10 Cheapest Universities in California for International Students

California has everything a foreign student can ever need while he/she is away from home. Apart from its beautiful climate, it is home to some of the world’s best educational institutions. As the center of American technology and industry, there are many cheap universities in California that attract students worldwide.

Helpful Posts

Related Scholarships

What is the higher education system in California?

The state of California has 4 systems of higher education. They include the California Community Colleges, the University of California System, the California State University (CSU) system, and the private and independent institutions. Compared to other states, there is no administrative body that governs these educational institutions.

What is the cost of living for an international student in California?

This depends on the city you’ll be living in. The cheapest is San Diego at a minimum of $1,400 a month, followed by Los Angeles at $1,500 a month. The most expensive city is San Francisco, which will cost you a minimum of $2,200 monthly.

How much is the international student tuition fee in Californian universities?

The tuition fee for international students ranges from $15,544 to $31,736 annually.

Cheap Universities in California

1. California State University, Long Beach

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: ~$16,338 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: ~$16,680 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Long Beach State is the third-largest university within the CSU system. Founded in 1949, it sits on a 322-acre campus in Long Beach, California. With more than 38,000 students, it has one of the largest student populations in the state. With the tuition fee around $16,000, California State University, Long Beach is the cheapest university in California for international students.

CSU Long Beach offers 82 Bachelor’s programs, 65 Master’s degrees, and 4 doctorate programs. These courses are administered by its 3 liberal arts colleges and 5 vocational schools.

Ranked 20th in the Western Region by US News, it requires a GPA average of 3.53 for applicants. The average SAT score requirement, on the other hand, is at 1100.

2. Sonoma State University

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $17,228 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $15,494 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Sonoma State University (SSU) is a public university with a 269-acre campus in Sonoma County, California. Founded in 1961, it is one of the smallest members of the CSU system. Despite this, it offers 92 bachelor’s degrees and 19 Master’s programs. These are delivered through the Schools of Arts & Humanities, Business & Economics, Education, Social Science, and Extended & International Education. With a tuition fee of around $15,500 a year, Sonoma State University is the cheapest university in California for international graduate students.

SSU is home to 8,600+ students. However, it only has a small international population of 224 students.

The average/equivalent GPA for SSU applicants is 3.2. The SAT scores for admission range from 980 to 1170.

US News ranks SSU 37th in Western Regional Universities.

3. California State University, Chico

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $17,228 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $15,444 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Founded in 1887, Chico State is CSU’s second-oldest university. Located in a 119-acre campus in Chico, California, it offers 126 undergraduate programs and 35 master’s degrees.

Chico State’s academic departments include 3 liberal arts colleges – Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Behavioral/Social Science, and 4 vocational colleges – Agriculture, Business, Communication, and Engineering. It also has separate schools for Nursing, Communication, Education, and Social Work.

Chico State, which is ranked 27th in the region by US News, admits students with an average GPA of 3.41. The prescribed SAT scores are 1000 to 1190 and 18-24 for the ACT.

4. California State University, Fullerton

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: ~$18,710 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $21,408 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Cal State Fullerton, a public university founded in 1959, is located in a 236-acre campus in Fullerton, California. A member of the CSU system, it has the largest student population of all at 40,400.

This cheap university in California offers 57 bachelor’s degrees, 49 master’s courses, and 3 doctorate programs. These are delivered through its 4 liberal arts colleges (Arts, Humanities, Natural Science, and Communications) and 4 vocational departments (Engineering, Health, Business, and Education).

As US News’ 17th best regional university, CSUF requires an average GPA of 3.58 and an SAT composite of 1020.

5. San Diego State University

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $19,600 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $16,282 to $21,142 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

San Diego State University (SDSU), which was founded in 1897, is the third-oldest member of the CSU system. Based in San Diego, it has branches in Imperial Valley and Georgia. It has one of the biggest student populations at 35,000+, with about 3,000+ coming from various parts of the globe. This helps SDSU achieve its good faculty to student ratio of 1:20.

SDSU offers 190 bachelor’s degrees, 91 master’s programs, and 25 doctorate courses. These are governed by the Colleges of Sciences, Arts & Letters, and Professional Studies & Fine Arts. It also has 11 schools specializing in Public Affairs, Communications, Music & Dance, Art & Design, Social Work, Exercise, Public Health, Journalism, Nursing, Speech, and Theater.

In terms of admission, the recommended GPA should be 3.97 (or equivalent for foreign students). The SAT score should be 1283 or 27.5 for the ACT.

The US News Report puts SDSU as the 127th best university in the United States.

6. California State University Stanislaus

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $19,920 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $22,788 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Next affordable university in California is CSU Stanislaus, which was founded in 1957. A member of the CSU system, it offers 45 undergraduate degrees, 17 masters programs, and a sole doctorate in education. These programs are administered by the Colleges of Business Administration, Science, Education, and Arts.

CSU Stanislaus currently occupies a 228-acre suburban campus in Turnock.

The average GPA for admission is 3.26, while the required SAT is lower than most Californian universities at 923 (minimum). Despite this, US News puts CSU Stanislaus in the top 30 list of western regional universities.

7. San Francisco State University

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $20,084 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $22,952 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

San Francisco State University (SFSU) is one of the 23 members of the CSU system. Founded in 1899, this affordable university in California offers 118 undergraduate programs, 94 master’s degrees, and 5 doctoral courses. These are monitored by the university’s 6 colleges: Liberal Arts, Business, Education, Ethnic Studies, Health & Social Sciences, and Science & Engineering.

The former school for teachers is housed in a 141-acre campus southwest of the city. Of SFSU’s 28,000+ students, about 1,500 of them are foreigners.

The average GPA score for admission is 3.26. Its preferred SAT scores range from 950 to 1160.

US News ranks SFSU 31st in Regional rankings.

8. San Jose State University

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $20,456 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $23,324 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Established in 1857, San Jose State University (SJSU) is the first institution of higher education in the West Coast. Housed in a 152-acre campus in San Jose, it is one of the first schools of the CSU system.

SJSU offers a total of 145 undergraduate and graduate programs that cover 108 academic disciplines.

SJSU is considered one of the more racially-diverse universities in the country. After all, it has the highest admission rate for international students in the CSU system.

The average GPA for admissions is 3.45, with its SAT requirements ranging from 1040 to 1260.

US News ranks SJSU 24th in the region.

9. Humboldt State University

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $20,468 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $23,340 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

Humboldt State University (HSU) is a CSU system school based in Arcata, California. Established in 1913, it offers 48 bachelor’s degrees and 12 master’s programs through its 3 colleges – Humanities, Arts, and Social Science. The school, which is home to 6,900+ students, does not offer any type of doctorate program.

The average requirements for admission are a GPA of 3.21 and an SAT score of ~1110.

HSU, which sits on a 58-acre rural campus, is ranked the 37th best regional university by US News.

10. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

  • Tuition Fee for Undergraduate Programs: $20,978 a year
  • Tuition Fee for Graduate Programs: $22,412 to $31,736 a year
  • Tuition Fee Link

We end our list of cheapest universities in California with the California State Polytechnic University Pomona. Also known as CalPoly Pomona, it is one of the 2 polytechnic institutes within the CSU system. Founded in 1938, it offers 94 undergraduate programs, 39 master’s degrees, and 9 doctorates. These are supervised by the 8 colleges of Agriculture, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Environmental Design, Hospitality Management, Letters, and Science.

With a total population of 26,000+ enrollees, Cal Poly Pomona is home to 800+ international students.

It has a high GPA requirement of 3.51, with preferred SAT scores ranging from 1020 to 1260.

US News ranks CalPoly Pomona 14th in the region.

 

I hope that this article on the cheapest universities in California was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Cheap Tuition Category!