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The Top 15 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in California 2023

The Top 15 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in California 2023

The best liberal arts colleges in California provide a wide range of degree options with chances for a top-notch educational experience. If you enjoy exploring new places and want to receive a well-rounded education, then you should consider studying in any of the best liberal arts colleges in California.

California is a land of numerous opportunities. It’s known for Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and it also has some of the world’s best colleges. Thus, it’s a major business, entertainment,  technology, and education hub.


So, studying in California will expose you to a wide range of academic and professional opportunities. However, selecting the best college still necessitates extensive research. This article goes into greater detail about why you should consider studying in California, as well as the best liberal arts colleges in California.

Why Should I Study in California?

Studying in California will provide access to a wide range of options, including the opportunity to enter one of the top liberal arts universities and the chance to work as an intern at one of the top silicon valley tech firms. 

Below we dive deeper into more reasons why you should consider studying in California.

#1. Employment Prospects

California is the world’s fifth-largest economy and is renowned as a tech hub. Similarly, California has substantial international trade, technology, green energy, tourist, and agricultural industries, as well as a plethora of start-up businesses. Thus, you may have several options to begin a job in any of these fields after completing your educational program.

#2. Academic Opportunities 

California is home to some of the top liberal arts universities in the country, including Berkeley and UCLA. Moreover, the California State University System is located in this state. Furthermore, students from all over the world attend private colleges such as Stanford and the California Institute of Technology.

#3. Tech Opportunities 

For students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the country provides numerous professional and educational opportunities (STEM). Similarly, students studying in California can take advantage of internships and other learning opportunities at some of the country’s leading technology firms, including Apple and Google. 

#4. Outdoor Recreation Activities 

California has stunning scenery and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities including mountains, deserts, forests, and beaches. Not only that, but students in California have access to some of the country’s most beautiful national parks, including Yosemite National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park. Within a short drive, students may get to these places with ease.

Is Studying in California Right Worth it?

Generally, students are drawn to California because of its favorable climate, diverse culture, and elite universities. Yet, there are several things to take into account if you intend to study in California. The state has high out-of-state tuition costs and a high cost of living. As a result, students who don’t already reside in California may face significant financial challenges.

Additionally, California offers a clear appeal to students interested in particular job categories, such as entertainment and technology. But, before applying to any of California’s best liberal arts colleges, applicants who reside outside of the state should make sure they can afford the state’s high cost of living.

In essence, California is a fantastic state to study. However, out-of-state students should, therefore, consider the odds of attending institutions in California against potential living and tuition costs.

Top 15 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in California 2023

The following are our top picks for the best liberal arts colleges in California

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#1. Pomona College (Claremont, CA)

Pomona is the first on our list of best liberal arts colleges in California. The university is highly recognized not just as the best liberal arts college in California but also as one of the top universities in the entire world.

Furthermore, campus and population diversity is an essential part of the Pomona community with students from over 50 countries and nearly every state in the United States. Moreover, Pomona’s average class size is 15 students, keeping it true to its rich liberal arts college heritage and providing a more intimate environment for students and teachers.

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#2. California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, CA)

If you want to pursue a degree in liberal arts general studies, you should look into California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a public university with a sizable student body and the oldest of the three polytechnics in the California State University system.

Furthermore, in 2020, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo had about 21,440 undergraduate students and 840 graduate students. The school focuses on integrating technical and professional education with the arts and humanities. In addition, the majority of the university’s athletic teams compete in the Big West Conference.

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#3. National University (La Jolla, CA)

There is no way we can list the best liberal arts colleges in California without the National University (La Jolla) being on the list. National University is the second-largest private, non-profit institution of higher education in California by total enrollment.

La Jolla-based National University is ranked 54th overall out of 170 institutions in the state of California for academic quality. With more than 23,000 students enrolled, the University ranks among the top graduate student institutions of higher learning in the country.

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#4. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA)

Claremont McKenna College is another well-known liberal arts college, located on a tree-lined campus 30 miles east of Los Angeles. This school is well-known for its “need-blind” admission policy. As a result, it attracts a diverse and talented student body.

Additionally, the Center for Global Education is one of Claremont McKenna’s most exciting initiatives. As a college dedicated to developing global leaders, the CMU Center for Global Education provides hundreds of opportunities for diverse study.

The “Silicon Valley Program,” is one of the Center’s flagship initiatives. With hands-on learning opportunities in Silicon Valley, this program prepares students for careers in technology and entrepreneurship. Not only that, but participants in the Silicon Valley Program have the chance to network with top tech company executives and collaborate closely with staff members during co-op-style internships.

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#5. Saint Mary’s College (Moraga, CA)

Saint Mary’s College of California is a private, non-profit institution located in Moraga, California. SMC is ranked #269 out of 2,241 among the best colleges in the country, indicating that it is an excellent place to study.

In addition, about 84 liberal arts general studies students graduated with this degree from SMC in the most recent year. As a Lasallian school, community service is very important on campus. As a result, the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action manages the majority of campus service projects, and each year, students put in a significant amount of time serving their community.

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#6. Scripps College (Claremont, CA)

Scripps College is yet another top school on our list of the best liberal arts colleges in California. Scripps is a renowned progressive liberal arts college for women and one of the best women’s colleges in the country. It became a member of the Claremont Colleges in 1926, a year after the consortium was formed.

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Additionally, Scripps is a four-year undergraduate institution with over 950 students enrolled as of 2020. It provides liberal arts education with a focus on the humanities and is known for its extensive interdisciplinary core curriculum.

Moreover, Scripps College is a very selective university with high tuition costs; yet, it offers need-based financial aid packages to more than half of the student population.

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#7. Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA)

Harvey Mudd College also ranks among the best liberal arts colleges in California. Harvey Mudd has an engineering curriculum grounded in liberal arts and is one of the top undergraduate engineering colleges in the country. 

Furthermore, the college recognizes students’ high potential for innovation and leadership, and as a result, it takes pride in developing students into thinkers, and creators.

Consequently, its strong academics are supported by close relationships between professors and students, as evidenced by a student-to-faculty ratio of 9 to 1.

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#8. Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, CA)

Few American universities have progressed as swiftly as the Soka University of America. Soka University has only been around for 20 years, which is very young in the history of colleges and universities. Despite this, Soka has already amassed an endowment of over $1 billion and is ranked among the top 30 liberal arts colleges in the country by US News.

The Soka University of America provides students with a rigorous liberal arts education as well as professional and vocational programs. With a student-to-teacher ratio of 9 to 1, this moderately selective institution is among the best liberal arts colleges in California.

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#9. Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA)

Occidental College is another outstanding institution among the best liberal arts colleges in California. It is a campus tucked in the hills of Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock community. Occidental is a modern campus with cutting-edge facilities, historic buildings that have been preserved, and an unbeatable location in one of the world’s busiest metropolitan areas.

The Kahne United Nations Program is one of Occidental’s flagship initiatives. Students in this program spend a semester in New York City participating in prestigious internships at United Nations agencies and other related NGOs.

Similarly, among all liberal arts colleges, Occidental has some of the most remarkable alumni. These include Pulitzer Prize, Nobel, Academy, BAFTA, and Emmy Award winners. Also, Barack Obama, the past US president, is an alumnus of Occidental College.

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#10. Los Angeles Valley College (Valley Glen, CA)

Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) is a public community college in Valley Glen, California. This college is ranked 73rd out of 170 schools in California for overall quality. Valley College also offers more than 140 associate degree and certificate programs.

Furthermore, Los Angeles Valley College Liberal Arts General Studies degree recipients earn approximately $3,346 more than the average liberal arts general studies graduate.

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#11. Pitzer College (Claremont, CA)

Pitzer College in Claremont is a distinctive liberal arts institution that takes pride in preparing its students to enter the world as politically engaged individuals. As a result, Pitzer faculty and students are well known for their commitment to the community. 

Moreover, Pitzer is highly renowned for being one of the “Claremont” schools, a group of five prestigious liberal arts universities. The Kohoutek Music and Arts Festival, which debuted in 1974 and annually unites the Pitzer and Claremont Consortium communities. This is another example of how tradition is an important part of the Pitzer experience.

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#12. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA)

Thomas Aquinas College is another remarkable institution among the list of best Liberal arts colleges in California. Thomas Aquinas’ is devoted to the formation of free-thinking individuals, making it an exciting option for the advanced collegiate student.

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Additionally, these schools follow a strict policy that states, “There are no majors or minors at Thomas Aquinas.” As a result, the institution defies conventional ideas of majors and minors in favor of the “Great Books” approach, a teaching strategy in which textbooks are swapped for classic pieces of literature.

Thomas Aquinas believes that primary sources from the finest minds should be used to educate students rather than summaries from secondary sources. Due to Thomas Aquinas’ Great Books approach, classrooms usually feature ongoing discussions centered on the original works of Homer, Plato, and Aristotle.

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#13. Whittier College (Whittier, CA)

Whittier College is ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges nationwide by Washington Monthly. Whittier is an excellent choice for a student looking for a close-knit, primarily undergraduate experience that includes not only rigorous academics but also fantastic and consistently sunny weather.

Moreover, the College is a moderately selective institution with over 50 majors and professional programs available to its students. The most common among these are general criminal justice, biology, and biological science.

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#14. Westmont College (Santa Barbara, CA)

Westmont is a non-denominational Christian liberal arts college with a mission to develop critical thinkers and obedient leaders. Westmont College is a young institution that provides its students with science-based degree programs that are backed by a liberal arts academic framework.

Moreover, Westmont offers 30 liberal arts majors, with marketing and business being among the most popular. In addition to its on-campus offerings, Westmont offers a variety of semester-long off-campus programs in several unique places, including Israel, Costa Rica, and Washington, D.C.

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#15. Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA)

Loyola Marymount University is the last on our list of the best liberal arts colleges in California. Loyola Marymount University is a large private nonprofit university in Los Angeles. It is ranked #160 out of 2,241 best colleges in the United States.

Furthermore, graduates of Loyola Marymount University’s liberal arts general studies major earn $17,455 more than the average college graduate in this field shortly after graduation.

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FAQs About the Best Liberal Arts Colleges in California 2023

Why is California good for education?

California has some of the best public college systems in the country. They also have top companies in technology, entertainment, green energy, and innovation where students can participate in internship programs.

What is the lowest GPA for CSU?

The average GPA for California residents and graduates of California high schools is 2.50 or higher. However, any California resident or high school graduate with a GPA between 2.00 and 2.49 may be considered for admission based on additional criteria.

Is a liberal arts college worth it?

The Association of American Colleges and Universities posits that “four out of five employers agree that all students should acquire comprehensive knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.” Therefore, having a liberal arts degree may help you stand out from the competition when looking for a job after graduation.


California is one of the best states to study because there is an abundance of opportunities in the state. Whether you are desiring to study in the top liberal arts colleges in the Country. The best liberal arts universities in California provide a wide range of degree programs as well as opportunities for a unique and enriching educational experience.

Additionally, if you are a lover of adventure, California may be the best state to study. Not only will you have the opportunity to intern and work in the top tech and entertainment industries, but you will have access to its beautiful landscapes and parks.

However, because the cost of living in California is very high, you should make sure you’re financially prepared before enrolling in any of the institutions.

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