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Your Guide to Today’s Top Online Health Science Degrees in California

Online health science degree programs can help you take your career to the next level, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro. Discover top programs and more below.

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Imagine yourself poised on the edge of a diving board. High above the water, you steady yourself and take a deep breath. But right before you can execute the perfect dive, the platform suddenly breaks and sends you on a sloppy downward plunge devoid of all structure and grace. Diving into the deep waters of health and wellness professions without a solid, dependable foundation under your feet can feel just as scary and chaotic.

Luckily, there are many fantastic online health science degree programs available in California that can serve as a supportive springboard to your success in the health sciences. Earning this degree will also fulfill many of the prerequisites you’ll need if you decide to advance your career through further education down the road.

So, if you’ve been considering earning a health science degree, let us guide you by explaining everything you need to know to make a confident, well-informed decision. In addition to highlighting some of the state’s best online programs, we will show you exactly what to look for in a quality program, give you a run-down of what you will need to do post-graduation, and break down job prospects and statewide salary data. Ready to make a splash? Good. Let’s get started.

Program Profiles: Health Science Degrees Online in CA

Quality online health science degree programs are plentiful in the state of California — almost too plentiful. We’ve highlighted a handful of them in the following section so that you can start getting an idea not just of the programs that are available, but the ones that stand out in quality. For even more information on top schools, take a look at our guide to the best online health science degrees for 2024.

Carrington College

The Associate in Health Studies program at Carrington College allows students to build on their prior education and earn a degree that they can leverage in the professional world. To be admitted, applicants must hold a prior healthcare-related certificate (at least 24 semester credit hours) from an accredited institution. After having met this requirement, students can complete the associate degree in as few as six months. And, since the program is both online and asynchronous, students can balance their academics with work and other responsibilities. Essential topics covered in the curriculum include nutrition, psychology, sociology, and interpersonal communication.

Carrington makes education affordable by offering reasonable tuition ($15,711 for the health studies associate) and participating in federal and state financial aid programs. Beyond this, the school provides a variety of helpful academic and career services, such as library access, resume building, interview preparation, externships, and career fairs.

Sacramento State

Sacramento State’s Bachelor’s in Health Science is designed for students who want to pursue a career in the allied health professions. The program allows students to tailor their studies to meet their specific goals, so graduates are equipped with all necessary prerequisites to pursue careers or additional training in clinical or non-clinical practice professions like occupational therapy, nursing, physician assistant, and public health. In total, the degree consists of 120 units, which the program’s roadmap indicates can be completed in four years.

Health science students at Sacramento State can apply for a variety of merit- and need-based Health and Human Services scholarships. The school goes the extra mile to support scholars through its robust student services, including a food pantry, the Veterans Success Center, student health and wellness services, and a career center that offers resume and cover letter help, interview preparation, job search assistance, and more.

Southern California University of Health Sciences

When it comes to versatility, the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program at Southern California University truly shines. In addition to its flexible asynchronous online format, the program features a whopping eight concentration options. Rully online concentrations include health promotion, human genetics and genomics, functional anatomy, and integrative nutrition and wellness. Students even have the option to work with the program director or their academic advisor to create a customized concentration. Most students finish their studies in under two years, and graduates who seek to become physician assistants are guaranteed an interview with SCU’s PA program as long as they meet certain requirements.

The total cost of SCU’s program is $28,375, and includes a fixed rate tuition guarantee. Because the school offers several institutional scholarships and participates in a wide variety of financial aid programs (including veterans education programs), students have ample options for funding their degree.

What to Look for in California Health Science Programs

As you’ve begun to refine your search for the right health science degree program, you’ve likely started to consider factors that are most important to you — does the program offer the specialization options you need to meet your career goal? Is the faculty well-qualified and experienced? Does the program cost fit your budget?

In the section below, we have detailed a few more considerations specific to online health science degree programs in California. Read over them to fine-tune your program search even further — and be sure to check out the accompanying examples of programs that excel in each of these areas.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a seal of quality granted to a school or program by a sanctioned accrediting agency. It ensures that the education students receive meets certain standards. Accreditation also affects credit transferability and access to federal financial aid. The foremost regional accreditation agency in California is the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

School Spotlight: California Baptist University

Alumni Network & Employment Outcomes

The highest-quality schools go beyond the task of helping students earn a degree — they also help graduates find jobs through alumni networks and job boards. A strong alumni network enables students to develop connections with professionals and other graduates, through which they often find employment or receive advice and opportunities for career advancement.

Many of the schools in California that offer online health science programs feature unique platforms that foster such connections. Consequently, many of them also boast favorable employment outcomes.

School Spotlight: University of the Pacific

Community Outreach & Partnerships

Community outreach provides students the valuable opportunity to give back to others and develop rapport with the communities in which they hope to work. In California programs, these outreach efforts often involve public education or providing services directly to populations in need.

Students might give presentations about exercise and nutrition, provide health screenings, or organize fundraisers that benefit health-oriented efforts or organizations. Programs that prioritize outreach often partner with local school districts, health departments, community health workers, and public welfare organizations like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

School Spotlight: Loma Linda University

Research Opportunities & Innovation

Although the challenge of earning a health science degree alone can lead to enormous personal growth, participating in research provides additional academic enrichment. Conducting research deepens your subject-specific knowledge and helps you hone your problem-solving skills. Your research could also lead to valuable innovations in the field. The research conducted in California’s health science programs spans a broad swath of subjects, including disease prevention, physical therapy, nutrition, exercise, healthy aging, tobacco use prevention, and more.

School Spotlight: University of California, Berkeley

After Graduation: Prepare & Prosper in the CA Health Science Sector

Once you have found (and graduated from) your ideal online health science degree program in California, you might find yourself wondering what comes next.

Depending on your specific career goals, you may need to obtain licensure or certifications and maintain your credentials through continuing education. Keep reading to learn more about these steps so that you are prepared to thrive professionally after graduation.

Continuing Education & Skill Development

Continuing education (CE) refers to courses that expand on your skills and professional knowledge and keep you up to date with the latest trends and research in your field or specialty. In many positions, CE is required for maintaining licensure or certifications. To enroll in classes, check with your licensing or certification agency for a list of approved providers. For example, the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners lists specific CE requirements along with approved seminar providers on its website.

Certifications

A certification is a credential that proves you have expert knowledge in your field. To become certified, you must pass an exam facilitated through a recognized third-party organization. One example of such an organization is the National Board of Public Health Examiners, which issues the Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential to qualified individuals. Many job opportunities are only open to those who hold certifications, but even when certification is not required, it gives you a competitive edge.

Licensure

A license is a credential required by a governmental entity to work in certain professions. Unlike certificates, licenses are legally mandated; therefore, you can be prosecuted for practicing without one. Although the licensure process varies from one entity to the next, most require prospective practitioners to pass an exam and submit an application for licensure. For instance, the California Society of Radiologic Technologists explains that candidates must pass the ARRT state licensing exam and submit the proper license and permit applications.

Salary & Career Outlook for Health Science Graduates in California

Employment prospects for online health science graduates in California are favorable. According to long-term projections, the ten-year job growth for community health workers — one of the most popular professions among graduates — is healthy: there are expected to be 880 average annual openings for professionals in the field. Furthermore, new jobs are expected to grow 17.9% in the coming decade. In short, you can be confident that you’ll have your choice of opportunities in the health sciences after graduation.

But what can you expect to make when you land one of these many jobs? Health science graduates working as community health workers in California can reasonably expect to earn between $36,750 (10th percentile) and $77,750 (90th percentile) statewide. The median wage across the state is a solid $48,970.

However, a few regions are particularly desirable in terms of earning potential. Individuals working in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area, for example, earn a median wage of $61,000, and those in the 90th percentile earn $97,240. These figures are well above average statewide earnings. Chico, meanwhile, is one of the lowest-paid areas. Here, the median wage is $36,750, and the top earners make about $60,840.

Job seekers would do well to avoid areas like Santa Maria-Santa Barbara and Visalia-Porterville, where the 10th percentile and median wages fall well below statewide figures.

AreaOccupationBaseProjectionChangePercent ChangeAverage Annual Opennings
CaliforniaCommunity Health Workers6,7007,9001,20017.9880

Source: Projections Central

Area10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
California$36,750$48,470$77,750
Bakersfield, CA$31,330$49,240$62,950
Chico, CA$30,440$36,750$60,840
Fresno, CA$34,970$44,530$64,890
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$36,910$47,400$73,260
Modesto, CA$35,430$48,970$77,750
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA$36,610$47,400$63,410
Redding, CA$30,700$38,830$59,990
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$35,710$47,470$76,950
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA$37,030$55,430$84,690
Salinas, CA$38,430$38,580$62,430
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA$36,620$46,540$77,430
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$42,970$61,000$97,240
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$46,610$61,180$79,350
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA$36,910$48,110$76,670
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA$29,120$40,840$77,070
Santa Rosa, CA$38,580$48,340$81,450
Stockton-Lodi, CA$36,210$47,040$76,440
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$38,980$60,300$79,280
Visalia-Porterville, CA$29,120$38,260$61,820

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources & Support for California Health Science Students

If you’re looking to dive even deeper into the world of health science degrees, there is no shortage of information out there to satisfy your curiosity. To help give you a better idea of the resources out there to help California students like you find success in your online health science degree program we have carefully curated the following academic, financial, and professional resources. Check them out and see which ones work best for you. You can find even more information in our guide to scholarships and online resources for health sciences students.

Academic

  • California HOSA – California Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) educates and develops future healthcare professionals through student-led leadership programs, school-based health science programs, competitive events, and more.
  • Cultivating Health Blog – This community-oriented blog from UC Davis features educational posts on a variety of health topics, including fitness, mental health, children’s health, and cancer care. Content is searchable.
  • Health Sciences Blog – Explore this blog from UC San Diego Department of Health Sciences with archives covering over 25 health and research topics. The department also produces the N Equals One podcast about science and discovery.
  • Health Science Student Association (HSSA) – This student organization at California State University Long Beach offers members networking opportunities, access to community service events, and professional guest speaker lectures.
  • USC Libraries Research Guides – This page features an extensive and categorized collection of health science resources available freely on the internet. Each resource is linked and includes special tips for navigation.

Financial

  • Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program (AHSP) – This program awards scholarships of up to $15,000 to approved applicants in exchange for a 12-month service obligation in an eligible facility or geographic region.
  • CalHealthCares – This program offers loan repayment and/or practice support grants for physicians who provide care to Medi-Cal patients and agree to either a five- or ten-year service obligation.
  • Great Minds in STEM California Health Sciences Scholarships – These scholarships are for undergraduate students who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the health sciences. Candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Professional

  • California Chiropractic Association – Advocacy, resources, continuing education, training, webinars, district events, and conferences are just some of what this organization offers chiropractic professionals. There are also student membership options.
  • California Physical Therapy Association – This organization represents physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students. Membership benefits include professional resources, financial advice, continuing education, specialization certification opportunities, and more.
  • California Society for Respiratory Care – This membership association provides education, professional development, representation, and community for respiratory care practitioners and students in the state of California. It also hosts virtual meetings and in-person events.
  • California Society of Radiologic Technologists – This professional organization has over 22,000 members and provides education, career support, and involvement opportunities. It also engages in lobbying efforts and distributes an award-winning journal, The Technigram.
  • If I Could Change One Thing Podcast – Produced by San Diego State University’s School of Public Health and hosted by an experienced public health professional, this podcast explores health policy issues that affect Californians.
  • Southern California Public Health Association – This organization serves a variety of professionals and students with a vested interest in public health. Membership benefits include political advocacy, continuing education opportunities, and community involvement.
  • Southern California Society for Public Health Education – This membership-based organization focuses on supporting leaders in public health education. Members can access mentoring, guest speaker presentations, networking opportunities, a job bank, and more.