California is the perfect summary of the 'American' experience, popularized by the very TV shows and movies you've seen, filmed in Cali no less. From its bustling cities and picturesque beaches to the universities and businesses that build its diverse community, California is the dream destination you've come to know.

As an international student entering the world of higher education, California offers a number of schools, colleges and universities that are prepared to meet your unique needs.

Top Featured Schools

The schools in our 2022 edition of Best Schools in California range from colleges to universities, each bringing something different to the table. Ultimately, the school you choose should be based on what you prioritize in your school search.

Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC)

With a reputation for academic excellence since its founding in 1918, Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) is considered one of the premier two-year colleges in the United States. SRJC also ranks first among California's large community colleges in acceptance rates into the prestigious University of California system, with more than 80% of SRJC applicants accepted to a UC campus.

Santa Rosa Junior College Fast Facts:
  • Programs - SRJC offers more than 100 majors and 150 certificate programs that can be added to a major. Popular programs include business, computer studies, engineering, nursing and wine studies.
  • Facilities: SRJC houses state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories; a 148-acre estate and vineyard that produces award-winning wines; the SRJC Museum, with a collection of more than 4,000 artifacts; and a student-run restaurant and bakery.
  • Transfer Opportunities: SRJC international students have successfully transferred to top-tier universities, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Francisco State University and Cornell University.
  • Location: Santa Rosa has been ranked on US News & World Report's list of the 100 best places to live in the United States. With the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east and several lakes and rivers nearby, boating, hiking, water skiing, snow skiing, surfing, rafting, kayaking and biking are easily accessible.
Berkeley global

For the past several years, UC Berkeley has been ranked the No. 1 global public university. Offering top-notch academics taught by renowned professors and located near San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Berkeley offers the perfect storm for a successful study abroad.

Berkeley Global Fast Facts:

  • Programs : Offering unique programs designed specifically for international students, Berkeley Global has created programs with you in mind:
  1. Berkeley Global Access (all majors)
  2. Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (business)
  3. Berkeley Global Chemistry Visiting Student Program (computational chemistry or chemical biology)
  4. Berkeley International Physics Education Program
  • Diversity: 24% (nearly 10,000) of Berkeley Global students come from countries outside the U.S.
  • Location: The city of Berkeley is home to 121,000 residents, more than 350 restaurants, and numerous trails and walking paths. Just an easy drive from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, you are in the perfect location to experience all that California has to offer.
  • Student Services: You'll have an entire office dedicated to supporting you. Take advantage of pre-arrival webinars, one-stop academic program, health insurance, visa counseling, cross-cultural training, resume and interview workshops, and more
Los Angeles City College (LACC)

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Los Angeles City College (LACC) students come from all corners of the world and reflect the multicultural community of Los Angeles. LACC is one of the most established community colleges in California.

LACC Fast Facts:

Programs: LACC offers a variety of classes and programs that enable students to earn an associate degree and certificate and/or college transfer opportunities. LACC helps students transfer to competitive colleges in their junior year, enter well-paying jobs, and advance in their careers.

Location: LACC is located in Hollywood, just five miles from downtown Los Angeles. LACC is a prime location and offers access to the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel Mountains are only an hour away.

Facilities: College facilities include film and television studios, a performing arts theater, a music hall, and more than a dozen multi-story classroom buildings, including a library and gymnasiums.

Housing: The surrounding area has numerous housing opportunities, such as POD shares, apartments and room rentals. LACC is also accessible via public transportation by bus or the Red Line Metro system.

Activities: get involved in one of the many student clubs and organizations on campus, experience concerts, ballets, plays, musicals, museums, sporting events and much more while exploring all that Los Angeles has to offer.

Irvine Valley College International Students

Irvine Valley College is a fully accredited two-year public community college within California. It is a comprehensive community college with approximately 15,000 students and over 830 international students from 50 different countries. You can immerse yourself in the cultures of the world at Irvine Valley College.

Irvine Valley College Fast Facts:

Programs: Irvine Valley College offers more than 70 associate degree majors and 60 certificate programs in a variety of subjects in the arts and sciences.

Transfer Opportunities: Irvine Valley College ranks first in college transfer in the state of California! Students transfer to the University of California system, including Berkeley, UCLA and Irvine; California State Universities, including Fullerton, Long Beach and San Diego, and private schools such as USC, and more!

Location: In Orange County, Irvine is a multicultural city that is home to more than 100 national and international corporate headquarters. Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, you'll be close to world-renowned shopping, museums, universities, beaches and amusement parks.

Easy Application: Irvine Valley College admits international students in the fall, spring and summer semesters. Tuition rates at Irvine Valley College are low compared to the UC or CSU systems, offering international students a great way to save money while earning a college degree.

Golden West University

Located in the coastal community of Huntington Beach in Southern California, Golden West College (GWC) is a mid-sized public two-year college serving more than 10,000 students. GWC offers excellent academic and career-focused programs in STEM, business, the arts and many more.

Golden West College Fast Facts:

Programs: GWC offers several degree options, including AA degrees, AS degrees, an exceptional college transfer program, and short-term certificates in more than 35 professional programs including: accounting, automotive technology, business administration, cosmetology, computer science, design, digital media, and many more.

Pathway to success: Save money on the first two years of your bachelor's degree as you prepare to transfer to top universities like UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, CSU Long Beach, CSU Dominguez Hills, and more.

Clear Requirements: Admission requirements include proof of English proficiency, proof of sufficient funds, high school graduation OR must be at least 18 years old.

Student Life: Huntington Beach consistently ranks among the safest cities in the U.S. and is only 5 miles from the Huntington Beach shoreline and 11 miles from Disneyland.

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco is located in historic and beautiful San Francisco. More than 1,000 students representing over 90 countries attend the college as full-time students and more than 150 students per semester attend the intensive English program. City College reflects the best of San Francisco's diversity and culture.

City College of San Francisco Fast Facts:

Programs: Programs are designed to qualify students for entry-level employment in fields such as culinary arts and hospitality management, diagnostic medical imaging, graphic communications, film production, broadcasting, and child development.

Student Services: Personalized international academic advising is available to assist international students with educational planning and course selection. Students can also use the Transfer Center and Learning Assistance Centers to assist them in their academic endeavors.

Housing: Homestay accommodation is available for students, providing them with the opportunity to live with families who provide a furnished single room with two meals per day. There are also residential clubs, an on-campus cafeteria, public transportation and many apartments for you to choose from.

Intensive English: Students who have not yet achieved the necessary English placement test scores for admission or students who want a language and cultural experience are welcome to join the Intensive English Program. In just 20 hours per week, students will be prepared to become effective and confident English speakers.


Schools and universities are constantly updating their academic offerings. While we have selected these schools for our 2022 edition, that is not to say that there are not other schools that may be better suited to your academic goals. We wish you the best of luck in your school search and ask that you keep an eye out for future entries in our 'Best Schools' series as we explore the best schools in states across the country.