A guide to California’s best IT degree programs in 2024.

California is a global epicenter of technology that offers a diverse and dynamic landscape for students pursuing degrees in IT. From Silicon Valley's prolific startup scene to Southern California's burgeoning tech hub, the state provides unparalleled opportunities for information technology education and career advancement.

This article will highlight the best campus and online information technology degrees in California and explore the pros and cons of studying IT in The Golden State.

What makes our rankings valuable?

Most college rankings online rely heavily on the National Center for Education Statistics, measuring institutional rates for graduation, retention, acceptance, etc. The NCES has good data, and we use it too; however, we go beyond the stats to analyze the current and future relevance of the skills and credentials gained. We also delve deep into value and flexibility to consider accelerated, online, dual-degree, and certificate options.

Top-Ranked IT Degree Programs in California

California's information technology degree programs stand out for their close proximity to industry giants, cutting-edge research opportunities, and multicultural environments that foster technological innovation.

We ranked the best information technology programs in California based on numerous factors, including curriculum relevance, breadth and focus of electives, school reputation, program features, value, and flexibility.

These are the top 10 schools offering information technology degrees in California:

1. Stanford University

Known across the globe for cutting-edge research and innovation, Stanford University offers top-tier degree programs in information technology, computer science, and engineering. Stanford stands at the forefront of technological advancement, offering access to cutting-edge research facilities and a vibrant startup ecosystem that nurtures future IT leaders. Its stellar reputation and proximity to Silicon Valley provide unparalleled opportunities for internships and professional networking with major firms.

Top Information Technology Degrees:

  • BS in Computer Science: AI Track
  • BS in Computer Science: Systems Track
  • MS in Computer Science: Computer and Network Security Specialization

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2. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

UCSD is the best UC for information technology degrees, according to our 2024 ranking. The university offers robust information technology programs in fast-growing domains like cybersecurity, data science, and cloud computing. As a leader in interdisciplinary research, IT students at UCSD work on groundbreaking projects that intersect with fascinating fields like bioinformatics, health sciences, and oceanography.

Top Information Technology Degrees:

  • B.S. in Computer Science + AI/ML Courses
  • Master of Science in Data Science
  • Ph.D. in Bioinformatics & Systems Biology

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3. University of Southern California (USC)

USC's Viterbi School of Engineering is renowned for its innovative computer technology programs that offer students a broad range of IT specializations. USC's information technology degrees are enhanced by the university's strong ties with Hollywood and the entertainment industry, providing unique opportunities in digital media, game design, and virtual reality.

Top IT Degree Specializations:

  • Artificial Intelligence Applications
  • Video Game Production
  • Cloud Computing with DevOps

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4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

With a deep focus on science and engineering, Caltech provides a comprehensive IT education program that emphasizes both theoretical foundations and practical applications. Caltech's rigorous information technology programs feature small class sizes and individualized attention, fostering an environment where students collaborate closely with world-class faculty on pioneering research.

Top Information Technology Programs:

  • Undergraduate Major in Information + Data Sciences
  • Undergraduate Major in Computer Science
  • Graduate Degree in Computer Science

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5. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

UC Berkeley's College of Engineering offers respected programs in engineering and computer sciences, with a focus on info-tech research and innovation. Berkeley boasts a strong entrepreneurial culture and resources like the SkyDeck accelerator, which supports information technology students in transforming their ideas into successful tech ventures.

Top Information Technology Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Data Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science
  • Master of Engineering

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6. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science offers well-designed programs in computer science and engineering, with a strong emphasis on IT disciplines. The school’s information technology degrees benefit from Los Angeles' growing tech industry, offering students extensive internship opportunities and connections to a vast network of alumni in leading tech roles.

Top Information Technology Programs:

  • BS in Computer Science & Engineering
  • MS in Engineering - Computer Networking
  • BS in Data Theory

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7. San Jose State University (SJSU)

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, SJSU offers workforce-relevant IT degrees that benefit from close industry connections, particularly in software engineering and cybersecurity. SJSU excels in integrating real-world projects into its information technology curriculum, ensuring students gain the practical experience to succeed in the Valley's competitive environment.

Top IT Degree Programs:

  • BSBA in Management Information Systems (MIS)
  • BS in Software Engineering
  • MS in Artificial Intelligence

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8. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly)

Cal Poly's "learn-by-doing" approach provides IT degree students invaluable experience in hot domains like computer science and software engineering. This hands-on mindset translates to extensive lab work, projects, and internships, making Cal Poly info-tech graduates highly sought after by major employers like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco & HP for their practical skill sets.

Top Information Technology Majors:

  • Software Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computing for Interactive Arts

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9. University of California, Irvine (UCI)

UCI's Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences offers a range of information technology degree programs, with research initiatives in marketable areas like machine learning, data science, interactive media, and cybersecurity. UCI encourages IT students to engage in interdisciplinary research initiatives and provides specialized facilities like the Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games, fostering innovation in emerging IT fields.

Top Undergraduate & Graduate IT Majors:

  • Construction Engineering and Management
  • Computer Science
  • Networked Systems

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10. University of California, Davis (UC Davis)

The College of Engineering at UC Davis offers forward-thinking degree programs in computer science, engineering, and information technologies supported by robust industry partnerships and research opportunities. UC Davis supports IT students with state-of-the-art research labs and centers, including the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), which addresses societal challenges through technological innovation.

Top IT Degree Focus Areas:

  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Information Technology Management
  • Sustainability in the Built Environment

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Pros of Pursuing an IT Degree in California

Here are some of the key advantages of studying information technology in California:

  • Industry Connections: California's status as the heart of the tech world means students have unparalleled access to internships, job opportunities, and mentorship from leading IT professionals in Silicon Valley and beyond.
  • Innovative Learning: Many Californian institutions are at the forefront of technological research and education, offering students exposure to the latest innovations and practices in the IT field.
  • Diverse Opportunities: The state's vast tech industry spans various sectors, from entertainment and energy to healthcare and finance, offering IT graduates a wide range of career paths.
  • Networking: The dense concentration of tech events, conferences, and meetups in California provides students ample opportunities to network and build professional relationships.

Cons of Pursuing an IT Degree in California

These are the potential pitfalls of studying information technology in California:

  • High Cost of Living: The cost of living in California, particularly in tech hubs like San Francisco and Silicon Valley, is among the highest in the nation.
  • Competitive Admission: California's top-tier tech universities have highly competitive admission standards, which may pose a challenge for prospective students.
  • Industry Saturation: While there are numerous opportunities in California's tech sector, the high concentration of tech professionals in the state can make the job market competitive for IT graduates.
  • Pressure and Pace: The fast-paced, high-pressure environment of California's technology industry does not suit everyone, potentially leading to burnout or stress.


Information technology degrees in California offer a unique blend of academic excellence, industry connections, diversity, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The state's educational institutions are at the cutting edge of IT research and teaching, preparing students not just to enter the workforce but to become leaders and innovators. For aspiring IT professionals, California can be a launchpad for a dynamic and successful career in the heart of the high-tech revolution.

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