There are close to 100 four-year colleges and universities in the state of California, in addition to over 100 community and city colleges. From the southern coast of San Diego to San Francisco, Sacramento, and towns farther north, these institutions vary in the types of courses offered, the cost of tuition, and campus size. For the purpose of this article, the five biggest colleges in the state are ranked according to student enrollment.
The City College of San Francisco
The City College of San Francisco, with 11 separate campuses throughout the San Francisco metro area, is not just the biggest community college in the state of California, but the biggest overall, serving over 100,000 students every year. Established in 1935, CCSF is also one of the largest public colleges in the nation, offering over 50 educational programs and more than 100 occupation-specifc disciplines. The college is comprised of seven distinct schools, including applied sciences and technology, business, international education and liberal arts.
Glendale Community College
The annual number of students enrolled in classes at Glendale Community College (GCC) for the 2008-2009 school year was over 40,000, making it the second largest college in the state. Of that number, only 29 percent were considered full-time students, with the other 71 percent enrolled in less than 12 units of study per semester. The diverse student body at GCC includes 62 percent of students under age 25, and 26 percent over 31. Founded in 1927, GCC's campus today sits on 100 acres at the foothills of the San Rafael Mountains, overlooking Glendale's valleys.
University of California Los Angeles
With close to 40,000 students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs, UCLA is not only California's biggest four-year college, but also ranked 25 in U.S. News and World Report's list of best universities in the nation for 2011. Students on the Westwood campus, located just 5 miles east of the beach, have the option of joining one of more than 600 clubs and over 60 Greek chapters. In-state tuition and fees for the the 2010-2011 school year were set at $10,781; out-of-state students paid $33,660.
California State University Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton is the fourth largest university in the state, with a 2010 enrollment of 36,262 students. In the same year, out-of-state tuition and fees were $15,822, but just $4,662 for in-state students. Founded in 1957, the urban-set, 236-acre campus was ranked number 37 in regional universities for the West. With an average freshman retention rate of 79 percent and a 26:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the most popular majors at this university by enrollment include business, management and marketing.
University of California Berkeley
UC Berkeley, or, as it's often known, Cal, was host to just under 36,000 students in 2010, making it the third largest four-year college in the state, and the fifth largest overall. Nestled near the shore of the San Francisco Bay and overlooking the city of Berkeley -- and on a clear day, the skyline of San Francisco -- UC Berkeley was founded in 1868. In 2010 it was ranked 22 among the best national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Cal is comprised of 14 schools of study, ranging from journalism to optometry to the nationally-recognized Haas School of Business. In-state tuition in 2010 was $10,868, while out-of-state students paid $33,747.