Best 4 Year Colleges in California

With the best 4 year colleges in California, you’ll have access to various programs. With a diverse list of programs, you could study a subject you wouldn’t otherwise find at a two-year institution. Some schools allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in a college format rather than a university format.

For this guide, we’ve found five of the best colleges in California that offer four years of study. Ranked from the least expensive to the costliest in terms of the average annual cost, each of these schools meets the following criteria:

  • An average annual expense of no more than $7,000
  • An expected median starting salary of less than $30,000
  • Accredited programs by recognized bodies

5 Best 4 Year Colleges in California

1. Skyline College

4 Year; San Bruno, CA

Average Annual Cost: $1,157

Students at Skyline College love the school’s community environment while earning their degrees. You’ll find many of the same benefits on campus as you would at a standard university, including a bookstore, health center, and psychological services for students.

Additionally, they offer a veterans resource center, helping service members get the education they need.

With an assortment of degree programs, students can earn either an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science. They also offer three certificate programs, helping students establish employable skills to enter the job force faster than the four-year programs.

If you’re interested in transferring to the university, consider the Associate in Arts or Science transfer degrees for unique learning pathways.

As mentioned, there are three certificate programs for students to consider, which include:

  • Certificate of Achievement (between 16 and 30 units)
  • Certificate of Specialization (between 12 and 15.5 units)
  • Skills or Career Certificate (less than 12 units)

You’ll find a wide selection of majors that you can study at Skyline College. Several examples of their most popular programs include:

  • Accounting
  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Allied Health Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business Management
  • Cosmetology
  • Emergency Medical Technology
  • History
  • International Studies

2. Santa Monica College

4 Year; Santa Monica, CA

Average Annual Cost: $4,384

Santa Monica College is a fantastic option for students looking for a four-year degree program.

The school currently offers over 180 degrees and certificates. Also, it’s the most popular college in California for transfers to enter LMO, UCLA, USC, and UCs.

Another massive benefit of Santa Monica College is its financial aid and scholarships. The school has offered up to $50 million for students looking for some relief for their school payments.

Undoubtedly, this is one of the more affordable best 4-year colleges in California to consider.

Students can take advantage of multiple degrees and certificate pathways at this school. You’ll find standard Associate Degrees, as with most colleges. However, Santa Monica College also offers:

  • Bachelor’s Degrees
  • Department Certificates
  • Pre-Professional Advising
  • Noncredit Certificates of Completion
  • Noncredit Certificates of Competency
  • Certificates of Achievement

When browsing through the course selection from Santa Monica College, you’ll be quite impressed. They currently offer eight areas of interest, each with various specialties to help diversify your education. The eight major programs include:

  • Undecided
  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment
  • Business
  • Education
  • Culture, History, and Languages
  • Health and Wellness
  • People and Society
  • STEM

3. Santa Ana College

4 Year; Santa Ana, CA

Average Annual Cost: $4,745

Santa Ana College is structured similarly to other high-end four-year colleges in the state. They also offer a little more flexibility for learning, making it a great choice for established professionals.

Along with on-campus courses, you’ll be able to find a collection of hybrid and fully online courses. The college also has a School of Continuing Education, helping professionals refine their skills in their career fields.

There is an assortment of programs you’ll find at Santa Ana College as an undergraduate or returning student. There are seven departments, each with unique majors and specialties.

These departments include:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Fine and Performing Arts
  • Human Services and Technology
  • Career Education and Workforce Development
  • Business
  • Science, Mathematics, and Health Sciences
  • Kinesiology

Depending on the area of interest you choose to study, Santa Ana College has some state-of-the-art facilities. Students will be able to take advantage of the engineering lab, career center, business office, academic computing center, math center, and more.

Compared to other colleges in the state, many of these facilities have been rated as top-class, helping to boost your learning experiences.

4. San Diego Mesa College

4 Year; San Diego, CA

Average Annual Cost: $5,573

If you’re looking for a four-year college in California with different certificate and degree options, San Diego Mesa College is ideal. They have an assortment of academic degree programs, including:

  • Associate of Arts Degrees
  • Associate of Science Degrees
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Certificates of Performance
  • Certificates of Achievement

Like other colleges and universities, you’ll also find Associate in Science and Arts degrees for transfer. These are ideal if you intend to move onto a four-year bachelor’s degree program at another school.

Alternatively, you can enroll in the bachelor’s program at San Diego Mesa College, which consists of one specialty.

Currently, the school only offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. With that said, there are multiple other two-year degree programs to consider for an Associate’s degree.

Some of the most common areas of study for students include:

  • Biology
  • Child Development
  • Computer Business Technology
  • Multimedia
  • Medical Assisting
  • Physics
  • Physical Sciences
  • Dance
  • Humanities
  • Journalism
  • English
  • Sociology

5. Foothill College

4 Year; Los Altos Hills, CA

Average Annual Cost: $6,200

Depending on what you intend to study at college, Foothill College can be a great option.

As a four-year institution, they currently only offer one bachelor’s degree. You can also find 100 certificate programs and 79 associate’s degrees to consider.

If you’re looking for a four-year bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to enroll in the Dental Hygiene program. Otherwise, you’ll take either a certificate or associate’s degree program to transfer to a four-year program.

One of the more interesting aspects of Foothill College is they help to create more career-ready graduates. You’ll find that most course offerings help train students for their future careers.

You’ll find they have a vast selection of majors to consider, including:

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.