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10 Best Nonprofit Online Colleges in California

In this ranking, we cover the best online nonprofit colleges in California. Unlike for-profit schools,  nonprofit institutions reinvest revenue back into programs for students. If you’re looking for this type of college, our list can help.

Our editors first reviewed online nonprofit colleges in California in July 2023. This list was last updated in March 2024.

The Golden State has much to offer in terms of higher online education. Read on to discover California’s best online nonprofit colleges and universities and how we selected our top 10 choices.

Best Private Nonprofit Colleges California

How We Ranked Nonprofit Online California Colleges

We selected these California colleges and universities based on their affordable undergraduate tuition, and the quantity and diversity of programs offered. Here’s a look at our top 10 schools, and the pros and cons of each one. The schools on our list are fully accredited and ranked according to raw affordability. Our #1 choice is the most affordable online college in California.

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Best Nonprofit Online Colleges in California

RankSchool NameLocationAcceptance Rate (%)In-State Undergraduate Tuition
#1California State University Channel IslandsCamarillo90%$6,817
#2California State University East BayHayward96%$7,055
#3California State University FullertonFullerton67%$7,073
#4California State University SacramentoSacramento93%$7,602
#5California State University San BernardinoSan Bernardino91%$7,675
#6California State University ChicoChico95%$8,064
#7University of California Santa CruzSanta Cruz47%$14,560
#8University of California BerkeleyBerkeley11%$14,850
#9University of California San DiegoLa Jolla24%$15,265
#10San Diego Christian CollegeSanteeOpen admission$26,300
Data collected from the most recent information published at the National Center for Education Statistics.

1. California State University Channel Islands

Online Programs Website

California State University Channel Islands is a newer non-profit university in California, established in 2002. It offers online programs to over 6,000 students, while maintaining small class sizes and a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The school’s online degrees include both undergraduate and graduate programs. Popular programs include:

  • BS Business Online
  • BS Health Science Online
  • BA Psychology Online
  • MS Nursing

The BS Business Administration program combines real-world experience with academic rigor. And it is designed to help students succeed in a global and multicultural business environment. The program prepares you for continued education in MBA programs. There is also a business administration certificate and nursing certificate you can get online.


  • 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • 75% retention rate for full-time students
  • 90% acceptance rate
  • Diverse selection of business, nursing, and psychology programs online


  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents of CA
  • Small school size with limited research opportunities

2. California State University East Bay

Online Programs Website

East Bay is one of the most diverse campuses in California and the country. As a result, the school has had a major influence on shaping the educational landscape of California. With its diversity comes many online programs. Students can enroll in different online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Recreation

Some of the master’s degree programs you can earn online include studies in:

  • Education Leadership
  • Public Administration
  • Special Education

The professors that teach online courses are the same respected faculty that do on-campus instruction. The format is flexible enough for you to continue working and taking care of other obligations. Through online discussions, assignments, and video lectures, you will learn at your own pace. You’ll find different completion options, including accelerate programs that allow students to earn an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in as little as two years.


  • Accelerated degree completion options
  • 24/7 tutoring services
  • Extensive technical support for online studies
  • Large selection of online programs
  • 96% admission rate (less competitive than other CA schools)


  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents

3. California State University Fullerton

Online Programs Website

California State University Fullerton is one of the largest colleges in the CSU system. Over 40,000 students attend each year. This non-profit university has online options for students seeking online degrees and certificates.

CSUF’s selection of online programs is smaller than some of the other California schools on our list. But, they do have unique options. Fullerton offers 8 online certificates and 3 undergraduate degree completion programs. Online undergraduate degrees include:

  • BA in Business Administration
  • BA in Humanities & Social Sciences
  • BA in Sociology

The three programs are all cohort-based and have a set curriculum. This allows students to network and build relationships. Students in the BA program may qualify for an accelerated schedule. However, you must finish the first semester with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.


  • Cohort-based programs
  • In-state tuition for CA residents
  • Large selection of online certificates
  • Networking opportunities with peers, faculty, and scholars
  • 86% retention rate for full-time students


  • Larger class sizes (24:1) than other CA schools
  • Limited number (3) online undergraduate degrees and no online graduate degrees

4. California State University Sacramento

Online Programs Website

California State University Sacramento is a four-year public, nonprofit university that enrolls over 31,000 students each year. The school does not have a dedicated department for online programs but partners with Cal State Online to provide online programs from all 23 campuses into one educational resource. Students attending Cal State Online can expect the same benefits as students who take programs on campus. 

Through the combined platform students get access to dozens of online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Students who study online can utilize the same resources and facilities as those who attend in person, including: 

  • Academic Advising 
  • Career Center Student Organizations 
  • Community Engagement Center 
  • Student Health and Counseling Services 

CSU Sacramento has earned its place among the best online colleges in California. 


  • 93% acceptance rate
  • 80% retention rate
  • Access to top-notch learning resources and tech support
  • Diverse options for online degrees at all levels
  • Online degree partnership with Cal State Online


  • Larger class sizes (24:1) than some other CA schools
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents

5. California State University San Bernardino

Online Programs Website

California State University San Bernardino is home to nearly 20,000 students. This non profit college offers online degrees, blended programs, and hybrid options that combine on-campus and online instruction.

For students looking for 100% online programs, the following are available:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences
  • Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education
  • Master of Arts in Criminal JusticeMaster of Business Administration
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Science in Accountancy

Here are the hybrid programs. These blended online degree programs show the amount of online work versus campus work that is required:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN): 80% online and 20% on campus
  • Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology: 50% online and  50% on campus
  • Master of Arts in Special Education: 100% hybrid
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): 80% online and 20% on campus
  • Master of Science in Nursing: 80% online and 20% on campus
  • Master’s in Social Work: 75% online and 25% in-person

The school utilizes the Canva and Blackboard learning management systems for remote learners. Online students are encouraged to get active in the school’s clubs, activities, and other programs where possible.


  • Blended and hybrid options available
  • Diverse selection of undergraduate and graduate online programs
  • 91% acceptance rate
  • 24/7 tech support for online students


  • Larger class sizes than some schools (23:1)
  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents

6. California State University Chico

Online Programs Website

Chico is the second oldest school in the California State University system. Established in 1887, this non-profit public university enrolls close to 20,000 students. Students at CSU-Chico can enroll in several online degree programs (both undergraduate and graduate levels). Online programs include:

  • BA in Liberal Studies
  • BA in Religious Studies
  • BA in Sociology
  • BA in Social Science
  • BS in Nursing for RNs
  • MS in Agricultural Education
  • MS in Business Administration
  • MS in Nursing

Courses are entirely web-based. But some also have lectures live synchronous video streaming. These programs are highly flexible, and all you need is a computer and internet access. The school accepts transfer credits, so students can often take some of their lower-division work at community colleges.


  • Generous transfer credit policy
  • Large selection of online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs
  • Small class sizes (20:1 student-faculty ratio)
  • 95% acceptance rate
  • 80% retention rate (first-time students pursuing bachelor’s degree)


  • Out-of-state tuition for non-residents
  • Lower graduation rate than some CA schools (64%)

7. University of California Santa Cruz

Online Programs Website

The University of California Santa Cruz is a top research university with a student body dedicated to activism and education. It serves over 19,000 students, including those that study online. The school offers college-level online courses through a partnership with Coursera, but no separate online degree programs.

Anyone can participate in these online educational opportunities. There are no requirements for admission. And this not-for-profit college even offers financial aid for some of the courses. Some of the current offerings include:

  • Children Acquiring Literacy Naturally
  • Conspiracy Planet
  • Feminism and Social Justice
  • Russian History: from Lenin to Putin


  • 77% overall graduation rate
  • Access to large alumni network
  • In-state tuition for CA residents
  • Research university with opportunities for undergrads and graduate students


  • No online degree programs, only online courses
  • Competitive admission (46% acceptance rate)

8. University of California Berkeley

Online Programs Website

UC Berkeley is the flagship campus of the University of California system. It is one of the best nonprofit universities in the country. Established in 1868, it has become a model of what makes a great research university. UC Berkeley serves over 45,000 students each year, including those that study online.

UC Berkeley delivers many online programs through the edX learning platform. Some are entire certification programs, while others are standalone courses. There are generally no prerequisites to participating in any of these courses. Students attending Berkeley may receive credit for some of the offerings. But the public can take them for personal enrichment.


  • 19:1 student-faculty ratio
  • In-state tuition for CA residents
  • Interactive learning and tech support
  • No visa or application required for international students
  • Prestigious research university with top rankings and notoriety


  • Expensive out-of-state tuition for non-residents
  • Fixed start dates

9. University of California San Diego

Online Programs Website

University of California San Diego is one of the top public research universities in the state. Established in 1903, 42,000 students are enrolled at UC San Diego. The school operates a unique online division called Digital Learning.

Students can take some of their required courses online. But UC San Diego caters primarily to students on campus. Digital Learning, however, opens up UCSD courses to anyone in the world. The school offers many individual courses through the Coursera and edX platforms. Many of these programs are free or low-cost. And some courses can even be completed for UC San Diego credit.

In most cases, there are no requirements for enrollment beyond an interest to learn the topic. Currently, there are hundreds of courses available across a wide range of subjects. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Social Computing
  • Python for Data Science
  • Science of Parenting
  • Object-Oriented Programming in Java
  • Networking and Volunteerism for Career Success

Students of any age and ability can take these programs. You do not need to be a UCSD student to participate. The Digital Learning initiative makes UC San Diego one of the best online colleges in California. 


  • Open to students at any institution (or high school students)
  • Open admission and enrollment for online courses
  • Unique and diverse course selections
  • 19:1 student-faculty ratio


  • No online degree programs
  • 24% acceptance rate for undergraduates (highly selective)

10. San Diego Christian College

Online Programs Website

San Diego Christian College is one of California’s top evangelical Christian colleges. The school is l home to under 400 students. SDCC features numerous on-campus and online degree programs that include the following:

  • BS in Business Management
  • BA in Christian Ministries
  • BA in Communication
  • BA in Human Development
  • BS in Leadership
  • BA in Psychology

Online students get to enrich their spiritual lives while taking online courses toward a career-ready degree. Plus, each student is encouraged to engage in meaningful service activities. In addition, the school offers a robust career counseling program that includes job search resources and interview preparation.

Veterans are also welcome at SDCC, where they will find plenty of resources exclusive to the military community. These include veteran-specific career development resources.


  • 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio (small class sizes)
  • Open admission policy
  • Robust career counseling opportunities
  • Undergraduates have access to 4 specializations


  • Small student body
  • Limited research opportunities

Other Online California Schools to Consider

Other schools in California we considered for our top 10 list are as follows:

  • Azusa Pacific University
  • California Baptist University
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Golden Gate University
  • Hope International University
  • Mount Saint Mary’s University
  • Pacific Oaks College
  • Simpson University
  • Touro University California
  • University of La Verne
  • University of San Francisco
10 Best Nonprofit Online Colleges in California

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do 100% online college in California?

You can! California is home to 339 colleges and universities, and many offer online instruction. This includes online degrees, certificates, and courses. You can earn a degree 100% online in California from many accredited institutions.

Are there any online colleges in California?

According to our research, there are many accredited online colleges in California. From the California State University System to the University of California System, you can attend school online. California offers many degrees and programs (at all levels) online from its reputable accredited colleges and universities.

Do any University of California schools offer online degrees?

In 2023, the University of California Academic Senate modified the system’s policies to prevent students from earning a 100% online bachelor’s degree from any of its 10 campuses. Some of the UC schools do offer ways to take online courses, which you can earn credit for and apply toward your degree. But there are many other online degree options from California colleges and universities.

Are online colleges in California worth it?

Online colleges in California vary in quality and accreditation. It’s important to consider factors such as program quality, flexibility, cost, career outcomes, and networking opportunities. If you evaluate your preferences to determine if online learning aligns with your goals, it can be a worthwhile educational experience. Online learning can bring a lot of freedom!

Does UCLA offer online school?

UCLA does offer a limited number of online courses for matriculated students. These are 100% remote online classes. They also offer summer sessions with online options. UCLA students can work full time and study from the comfort of their home during the summer through the Summer Online program.

This concludes our ranking of the best online colleges in California.