Types of California Colleges & Universities

California has three public college systems and private campuses to choose from. It is important to find a college that meets your educational needs and fits your lifestyle.

California College Systems At A Glance

System California Community Colleges California State University University of California Independent Colleges & Universities
College Entrance Exam None Required ACT or SAT ACT or SAT I
SAT II recommended for STEM majors
Varies: check with the college or university of your choice
Degrees Offered Associate Degrees and Vocational Certificates Bachelor's, Master's and Joint Doctoral Degrees Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral and Professional Degrees Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral and Professional Degrees
Cost (CA residents) Approximately $1,636 per year Approximately $6,881 per year Approximately $13,900 per year Varies: check with the college or university of your choice

- Information is subject to change

California Colleges & Universities

California Community Colleges (CCC)


  • The CCC system is composed of 113 campuses.
  • Must be 18 years of age, a high school graduate or equivalent to attend.
  • CCC offers associate degrees and a wide range of program certificates.
  • Students may attend for two years then transfer to a college or university

California State University (CSU)


  • The CSU system has 23 campuses.
  • CSU usually admits the top third of high school graduates.
  • CSU is the largest four-year system of higher education in the nation.
  • Each campus reflects its own personality, academic focus and strengths.
  • CSU offers an applied hands-on education that prepares students for either graduate school or the job market.

University of California (UC)


  • The UC system has 10 campuses.
  • UC usually admits the top 12.5 percent of high school graduates.
  • UC has nationally ranked academic and athletic programs.
  • UC provides an education based in research and theory that prepares many students for graduate or advanced degree programs.

Association of Independent California Colleges & Universities (AICCU)


  • The AICCU has 75 colleges and universities throughout the state.
  • AICCU offers a number of different degree programs.

Costs vary depending on the school. Financial aid is available to qualifying students.

Website Resources

California Colleges


Find information about higher education in California for students, counselors and parents.

Financial Aid


Complete or renew the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

CA Dream Act


Apply for financial aid under the CA Dream Act if you are a qualifying AB540 student.



Find and apply for scholarships, colleges and jobs.

SAT Testing Information


Practice and register for the SAT I and SAT II.

ACT Testing Information


Practice and register for the ACT.