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California is home to over a dozen accredited liberal arts colleges. The schools include top ranked colleges such as Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Occidental, Thomas Aquinas, and Scripps. Liberal arts colleges are private institutions providing students will a well-rounded, holistic curriculum for undergraduate and graduate programs. Schools with a liberal arts pedagogy place emphasis on personal and professional skill development couched within the nexus of a broad-based set of courses. Even though students will eventually focus on an area of study, the purposeful curricular design helps students think differently about the world around them given the array of classes they will take in humanities and social sciences.

Advantages of Attending a Liberal Arts College in California

Students considering a liberal arts education with a California college will have several things to consider that may not be found at other private institutions. The top five reasons to consider a California liberal arts college include the following:

  1. Student Focused: Liberal arts schools are student focused instead of emphasizing research, grants, or innovation.
  2. Class Size: The class sizes at a liberal arts college in California will be noticeably smaller than public universities and most other private colleges. Smaller class sizes provide a great degree of interaction with peers and collaboration along with access to professors.
  3. Preparation: Liberal arts schools have been proven to be exceptional training grounds for students seeking to continue their education in graduate school.
  4. Value: Employers throughout the country seek students with a liberal arts education to fill vital roles within their organizations. In fact, in a recent report by theNACE, survey respondents indicate thatemployershighly value teamwork, communication and analytical skills in employees. These skills are abilities in which liberal arts colleges in California can impart.
  5. Financial Aid: The overall financial aid packages at California liberal arts colleges can be very generous, making highly ranked liberal arts schools within reach for more students.

2021 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in California

Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre is an institution that specializes in theater, and related fields. The school is located in Blue Lake, CA. The largest program offered is the drama master's degree program, with more than 120 aspiring actors graduating in the last several years. Student and special services are available at Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre, giving personal and academic assistance for students, which includes:

  • Employing students to lower education costs
  • Employment search assistance

A strong mark of employment success after graduation is a school's default rate on loans. 6% of students who have graduated from this school have defaulted on their loans.

The National Association of Schools of Theatre, Commission on Accreditation has accredited the instruction & training provided by Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre for over twenty-three straight years. Please visit dellarte.com for more information on programs offered and consumer disclosures.

Enrollment

30

Student to Faculty Ratio

4:1

Enrollment

2,221

Student to Faculty Ratio

18:1

Art Center College of Design, located in Pasadena, CA, is a nonprofit private art institution that offers interested students career training and education in the fields of art and design. Art Center College of Design offers several programs for students to choose from. Here are the programs with more popularity among aspiring artists:

  • Fine Arts and Art Studies
  • Industrial Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Cinematography And Film
  • Photography
  • Advertising

To help students and alumni succeed, Art Center College of Design may provide services including:

  • Academic counseling for students
  • Employing students to lower education costs

Students can use various means to evaluate school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. Art Center College of Design has a yearly graduation rate of 54%, and a loan default rate of near 4%.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities has accredited the education provided by Art Center College of Design for over fifty-nine straight years. Get more information by visiting the school's official website, where you can see classes offered, financial aid & tuition, and disclosures.

Enrollment

2,249

Student to Faculty Ratio

8:1

Otis College of Art and Design, located in Los Angeles, CA, is a nonprofit private art institution that offers interested students career training in the fields of art and design. Otis Art Institute has more than ten different programs available to students, including degrees as high as a Master's degree. Listed below are the more popular programs offered:

  • Film, Video and Photographic Arts
  • Fashion Design
  • Design and Visual Communications
  • Fine Studio Arts

Student and special services are available at Otis College of Art and Design, providing personal and academic assistance for students, which includes:

  • Weekend and night classes available
  • Counseling assistance
  • Work study style employment
  • Assistance to find work

Students can use a variety of means to evaluate school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. Otis Art Institute has a yearly graduation rate of 52%, and a loan default rate of near 8%.

The last reported accreditation for Otis College of Art and Design was done by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Get more information by visiting the school's official website, where you can see classes offered, financial aid & tuition, and disclosures.

Enrollment

1,144

Student to Faculty Ratio

8:1

CCA is a nonprofit private art school located in Oakland, CA, that provides specialized education and training in a variety of art related fields. Over twenty different programs are offered at California College of the Arts, with a Master's degree being the highest level offered. Listed below are the programs with more popularity among aspiring artists:

  • Creative Writing
  • Architecture
  • Painting
  • Design and Visual Communications
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration

To help students and recent graduates, CCA may provide some services to students like those listed below:

  • Remedial instructional courses
  • Career path counseling
  • Work study style employment

Student success after graduation may be determined by a number of factors, including graduation rate and loan default. At CCA, the graduation rate is around 49%, and the school has an average loan default rate of around 4%.

The last reported accreditation for California College of the Arts was done by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Please visit cca.edu for more information on programs offered and consumer disclosures.

Enrollment

1,805

Student to Faculty Ratio

11:1

Located in Hollywood, California, Musicians Institute is a private institution that provides professional level education and training in music and music theory. Musicians Institute offers several programs for students to choose from. Some of the more popular programs being offered for students includes:

  • Music Performance
  • Music

Student and special services are available at Musicians Institute, offering personal and academic assistance for students, which includes:

  • Night and weekend classes available
  • Remedial instructional courses
  • Counseling assistance
  • Employing students to lower education costs
  • Assistance to find work

Student success after graduation may be determined by a number of factors, including graduation rate and loan default. At Musicians Institute, the graduation rate is about 47%, and the school has an average loan default rate of around 14%.

This school has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, Commission on Accreditation, Commission on Community/Junior College Accreditation having first received its accreditation from that agency in 1980. To learn more and get consumer disclosures, you can visit www.mi.edu.

Enrollment

1,105

Student to Faculty Ratio

5:1

California Institute of the Arts is a nonprofit private art school, which is located in Valencia, California. California Institute of the Arts offers more than twenty different programs available to students, with a Doctor's degree being the highest level available. Some of the more popular programs offered for aspiring artists includes:

  • Cinematography And Film
  • Film, Video and Photographic Arts
  • Technical Theatre, Design and Technology
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Fine Studio Arts
Students can use various means to evaluate school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. CalArts has an annual graduation rate of 65%, and a loan default rate of near 4%. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities has accredited the program courses of California Institute of the Arts for over fifty-nine straight years. Please visit calarts.edu for more information on programs offered and consumer disclosures.

Enrollment

1,506

Student to Faculty Ratio

7:1

Located in San Francisco, California, San Francisco Conservatory of Music is a nonprofit private institution that offers professional level education and training in music and music theory. San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers several programs for students to choose from. A list of the more popular programs offered for students includes:

  • Voice and Opera
  • Violin, Viola, Guitar and Other Stringed Instruments
  • Piano and Organ
  • Music Performance
To help support students, San Francisco Conservatory of Music may offer support services like:
  • Remedial instructional courses
  • Career path counseling
  • Employing students to lower education costs
Student success after graduation may be determined by a number of factors, including graduation rate and loan default. At San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the graduation rate is about 75%, and the school has an average loan default rate of around 5%. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities has accredited the instruction & training provided by San Francisco Conservatory of Music for over fifty-three straight years. To see more and get consumer disclosures, please visit sfcm.edu.

Enrollment

398

Student to Faculty Ratio

8:1

Laguna College of Art and Design, located in Laguna Beach, California, is a nonprofit private art institution that offers interested students education in the fields of art and design. The main program offered at this school is fine studio arts at the bachelor's, master's, and post-baccalaureate certificate degree levels, with more than 280 aspiring artists graduating over the last several years. Student and special services are available at Laguna College of Art and Design, providing personal and academic assistance for students, which includes:

  • Remedial instructional courses
  • Academic counseling for students
  • Work study style employment
  • Assisting students to find work

Students can use a variety of means to evaluate school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. Laguna College of Art and Design has an annual graduation rate of 56%, and a loan default rate of around 3%.

The last reported accreditation for this school was done by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. To learn more and get consumer disclosures, please visit lagunacollege.edu.

Enrollment

758

Student to Faculty Ratio

12:1

American Academy of Dramatic Arts - West is a nonprofit private art school, which is located in Los Angeles, CA. The main program offered at this school is drama at the associate's degree level, with more than 330 aspiring artists graduating over the last several years. Students can use a variety of means to evaluate school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. American Academy of Dramatic Arts - West has a yearly graduation rate of 66%, and a loan default rate of near 11%. Get more information by visiting the school's official website, where you can learn about admissions information, tuition, and disclosures.

Enrollment

263

Student to Faculty Ratio

14:1

Design Institute of San Diego, located in San Diego, CA, is a school dedicated to providing education and training in the area of design. The largest program offered is the interior design bachelor's degree program, with more than 320 student designers graduating in the last several years. To help support students, Design Institute of San Diego may provide student services like:

  • Night and weekend classes available
  • Academic counseling for students
  • Work study style employment
  • Assistance to find work

Student success after graduation may be determined by a number of factors, including graduation rate and loan default. At Design Institute of San Diego, the graduation rate is around 62%, and the school has an average loan default rate of around 4%.

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has accredited the instruction & training provided by Design Institute of San Diego for over nineteen straight years. To see more and get consumer disclosures, you can visit disd.edu.

Enrollment

98

Student to Faculty Ratio

7:1

Columbia College Hollywood, located in Tarzana, California, is a nonprofit private art institution that offers students training in the arts. This school is known for offering students bachelor's and associate's degree in Film Studies, with more than 220 students graduating over the last several years. To help students and alumni succeed, Columbia College Hollywood may offer student services including:

  • Weekend and night classes available
  • Remedial instructional courses
  • Career path counseling
  • Work study style employment

Students can use a variety of means to gauge school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. Columbia College Hollywood has a yearly graduation rate of 32%, and a loan default rate of near 10%.

The last reported accreditation for Columbia College Hollywood was done by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation. Please visit columbiacollege.edu for more information on programs offered and consumer disclosures.

Enrollment

540

Student to Faculty Ratio

14:1

San Francisco Art Institute operates as a nonprofit private art school, which is located in San Francisco, CA. More than ten different programs are offered at San Francisco Art Institute, including degrees as high as a Master's degree. Some of the more popular programs offered for aspiring artists includes:

  • Painting
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Photography
  • Museum Studies

To help students and alumni succeed, San Francisco Art Institute may offer services including:

  • Career path counseling
  • Student employment
  • Helping students find work after graduation

Students can use various means to gauge school performance. A school's graduation and loan default rates are among the strongest indicators of educational and career success. San Francisco Art Institute has a yearly graduation rate of 45%, and a loan default rate of near 6%.

The last reported accreditation for San Francisco Art Institute was done by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation. To read more and get consumer disclosures, you can visit sfai.edu.

Enrollment

381

Student to Faculty Ratio

9:1

Listed Below are 9 Liberal Arts Colleges in California

Click on the school names below to visit each school's profile page where you can see even more details.

College of the Sequoias in Claremont, CA
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Visit the website for College of the Sequoias at cos.edu

Program Details

  • Around 12,600 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $1,000 per year
Miracosta College in Oakland, CA
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Visit the website for Miracosta College at miracosta.edu

Program Details

  • Around 13,700 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $1,000 per year
North Iowa Area Community College in San Diego, CA
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Visit the website for North Iowa Area Community College at niacc.edu

Program Details

  • Around 3,000 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $6,000 per year
Ohlone College (Oxy) in Los Angeles, CA
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Visit the website for Ohlone College at ohlone.edu

Program Details

  • Around 8,800 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $1,000 per year
Porterville College in Claremont, CA
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Visit the website for Porterville College at portervillecollege.edu

Program Details

  • Around 4,300 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $1,000 per year
Reedley College (AJU) in Los Angeles, CA
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Visit the website for Reedley College at reedleycollege.edu

Program Details

  • Around 11,200 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $1,000 per year
Whittier College in Santa Barbara, CA
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Visit the website for Whittier College at whittier.edu

Virtual Tour

Program Details

  • Around 1,900 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $52,000 per year
Woodbury University in Whittier, CA
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Visit the website for Woodbury University at woodbury.edu

Program Details

  • Around 1,200 students enrolled
  • Estimated tuition & fees are about $43,000 per year

The tuition information displayed is an estimate, which we calculated based on historical data and should be solely used for informational purposes only. Please contact the respective school for information about the current school year.

Source: IPEDS Survey 2012-2020: Data obtained from the US Dept. of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Data may vary depending on school and academic year.

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