Private/Independent Colleges and Universities

Private/Independent Colleges and Universities

California's nonprofit, independent colleges and universities are often referred to as "private." Nonprofit, independent colleges and universities are not state-supported, unlike the University of California, California State University, or California Community College systems.

California is home to more than 75 unique nonprofit, independent colleges and universities. They focus on the individual student. Because each nonprofit, independent college and university is unique, admission requirements vary. Applicants for admission are evaluated for past achievement, future promise, and "fit" with the schools' missions and goals. All applications are treated as individuals and are personally evaluated.

Visit your school’s College and Career Center for college catalogs and information on entrance requirements, applications, important dates, and financial aid.

List of Schools

 School Websites

Los Angeles Basin

American Academy of Dramatic Arts West

Art Center College of Design

Azusa Pacific University

Biola University

California Baptist University

California Institute of Technology

California Institute of the Arts

California Lutheran University

Chapman University

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Claremont McKenna College

Concordia University of California

Harvey Mudd College

Hope International University

La Sierra University

Laguna College of Art Design

Loma Linda University

Loyola Marymount University

Marymount College

Master’s College, The

Mount Saint Mary's College

Occidental College

Otis College of Art and Design

Pacific Oaks College

Pepperdine University

Pitzer College

Pomona College

Scripps College

University of Judaism

University of La Verne

University of Redlands

University of Southern California

University of West Los Angeles

Vanguard University of Southern California

Whittier College

Woodbury University


San Francisco Bay Area

California College of the Arts

California Institute of Integral Studies

Cogswell Polytechnical College

Dominican University of California

Golden Gate University

Holy Names University

John F. Kennedy University

Menlo College

Mills College

New College of California

Notre Dame de Namur University

Patten College

Saint Mary's College of California

Samuel Merritt College

San Francisco Art Institute

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Santa Clara University

Stanford University

University of San Francisco


San Diego Metro Area

Alliant International University

Christian Heritage College

National University

Point Loma Nazarene University

University of San Diego


Outlying Cities

Fresno Pacific University

Humphrey's College

Pacific Union College

Simpson University

Thomas Aquinas College

University of the Pacific

Westmont College

William Jessup University


Admission Requirements/Eligibility


Generally, admission requirements at nonprofit, independent colleges and universities fall into four categories: (1) schools with admission requirements similar to the University of California; (2) schools with admission requirements similar to the California State University system; (3) schools that accept only the top students in the world; and (4) schools with very specific requirements, in addition to a well-rounded curriculum, related to their specialty - for example, in the visual or performing arts.

Admission to an independent college or university is not based on a mathematical index. Rigor of courses, test scores, individual qualities and personal potential are all considered. Since admission requirements differ significantly among independent colleges, take as many rigorous college-prep courses as appropriate, earn good grades, and be involved in school and community activities.


Private colleges vary in terms of selectivity with some having highly selective admissions and other having relatively open admissions program. The key factors involved in admissions decisions are:

  • High School Courses: A strong, four-year program of college preparatory courses is recommended.
  • Grades: Colleges look carefully at the grades in academic subjects.
  • College Entrance Exams: The SAT Reasoning Test, ACT and SAT Subject tests are used by many private colleges.
  • Letters of Recommendation - Most private colleges require letters of recommendation from teachers and other persons who know you well.
  • Other Factors - Leadership, athletics, music, art, drama, journalism, yearbook, alumni family, and community activities may also be used in making admissions decisions. The quality of the involvement is often more important than the number of activities.


How to Apply


To apply online go directly to the college or university website.

Some California nonprofit, independent colleges and universities accept the "Common Application" - an application accepted by a number of independent colleges across the country. If the schools to which you are applying accept the Common Application, be sure to check with them directly to determine if there are additional application requirements.

Common Application Form