for out-of-state students. 

Founded initially as an agriculture college, UC Davis has broadened over time for other professional programs to fit in. The biggest veterinary medical school in the United States of America is the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine that has ranked first globally five times over from 2015-2019.

UCD ranked as the 8th biggest college in California with a student population of 39,074 students. The college also ranked 39th in the U.S. News & World Report National University rankings, 2021 edition. Globally, UCD also ranked 104 in the QS World University rankings, 2020 edition. The College offers over 200-degree programs in its four colleges.

UCD boasts of Alumni consisting of notable astronauts, seasoned actors, Nobel Prize Laureates, CEOs, and Entrepreneurs.

9. San Diego State University 

Established initially on March 13, 1897, as the San Diego Normal School designed to train women indigenes as school teachers, it was later named San Diego State University in 1974. Situated at 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, California, the SDSU campus covers 283 acres of land area and is recognized as one of the oldest and biggest colleges in San Diego. 

SDSU is regarded as a college that is involved in high research studies. The tuition of students resident In California is $8,136, while the tuition for out-of-state students is $20,016.

The State college ranked 9th among the biggest colleges in California, with 35,578 students. Nationally, SDSU ranked 143rd in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for National Universities, 2021 edition. Globally, SDSU ranked 376 in the Center for World University rankings, 2017 edition. The College offers over 200-degree programs in 22 colleges and schools. 

10. University Of California- Irvine

UCI is a public college founded in 1965, and its campus covers a land area of 1,527 acres. It is nestled in the lovely and active Irvine, California. The College is also regarded as involved in high research studies. Instate tuition fee is $13,955 and out-of-state tuition is $43,709.

UCI ranked 10th amongst the biggest colleges in California, with a student population of 35,220 students. Nationally, the college ranked 35th in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for National Universities, 2021 edition. Globally, UCI ranked 7th in the Times Higher Education Universities under 50 years of age rankings, 2015 edition.

UCI offers over 200-degree programs in 16 schools. The college also boasts of alumni consisting of prominent individuals such as Eight Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Olympic athletes, Seasoned Thespians, accomplished scientists, musicians, and seasoned educators.

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