Top 15 Online Post-Graduate Schools in California 2020

Pursuing a post-graduate education often poses a number of challenges. By the time you’re ready to pursue a doctoral degree, you’re probably already working full-time in your field. This full-time employment and experience are seen as a benefit (and sometimes a requirement) by schools, but leaving your job to move to a school can uproot your life.

If you’re also balancing family obligations, then an online degree may be the solution. The Top 15 Online Post-Graduate Schools California 2020 offer online degrees so that you can pursue the next step in your education remotely, with minimal or no on-campus requirements. 


These online post-graduate schools offer programs in a variety of formats. Some programs are available entirely online, while others require students to attend on-campus intensives periodically throughout their education. Other programs are available in a hybrid format, combining more on-campus time with online learning. All of these programs utilize online learning and offer more scheduling flexibility than traditional on-campus programs provide. In many cases, you may be able to log in and complete coursework at any time. Some classes do incorporate pre-scheduled login times to help generate student and faculty discussion, but often these courses are scheduled with the needs of a full-time working professional in mind.

When deciding which school is right for you, it’s important to realize that schools receive authorization to award online degrees on a state-by-state basis. This means that while schools may offer online degrees, those degrees may not be available to students living in particular states. If you are interested in a particular school, it is best to contact that school to make sure that the programs and degrees you want to pursue are available to students living in your state. If you live in California, then looking at schools located in your state that provide online degrees can help simplify this process. You may also be eligible for special school-sponsored scholarships or additional financial aid benefits when you attend a school within your state, even if you’re attending remotely.


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.

Each degree is then ranked using the information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page.


California Baptist University offers over 40 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees online through its Division of Online and Professional Studies and CBU Online. Students are assigned an advisor who helps them navigate their entire education at CBU, and students have the option to take online, hybrid, or in-person courses. Many CBU Online programs offer a 16-month completion option, and the three-semester year-round design allows students to graduate faster. The university uses the latest technology in its online courses, including Blackboard 9.1 Premium, WebEx, Movi-Cisco, and more. Students also have 24/7 access to online tutoring support in multiple subjects, helping to ensure their academic success.

While programs are offered online, CBU Online has a number of campuses throughout California where students can attend hybrid courses. Two campuses are located in Riverside, and one is in Moreno Valley. The university is transfer-friendly, offering credit for military experience, emergency service personnel certification, and professional teaching service and certifications. CBU Online has received numerous recognitions from the U.S. News & World Report. CBU Online was ranked 42nd in the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs ranking, 1st in the Graduate Education Faculty Credentials and Training ranking, first in the MBA Faculty Credentials and Training ranking, and 28th in the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Veterans ranking.

Score: 100


At California State University, Fullerton, students can explore a variety of online certificate programs and online degree completion programs. Online certificate programs last between 6 and 12 months, and students acquire skill sets that are in demand in today’s job market. Certificate programs are offered in Data Science, Digital Marketing, Geographic Information Systems, Professional Fiduciary Management, Human Resources Management, and User Experience and Customer-Centered Design. Online degrees offer the same quality education that students would receive on-campus, and students may choose to earn a BA in Business Administration, a BA in Sociology, or a BA in Humanities & Social Sciences online. The university also offers a number of online certificates and credentials for educators.

As of Fall 2018, Cal State Fullerton’s enrollment was over 39,700 students, including international students from 79 different nations. The university has 9 different colleges and departments in areas such as the arts, engineering and computer science, and natural sciences and mathematics. In 2018, the U.S. News & World Report ranked CSUF as one of the top universities in the nation, and Money magazine ranked CSUF in the top 12% of its Best Colleges for Your Money ranking. Forbes also recognizes CSUF as being one of the best value United States institutions, and in 2018, Washington Monthly ranked CSUF as #6 for having the lowest net price among national universities.

Score: 87.4


Cal State East Bay’s online campus offers over 100 online and hybrid academic courses. Students in search of general education courses can explore over 70,000 courses offered by over 100 California colleges; these courses qualify for CSU transfer credits, allowing students to explore a wide range of course offerings while finding courses that fit their interests and schedule. Cal State East Bay offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees online in a variety of fields such as Ethnic Studies, Hospitality and Tourism, Business Studies, Education, Health Care Administration, and more. Students have access to both asynchronous and synchronous online tutoring and support with writing assignments.

Founded in 1957, Cal State East Bay features campuses in Hayward and Concord, and a professional center is located in Oakland. As of Fall 2018, approximately 20% of Cal State East Bay’s education was delivered via online and hybrid courses, and 10% of Cal State East Bay students were taking courses entirely online. In 2017-2018, 68% of students received financial aid, and $134 million in financial aid was awarded to students during the academic year. Cal State East Bay features NCAA Division II athletic teams. Prominent alumni include Olympic pentathlete Marilyn E. King, founder of 24 Hour Fitness Mark Mastrov, and Tony Award-winning Broadway actor James M. Iglehart.

Score: 86.8


The University of Southern California, a leading private research university, offers online graduate and professional programs through USC Online. These global programs allow students to access a USC education no matter where in the world they’re located. Currently, students can choose from over 100 online programs taught by 4,000 distinguished faculty who are scholars, researchers, and teachers in their fields. USC has been facilitating remote learning opportunities since 1972 and today, the university’s online programs utilize immersive media technology. All of the courses are convenient and offer flexible scheduling, and some courses also incorporate real-time virtual discussions between students and faculty.

USC is frequently recognized for the quality of its education programs. The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked USC as 15th out of 1,061 public and private universities throughout the nation. Additionally, the U.S. News & World Report listed USC’s School of Education, Graduate Physical Therapy program, and Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs at the top of their corresponding rankings. USC was ranked second best in the Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs and in the Online Graduate Engineering Programs rankings, and its Online MBA program was listed as 8th best in the country. With a comprehensive online program offering in topics such as dentistry, engineering, geographic information science, law, pharmacy, and more, students will have plenty of choices should they decide to pursue an education through USC Online.

Score: 86.6


Brandman University is a private, nonprofit educational institution that offers programs designed specifically for working adults. In order to accommodate the scheduling needs of working professionals, Brandman’s programs are offered online as well as on campus at the university’s 25 locations throughout California and Washington. Students who live outside of California and Washington can complete their degrees entirely online. Brandman offers undergraduate, graduate, credential, and certificate programs with flexible class schedules and hybrid classes take place during the evenings, accommodating common work schedules. Doctorate students progress through their degree programs in cohorts, and cohort groups meet on-campus on a monthly basis.

At Brandman, the average student age is 36, and in 2016, 84% of graduates worked while they were taking classes. Additionally, 58% of Brandman students have one or more dependents at the time that they graduate. The university offers both competency-based and course-based learning options, so students can choose the format that best works with their schedule. Once admitted, students work with academic advisors throughout the duration of their degree program. Students also have access to career services to help them plan their career, search for jobs, and more. Brandman has an 82% graduation rate, and 9 out of 10 Brandman students say that they would recommend the university to a friend.

Format: Online


Pepperdine University, a Christian university, offers online masters and doctoral degrees that provide students a quality education with plenty of flexibility. Many courses combine live-streamed classes and in-person experiences, allowing students to earn a degree without having to attend any on-campus courses. Pepperdine also offers faculty mentoring to help guide students through their education and prepare them to be leaders in their professions. Over 84% of Pepperdine students get hands-on experience to prepare them for their careers through options like student teaching and internships. Upon graduation, Pepperdine online students will be in good company; Pepperdine is home to over 110,000 alumni, and its alumni network has 32 chapters both within the country and abroad.

Founded in 1937, Pepperdine has six campuses throughout California, with the main campus located in Malibu. The main campus is home to the Seaver College, the School of Law, the Graziadio School of Business Management, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and the School of Public Policy. Across the five schools, students can choose from 73 different degree programs. Pepperdine has also been nationally recognized, and the U.S. News & World Report ranked the university 29th in its Best Value Schools ranking. Forbes placed Pepperdine 10th in its Most Entrepreneurial Universities ranking, and Kiplinger ranked Pepperdine as 9th in its list of the Best College Value in the West/Southwest.

Score: 80.7


Concordia University Irvine, a not-for-profit institution, has offered traditional education programs for 40 years. Now, the university offers online programs through CUI Online, giving students scheduling flexibility that traditional on-campus instruction doesn’t provide. CUI Online students have access to all of the support services that are offered to traditional students, such as career services, writing assistance, research resources, and the support of a faculty advisor. Students may pursue bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificate programs online. During their degree programs, CUI Online students receive personal attention and mentorship from faculty who are invested in their success.

Many online programs can be isolating, but CUI’s programs take a different approach. Here, courses feature synchronous learning experiences where students can interact with faculty in real time. The online courses are engaging and interactive, and students are able to do their coursework from anywhere, as long as they have a laptop. Students who live in Southern California have the option to complete their work online but also meet in-person for courses in Irvine or at satellite locations. CUI takes a unique approach to education, and the U.S. News & World Report has ranked CUI as a Top Tier Regional University. The Chronicle of Higher Education also recognized CUI as one of the fastest-growing private nonprofit master’s institutions.

Score: 79.0


With six campus locations throughout Southern California, Azusa Pacific University offers over 200 online and traditional on-campus degree programs. This Christian university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees online, as well as a variety of certificate programs. Online students are taught by the same faculty who teach the university’s on-campus courses, and they also have access to many student support resources including academic advising, the University Writing Center, the Academic Success Center, and more. Through Azusa Pacific’s online degree programs, students can earn their degrees without ever needing to attend campus, and are able to complete their coursework where and when it’s convenient for them.

Founded in 1899, Azusa Pacific has prepared students to be leaders and change-makers. That tradition continues through the university’s online courses. Courses are equipped with chat features that allow students and faculty to hold conversations in real time, and students are able to submit assignments and receive feedback online. Additional discussion is facilitated through online forums. These online courses and degrees allow students to access a quality Azusa Pacific education, even if they might not otherwise be able to attend in-person courses. The U.S. News & World Report regularly recognizes Azusa Pacific as one of the best colleges in the country.

Score: 77.2


Loyola Marymount University has two campuses in Los Angeles and is home to 6,000 undergraduates and 2,200 graduate students. Its School of Education offers six degree and certificate programs partially or fully online. Degrees include a Master of Arts in Literacy Instruction for Urban Environments, a Master of Arts in Reading Instruction, a Master of Arts in Catholic Archdiocesan School Teachers, and a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The university also offers a School Psychology program online where students have the opportunity to earn an Education Specialist or Master of Arts degree.

LMU is a private Catholic university that is rooted in both Jesuit and Marymount traditions. The university was founded in 1911 and today offers 61 majors and 55 minors. The Graduate Division offers 49 different master’s degrees, three doctorate degrees, and 13 credential programs. The U.S. News & World Report ranked LMU third in its Best Universities with Master’s Programs in the West ranking for 2019 and ranked LMU’s School of Education 57th in its national Best Graduate Schools ranking for 2020. In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education recognized LMU as being a top producer of Fulbright student scholars.

Score: 75.4


Located in San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University was founded in 1902. The university offers a variety of graduate degrees online, including a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Kinesiology. A Doctorate of Nursing Practice is also offered as a hybrid program, combining online coursework with face-to-face intensives in San Diego. Students may also choose to pursue a variety of certificate and added authorization graduate degrees online, such as an Instructional Design with Technology Certificate, and a Clear Education Specialist Credential. Additional graduate degrees are offered in hybrid formats, including a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Arts in Teaching.

PLNU is a Christian faith-based liberal arts university. At PLNU, a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio means students can develop one-on-one relationships with faculty. Founded in 1902, the university offers over 60 undergraduate degrees, in addition to graduate and doctoral programs. PLNU is home to over 4,000 students, including over 1,400 graduate students. PLNU has also received national recognition for the quality education it provides. The U.S. News & World Report included PLNU in the top 20 institutions of its 2019 Regional Universities West ranking, and has ranked PLNU among the top 3 best Christian colleges in California.

Score: 71.8


Loma Linda University is dedicated to offering a digital education to its students, and therefore offers a variety of degrees in online and hybrid formats. The School of Allied Health Professions, School of Behavioral Health, School of Nursing, School of Public Health, and School of Religion all offer online programs ranging from bachelor’s degrees to master’s degrees to doctoral degrees to certificate programs. Some programs are offered entirely online with no face-to-face meetings, while others require one or more face-to-face meetings. Additionally, some programs are available at off-campus locations. In order to determine the digital needs of the university and the best way to meet its future needs, the Provost created a Digital Education Task Force.

LLU is a Seventh-day Adventist university that is comprised of eight different schools. The university was founded in 1905 and is home to over 4,000 students and six hospitals. The student body includes students from over 80 countries who come to this public health university to pursue everything from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees. The university offers 122 degree and certificate programs in areas including pharmacy, behavioral health, nursing, medicine, and religion. LLU also has a thriving research program, and research areas and achievements at LLU include the first infant heart transplant, studies of fetal development, treatment of prostate cancer, and pain control in dentistry.

Score: 67.2


The California Institute of Integral Studies has offered online education options for 25 years. The online programs allow students to learn from faculty all over the world, and incorporate plenty of individualized attention, thanks to the small class sizes. Currently, CIIS offers 7 online degree programs, including a doctoral program in Transformative Studies, a doctoral program in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, and a Master of Arts in Transformative Leadership. Students enrolled in these online programs start each semester by attending a residential intensive located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each intensive lasts between three and seven days, and students attend workshops, presentations, collaborative learning opportunities, and also have the chance to receive faculty advising.

CIIS is located in San Francisco. The institute was originally founded with an emphasis on Asian religions and cultures, but its focus has since evolved and now includes topics such as psychology, religion, counseling, cultural anthropology, and more. As of Fall 2018, CIIS’s enrollment was over 1,400 students, with 53% of students pursuing a master’s degree and 42% of students pursuing a doctoral degree. Fifty-four percent of CIIS’s core faculty are women, and 31% are faculty of color. At CIIS, students have access to a comprehensive library with excellent resources, including more than 158,000 books in print and in electronic form, more than 14,000 electronic journals, and 146 print journals. CIIS is home to over 8,000 alumni who reside in 43 different countries.

Score: 63.3


Trident University International is a 100% online university that offers a variety of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, in addition to professional certificates, all available entirely online. Doctor of Philosophy degrees are available in Business Administration, Educational Leadership, and Health Sciences, and students will need to complete dissertations and oral defenses. Alternatively, doctoral students may pursue a Doctor of Business Administration or Doctor of Education degree online at Trident. Regardless of which degree students pursue, they will receive individualized support both from faculty and from their student success advisor.

To date, over 27,000 students have graduated from Trident and have received guidance and education from the university’s predominantly doctorate faculty. At Trident, students may access a number of resources to help them pay for their education, including federal financial aid, military tuition assistance, and public and private scholarships. Trident’s Higher One TuitionPay program breaks a student’s tuition down into two or four payments, all without incurring interest. Trident is also a military-friendly college and is home to more than 22,000 military and veteran alumni. In 2018, Trident received a Military Times Best College ranking for the third consecutive year.

Score: 62.0


Located in El Cajon, Southern California Seminary offers eight biblical study degrees entirely online. The seminary’s Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Counseling, and Master of Arts in Philosophy and Apologetics are three of these fully online degree options. The Doctor of Ministry degree also has online course availability. With Southern California Seminary’s online courses, students enjoy scheduling flexibility and the ability to study wherever they’re located. New courses start every seven weeks, allowing students to quickly start working on their degrees without unnecessary delay. Students who study online receive an education that is backed by Southern California Seminary’s 70 years of ministry and academic experience.

Founded in 1946, Southern California Seminary is a private institution offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. At the seminary’s El Cajon campus, students can pursue programs taught in English and in Korean. The seminary also has a teaching site located in Los Angeles. A Christian institution, Southern California Seminary is dedicated to helping students “from every race, ethnicity, continent, and language group serve the living God and His church.” As a result, the seminary’s student body is multi-cultural and multi-lingual. The seminary is also dedicated to keeping education affordable to students who often cannot afford a traditional private Christian education.

Score: 60.6


Samuel Merritt University has a main campus in Oakland, with additional campuses in Sacramento and San Francisco. The university was founded in 1909 and today, works to educate students to become healthcare professionals who positively transform care in diverse communities. Samuel Merritt University offers two degrees online: A Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Additionally, the university offers degrees in Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, and Podiatric Medicine disciplines. At Samuel Merritt University, students are offered clinical experiences in over 1,000 health care facilities, optimizing hands-on learning opportunities.

Students also enjoy a host of valuable resources at Samuel Merritt University. A state-of-the-art human simulation laboratory and Motion Analysis Research Center are located on the Oakland campus. Students begin clinical experiences early on in their programs, and other advantages include small class sizes, accelerated options, and excellent, knowledgeable faculty. Across all programs, Samuel Merritt University offers an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring plenty of individualized attention. As of Fall 2017, 11.3% of full-time students worked on campus through the work-study program. The quality of the education shows in the university’s graduation rates: for 2015-2018, the graduation rate averaged between 90% and 95%.

Score: 57.3