Postgrad Courses In California | Study In USA (2024)

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Postgrad Courses In California | Study In USA (1)If you are considering studying your postgrad program in California, it’s a good idea to gen up on the area first. There are 482 cities in California and the population is estimated to be around 39 million, making it the US state with the largest population, with the second most populated state being Texas.

Located on the western coast of America, California is the third-largest state in terms of geographical size, following Alaska and Texas. Its breath-taking terrain encompasses cliff-lined beaches, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mojave Desert and enchanting redwood forests.

Notable cities like Los Angeles are renowned for the entertainment industry, while the hilly landscapes of San Francisco attract visitors with iconic landmarks such as Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and iconic cable car system.

California's climate varies from temperate to hot desert and Mediterranean, influenced by the specific area’s elevation, latitude and proximity to the coast. Coastal regions, the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills experience a Mediterranean climate characterised by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.


Universities in California

Choosing where to undertake your postgraduate study in California can be a difficult decision as there are so many popular and highly ranked universities to choose from. Californian universities offer exceptional learning environments and are renowned for their well qualified faculty and excellent facilities, providing students with a fantastic learning experience and equipping them with the knowledge and skills for a successful career. Here's a brief overview of some of the universities in California:

University of California, Los Angeles: with a rich history spanning nearly a century, UCLA stands as one of the oldest and most popular universities in the United States. It offers over 80 different masters degrees in academic and professional fields, enrolling over 14,000 postgraduate and professional students every year.

Stanford University: based in Stanford, in the heart of Silicon Valley, this prestigious university boasts more than 70 departments across five different schools for graduate admission in masters, PhDs and other non-professional graduate programs. These are the Graduate School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Humanities & Sciences, School of Medicine and the Doerr School of Sustainability.

University of the Pacific: this private institution holds the distinction of being the first medical school and music conservatory in California, as well as the oldest chartered university in the US. Its main campus is in Stockton, with graduate campuses in San Francisco and Sacramento.

University of San Diego: located in San Diego, this private Roman Catholic university offers undergraduate degrees, masters degrees and PhD programs. Each of the university’s graduate programs have their own application deadlines, so check the individual course webpages for up-to-date application advice and information.

University of San Francisco: nestled between Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USF's main campus, known as The Hilltop, attracts students with its beautiful surroundings. This Jesuit Catholic institution also has four campuses in northern California, located in San Jose, Sacramento, Pleasanton and Santa Rosa.

Masters (MS) programs in California

California is home to Silicon Valley – the base of many major companies including Apple, Adobe, LinkedIn and Google. This makes it the perfect state to study a technology masters (MS program). Some technology-based graduate courses available include:


Course Name


University of San Francisco

MS Information Systems

16 months full-time study or 21-months part-time study

Stanford University

MS Learning Design and Technology

11 months full-time study

University of Southern California

MS in Integrated Design, Business and Technology

16–24 months of online study

California State University, Fullerton

MS in Information Technology

20 months of online study

University of San Diego

MS in Technology and Innovation

20 months of online study

University of California, Irvine

Master of Computer Science

15 months full-time study

Californian universities also offer a wide array of other masters (MS) programs across various disciplines, including law, business, management, sports, life sciences, engineering and natural sciences.

Studying a masters degree in California will enhance academic knowledge as well as develop professional and personal skills, giving students a competitive edge in the job market.

Typically, a masters program in the United States requires two years of academic study.

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Tuition fees and living costs in California

When considering postgraduate study in California, it's important to try and work out your budget, taking into account both the MS tuition fees and living expenses.

Tuition fees for masters programs in California vary depending on the university and the specific program of study. It's important to note that universities in California have different fee structures for in-state residents and out-of-state as well as for international students.

On average, postgraduate tuition fees for out-of-state and international students range from $13,000 to $40,000 per year, in-state students often pay considerably less for their tuition fees. Prestigious universities and specialised programs may demand higher tuition fees, and private universities in California often have higher tuition rates compared to public institutions.

Examples of Californian university fees

This table illustrates the tuition fees for graduate courses at some well-known Californian universities.


In-state Tuition Fees

Non-California Residents


$18,136 per year

$33,238 per year

University of California,
San Diego

$17,910 per year

$33,012 per year

University of San Francisco

$25,000–$35,000 per year

$25,000–$35,000 per year

University of California, David

$11,700 per year

$26,802 per year

University of California, Santa Cruz

$14,832 per year

$29,934 per year

Please note, these are only the graduate course tuition fees and are subject to change. Students will also need to budget for living expenses, course materials, transport, health insurance and other miscellaneous items.

Postgraduate students in California

California is a popular destination for postgraduate students. This table illustrates the approximate numbers of graduate students and total enrolment figures of ten of the highly regarded universities in California.


Number of Graduate Students

Total Number of Students

University of Southern California (USC)



University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



Stanford University



University of California, Berkeley
(UC Berkeley)



University of California, San Diego
(UC San Diego)



University of California, Davis (UC Davis)



University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine)



California State University, Fullerton (CSUF)



San JoséState University



University of California, Santa Cruz
(UC Santa Cruz)



Student living costs in California

When budgeting for your studies in California, it's important to consider the cost of living there as a student. Here's a breakdown of approximate living costs for students in California:

Accommodation – the cost of rent varies depending on factors such as location, type of housing and proximity to the university. On-campus university-owned housing options, such as dormitories or student apartments, may range from $8,000 to $15,000 per year. Off-campus housing, including shared apartments or renting a room, can range from $800 to $2,500 per month, depending on the city and neighbourhood.

Food – the average cost of food per month is approximately $300 to $500, depending on shopping and eating habits and how often you cook at home versus dining out.

Transport – public transportation costs in California vary by city, with monthly travel passes ranging from $50 to $150. Many people in California get around by private car, and if this is your preferred method of transport you will have to factor in costs, such as car insurance, petrol, road tax and parking.

Textbooks and educational supplies: the cost of books and educational supplies are not usually included in course tuition fees, and they are likely to vary widely depending on the program of study. Expect to spend around $500 to $1,200 per year on textbooks and other required materials.

Personal expenses: finally, you need to consider personal expenses such as entertainment, clothing, toiletries, mobile phone, health care and other miscellaneous costs. These costs can range from $200 to $500 per month, depending on lifestyle.

Financial help for students in California

Financial aid, scholarships, bursaries and part-time employment opportunities may be available to help offset the costs of studying and living in California. Explore these options and consult with the university's financial aid office for information on funding and scholarships available to international postgraduate students. Different types of funding are often available from the university graduate school – so check what is on offer.

The California Student Aid Commission has financial aid and advice for graduate students in California. Graduate students in California can also apply for a loan program through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the California Dream Act Application Applications for both are free so check on the relevant websites to see if you meet the eligibility requirements.

If you are considering part-time work, make sure it is within the terms of your study visa and course restrictions.

Don’t forget, if you do get accepted onto a masters or PhD program at a university in California, you are eligible to apply for a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500.

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Studying as an international student in California

California's universities attract thousands of international students from around the world each year.

There are specific eligibility requirements and application procedures that you must fulfil for admission including submitting official records from previous academic institutions and meeting English language proficiency standards. To prove proficiency in English, you may be required to take standardised English language tests such IELTS or TOEFL if English is not your first language.

International students in California are also likely to need a student visa for the duration of their studies. Plus, they will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the completion of their studies.

Distinguished Californian alumni

Californian universities have produced numerous notable alumni who have made significant contributions to the world.

UCLA’s School of Law counts Henry Waxman, a former US Representative, among its graduates. Another notable UCLA alumnus is Kelley Perdew, American businessman and winner of TV series The Apprentice 2.

Award-winning film producer, director and actor Ron Howard is a graduate of the University of Southern California. In his career so far, Howard has won two Academy Awards, four Emmys, a Grammy and two Golden Globes. American filmmaker George Lucas is also a graduate of the University of Southern California – he is best known for creating the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

Exploring California

While pursuing a postgraduate program in California, students will have ample opportunities to engage in exciting activities and explore the state's wide range of attractions. It is known for its thriving arts and entertainment scene as well as its technological innovation. If you have a passion for art, music, film or drama, you'll find numerous artistic communities and renowned institutions like Walt Disney's CalArts.

California is home to some of the world's most influential technology companies, including Facebook, Netflix, Adobe, Google and Apple, so for those aspiring work in technological innovation, studying in California provides an ideal starting point.

The Golden State offers a rich array of restaurants, shops and attractions to suit all budgets. It is renowned for its diverse culinary scene and offers an extensive selection of delicious local wines with Californian vineyards being favoured worldwide with good reason.

Outdoor activities are also popular, with coastal sports like surfing, beach volleyball and windsurfing being widely enjoyed. Additionally, activities such as skating, cycling, hiking and jogging are enjoyed throughout the state.


With an extensive selection of prestigious universities offering a wide range of interesting and highly regarded graduate courses, studying a masters degree in California is guaranteed to be a rewarding experience, academically, professionally and personally.

Plus, the experience of studying overseas – if you study in California as an international student – will be an excellent addition to your CV and a good investment in your future career and potential earnings.

If you also consider the sunshine, beaches, surf and outdoors lifestyle – California is the perfect place to study as a graduate student.


Related articles

MS Fees In USA

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Graduate School USA

Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries

Postgrad Courses In California | Study In USA (2024)
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