Computer Science Programs in California 2022

| Doug Wintemute Modified on June 21, 2022

Computer Science Programs in California 2022
Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?

California's tech industry employed more than 1 million professionals in 2021, comprising 10% of California's entire workforce. In addition to large workforces and ample access to professional opportunities, California offers high wages for technology professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state provides some of the country's highest annual average wages for many tech positions, such as software developer, computer systems analyst, and information systems manager.

Earning a computer science degree in California prepares students for many of the state's in-demand careers. The following page highlights some degree options for computer science students, along with potential career opportunities.

California at a Glance

  • Population: 39,613,493
  • Median Household Income: $80,440
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 416
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 10%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $520 billion
  • Climate: Average Annual Temperature: 59.4 ℉ | Annual Precipitation: 22.2 inches
  • Major Sports Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Clippers

Why Go to College for Computer Science in California?

Computer science students in California can choose from over 400 higher education institutions. In addition to the many on-campus programs, the state offers online programs, which offer students flexibility and accessibility.

More than 2.7 million California students attended degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 59% of students in the California State University system graduate from their four-year program within six years in 2019, slightly less than the national average.

California increased its funding for higher education, offering more financial and academic support for transferring students. Furthermore, the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools aims to improve computer science education in the state's K-12 programs, ensuring students are prepared for the training after high school.

Education Statistics for California

California offers strong educational attainment numbers, with students completing bachelor's and master's degrees at above-average rates. This data indicates increased job competition, but it also suggests that students find educational success at higher levels.

California Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 296 2,340
Number of Two-Year Colleges 107 945
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 73.1% 72.8%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $9,500 $8,600
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 6.8% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 7.8% 8.5%
Percentage of Adults over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 21.2% 19.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 12.8% 12.4%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for California Schools

Accreditation informs students, employers, and other institutions that a school or program meets a high quality standard. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission regionally accredits California schools. Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits computer science programs.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Considerations for a Computer Science Degree in California

For students to feel confident about their school decisions, they should consider a variety of factors. Location, for example, may influence students' learning experiences, finances, and careers after graduation. Read on to learn about potential degree types, study options, and career paths for students in California.

Computer Science Degree Levels

Before committing to a computer science degree in California, students should think about their educational and professional interests. The following list highlights degree level options for computer science learners.

  • Associate Degree in Computer Science: An associate degree in computer science delivers fundamental training in the field, preparing graduates for entry-level professions, such as web developer. Learn more.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science: Bachelor's degrees in computer science provide comprehensive training and prepare graduates for a variety of computer and information technology careers. Learn more.
  • Master's Degree in Computer Science: A master's degree in computer science delves into more specialized training and prepares graduates for leadership and managerial roles. Learn more.
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science: Doctoral degrees in computer science emphasize advanced specializations and research, which typically prepare graduates for careers in research and academia.Learn more.

Computer Science Concentration Options

Students can fine-tune their educational experiences and prospective career pathways through concentrations. The following concentrations lead to promising careers with strong long-term growth projections and high annual mean wages.

  • Web Development: Web development concentrations cover major programming languages and software applications. Students learn about contemporary media standards, website architectures, and database integration. Graduates can work as web developers and other computer science professionals.
  • Computer Systems: Computer systems concentrations focus on the application of information systems to solve business problems. Students learn to analyze organizational needs and design and implement solutions. This training prepares learners for many information systems management careers.
  • Software Development: Software development concentrations explore the fundamentals of software engineering, programming, algorithms, and operating systems. Students learn to identify needs, design software to address them, and implement new systems effectively. Graduates can work as software developers and other computer science professionals.

A program's delivery format can affect degree length, tuition expenses, and student outcomes, so learners should choose the format that aligns with their needs and interests.

On-Campus

On-campus programs provide students with ample opportunities to interact and collaborate with peers and professors in real time. Students can also take advantage of the many resources and facilities available on campus.

Online Programs

Online programs give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Online programs can also reduce travel and tuition costs. To succeed in this format, students need self-discipline and motivation.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine online and on-campus learning, though specifics vary by program. Some programs may require students to attend half or more of their classes on campus, while others require few campus visits. Either way, learners enjoy both flexible online study and interactive on-campus classes.

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
CA Students 11.6% 17.5% 70.9%
United States Students 16.3% 18.4% 65.3%

Source: NCES

Paying for Your Computer Science Degree

California offers below-average in-state tuition rates for both two- and four-year public schools, but attending college still requires a significant financial investment. Students can take advantage of many financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education, such as loans, scholarships, and grants. Learners can find financial aid opportunities through sources like the government, private businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in California, 2019-2020
California National
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) 8,192 $9,349
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $32,177 $27,023
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year) $33,483 $30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $1,270 $3,377
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $8,194 $8,126

Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state learners generally pay higher tuition rates than in-state learners. Out-of-state tuition at California's public schools costs more than three times in-state tuition, but out-of-state learners can access some opportunities to help bridge the gap.

For instance, students from certain states can pay lower tuition rates at some California schools and programs through the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Out-of-state learners can also access online programs in California, which may feature standard online tuition rates for all students, regardless of their state of residence.

California's Cost of Living

In addition to tuition costs, learners should consider how the local cost of living might impact their finances. According to the World Population Review, California's cost of living index sits at 151.7, the second-highest in the country. Compared to the national average of 100, California features some of the nation's highest costs for groceries, housing, and transportation.

Therefore, California students should invest even more time and energy into their financial aid research and preparation. By finding the greatest possible savings on tuition, these learners can reduce the impact of a higher cost of living on their overall financial situation.

Other School Selection Criteria

Before settling on a school, students should weigh a variety of considerations to find the best institution for their needs. Learners might look into school and class sizes and examine faculty credentials. On-campus students may value schools with better facilities, while distance learners can seek out strong online support resources.

Students should also consider how each prospective program's length, concentration offerings, and internship options might help them achieve their career goals. Additionally, candidates should examine the application processes and requirements at each school, which may give insight into each program's competitiveness and learning environment.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates in California

Computer science graduates can enter one of the country's most lucrative fields. The BLS projects computer occupations to grow 13%vfrom 2020-2030.

California boasts one of the strongest economies in the U.S., including among the most vibrant business environments. According to CyberStates' interactive map, California features the most tech-related positions in the country, as well as the most significant job growth, the highest wages, and the largest economic impact.

California, like many states, offers many job opportunities in its metropolitan centers. Areas such as San Jose, Sacramento, and San Francisco house some of the tech industry's strongest career environments. The following sections highlight some specific computer science careers and what they look like in California.

Select Computer Science Careers in California

Web Developers

Web developers write front- and back-end code for websites, ensuring that all facets of each site function correctly. These professionals often work with clients to create websites to their exact specifications. They also maintain the sites and troubleshoot any issues.

Job Outlook in California: +16.7% (2018-2028)

Learn more.

Software Developers

Software developers design and create computer programs and applications. They identify user needs and build software to address those areas. These professionals also test, maintain, and improve software. Developers may work with programmers and designers to create optimal programs for mobile, desktop, and operating systems.

Job Outlook in California: +11.9% (2018-2028)

Learn more.

Computer Hardware Engineers

Hardware engineers take charge of designing and manufacturing computer systems. They analyze problems and create computer system solutions for organizations. They may run tests, analyze results, and supervise hardware installation. These professionals also make improvements and updates to existing hardware to make sure everything runs effectively.

Job Outlook in California: +10.6% (2018-2028)

Learn more.

Computer Science Employers in California

  • Google: Specializing in internet-related products and services, Google provides many job opportunities for computer science graduates in California, with nine locations in the state. Google hires computer science graduates to support software and hardware development, programming, and database architecture.
  • Facebook: Facebook leads California tech companies in terms of computer science employment. Graduates may find work in the company's data and analytics, software engineering, and technical program management sectors.
  • Cisco: Headquartered in the middle of Silicon Valley, Cisco designs and manufactures telecommunications hardware and software. It also provides technology services and products. Computer science professionals can find careers in hardware, software, and network engineering. They can also pursue careers in the information technology or cloud services divisions.

California Employment Trends



CA Employment Numbers by Career

  • Web Developers: 20,920
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators: 33,630
  • Computer Programmers: 24,400
  • Database Administrators: 13,530
  • Computer Systems Analysts: 64,260
  • Information Security Analysts: 9,200
  • Software Developers: 249,620
  • Computer Hardware Engineers: 19,940
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists: 7,370
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers: 75,700

Source: BLS OES

The computer and information technology industry provides plenty of opportunities for graduates across the country but few states beat California in this respect. California features one of the top-three largest workforces for each of the jobs listed above, and for several of those jobs, it offers one of the most concentrated industries.

According to Projections Central, many positions are projected to grow faster than the national average between 2018-2028. The above table also illuminates some of the financial rewards for computer science careers in California. The annual mean wages for each of the above careers rank among the country's highest.

Curious about other computer science jobs? Explore more here:

Top 5 Computer Science Programs in California Rankings

If you want a quick path to a lucrative computer science career in California, read on for five of the state's top programs. Click the link below for information on our rankings methodology.

#1 Online College in California

Pomona College

School Information
Location Claremont, California
Admission Rate 7%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Claremont-based Pomona was established in 1887 as a private liberal arts college. The founding institution of the seven Claremont Colleges, Pomona attracts students from across the U.S. and world.

Computer Science Major

Degree-seekers can pursue a computer science major that emphasizes databases, operating systems, and security. Learners also explore artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and natural language processing. Core topics cover algorithms, programming languages, and computer science systems and theory. 

The hands-on curriculum includes oral presentations, technical writing, and a senior seminar. Students can complete an optional senior project or thesis. Learners work alone and in teams to analyze and solve complex issues. Juniors and seniors attend required colloquiums on current research and career options. Graduates may enter the workforce or pursue advanced studies.

Applying to Pomona

Pomona considers application packages as a whole, including GPA, recommendations, and personal essays. The school considers personal qualities just as important as academic achievement.  

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 
  • Tuition: $56,284 per year for full-time students
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 13%
#2 Online College in California

Occidental College

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 37%
Graduation Rate 86%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Founded in 1887, Oxy was Los Angeles' first liberal arts college. Enrollees benefit from the school's proximity to downtown. They can complete internships, partnerships, and programs like Upward Bound. 

Computer Science Major

Oxy offers a major in computer science with three pathways: traditional computer science; CS with a mathematics emphasis; and CS + X, a student-proposed interdisciplinary concentration. Learners can also take additional classes at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) or transfer to Caltech or Columbia University after their third year through Oxy's 3-2 Engineering Program.  

Core classes include fundamentals of computer science, machine learning, and mobile applications. Teams of students participate in a practicum and offer solutions to real-world problems. Fourth-year enrollees take a senior seminar and complete a project.

Applying to Oxy

Oxy accepts the Common App. Prospective students submit short-answer responses, a school report, and counselor recommendation forms. Oxy also requires official transcripts, a senior midyear report, and two teacher recommendations. Applicants can choose to submit standardized test scores.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 
  • Tuition: $59,970 per year for full-time students
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 45%
#3 Online College in California

Harvey Mudd College

School Information
Location Claremont, California
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Claremont-based Harvey Mudd focuses on engineering, science, and mathematics. The college opened in 1957 with 48 learners and currently serves about 900 enrollees. 

Computer Science Major

Harvey Mudd offers a computer science major that combines aspects of experimentation, design, and theory. The program prepares students for industry employment and graduate study. Enrollees typically take either introduction to computer science or introduction to biology and computer science before taking core classes and electives.

Core foundation classes include principles of computer science, discrete mathematics, and computability and logic. Electives include computer science education research, advanced computer architecture, and robotics. Degree-seekers complete junior and senior colloquiums.  They also complete a two-semester clinic that involves working on a team research project and presentation.

Applying to Harvey Mudd

Applicants submit the Common App or Coalition Application. Prospective students also provide short-answer responses, a personal essay, and transcripts. Harvey Mudd requires a school report and counselor and teacher recommendations. The school makes standardized test scores and admission interviews optional.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 
  • Tuition: $60,402 per year for full-time students
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 39%
#4 Online College in California

University of California-Los Angeles

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 12%
Graduation Rate 92%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Part of the vast University of California system, UCLA sits on 49 acres on the west side of Los Angeles. The school offers an urban college experience for its nearly 46,000 students. UCLA celebrated 100 years in 2019.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering

UCLA's Samueli School of Engineering offers two computer science bachelor's degrees. Learners can pursue a bachelor's in computer science (CS) or a bachelor's in computer science and engineering (CS&E). Students interested in both computer science and computer system hardware often choose the CS&E track.

The CS program emphasizes design, development, and production in the engineering and application of software systems and algorithmic methods. CS&E focuses on the interface of computers and physical systems.

Enrollees develop strong communication and collaboration skills. Graduates may enter the technology workforce or pursue further study.

Applying to UCLA

First-year students apply in the fall and complete the UC application. Prospective learners submit their academic histories, activities, and awards. They also provide answers to personal insight questions. UCLA considers applicants' GPAs, academic rigor, class rank, and special talents.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; WASC Senior College and University Commission 
  • Tuition: $11,442 per year for in-state students; $41,196 per year for out-of-state students 
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Delivery Format: On-campus with some potential remote delivery
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 29%
#5 Online College in California

University of California-Berkeley

School Information
Location Berkeley, California
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 93%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Berkeley, situated across the bay from San Francisco, was founded in 1868 as California's first land-grant university. The school originally focused on agriculture and mechanical arts. Today, Berkeley educates over 45,000 students at 14 schools and colleges. 

Computer Science Major

Housed in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Berkeley's career-focused computer science major prepares graduates for careers as data analysts, software engineers, and web developers.

Prior to declaring computer science as their major, students must complete prerequisites. These include data structures, discrete mathematics and probability theory, and structure and interpretation of computer programs. Students need a 3.3 GPA. 

Major classes include computer architecture and engineering, feedback control systems, and introduction to robotics. Upper-division technical elective choices can span university departments, including electrical engineering and computer science.

The department also offers an electrical engineering and computer science major. 

Applying to Berkeley

Prospective students apply to the College of Letters & Science and indicate computer science as their intended major. Applicants need high school prerequisites. Prospective in-state students need a 3.0 GPA. Out-of-state students need a 3.4 GPA.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission 
  • Tuition: $14,226 per year for in-state students; $43,980 per year for out-of-state students
  • Program Length: Four years 
  • Delivery Format: On-campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 22%

Frequently Asked Questions

Is computer science a good major in California?

A computer science major is one of California's most attractive study options. The state's information technology industry is by far the largest in the country, and computer science degrees provide students with the skills and tools necessary for the field.

What is the best field in computer science in California?

California hosts many computer science jobs with strong growth and earning potential, such as computer systems manager, network administrator, and software developer.

What computer science jobs are there in California?

Computer science graduates can access many careers in California. The state is home to some of the country's largest workforces for web developers, software developers, and systems managers.

Can I get a computer science degree in California?

California hosts nearly 450 colleges and universities, many of which offer computer science degrees. Students can find programs at all levels, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees.

Does California have online computer science programs?

Many California schools offer online computer science programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 55% of California students took classes exclusively online in 2020.

Professional Computer Science Organizations in California

  • Computer Science for California: CSforCA strives to improve access to and the quality of computer science education in California. The organization unites professionals, educators, and higher education institutions, all dedicated to promoting, advocating for, and advancing the field.
  • California Software Professional Association: Committed to improving leadership and education in the field, the CSPA boasts more than 30 years of experience assisting computer software professionals in California. Members can access education, career, and networking opportunities.
  • Association for Computer Machinery: The ACM connects professionals, educators, and researchers in an effort to promote, advance, and improve leadership in the field. Members enjoy access to education, professional news and resources, and industry events.
  • Association for Women in Computing: With its national headquarters in California, the AWC assists women in advancing their careers and the industry. Members can access professional networking, continuing education, and mentoring opportunities.

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