The cost of college tuition seems to never cease rising year after year. And in a past article, we analyzed the most expensive public colleges in the U.S. because, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and required fees for a four-year public institution has increased more than the average cost of tuition for four-year private, not-for-profit colleges over the last 30 years. Here, we’re going to focus on the most expensive colleges in California, one of the states that is home to the most colleges in the country.

Based on a combination of data from the NCES and BrokeScholar, we analyzed every four-year public and private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in California in order to identify which ones are the costliest. Average costs of tuition and required fees were sourced from the NCES and are for the academic year 2021-2022.

Read on to find out which schools are the most expensive colleges in California.

The Most Expensive Colleges in California

Looking over the list of the most expensive colleges in California, the clearest pattern that emerges is one that should be expected: Private, not-for-profit colleges, on average, charge higher rates of tuition and required fees. The cost of tuition at public colleges and universities differs from what private colleges charge because the cost at public schools varies depending on if the student lives in-state where the institution is located or if the student is out-of-state. As a result, out-of-state public college tuition is always more expensive than the cost of in-state tuition.

Below is a list of the most expensive colleges and universities in California, ranked in order of the highest average cost of in-state and out-of-state tuition:

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1. University of Southern California (USC)

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $61,503
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $61,503
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $61,503

2. Harvey Mudd College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $60,703
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $60,703
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $60,703

3. Pepperdine University

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $59,702
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $59,702
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $59,702

4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $58,680
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $58,680
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $58,680

5. Chapman University

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $58,634
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $58,634
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $58,634

6. Scripps College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $58,442
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $58,442
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $58,442

7. Occidental College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $58,426
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $58,426
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $58,426

8. Claremont McKenna College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $58,111
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $58,111
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $58,111

9. Pitzer College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $57,978
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $57,978
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $57,978

10. Pomona College

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $56,686
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $56,686
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $56,686

11. Stanford University

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $56,169
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $56,169
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $56,169

12. Santa Clara University

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $55,860
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $55,860
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $55,860

13. University of Redlands

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $54,066
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $54,066
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $54,066

14. Loyola Marymount University

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $53,472
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $53,472
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $53,472

15. University of San Francisco

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $53,472
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $53,472
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $53,472

16. California Institute of the Arts

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $53,466
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $53,466
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $53,466

17. University of San Diego

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $52,864
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $52,864
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $52,864

18. University of the Pacific

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $52,352
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $52,352
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $52,352

19. California College of the Arts

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $52,312
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $52,312
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $52,312

20. Saint Mary’s College of California

  • Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit
  • In-state tuition and required fees: $51,768
  • Out-of-state tuition and required fees: $51,768
  • Average of in-state and out-of-state: $51,768

As you can see, all 20 of the most expensive colleges in California are private, not-for-profit institutions. In fact, the top 59 most expensive colleges in California are private, not-for-profit institutions. The 60th most expensive is a public college — the University of California, San Diego, which has an estimated in-state cost of tuition and required fees of $14,700 and out-of-state of $44,454.

Note: Costs of tuition and fees here are based on data sourced from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), and may not reflect updated costs on individual college websites.

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