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Accredited Online Colleges in California: What Are the Best Virtual Colleges in California?

Beth Waweru - September 01, 2022

Accredited online colleges in California have numerous benefits, including geographical location and time flexibility. This allows you to accomplish your academic goals as an online learner with more flexibility. Unfortunately, not all online schools in California are accredited, and this may pose challenges when trying to find an educational path that qualifies you for your dream career opportunity.

When it comes to conducting your virtual school search, it’s important to look at the best online colleges in California that have strong accreditation. Check out the comprehensive guide to accredited online colleges in California below.

Types of Accredited Online Colleges in California

When considering attending college online, it’s important to know that accreditation varies depending on the organization or institute investigating the college. Some are regionally accredited schools, and others are nationally accredited. The difference between these types of accreditation is important when considering an online college.

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Regionally Accredited Online Colleges

Regionally accredited online colleges are widely accepted by companies and business owners. They provide several benefits for distance learners, including seamless transfer processes and greater success at breaking into the desired industry upon graduation. Moreover, regionally accredited online schools are eligible for corporate tuition reimbursement plans. However, these schools are more expensive than nationally accredited online colleges.

Nationally Accredited Online Colleges

Nationally accredited online colleges usually have less-strict standard requirements. They are generally less expensive and have fewer admission requirements than online schools with regional accreditation. Additionally, the credits earned at these schools are limited to nationally accredited colleges, which can pose challenges for transfer students.

Choosing Between Virtual Schools in California: 3 Factors to Consider

Selecting an appropriate online college from California’s numerous options for undergraduate or graduate programs can be challenging, especially for the recent high school graduate. Here are some factors to should consider before choosing an online college.


Accreditation means that an online college meets the required standards to provide quality education. Accredited colleges typically must also provide benefits such as support services or resource guides. Regionally accredited schools also ensure an easier time when transferring to a different university.

Return on Investment

A college education is an investment that can either pay off or not. For instance, if you pursue an undergraduate degree in business administration at a college that charges a high annual tuition fee, you may or may not earn a comparable salary after graduation. You should consider the cost of annual tuition against the returns a degree brings.

According to Payscale, an average healthcare administrator salary is $72,905 . So, earning an online Bachelor’s Degree or online Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration at an affordable tuition fee would be a great investment.


Does the college provide opportunities to make your learning experience as easy as possible? What resources does the school provide to ensure your learning is not interrupted?

Resources are something important to consider before choosing a virtual school as an online learner. Some online colleges will have limited resources for hybrid programs or remote courses, so evaluating these factors is crucial before settling on a college.

Best Online Colleges in California: Overview

School City Standard Online Tuition (Per Credit) Top Online Programs Accreditation
Azusa Pacific University Azusa In-state: $1,702
Out-of-state: $1,702
Bachelor of Business Administration
Master of Public Administration
Master of Science in Organizational Psychology
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Biola University La Mirada In-state: $604
Out-of-state: $604
Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Biblical Ministries
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Golden Gate University San Francisco In-state: $462
Out-of-state: $462
Bachelor of Arts in Management – Public Administration
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development
Executive Master of Business Administration
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Hope International University Fullerton In-state: $1,500
Out-of-state: $1,500
Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies: Teacher Preparation
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Humboldt State University Arcata In-state: $2,871 (semester)
Out-of-state: $2,871 + $396/credit hour (semester)
Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
Certificate in Geospatial
Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Northcentral University San Diego In-state: $461
Out-of-state: $461-$1,021
Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Master of Education
Doctor of Criminal Justice
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Pacific Oaks College Pasadena In-state: $360
Out-of-state: $360-$855
Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership & Management
Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
San Diego State University San Diego In-state: $2,871 (semester)
Out-of-state: $2,871+ $396/credit hour (semester)
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Bachelor of Science in Child Development
Bachelor of Science in Public Health
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
Simpson University Redding In-state: $1,435
Out-of-state: $1,435
Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)
UMass Global (formerly Brandman University) Irvine In-state: $500
Out-of-state: $500
Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
Master of Science in Project Management
Master of Science in Healthcare Management
WASC Senior College and University Commission (Regional)

Top Online Schools in California: Deep Dive

A graduate student watches an online class on her laptop. Accredited Online Colleges In California
Graduate students can earn an online master’s degree by attending an accredited virtual school in California.

California is home to many public colleges and private insititutions, including San Diego State University, Golden Gate University, Pacific Oaks College, and San Jose State University. Whether you want to pursue an online degree program at a Christian university or a public school, you can find a suitable institution for your courses.

Azusa Pacific University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Azusa Pacific University offers more than 100 degrees at differing levels. If you’re looking for a flexible, asynchronous online learning platform, APU offers this to all its distance learners. APU also offers collaboration opportunities, including discussion forums and online chats. Some of its popular programs are the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and spirituality and health-related studies.

Biola University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

This Christian university is committed to providing affordable and flexible options for distance learners to complete their studies. Biola offers online Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, Biblical Studies, Business Management, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Digital Media Management. This private intuition provides all its online programs in an asynchronous format throughout the year. In addition, transfer students are not charged for their incoming accepted credits.

Golden Gate University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Golden Gate University in San Francisco offers top-ranked online programs that focus on career-related skills while educating online students about professional ethics and social awareness. This institution provides online degree programs at all levels, including associate degree programs .

Hope International University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

This Christian institution offers online education to learners across the globe regardless of their religious backgrounds. It offers an unrivaled online Bachelor of Science in Human Development that focuses on mental health and counseling. Its class sizes range between 12-16 online  undergraduate students, with one-on-one support offered during office hours or conferences. In addition, HIU provides student support services, including academic advisers, career resource guides, and an online library.

Humboldt State University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Humboldt State University confers numerous online certificate programs, associate degrees, undergraduate programs, and a graduate online degree program, including those focusing on geospatial, leadership studies, and social work. Distance learners can access all the online courses on the Canvas learning platform. Student support resources include career counseling, academic technology tools, tech support, and financial planning.

Northcentral University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Northcentral University is a private non-profit college in Southern California that has regional accreditation and program-specific accreditations. It offers popular degree options such as digital media, business administration, and humanitarian leadership, as well as several graduate programs and doctoral programs. Northcentral also provides career counseling and academic guidance for online students.

Pacific Oaks College | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Opened in 1958, Pacific Oaks College offers varying programs in early childhood education, social work, and business. It’s among the many colleges in California that leverage the Canvas learning platform, which facilitates effective distance learning. Prospective students will need to submit a personal statement, complete an admission interview, and have a high school diploma with a cumulative 2.0 GPA or above.

San Diego State University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Based in Southern California, SDSU has degree programs in many fields, including business administration, educational leadership, public administration, tourism, and public health. The institution also offers self-enrichment courses, including accounting, web design, and management. In addition, distance learners can access online courses via the Blackboard learning platform.

Simpson University | WASC Senior College and University Commission

Simpson University offers a variety of online course options, including organizational leadership, ministry leadership, psychology, and elementary education. It also provides hybrid academic programs that might require distance learners to meet occasionally to complete their coursework. In addition, the university has a transfer evaluation system that helps prospective students determine which courses will be accepted.

UMass Global (formerly Brandman University) | WASC Senior College and University Commission

This private, non-profit institution has more than 80 degree and certificate programs. Whether the goal is becoming an expert in business, nursing, or elementary education, UMass Global provides the liberty to choose from various online courses. The college offers a MyPath program that offers distance learners the utmost flexibility when completing their online bachelor’s degrees or online master’s degrees.

Should I Consider Accredited Online Colleges in California?

Whether you are looking for online certificate programs or degree options, you can choose from the numerous virtual schools in California. While online programs take longer than coding bootcamps , they provide another option to successfully advance your college education and career goals. As an online student, you will also enjoy the location and time flexibility, helping you accomplish a work-life balance.

Accredited Online Colleges in California FAQ

Does California have exemplary online colleges?

Yes, most of the state’s top-ranking institutions offer top-quality online learning options. In many cases, undergraduate students and graduate students can earn degrees as online students at some of California’s most-esteemed institutions.

Is an online college degree recognized in the job market?

Yes, with the rise of online learning options, more employers and businesses find online college degrees to be as credible as one from a traditional campus-based program.

How much do graduates of criminal justice programs earn in California?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual criminal justice salary in California is $60,476. This amount is just slightly under the national average of $60,687. Recent graduates are often hired at lower salaries than those with more experience, so the average salary for a recent graduate of criminal justice programs could be closer to the 25th percentile amount of $28,510 per year.

Does UC Berkeley offer online degrees?

Yes, UC Berkeley offers exhaustive online degree programs, certificate programs, and bootcamps. It focuses on giving undergraduate and graduate students a top-quality education to equip them for the workforce.

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Beth Waweru

About the author: Beth is an experienced content writer who has most recently been creating SEO content for clients in the SaaS, home and living, and digital marketing spaces. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Kenyatta University, a Certificate in Digital Marketing from Hubspot Academy, and a Content Marketing Certificate from Hubspot Academy.

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