California has over 450 institutions of higher education, so selecting the best school can feel like an overwhelming process. You have some big decisions to make like whether to attend a 2-year or 4-year course and what type of housing to choose. You will also need to mine through tons of information to find schools offering the best experiences.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 colleges in the state of California. This will help narrow down your choices and find what’s right for you.

1. Stanford University

Stanford remains the number 1 university in California thanks to its renowned academic programs in engineering, science, technology, computer science and math. Students are encouraged to get involved early on in the numerous extracurricular projects, and it is at the forefront of cutting-edge research.

2. California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology, commonly known as CalTech, is one of the most prolific teaching and scientific research universities in the world. CalTech is home to a number of well-known research and development institutes and projects like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

3. University of California, Berkeley

The University of California Berkeley excels in terms of resources and teaching faculty. The degree options offered at Berkeley include Near Eastern Civilizations, Ancient Egyptian, Global Poverty and Practice, Chemical Biology, Medieval Studies, Sustainable Design and Planetary Science.

4. Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College, a relatively small school and is an excellent choice for students who see college as an investment. Harvey Mudd students are pushed to think critically and solve problems instead of just memorizing information. All students are required to take two and a half semesters of physics, one and a half semesters of chemistry, three semesters of math, and one semester of computer science, engineering and biology regardless of their majors.

5. University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California-Los Angeles or UCLA as it is commonly known is the most applied to college in the country. This is the university for you if you’re looking to study in a vibrant campus and learn from exemplary faculty members. More than 95% of the students live on campus each year, and the institution maintains a graduation rate of over 90%.

6. Pomona College

At Pomona College, intelligent, inquisitive students come together in the pursuit of knowledge. The Professions are highly-qualified and are some of the most well-regarded in their fields. Pomona also has one of the most diverse campuses in the country with a mix of domestic and international students.

7. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a non-profit research university that is one of the most well-known institutions in the state. It is accredited by the WASC SCUC, and the campus is in Los Angeles, California. It is also home to the most powerful quantum computer in the world.

8. Claremont Mckenna College

Claremont McKenna College or CMC is accredited by WASC SCUC and ranks second in the country in terms of student happiness. It is a private liberal arts college and has the added advantages of small class sizes and excellent faculty.

9. Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is the oldest university in the state and is located in the midst of Santa Clara, California. It is well-known for the number of Fulbright Scholars and well as Rhodes Scholars that pass through its hallowed halls. The university is accredited by the WASC SCUC.

10. Carnegie Mellon University

Thanks to its location in the heart of Silicon Valley, Carnegie Mellon University students are exposed to the rapid, cutting-edge changes in the tech community. It is a private research university offering programs ranging from fine arts to computer science.

11. Scripps College

Headquartered in in Claremont, California, Scripps College is a private liberal arts college for women. It is part of a consortium of schools known as Claremont Colleges. All the schools in the consortium are next to each other and share campus facilities.

12. University of Redlands

Located in Redlands, CA, the University of Redlands is a non-profit private university that was founded in 1907. Several excellent professional and liberal arts programs are offered by the school. In addition to the 40 majors that students can choose from, there are also some interesting minors offered like Human-Animal Studies and Spatial Studies.

13. Pitzer College

Located about 35 miles away from Los Angeles, Pitzer College is a private liberal arts college. It is well known for its strong academics and offers over 40 majors and 20 minors such as biological sciences, psychology, and political studies.

14. University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic university founded in 1949. A majority of its students choose to live on the scenic 180-acre campus overlooking Mission Bay, San Diego, and the Pacific Ocean. Students can choose from 53 undergraduate minors and 44 undergraduate majors.

15. Occidental College

Occidental College was founded in 1887 as a private liberal arts college and is one of the oldest institutions on the west coast. It prides itself on its diversity with international students and minorities making up close to half of the student population.

16. Westmont College

Westmont College is an interdenominational, private Christian liberal arts school that is located in Santa Barbara County. The college has over 1,300 students and offers about 25 majors like communications, biology, kinesiology, and economics.

17. University of California, Davis

Originally founded as a farming school in 1905, the University of California, Davis has gone on to become one of the best educational institutions in the country. Today over 35,000 students study at the university and can choose from over 99 graduate degree programs and 104 undergraduate majors.

18. Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University was formed by the merger of Marymount College and Loyola University in 1973. The school offers 53 undergraduate minors, 60 undergraduate majors, and 46 masters programs. Diversified learning is encouraged in theology, American diversity, ethics and justice and a host of other subjects.

19. Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University offers 73 graduate and undergraduate programs in its 5 undergraduate and graduate schools. It also has six permanent international campuses in other countries and has a number of study-abroad opportunities. Its scenic 830-acre campus is located 35 miles from Los Angeles and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

20. California Polytechnic State University

California Polytechnic State University is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the central coast of California. It is well known for its hands-on educational philosophy and graduates have a 99% employment rate. The most popular majors offered are mechanical engineering, biological science and business administration.

Final Thoughts

If you require more guidance on selecting the right school for you, based on your budget and preferences, consider consulting a financial advisor. Taking the advice of an experienced advisor can help you with funding your education in california and put you on the right path.