<span>California</span>

Best Colleges in California

California is 163,696 square miles and contains the largest higher education system in the nation. Colleges in California include notable institutions such as Stanford University, CalTech, and UCLA. The Golden State is known for birthing the American film industry as well as the Internet, and its economy centers around professional and business services, educational and health services, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality. California has a largely mediterranean climate, but can range from polar to subtropical depending on region. The Golden Gate Bridge, Palm Springs, Yosemite National Park, and Universal Studios Hollywood are primary tourist spots. Lesser known hot spots in Cali include Victorville’s California Route 66 Museum, the Redwoods in Arcata, and the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Preserve.

How Were the Top Schools in California Chosen?

Cappex determines “Best Colleges” based on publicly-available information from the US Department of Education. Several factors include, but are not limited to, data about admitted students’ academic calibers, students’ expected career outcomes after graduation, and colleges’ investments toward making their institution accessible to all students.

Explore the Best Universities in California with Cappex!

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Stanford University

Stanford University is a research institution located in the California town of the same name. The more than 8,000-acre campus features seven schools, the largest of which is the School of Humanities and Sciences, and 80 residential facilities. With...

“…

It is the most productive, accepting, safe, and fun environment I have ever known. I gained a surrogate family in the community and all the students there. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met the people (students, faculty, and staff) I have met...

” – Laura from San Fernando, Ca
Pomona College

Founded by Congregationalists in 1887, Pomona College is a private liberal arts school in the Los Angeles area and the founding member of the Claremont Colleges. Pomona confers bachelor’s degrees in 48 academic majors in the arts, social sciences...

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Pomona is an institution that takes pride in a very personal environment for the students and faculty. The classes are engaging and challenge you to work above and beyond the norm. The Claremont Consortium is a great resource because students can...

” – Black Male
California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology is a 4-year private science and engineering university in Pasadena. Caltech confers undergraduate degrees in 28 scientific fields of study. In addition to classroom space, Caltech is home to several research...

“…

You will learn more than you thought was possible. Sometimes it will seem impossible. It isn't.

” – Kimberly from Bloomington, IL
University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is a high-research institution located in Los Angeles, California, where it’s been educating students since 1880. The university is comprised of two campuses, the main University Park and the Health Sciences...

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University of Southern California is among the top universities in the country, and keeps getting better. The professors at the university are all at the top of their fields, and the extensive alumni list proves that the connections that you make...

” – Thomas from Houston, TX
Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a 4-year liberal arts college in southern California and a member of the Claremont Colleges. Pitzer offers bachelor’s degrees in over 40 academic majors including the first Secular Studies program in the nation. To provide a...

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Pitzer College as well as the entire Claremont Colleges offers many opportunities and resources including the Claremont Consortium, the Keck Joint Science Center, Student Health Services and others. Students also have the opportunity to create their...

” – Diamond from Los Angeles, CA
University of California-Berkeley

Founded in 1868, the University of California at Berkeley is the flagship of the University of California system of higher education, with a campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay. UC Berkeley is known for its academic excellence, student activism...

“…

Berkeley is a great school chock full of award-winning, book-publishing, enthusiastic professors who really know their stuff. If you take classes you're really interested in, you'll learn more. Don't forget about office hours, tutoring sessions, and...

” – Karina from Los Angeles, CA
University of California-Los Angeles

The University of California in Los Angeles, better known as UCLA, is one of 10 campuses in the UC system. With 109 academic departments and more than 125 majors offered, as well as an average of one billion dollars funded for research every year and...

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I can definitely say that being at UCLA for about a quarter and one half has literally changed me, and my study habits. This school is competitive and tough, in no light manner. At the same time, if you work hard, the rewards are tremendous, and...

” – Elizabeth from San Pedro, CA
Scripps College

Named for a newspaper publisher, Scripps College is an all-female liberal arts college in the greater Los Angeles area and a member of the Claremont Colleges. Scripps offers undergraduate degrees in over 65 academic majors and the college features a...

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Scripps College is the women's college of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate colleges in southern California. Scripps offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, and has a unique...

” – TEAorCOFFEE
Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College is a 4-year liberal arts college in the greater Los Angeles area and a member of the Claremont Colleges. CMC confers bachelor’s degrees in 32 academic majors and students can also cross register to take classes in the other...

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Claremont McKenna places a high emphasis on leadership and ethics. The school is designed for students to actively learn and participate in activities they genuinely enjoy. Their motto is work hard, play harder.

” – Jessica from Claremont, CA
University of California-Santa Barbara

University of California in Santa Barbara is a leading research institution in the city and state of the same name. UCSB is a member of the Association of American Universities, home to the National Center for Ecological Analysis, as well as an...

“…

- The quarter system allows you to take a wide variety of classes to figure out what you're interested in by experiencing different subjects in a short period of time.&#13;
- The environment, campus groups, and activities allow you to learn more about...

” – Taryn from Granada Hills, CA
University of California-San Diego

Founded in 1960, the University of California of San Diego is a research institution located in La Jolla, CA. The 1,200 coastal woodland campus along the Pacific Ocean is home to six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions, 5 graduate and...

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A beautiful campus that challenges you to do well academically. There is a non-competitive atmosphere and students are willing to help each other do well. The quarter system is extremely fast paced and requires focus and dedication.

” – Student from Tucson, AZ
Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College is a liberal arts institution in the greater Los Angeles area specializing in science, engineering and math. Harvey Mudd is home to seven STEM-related departments, six academic majors, and four joint majors. Furthermore, Harvey...

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Harvey Mudd allows a lot of freedom to learn your major as well as experience other areas. It's huge on research and that's something I love. The people are fantastic and you can almost always instantly connect with at least a couple.

” – Callie
University of California-Irvine

The University of California in Irvine was founded in 1965 in the town and state of the same name, and is the youngest member of the Association of American Universities. This high-research institution offers 92 majors and 86 minors and the campus is...

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I am glad that I actually joined CSSA CAMP Summer Science Academy, which I highly recommend for those who are of a Chicano/Latino, African-American, Native American, or Pacific Islander and must be majoring in Biological Sciences...

” – Sal from Whittier, CA
Occidental College

Founded in Los Angeles in 1887, Occidental College is a 4-year private liberal arts college in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the most creative cities in the world. As one of the oldest institutions on the West Coast, Oxy offers more than 40 majors...

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The professors here really care about their students and offer as much help as they can. Doors are almost always open, and since each student receives an advisor, the relationship between professor and student is on a more equal level than most...

” – Zoë from Simi Valley, CA
Pepperdine University

With a campus overlooking Malibu Bluffs and the Pacific Ocean, Pepperdine University is a 4-year Christian institution in Malibu affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Pepperdine is home to colleges of Business, Law, Arts & Sciences, Public Policy...

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Going to a liberal arts school means you will take a number of diverse classes that not only tailor to your major but will make you a more rounded student. I am an International Business major but aside from the business courses I take speech class...

” – Ryan from Malibu, CA
University of California-Davis

The University of California in Davis is a public institution in northern California and one of the largest universities by enrollment in the UC System. UC Davis is home to four colleges conferring undergraduate degrees and six professional schools...

“…

My professors have been engaging and passionate about their subjects, even in lower division classes. They are always available to help in office hours. Class sizes are very large for prerequisite courses (my chem classes were 500 students), but get...

” – K from Chino Hills, CA
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

One of two polytechnics in the CSU System, the California Polytechnic State University, more commonly known as Cal Poly, has a competitive admissions process for its programs, which focus in arts, technology, and sciences. The university is located...

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I have only been at Cal Poly for one quarter so far, but I do think I am learning a lot. Through services at Cal Poly (like career service and my advisor) and my intro class, I think I learned more about what I can do with my degree after college...

” – Rebecca from San Luis Obispo, CA
California Institute of the Arts

The California Institute of the Arts is a private university that offers degree programs in visual and performing arts. CalArts offers degrees in more than 70 degree-granting programs in Art, Music, Dance, Theater, and Film, with all undergraduate...

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Really awesome if you know what you want. This university is all about the business, you don't want to muck around waiting for someone to tell you what you're going to do.

” – Marvin from Norwalk, CA
Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus, Santa Clara University is a Jesuit Catholic university in Silicon Valley and the oldest institution of higher education in California. SCU offers undergraduate degrees in more than 50 academic majors and...

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The faculty offer much more than what textbooks can do. Not only that, but just seeing all different types of people from different backgrounds builds the social aspect as well as the classroom aspect. It's also very easy to get to know people since...

” – Bao from San Jose, CA
California State University-Long Beach

California State University-Long Beach is a public institution and the most applied-to campus in the 23 campus CSU system. The university is home to eight schools, with a majority of students attending the College of Business and the College of...

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You will not believe what you will learn inside and outside of the classroom. From the college learning you will find out a lot about yourself.

” – Andrew from Gardena, CA
University of California-Santa Cruz

Founded in 1965, the University of California-Santa Cruz is a public institution and part of the University of California System. UCSC offers undergraduate degrees in 65 academic majors within departments of Arts, Humanities, Physical Sciences...

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We're nicknames UC Summer Camp, UC Strong Calves, all for a reason. Absolutely beautiful campus, the atmosphere and views are incredible, and even if the you're not too much of a nature freak, the city and the beach are only a 20 minute bus ride away...

” – Dana from Carson, CA
San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a public research institution located in San Diego, California. What began as an all-female college for elementary school teachers now consists of 8 colleges that offer 95 undergraduate programs plus a variety of...

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With such a large university, there are so many interesting classes and majors.

” – Sheyenne from Fallbrook, CA
Loyola Marymount University

Formed by a merger between Marymount College and Loyola University, Loyola Marymount University is a private school affiliated with the Jesuit religion and one of the largest Roman Catholic universities on the West Coast. Spread across 142 acres in...

“…

The professors are all very down to earth. Professors here understand what information and knowledge is needed in the real world and wont try to fill your head up with unnecessary jargon.

” – Maribel from Los Angeles, CA
University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a private research university affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. USD offers 42 different bachelor's degrees and 54 minors, in addition to various study abroad programs, and more than half of the student body...

“…

The professors are all great and know what they are talking about. The professors will actually know your name by the end of the semester, and there are no aids teaching the classes. The classes are small and generally don't overwhelm you with work.

” – Danielle from Chula Vista, CA
Soka University of America

Originally founded in Japan and guided by Buddhist principles, Soka University of America is a 4-year liberal arts institution in Orange County. SUA hosts a bachelor’s degree-granting program with concentrations in Environmental Studies, Social &...

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I think any college experience will result in learning a lot...weather from professors or friends. So in that respect Soka does not stand out. However it does have excellent, dedicated professors who you get to know if you choose to. Classes are...

” – victor from Seattle, WA
Chapman University

Chapman University is a private, liberal arts institution in Orange, California, that offers 110 areas of study through 11 schools and colleges. Chapman is also home to several independent research centers, as well as creative research centers...

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I am learning about subjects that were unclear for me in the past, and being able to expand my knowledge on subjects that are interesting and not commonly discussed is what someone should look for in a college.

” – Erin from Woodland Hills, CA
Westmont College
Santa Barbara, CA
Westmont College

Nestled in the Santa Barbara foothills, Westmont College is a Christian liberal arts college in southern California. Westmont confers bachelor’s degrees in 26 fields of study and is also home to 11 pre-professional academic programs. As a Christian...

“…

This is the kind of school that can only be dreamed of. From the great academics, to the incredible campus any student with a passion for Christ and a will to experience the best four years of their life will fall head over heels in love.

” – Dalila from Moreno Valley, CA
University of California-Riverside

The University of California-Riverside is a public institution on 1,200 acres of land in Southern California’s Inland Empire. A part of the UC system, UCR is home to colleges of Humanities, Engineering, and Natural Sciences conferring undergraduate...

“…

The general education classes (especially Chemistry and the Math 009 series) are set up so that you are basically taking a year of the same class, so the material covered isn't too fast-paced, and it certainly is manageable. There is a wide range of...

” – Eve from Cypress, CA
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Menlo College is a private, 4-year institution established in Atherton, California. Academics at Menlo are business-centric, focusing on economic studies and entrepreneurship. The campus features a new facility, the Innovation Center, which is home...

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The education here is awesome. Since the school is kind of small, you get more one on one sessions with your teachers which then helps you out more because you get ask more questions, get the feedback you need right then &amp; there, &amp; if teachers are...

” – Kamalu from Lahaina, HI
San Jose State University

San Jose State University is the oldest public university on the west coast, and is the founding campus of the 23-campus California State University System. Located on 154 acres in downtown San Jose, SJSU offers more than 145 areas of study with an...

“…

san jose state is a great school. they provide many resources for students to be successful. although college is hard, there are always something fun to do there such as participating in clubs and sports.

” – brian from san jose, ca
California State University-Fullerton

California State University-Fullerton is a 4-year public research institution in Orange County and a campus of the Cal State system. Cal State Fullerton has the largest student body out of any California State University school and has been...

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Fullerton is a great school, that makes you feel welcomed. There are various ways to become involved. It has very friendly and approachable professors.

” – Jessica from Whittier, CA
Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) is a private, non-profit university located in Los Angeles, CA. CDU is a designated minority-serving institution, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University, and a...

“…

Beautiful surroundings, azaming staff/ faculty, great environment. The students and professor's are wonderful, nice easy going, friendly. The unviersity is really focusing on your education, small number of students in the class so it is easy to get...

” – Mary from Los Angeles, CA
University of California-Merced

Founded in 2005, the University of California-Merced is a 4-year public research institution in northern California and the first American research university opened in the 21st century. UC Merced is home to colleges of Social Sciences, Engineering...

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the housing on-campus is very new, every building is made of good quality. the library is huge, you can eat in it, and some areas are actually quiet. the whole campus is wireless, i can get text to my smartphone when my laundry is done washing.

” – Kristen from Fresno, CA
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Thomas Aquinas College is a bicoastal Roman Catholic liberal arts college with campuses in California and Massachusetts. The Thomas Aquinas curriculum centers around a single academic program studying the great books of western civilization. All...

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I admit that this school does wonders with the mind. Thomas Aquinas delves into critical thinking and reading between the text. Although this style of learning works for many people who are vocal, the school also fails to present the application of...

” – ALEXANDRIA from ladera ranch, CA
University of Redlands

Centrally located near the beaches, mountains, and desert in the heart of Southern California, the University of Redlands offers more than 40 undergraduate programs, as well as 20 graduate programs. The unique combination of liberal arts, pre...

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I just completed my freshman year here so I have not taken many classes, however, every class I have taken has taught me quite a bit. My favorite part about the classes is the size; even introductory classes are never above 40 students. In fact, I...

” – Alaina from Portland, OR
University of San Francisco

Founded by Jesuits in the mid-nineteenth century, the University of San Francisco is a private Catholic university and the first university established in the city. The 55-acre urban campus located near Golden Gate Park is home to 49 academic majors...

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The University of San Francisco can be summed up in a word: diverse. From the students who go there to the classes that are offered, there are hardly any days that are the same. USF is a school where you will be challenged to the very core of what...

” – Warren from Los Angeles
Azusa Pacific University

Founded as the first west coast Bible college, Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical Christian institution in southern California based on the Wesleyan holiness tradition. APU is home to 10 academic schools and colleges and the Azusa Pacific...

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I learned that this university not only cares about your academics, but also your spirituality. At first, I was kind of at shock with their chapel programs and prayers before class because I have not been exposed to it before, but I grew to...

” – Anonymous from CA
University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific is the oldest, private university in California and has admissions that are more selective. The main campus is located in Stockton, and the university operates two satellite campuses in Sacramento and San Francisco...

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Most universities/colleges don't allow students to get started on their majors until Sophomore or Junior year of college. As a Freshman at UOP I've already gotten a feel for what I will be doing as a sports medicine or Athletic Training major. Four...

” – Hayley from San Jose, CA
California Lutheran University

California Lutheran University is a private, liberal arts institution in the town of Thousand Oaks, California. With students hailing from more than 49 countries, Cal Lutheran features a diverse enrollment and is a federally designated Hispanic...

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This school is one of the best small schools in the country. It has a killer academic program, as well as top notch D3 sports' programs. What makes this school even better, are the people that come here.

” – Philip from Barstow, CA
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona is a public university in southern California and one of two polytechnic institutions in the Cal State system. Cal Poly Pomona is home to nine colleges and schools conferring undergraduate degrees. In...

“…

the campus is beautiful and there are so many helpful students and staff (and plus all of the student programs they offer!). there are plenty of ways to get involved on campus through clubs or greek life or even a job on campus. the academics are a...

” – Kaitlin from Merced, CA
California State University-Chico

Founded as a teachers college in 1887, California State University-Chico is a 4-year public school in northern California and the second oldest campus in the California State University system. Chico State is home to 10 colleges and schools...

“…

The professors at California State University, Chico, truly care about your education. This past semester, only one of my professors did not know my name, and that's understandable because it was a large lecture class. Although large lecture classes...

” – Elizabeth from Sacramento, CA
Point Loma Nazarene University

Founded by the Church of the Nazarene in 1902, Point Loma Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts college in San Diego. PLU offers undergraduate degrees in over 60 fields of study and the university’s Office of Strengths and Vocation provides...

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The school has a great academic atmosphere. Because of the policy prohibiting drugs or alcohol on campus, students can focus on learning and enjoy their studies in a healthy environment. The school provides great opportunities for extra-curricular...

” – Adam Corfman from San Diego, CA
University of La Verne

University of La Verne is a nonprofit private school committed to supporting students as they pursue their passions and prepare for a lifetime of success. Founded in 1891, the university offers a distinctive learning experience in more than 40 majors...

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La Verne is a small college that offers a lot to its students. The staff and students are friendly. The campus is beautiful and small so you get a homey feeling when you're there.

” – Abril from Riverside, CA
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With a campus nestled in the San Joaquin Valley, California State University-Bakersfield is a 4-year public school in southern California and part of the CSU system. CSUB is home to schools of Arts & Humanities, Natural Sciences, Business, and Social...

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California State University Bakersfield is exactly what it is, a California State University. I have gotten full support through my professors and the local vibe definitely makes me feel like I'm home! Professors are fantastic and enthusiastic in...

” – Aaron from Bakersfield, CA
Whittier College

Whittier College is a private, hispanic-serving institution is located in Whittier, CA, with a mission to "prepare students from diverse backgrounds to excel in a complex global society." The liberal arts curriculum framework is centered around the...

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Whittier is a small private school in the eclectic town of Whittier near Los Angeles, California. The classroom sizes are small, within the range of one teacher per 25 students. thus, there is a lot of one-on-one time with your professors. Also, this...

” – Ashley from CA
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La Sierra University is a private nonprofit liberal arts college based in Riverside, California. It is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. LSU is a member of the American Public Gardens Association and its campus is a designated...

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They do care about their students and provide all means of following up them in their daily life so as to make sure they are living well loving the atmosphere and feeling well

” – Belyse
Saint Mary's College of California

Founded by the local archbishop, Saint Mary’s College of California is a Catholic liberal arts college in the Bay Area administered by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Saint Mary’s is home to schools of Economics, Liberal Arts, and Science...

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Saint Mary's is a great college with small class sizes, caring teachers, and a friendly student body. There are plenty of opportunities for students interested in academics, sports, leadership, community service, and more. I definitely recommend this...

” – Alexis from Morro Bay, CA
The Master's University and Seminary

The Master’s University is a conservative, Christian, liberal arts university located in Santa Clarita, CA. The tree-filled, 95-acre campus offers 14 undergraduate majors and 4 graduate degrees, as well as teaching credentials and dual-enrollment...

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The Masters University is a school that equips you for your future academically, socially, and spiritually. Personally, the environment and students of TMU have grown me, challenged me, and provided me with the best friends I have. I am confident...

” – Susannah - Santa Clarita, CA
Biola University

Founded in 1908, Biola University is an Evangelical Christian University in the Los Angeles metro area with a focus on Bible-centered education. Biola offers over 150 academic majors and programs and every student is required to complete 30 credits...

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Biola University is a magnificent place that truly cares about the student, and does not view them as numbers. It is a place to grow spiritually, and grow closer to God as well as making lifelong friendships during your college journey. The academics...

” – Nigel from South Gate, CA
Concordia University-Irvine

Affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia University Irvine is a school of liberal arts in southern California. CUI is home to five colleges and schools granting undergraduate degrees in 26 academic majors and 50 specializations...

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I have learned more here in almost two semesters than I think I ever learned in high school. What's even more amazing is that the way the classes are taught I am able to not only remember what I learn, but also apply it to my everyday life, and other...

” – Haley from Klamath Falls, OR