Who's Hiring Graduates of California's Online Colleges?

A look at the top employers, industries, and jobs for the best online schools in California for salary

Michael McCarthy Written by: Michael McCarthy
Taylor Nichols Research and Analysis by: Taylor Nichols
Published: October 12, 2021

Key Insights:

  • Graduates of California's top online colleges for Salary Score often work in healthcare, social services, and education
  • Kaiser Permanente is the largest healthcare employer for graduates of these online schools, with RNs topping the list of most popular occupations
  • Project management and software engineering are also common job titles, with Amazon hiring the largest share of graduates in tech
  • Many online students in California are active-duty service members looking to advance their careers

As the most populous state, California is full of both public and private colleges that offer online bachelor's degrees. But which schools produce graduates who command top salaries, and where do they get hired after graduation?

To find out, we looked at employment data for the top 10 online schools in California by Salary Score, a measure of alumni starting salaries by major. Our list highlights California schools with online programs whose bachelor's degree alumni are top earners in their field of study compared to colleges across the country.

We examined the top five employers, occupations, and industries for nearly 37,000 alumni of these 10 ranked schools from the 2015 through 2020 graduating classes. We used data collected by Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics company that uses its extensive database of resumes, job listings, and social media profiles to analyze the current labor market.

Methodology

For these rankings, OnlineU first determined each California school's Salary Score at the bachelor's level. To be eligible, a college needed alumni salary data for at least five online degrees in different fields of study. To determine the Salary Score for each college, we compare the starting salaries of alumni from each major to the starting salaries of alumni from the same majors across all U.S. colleges. See our guide to Salary Score for a detailed breakdown of this system.

Wage data was gathered from the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. Although we only included schools with five or more online degree offerings, data limitations mean that we can't exclusively examine the salaries of online graduates.

Burning Glass Technologies provided OnlineU with employment statistics for 36,985 California graduates of the 2015-2020 classes. Supplementary data from LinkedIn profiles was used to gain deeper insights into the education and career pathways these graduates followed.

Note that OnlineU excluded cases in which a graduate goes to work for their alma mater. For some colleges, the school itself is the largest employer of graduates. However, we wanted to understand the career paths that students take outside of these opportunities.

Alumni Employment Outcomes for the Top Online Colleges in California

This list of top online colleges features a mix of different types of institutions, including:

  • Eight private and two public colleges
  • Five affiliated with religious organizations
  • One that's both for-profit and exclusively online (Trident at AIU)

National University and California State University - East Bay, also appear in our rankings of the top 10 California colleges by Salary Score overall, which doesn't control for online programs.

OnlineU examined the most popular job titles and industries for graduates of these colleges, and the top employers they work for. These findings paint a clearer picture of where online learners who are highly paid for their field of study end up after graduation.

Nearly one in five graduates (19%) found jobs in healthcare and social assistance, with 5% of graduates becoming registered nurses.

Registered nursing is a popular subject of online study nationwide — internal data shows there are close to 400 online bachelor's in nursing programs — so it makes sense that the most populous state in the country follows the trend. Kaiser Permanente was the largest healthcare employer for these schools, accounting for 8% of graduates.

Following healthcare is education services, which employed 16% of graduates. This industry includes K-12 schools and universities, but also positions in university healthcare facilities such as Loma Linda University Health.

The next most popular industry is public administration with 11% of graduates, largely fueled by the military alumni of these California colleges. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest overall employer of graduates from the 10 ranked colleges on this list. The Air Force hired the largest single share of graduates at 9%. Other top employers include the Navy at 7.5% and the Army at 5.5%.

These findings align with OnlineU's previous research on employment outcomes for online graduates. Service members make up a large portion of the online college student population, and many of these enrollees use their bachelor's degrees to boost their career mobility within their service branch.

Employment Outcomes by College

Loma Linda University

Salary Score: 98.23 Alumni Who Live In-State: 91%

With a Salary Score of 98.23, Loma Linda graduates are among the top earners in the U.S. in their respective fields. Loma Linda's strongest programs for salary include clinical and medical laboratory and registered nursing majors, with Salary Scores of 100 and 99, respectively.

Top employers for Loma Linda alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for Loma Linda alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for Loma Linda alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Loma Linda produces a high number of registered nurses, with nearly a quarter of bachelor's graduates pursuing the career path. Other popular occupations include laboratory technician and dietician.

Top employers for Excelsior are mostly concentrated in the military, with over half of Because more than half of all alumni work at one of four healthcare providers, it's likely that these employers pay relatively well given that Loma Linda's healthcare majors tend to earn high salaries for their field of study.

California State University - East Bay

Salary Score: 88.36 Alumni Who Live In-State: 91%

California State University - East Bay's nursing graduates earn more than RNs from nearly every other U.S. school with a Salary Score of 100 and median annual wages of $109,490. Although not as strong, salaries for health sciences and allied health majors were also above average with a Salary Score of 63.

Top employers for California State University - East Bay alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for California State University - East Bay alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for California State University - East Bay alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

As with Loma Linda University, Cal State East Bay students primarily enter the healthcare and education fields after graduating. They even share a top employer: Kaiser Permanente hired 13% of alumni, followed by UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Health Care. Registered nurse is Cal State East Bay's top occupation, but only 3.7% of alumni become RNs, which suggests that graduates likely work in a variety of healthcare roles.

Roughly 13% of alumni work in education services including colleges, K-12 school districts, and university healthcare facilities. Alumni also went onto work in retail trade and finance, with Amazon and Wells Fargo topping the list of largest employers.

National University

Salary Score: 87.96 Alumni Who Live In-State: 64%

Like many other top online colleges for alumni salary, National University's healthcare graduates tend to be highly paid. The university's programs in registered nursing and allied health professions majors score well with Salary Scores in the high 90s. Business majors also earned more than average, with Salary Scores of 86 for business administration and 99 for corporate communications programs. Public administration had a Salary Score of 97.

Top employers for National University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for National University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for National University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

National University alumni become registered nurses more often than any other profession, with healthcare drawing the largest share of graduates. Two San Diego-based healthcare groups, Sharp and Scripps, employ about 16% of National graduates.

The U.S. Navy is the top employer of National alumni. This is likely thanks to on-campus students commuting from Naval Base San Diego, a large installation nearby. The Navy and Marine Corps account for 21.5% of National graduates. Regular reassignments may be part of the reason why only 64% of National graduates remain in California after graduation.

Brandman University (now University of Massachusetts Global)

Salary Score: 86.04 Alumni Who Live In-State: 60%

Brandman University became University of Massachusetts Global on September 1, 2021. The university has stated that its admission requirements, tuition rates, and program offerings won't change, and the school is still headquartered in California. This analysis reflects data from Brandman University for the 2015-2020 graduating classes.

Salary Scores for Brandman, now UMass Global, highlight strong alumni earnings for most categories. Sociology, liberal arts and sciences, and human resources programs earned Salary Scores of 90-91. Business and computer science majors earned higher than average salaries compared to peers from other colleges, with scores of 82 and 76, respectively.

The university's teacher education programs did not rank well, however, with lower than average salaries for teaching majors and a score of 38.

Top employers for University of Massachusetts Global alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for University of Massachusetts Global alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Brandman (UMass Global) is another online college with a significant share of military alumni. More than one-third of graduates work for the Navy, Air Force, or Army. As most military jobs fall under public administration, this sector comprises a quarter of jobs held by Brandman alumni.

Education is the next popular industry for these students, followed by retail trade. One in 10 alumni work for Walmart Inc., the university's third largest employer. The most likely reason for this finding is Walmart's partnership with Brandman that allows employees to earn a degree at no cost. Many of these graduates probably continue to work for the organization after graduating, perhaps pursuing new roles in the corporate structure.

Mount Saint Mary's University - CA

Salary Score: 81.7 Alumni Who Live In-State: 87%

Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles is a top school for nursing majors with a Salary Score of 97. Business majors also tend to earn more in their field, with a Salary Score of 76 for business administration and related programs. However, MSMU's marketing majors are some of the lowest paid with a Salary Score of 9.

Top employers for Mount Saint Mary's University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for Mount Saint Mary's University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for Mount Saint Mary's University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

MSMU graduates skew heavily toward the healthcare industry. About 42% work in the field compared to 12% in education, the next largest sector. Graduates largely work in nursing roles, with 16% working as registered nurses and 2% as nursing assistants. Four of the top five employers are healthcare conglomerates. Of these, UCLA Health employs the most graduates by far at 23%.

The second most popular role is administrative assistant at 4.6%. After these top two jobs, no career is heavily represented among the 2015-2020 graduating classes. Most MSMU alumni remained in California, with 4% employed by the City of Los Angeles in roles such as policy analyst, grant writer, and administrative assistant.

Trident at AIU

Salary Score: 78.81 Alumni Who Live In-State: 10%

Trident is unique on this list because the data reflects only online graduates and is drawn from a student body that's 80% active-duty military and veterans. Top programs for salary at Trident include human resources management, health services and health sciences, and business administration, with scores of 86-96. Trident's computer science majors earn less than average with Salary Scores of 21-33.

Top employers for rident at AIU alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for rident at AIU alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for rident at AIU alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

No specific jobs are strongly represented among Trident alumni, but nearly half (44.7%) work in public administration. The Air Force is the top employer at 36.1%. This is nearly double the percentage of alumni employed by the Army, the second largest employer.

Trident is the only school in these rankings to feature manufacturing as a top industry, with 8.4% of graduates finding jobs in the field. This is likely due to the fact that service members often transition to jobs at companies such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. Given Trident's military-heavy student population, this trend is probably reflected in the data.

Notably, Trident has the lowest rate of alumni who remain in state out of all the schools on this list, with only 10% of graduates living in California.

Azusa Pacific University

Salary Score: 71.4 Alumni Who Live In-State: 79%

Azusa Pacific University's strongest major for alumni earnings is nursing and related programs with a Salary Score of 99. Other relatively high scoring programs include clinical and counseling psychology and liberal arts and sciences. Notably, Azusa earned low scores in health professions other than nursing.

Top employers for Azusa Pacific University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for Azusa Pacific University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for Azusa Pacific University alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Alongside several other online colleges in this list, Azusa Pacific's top industries are education services, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade.

All of the university's top five employers are in the healthcare and retail sectors. These include three medical care and hospital systems — Kaiser Permanente, City of Hope, and Huntington Hospital — and Target and Amazon in retail trade.

Azusa graduates more registered nurses than any other occupation. Other top jobs are business-related, including office and administrative assistants, interns, general managers, and sales representatives.

Concordia University - Irvine

Salary Score: 68.97 Alumni Who Live In-State: 81%

Concordia University - Irvine follows the Salary Score trend set by several other schools on this list, with nursing ranked as its top program at 98. RNs from Concordia Irvine earn a median salary of $87,730. Most other programs score noticeably lower, with the second ranked program — health and physical education — receiving a Salary Score of 69.

Top employers for Concordia University - Irvine alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for Concordia University - Irvine alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for Concordia University - Irvine alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Concordia Irvine also follows other employment trends on this list. The top industry for alumni in the 2015-2020 period is healthcare. Together, Mission Hospitals, Hoag, and Memorialcare Saddleback Medical Center hired 18% of Concordia Irvine graduates. Registered nurse is the most popular occupation at 12%. Many students stayed local after graduation, choosing to work for the Hoag Health Network in Orange County.

Education was the second most popular industry, followed by professional, scientific, and technical services. The latter industry includes large management consulting firms such as Deloitte and Accenture, both of which hired Concordia Irvine alumni.

California Baptist University

Salary Score: 63.31 Alumni Who Live In-State: 85%

Graduates of public administration programs at California Baptist University tend to earn more for their field of study with a Salary Score of 99. As with other schools on this list, the university's nursing program also ranks well with a score of 93. While nursing majors earned high wages, other healthcare alumni earned less than average with Salary Scores of 22-30 for healthcare programs.

Top employers for California Baptist alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for California Baptist alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for California Baptist alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Once again, registered nursing is the top occupation for this school's 2015-2020 graduates, accounting for 9% of alumni. The top three employers for this group are healthcare organizations. Interestingly, CBU's top employer is Loma Linda University Health. The CBU campus is only 15 miles from Loma Linda's headquarters, which likely accounts for the crossover.

Other top jobs for CBU alumni are mainly in business roles, including administrative assistant, business owner or partner, and sales representative. A significant percentage are employed in retail trade, with Amazon and Target hiring 9% of graduates between them.

California State University - Chico

Salary Score: 61.41 Alumni Who Live In-State: 85%

Nursing majors at California State University - Chico are also highly paid with a Salary Score of 99. Business students fared well with a Salary Score of 73, while computer science majors had scores in the mid 70s. Electrical engineering majors also earned higher wages than their peers with a Salary Score of 87.

Top employers for California State University - Chico alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top industries for California State University - Chico alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies
Top occupations for California State University - Chico alumni
Data from Burning Glass Technologies

Despite the excellent Salary Score for nursing, Chico State is one of the few ranked colleges with no healthcare jobs among its five most popular occupations. The top jobs are sales representative and project manager with 3% of graduates working in each position.

Software developer and electronics engineer are also top occupations, drawing 2% of the university's graduating classes each. Top employers include technology and software firms such as Amazon, Automatic Data Processing, and Workday, each of which employs 3-4% of Cal State Chico graduates.