California’s unique three-tiered public higher education system consists of the 10 campuses of the University of California system, 23 campuses belonging to the California State University system, and 112 colleges that make up the California Community College system. There are a number of highly ranked private colleges and universities in California, including Stanford University and the University of Southern California, which has the largest number of international students in the country. California’s Post Secondary Education Commission’s website provides a searchable database of the state’s public and private not-for-profit and for profit colleges, universities, and other accredited degree-granting institutions. More than 300 of California’s colleges and universities offer distance education programs, including online courses and degrees.
Several of California’s public colleges and universities offer distance learning to serve the needs of adult and non-traditional students. California State University plans to launch a system wide online university in 2013 in order to centralize and significantly expand the number of online courses and degree programs currently offered by schools within the system. Several of California’s private not-for-profit colleges and universities offer accredited online degree programs as well, including the University of Southern California which offers online degrees in areas including education, communication and journalism, engineering, medicine, and social work. Stanford University offers a selection of completely free online courses taught by its faculty. Students receive no academic credit, but do receive a statement of accomplishment from Stanford after completing a course. Three of the country’s biggest for-profit universities — Argosy, DeVry, and the University of Phoenix — have campuses in California and also offer online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.
California has a diversified economy with numerous thriving industries, but is perhaps most famous for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. This area south of the San Francisco Bay Area is home to internationally known high-tech corporations like Apple, Google, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Yahoo!, and more. To prepare for careers in high-tech, students may wish to pursue online degrees in software engineering, computer science, information technology, information security, network management, or IT management. However, online degrees in business with a concentration in IT can also be beneficial.
Other major industries in California include agriculture, media and culture, business and professional services, hospitality and tourism, life sciences, and transportation/manufacturing, according to California State University. Many people are drawn to careers in the media and culture industry rooted in Los Angeles, a major hub for music, film, fashion, publishing, and more. To prepare for these creative careers, you may want to pursue online degrees in music business, film and media studies, fashion merchandising, or journalism. Take a look at the following California colleges and universities that offer online programs: