10 Best Colleges in Santa Monica

Santa Monica and its environs are home to quality education. Therefore, if you live on this side of the west, a quality college education is possible without having to travel so far in search of colleges.

In this article, you will find the top then colleges to consider that are either in Santa Monica or within ten miles.  

Top 10 Colleges in Santa Monica

#1. Santa Monica College: Center for Media and Design 

This college remains the top college to consider if you live in Santa Monica for many reasons and holds the record for the best college when it comes to successful transfers to top universities in the United States.

Among its many success stories include:  

  • Top for successful transfer to LMU 
  • Best college for transfer to UC schools  
  • Top college for transfer to UCLA  
  • Top for transfer to USC 

Several reasons set the college apart from other colleges. SMC is a great choice for those with an interest in performing arts, media, design, and planetarium. When it comes to funding, the university has a solid financial system that ensures the provision of quality education to the local community. The college takes pride in its educational system that cuts across 180 different degree courses and certificate programs. At SMC, there are over 1,400 classes accessible.  

The quality of SMC programs is what makes the school stand out among the rest. The college has a great reputation both locally and internationally.

Santa Monica College also offers affordable courses, which is also a good reason why it has remained popular among the locals. SMC offers summer courses that cost as low as $189 to complete.

Recently, over 32,000 students are studying at Santa Monica College. Over the years, the university has grown exponentially through its focus on in-demand career training in cloud computing and other relevant fields. Besides the main campus located in Santa Monica, the school has two other campuses: 

  • The Santa Monica Bundy Campus
  • The Santa Monica College Airport Arts College 

With affordable tuition fees, great choices of courses, and outstanding academic standing, Santa Monica College is number on the list of colleges in Santa Monica. 

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#2. RAND Graduate School 

When it comes to public policy Ph.D. programs in Santa Monica, Rand Graduate school remains the oldest in the country. While RAND may not be the greatest college for everyone, if you’re looking for a graduate college with an interest in public policy, then it is the best option for you.

There are many great resources available at RAND with elaborate programs and funding programs that enable students to graduate without any financial debts. RAND also has a center for policy research.  

#3. SMC Emeritus College

Finding the perfect college to further your education as a senior can be a bit difficult. However, if you live in Santa Monica, SMC Emeritus College provides you with that great opportunity.

At SMC Emeritus College, seniors and older occupants can apply from a wide range of non-credit classes that are specially designed in their best interest. SMC Emeritus College offers seniors various opportunities like:  

  • The opportunity to acquire new skills  
  • Learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle 
  • The ability to express their artistic skills  
  • The opportunity to meet others with shared interests and values  

While the opportunity provided by SMC Emeritus College is great for seniors who wish to network with others and learn new skills, it is also essential to keep in mind that the classes are non-credit.

The purpose of the college is to help seniors/older adults find meaning again in life and it has an excellent reputation for doing that.   

#4. The University of Santa Monica (Not Ranked)

While many people may confuse the University of Santa Monica with Santa Monica College, it is important to clear the air that both schools are not the same. The University of Santa Monica is different and independent from Santa Monica College.  

The University of Santa Monica is not yet an accredited institution. Therefore, it does not have the necessary qualification to grant a degree within the state of California.

Nonetheless, the University has national accreditation. When it comes to a degree, the University is a very different kind of school and offers only two options which are: 

  • Masters in Spiritual Psychology (M.A) 
  • Masters in Spiritual Psychology with Emphasis on
    Consciousness, Healing, and Health (M.A) 

Before you make up your mind to attend the University of Santa Monica, you should understand the career opportunities and the implication of having an unaccredited degree. The University of Santa Monica appears on this list for the sake of completeness and not as a recommendation.  

There are other great options when it comes to colleges that are just within ten miles of Santa Monica where you can enjoy quality education. Below are the top colleges within ten miles of Santa Monica.  

Colleges Within Ten Miles of Santa Monica

#5. UCLA 

This college is a very reputable college that has become a household name across the nation for academic excellence and sports and is just within ten miles of Santa Monica. It is one college that is well known for producing many reputable personalities in the world today. Among some of its great achievements are: 

  • Fifteen Nobel laureates 
  • Fifteen MacArthur fellows 
  • One hundred and nineteen NCAA championships  

As a very reputable and top college in the US, the possibility of UCLA maintaining a top rank for a long time remains undisputed.

According to the US News ranking, UCLA is number one on their list of public universities. Currently, there are about 31,000 undergraduates undergoing different kinds of programs with over 5,400 international students inclusive.

While the admission process to UCLA may be very selective, the school offers affordable and quality education.  

#6. University of Southern California (USC) 

USC may be a bit outside ten miles of Santa Monica but it is still worth mentioning for its quality educational standards. The University of Southern California is within eleven miles of Santa Monica, which is a fair price to pay for quality education.

The University of Southern California is a privately owned institution with a lot of impressive advantages. However, tuition fees for USC come at a very high price with a strict selection process. Nonetheless, there are grants and scholarships available to make the tuition fees more affordable for students.  

There are a wide variety of academic fields available at USC and the school is also responsible for enrolling around 21,000 undergraduates every year. The University of Southern California is among the top 30universities in the United States.  

While the Engineering and business school of the university is highly rated, the computer science program frequently appears on the number one spot in the United States. According to US News, the University of Southern California is number one in the US when it comes to game development and simulation.  

For those that can make it past the selection process and can afford the high tuition fees, USC is a great college right within the confines of Santa Monica’s environs.  

#7. Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

Just within five miles of Santa Monica is Loyola Marymount University. Even though it might not be as famous as UCLA and USC, it is still a great choice with all the qualities to keep it on this top ten list of colleges in Santa Monica.      

LMU is a privately owned Jesuit college and the largest catholic university on the West Coast. Since its inception in 1911, the university has continued to vax stronger under its strong catholic influence.

They have an impressive number of students volunteers every year and remain a strong university in the area of research and undergraduate programs. According to US News, they are among the top 25 in terms of teaching in the United States. 

When it comes to academic programs, LMU has excellent rankings in the area of business and engineering. Some of their rankings include: 

  • LMU School of Film and Television is 8th in the United States according to Hollywood Reporter 
  • This institution ranks 15 on the list of top colleges in America for University-provided part-time work opportunities according to Student Loan Report 
  • LMU is 21st in the state for its Undergraduate Business Administrations Entrepreneurship Program according to US News 

Besides classroom activities, LMU provides students an excellent time to learn outside the classroom and mingle positively with other students. Graduates of LMU come our well equipped to face both lives and works simultaneously. 

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#8. Antioch University 

Antioch University is the private property of Horace Mann, which was founded in 1852. Horace Mann was a politician and an educational reformer who had a vision of creating a better educational system. Antioch University has campuses in different cities across the United States and also a campus within ten miles of Santa Monica.  

Students of Antioch University can either choose between online and offline courses. However, the university offers mostly online programs. Some of the reputable programs from the university include creative Writing, Counseling and Therapy, Education and Tutoring, Environment Studies and Sustainability, Leadership and Management, and Psychology.  

One thing that makes this university exceptional is the fact that all its campuses are accredited regionally. The university has also earned an excellent reputation for its online family counseling and marriage courses.  

The only downside of the University is its high tuition fees, which may not be readily affordable for everybody. Besides this, the university is one that you will be proud to attend.  

#9. Mount St. Mary’s University 

Mount St. Mary’s University has a campus within 10 miles of Santa Monica. The university is the second historic university owned by the Catholics and began educational activities in the years 1930. The university was formed
by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and is a college for women.  

Lately, the university provides a conducive learning environment in 30 B.A. and B.S. programs, which include: 

  • Business and Mathematics 
  • English, Education and Child Development 
  • Philosophy, Sociology and Social Works 
  • The field of sciences—Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, etc.  

There are also other common majors that the university offers, which you can find on their website. Do well to visit the college website to read up more about the university and its programs.  

#10. Otis College of Art and Design

Located in the old IBM Aerospace center in Westchester, just within 10 miles of Santa Monica is the Otis College of Art and Design. Otis is a private college that comes at a high tuition cost and a reputation for quality education.

According to Money magazine, Otis is number four on the list of universities that add great value to student’s life. Otis College is also reputable for its one-year 94% employment rate. The Economist also ranks the university number 6 for its post-graduate median earning rate. Some of the undergraduate programs attainable from the university include:  

  • Environmental Design 
  • Fine Arts  
  • Fashion Design  
  • Graphics Design and Illustration 
  • Product Design and Toy Design 

If you are looking for high-quality Art/Design programs with a high probability of landing a job after your education, Otis College of Art and Design is the place to look forward to your programs. You can also check the college financial aid system to understand how to get financial aid for your program.  


Regardless of where you live, there are good colleges in your city and within close proximity too. So, before you take a cross-country trip in search of quality education, look above and consider the top colleges in Santa Monica.



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