5 Leading Colleges And Universities In California

Going to school in California is a dream for many students, and for good reason. Not only is the Golden State home to sunny beaches and bustling cities, it's also got some of the best institutions of higher education in the entire world. In no particular order, here are some colleges and universities in California that shouldn't be overlooked.

Starting things off at #1 is California Lutheran University. The school's 225-acre main campus is in the city of Thousand Oaks, complemented by four satellite centers in Oxnard, Santa Maria, Westlake Village, and Woodland Hills. There is also the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, located in Berkeley, which is one of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The university has over 4,000 students who come from more than 40 countries and represent a diversity of faiths and cultures. Designated a Hispanic-serving institution by the U.S. Department of Education, the school is committed to providing opportunities for all historically marginalized groups, including low-income students.

At #2 is the University of California, a system that includes more than 280,000 students, with millions of alumni around the world. Among its 10 campuses are UC Berkeley, which has been named the top public university in the world by U.S. News & World Report, and UCLA, which boasts of being the most applied-to university in the nation.

Applying to the University of California is made convenient by the use of a single application, with which students can apply to as many campuses as they like. The university also operates multidisciplinary research centers that leverage public investments to address society's most critical issues, including The Hydrology & Climate Research Group at UC Irvine and the Advanced Solar Technologies Institute, UC Solar.

Coming in at #3 is California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly. Located in San Luis Obispo, it is known for its "Learn by Doing" philosophy, which combines theory with application and gives students hands-on experience through labs, internships, clubs, research projects, and even businesses started while still in school.

The university is divided into six colleges: Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Architecture and Environmental Design, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Science and Mathematics, and the Orfalea College of Business. With more than 500 approved study abroad programs in 75 countries, over 20% of Cal Poly students participate during their time at the school.

In the #4 spot is Bakersfield College, part of the Kern Community College District. Established in 1913, it is one of the nation's oldest continually-operating community colleges, serving more than 30,000 students annually across several campuses. Classes are offered on a traditional 16-week semester calendar as well as in a variety of non-traditional scheduling options, including evenings, weekends, short-term vocational programs, and online courses.

Opened in the fall of 1962, the William M. Thomas Planetarium provides shows for over 4,500 K through 12 students, in addition to its use for astronomy and physical science classes at BC. The college is approved as an institution of higher learning for the training of veterans and dependents of veterans who are entitled to educational assistance, offering priority registration, a designated veterans counselor, and other special benefits.

Rounding out the list at #5 is California State University, Fullerton, located in Orange County. Part of the CSU system, its enrollment has exceeded 35,000 students, including those from more than 70 different nations. Degrees are offered in fields such as visual arts, geological sciences, social work, and religious studies.

The Fullerton Arboretum provides visitors with the opportunity to gain knowledge and appreciation of the plant world through its living collections, as well as through online educational programs. The Grand Central Art Center, a partnership with the City of Santa Ana, offers the public free admission to its exhibitions, and students of the College of the Arts MA or MFA visual and performing arts programs can apply for residence at the center.