Best Undergraduate Education Schools in California

2022-2023 Education Colleges of Distinction

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Our California top colleges for education offer students an exciting place to learn and thrive, as proven by the following:

Stability and Excellence: These programs have reputations for quality and success, and students know that their degrees will be respected and desired by future employers. Institutions who have earned the education badge have the highest accreditations and have been awarding teaching degrees for at least ten years.

Multidisciplinary Exposure: One of the most important decisions a future teacher will make is what field of education they will go into. Whether it’s childhood, elementary, secondary, or special education, prospective students know there are options to explore at these schools. These well-rounded programs also allow students to earn a specialization to further define and hone their skill set.

Practical Experience: These colleges and universities go beyond the required number of hours of student teaching. They push their students to get practical experience as early and often as possible so they may be prepared and confident when they step into their first classroom.

Non-education Specializations: These programs encourage students to think and learn outside the box. Students can minor or specialize in a different discipline to round out their education and enhance their teaching.

Dedicated Advising and Counseling: The path to a teaching degree can be complex and overwhelming at times. Schools that have earned the Education badge have demonstrated a commitment to supporting students with excellent counselors and advisors.

High-Impact Practices: While all Colleges of Distinction are recognized for their high-impact practices, those with the Education badge ensure that their programs incorporate relevant and focused high-impact practices, including first-year seminars, service-learning among area schools, and collaborative projects.

Industry Connections: Students are able to forge connections for their career through internships, networking events, and alumni programs.

California State University, Fullerton logo, Titans, CSU

California State University, Fullerton

Fullerton, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

As part of the world-class California State University system, Cal State Fullerton prepares its diverse student body for success in a global society. Titans actively engage in hands-on learning, research, clubs and organizations, and volunteer work that enriches the local community.

Cal State Fullerton may be the largest CSU campus with more than 34,000 undergraduate students, but its mission to provide high-impact immersive learning ensures personal, fulfilling experiences for every student. Located in Orange County, CSUF is near Los Angeles, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the beautiful California coastline. Students thrive with the support of one-on-one academic advising, college career specialists, and student success initiatives.

Acceptance rate 68%      •      Net price $8,322      •      SAT Range 1000-1180     •     Students submitting SAT scores 97%
Total Undergrad Population 42,051     •     Setting Suburb     •     Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 69%      •      Retention rate 89%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 27:1

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Loyola Marymount University logo

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, CA ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Loyola Marymount University is rooted in its Roman Catholic tradition—a relationship that is directly connected to the school’s personal and academic goals and success. LMU promotes both the intellectual and personal growth of each student. The University’s commitment to Catholicism drives a socially conscious mindset and students are taught to become contributing members of the global community.

Every month, LMU takes on a new service initiative with a local non-profit agency. The service project is communicated to the entire LMU campus community. Details of the project, as well as volunteer needs are shared with the student body. Projects change every month, allowing LMU to touch several different parts of the community.

El Espejo: El Espejo is Spanish for mirror and serves as the motto for a service initiative. Here “mirror” is used to emphasize reflection—where volunteers work to find a common connection between them and those they are helping. El Espejo connects LMU students with at-risk middle school students in the community. The mission of this initiative is to educate and mentor students on the importance and potential of intellectual and personal growth.

Acceptance rate 50%      •      Net price $48,758     •     SAT Range 1210-1390     •     Students submitting SAT scores 65%
Total Undergrad Population 9,686      •      Setting City: Large      •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%      •     Retention rate 83%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

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san jose state university logo

San José State University

San José, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Succeed in your personal and professional life with an education from San José State University. SJSU is a Public University in San José, California.

As one of the most transformative universities in the nation, San José State is ready for big change. As part of Transformation 2030, SJSU’s strategic plan, the campus community is dedicated to realizing the university’s potential as a nationally prominent urban public university. San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study. With approximately 36,000 students and nearly 4,300 employees, SJSU is an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and California. 

Acceptance rate 67%      •      Net price $15,995      •     SAT Range 1010-1240      •      Students submitting SAT scores 93%
Total Undergrad Population 36,208     •     Setting City: Large      •     Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 66%      •      Retention rate 86%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 25:1

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Santa Clara University logo

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university, offers its students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering as well as engineering Ph.D.s and master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, SCU strives to educate citizens and leaders who will build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.

SCU, founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus, was established on the site of Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the eighth of 21 California missions. Today, the University is committed to promoting academic excellence, enriching its educational experience through the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person, fostering an engaged community, and realizing opportunities available through its location in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

Acceptance rate 51%      •     Net price $48,284      •      SAT Range 1270-1450      •      Students submitting SAT scores 68%
Total Undergrad Population 8,616     •     Setting City: Midsize      •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 92%      •      Retention rate 93%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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University of California Santa Cruz logo

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

UC Santa Cruz has a steadfast commitment to the intellectual growth of its students, all while promoting environmental stewardship and active engagement with the community. Such impactful work is led by faculty who care for each student as capable, hard-working individuals.

Acceptance rate 65%      •      Net price $17,842      •     SAT Range 1160-1360      •      Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 19,161     •     Setting City: Small      •     Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%      •      Retention rate 85%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 25:1

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university of redlands logo

University of Redlands

Redlands, CA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

A private liberal arts and sciences institution in the heart of Southern California, University of Redlands is committed to educating the hearts and minds of its students through an emphasis on personalized education, service, and experiential learning. In addition to more than 50 programs of study in the arts and sciences, University of Redlands also offers impressive pre-professional opportunities in pre-health, pre-law, and education as well as more than 100 study abroad opportunities. Home to the second-oldest School of Music in California and the alternative Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, the 112-year-old university prepares students for success and lifelong learning. 

University of Redlands’ main residential campus sits on 160 green acres centrally located near the beaches, mountains, and desert. Part of a diverse and active student body from California and around the world, Redlands students are engaged in the world around them, thriving as participants in community service, DIII varsity athletics, and a wide array of student organizations.

Acceptance rate 69%      •      Net price $30,240      •     SAT Range 1030-1250      •     Students submitting SAT scores 78%
Total Undergrad Population 4,566      •      Setting City: Small      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 71%      •      Retention rate 75%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

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What it’s like to attend education schools in California and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in California?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in California is $3,908 for in-state students at public institutions, $19,968 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $22,781 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest education degree program in California

California State University, Fullerton has an average net price of $8,322 making it the least expensive education degree program in California that made our list.

Easiest education degree program to get into in California

University of Redlands has an acceptance rate of 69%, making it the least exclusive college with an education program on our list.

Education degree program with lowest student debt in California

California State University, Fullerton has a median total debt after graduation of $14,000. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

Most popular education degrees in California

The largest share of education degrees awarded in California in 2020 were specialized by the following:
Early Childhood Education and Teaching
Education – General
Elementary Education and Teaching