Top 10 Best Safety Schools in California in 2024 | Spynaija
Best Safety Schools in California

Top 10 Best Safety Schools in California in 2024

Last Updated on January 24, 2024 by Michael Tijani


Are you uncertain whether you have the grades or test scores to gain admission to your dream school? Don’t worry! There are many outstanding safety schools in California that you can explore. 

Generally, in the United States, colleges are categorized into three major groups: reach schools, target schools, and safety schools. Opting for a safety school is a smart choice as the chances of acceptance are relatively high.

Moreso, with hundreds of options available, finding the best institution for you can be challenging; that is why we have compiled a list of some of the best safety schools in California to help you make an informed decision toward your education and career goal. Let’s dive in. 


What is a safety school?

A safety school is a higher education institution that you have a high probability of being admitted to. It is important to note that a safety school does not necessarily mean a lower quality of education. Many safety schools offer quality education, smaller class sizes, and more personalized attention from faculty and staff. These schools typically have a higher acceptance rate and a considerably higher GPA requirement than the student’s target or reach schools. In addition, safety schools are known for their lower tuition rates, making them an attractive option for parents and students alike.

Criteria for Choosing a Safety School

Choosing a safety school requires research and careful consideration. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a safety school:

Location: Consider the location of the school. Is it close to home? Is it in a city or rural area? Will you be comfortable living in that area?

Size: Consider the size of the school. Do you prefer a smaller or larger school? Larger schools may offer more resources, while smaller schools may offer more personalized attention.


Majors and Programs: Consider the majors and programs offered at the school. Does the school offer your intended major? Do they have a strong program in your area of interest?

Affordability: Consider the tuition fees, financial aid, and scholarships offered by the school. Will you be able to afford the cost of attendance? 

Top 10 Best Safety Schools in California

Below are some of the best safety schools in California that you can apply to in the hopes that you will likely make it to the admission list. 

#1: Sonoma State University

  • Average SAT: between 950-1150
  • Average ACT: between 17-23
  • Average GPA: 3.4 
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%

At Sonoma State University, academic excellence is at the forefront. The school offers over 78 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate programs across diverse disciplines, including the arts, sciences, business, and social sciences. The faculty members at SSU are highly experienced and dedicated educators who provide students with a supportive learning environment. With small class sizes and personalized attention, students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for successful careers and further academic pursuits.


The SSU campus is known for its picturesque beauty and exceptional facilities. Nestled in the heart of Sonoma County, the university provides a serene and inspiring setting for learning. The campus features modern classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories, and well-equipped study spaces.

The Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center is a hub of knowledge, housing an extensive collection of books, journals, and electronic resources. SSU also offers excellent recreational facilities, including a fitness center, sports fields, and outdoor spaces, encouraging students to lead a balanced and active lifestyle. With an acceptance rate of 94%, it’s a great option for students looking for a safety school in California. 

#2: California State University, Sacramento

  • Acceptance rate: 94% 
  • Average GPA: 3.0 (3.61 for non-residents) 
  • Average SAT: N/A (test blind) 
  • Average ACT: N/A (test blind) 
  • In-state tuition: $8,598.00 
  • Out-of-state tuition: $396.00 per unit 

CSUS believes in the value of hands-on learning experiences that go beyond the classroom. The university offers numerous opportunities for internships, cooperative education programs, and industry partnerships, enabling students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Through these practical experiences, students gain valuable industry exposure, develop professional networks, and enhance their employability.

The school has an outstanding faculty that is dedicated to teaching, research, and community service. Many faculty members have received national and international recognition for their research and creative work. They are also committed to mentoring students and providing valuable learning experiences. Sacramento State’s faculty members collaborate with students on research projects, internships, and other hands-on experiences that prepare them for career success.


CSUS also provides comprehensive career development services, including job fairs, workshops, and counseling, to support students in their career exploration and job search endeavors. With an acceptance rate of 76%, it’s a great option for students looking for a safety school in California. 

#3: San Francisco State University 

  • Acceptance rate: 91%
  • Average GPA: 2.50 or Higher (Non-California resident: 3.00 or greater)
  • Average SAT: N/A (test blind) 
  • Average ACT: N/A (test blind) 
  • In-state tuition: $7,484
  • Out-of-state tuition: $19,364

San Francisco State University takes pride in its renowned faculty members, who are experts in their respective fields. They are dedicated to providing students with a supportive learning environment and innovative teaching methods. SFSU faculty members actively engage in research, creative endeavors, and community service, advancing knowledge and addressing pressing societal issues. Their expertise and commitment to excellence create a dynamic learning environment that inspires students to explore new ideas and pursue their intellectual passions.

SFSU offers several undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including business, arts, humanities, social sciences, and more. The university’s comprehensive academic programs are designed to provide students with a strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and practical experience.

SFSU embraces diversity and inclusivity, fostering a campus community that celebrates multiculturalism and promotes understanding among students from various backgrounds. The university offers a vibrant and engaging campus life with many student organizations, clubs, and activities. With an acceptance rate of 91%, it’s an excellent option for students looking for a safety school in California.

#4: California State University, Chico

  • Application fee: $70
  • Average SAT: N/A (test blind)
  • Average ACT: N/A (test blind) 
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Average In-state tuition: $7,972 
  • Average Out-of-state tuition: $9,504
  • Average GPA CA Resident: 2.50 or greater GPA
  • Average GPA Non-CA Resident: 3.0 or greater GPA
  • Transfer Students: 2.0 or greater GPA 

California State University, Chico, is a public university in Northern California. The school offers over 385 undergraduate majors, minors, graduate degrees, and professional certifications. The campus has a beautiful location and is known for its sustainability efforts. CSU Chico is deeply rooted in community engagement and service learning. The university values its connection to the local community and strives to make a positive impact through partnerships and civic involvement.

CSU Chico students actively engage in service-learning projects, combining classroom learning with community service to address real-world issues. Through these experiences, students develop a sense of social responsibility, empathy, and cultural awareness, preparing them to become active and engaged citizens. With an acceptance rate of 85%, it’s a great option for students looking for a safety school in California. 

#5: The University of California, Merced

  • Acceptance rate: 86.6% 
  • Average high school GPA: 3.5 
  • Average In-state tuition: $13,738
  • Average Out-of-state tuition: $43,492 

Established on September 5th, 2005. The University of California, Merced, is a public research university in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s the newest member of the University of California system and has since become one of the best safety schools in California. The school offers 27 undergraduate majors, 25 minors, and 18 graduate programs in which over 400 full-time faculty members teach. With an acceptance rate of 86.6%, the school is relatively easy to get into compared to other schools in the UC system.

Like all other University of California campuses, Merced follows a test-blind admission policy, which means that standardized test scores such as the ACT or SAT are not considered during the admission selection process, even if you choose to provide them. This policy is expected to remain in effect until at least 2025. 


#6: University of the Pacific

  • Acceptance rate: 79.3%
  • Average SAT: 1120-1380
  • Average ACT: 24-32
  • Average high school GPA: 3.58
  • In-state tuition: $26,459
  • Out-of-state tuition: $26,459 

At the University of the Pacific, academic excellence is a cornerstone of its educational philosophy. The university boasts professional schools of DentistryLawPharmacy, and health sciences, which provide students with exceptional opportunities for specialized education and professional development. These programs are designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience required to excel in their chosen careers.

UOP prides itself on its distinguished faculty members, who are experts in their respective disciplines and dedicated mentors and educators. With small class sizes and a student-centered approach, UOP provides a nurturing environment that fosters intellectual growth, critical thinking, and lifelong learning.

Beyond academics, the University of the Pacific offers a vibrant campus life that encourages students to engage in extracurricular activities, expand their horizons, and build lifelong connections. UOP is one of the best safety schools in California.

#7: Chapman University

  • In-state tuition: $30,145
  • Out-of-state tuition: $30,145
  • Acceptance rate: 60.4%
  • Average SAT: 1223-1400
  • Average ACT: 26-31
  • Average high school GPA: N/A 

Located in Orange City, California. Chapman University is a mid-sized private university with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school offers 65 bachelor’s, 57 minors, 17 accelerated and bridge programs, 53 master’s, and six doctoral programs in arts and sciences, business education, and health. The campus is in a safe neighborhood, just 18 miles from Huntington Beach. 

The university’s commitment to academic excellence is reflected in its distinguished faculty members, who are experts in their respective fields and passionate about teaching and mentoring students. With small class sizes and a student-centered approach, Chapman University provides an intimate learning environment where students receive personalized attention, engage in meaningful discussions, and develop critical thinking skills.

Chapman University aims to offer exceptional personalized education that prepares individuals to lead ethical and productive lives as responsible global citizens. It is also one of the best safety schools in California.

#8: Whittier College

  • Acceptance rate: 72%
  • Average SAT: 1050-1220
  • Average ACT: 21-27
  • Average high school GPA: 3.53
  • In-state tuition: $48,924
  • Out-of-state tuition: $48,924 

Whittier College prides itself on its diverse programs and interdisciplinary approach to education. Students have the flexibility to explore their academic interests and customize their educational path. Majors, minors, and multidisciplinary programs cater to a wide range of passions, allowing students to integrate multiple fields of study and develop a comprehensive understanding of complex issues.

One of the hallmarks of Whittier College is its supportive and inclusive community. The college is committed to fostering an environment where students from diverse backgrounds feel valued, respected, and empowered. The close-knit community at Whittier College promotes meaningful connections between students, faculty, and staff, creating a supportive network that enhances the overall college experience. 

#9: The University of California, Santa Cruz 

  • Acceptance rate: 47.1%
  • Average SAT: N/A (test blind)
  • Average ACT: N/A (test blind)
  • Mean high school GPA: 4.08
  • In-state tuition: $14,640
  • Out-of-state tuition: $45,666 

The University of California, Santa Cruz, a public land-grant institution that started with a 652-student body in 1965, has become a global research university and a creative powerhouse for local and international students.

A campus with world-class facilities and one of the numerous visually breathtaking settings in higher education, UC Santa Cruz offers intensive academic programs and cutting-edge research opportunities for undergraduates in 66 majors in physical and biological sciences, social sciences, arts, engineering, and humanities spread across the ten undergraduate colleges. Graduate students pursue graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees across 64 academic programs under the guidance of the divisional and graduate deans.

#10: University of California, Riverside

  • Acceptance rate: 65.8%
  • Average SAT: N/A 
  • Average ACT: N/A 
  • Average high school GPA: 3.84
  • In-state tuition: $13,104
  • Out-of-state tuition: $44,130 

When it comes to prestigious educational institutions in California, the University of California, Riverside (UCR) stands out as a top choice. Known for its exceptional academic programs, vibrant campus life, and commitment to research and innovation, UCR has established itself as a leading university in the state.

UCR prides itself on its academic excellence, offering various undergraduate and graduate programs across various fields of study. From the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences to the Bourns College of Engineering and the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, UCR provides students with a comprehensive and diverse academic experience. The university boasts distinguished faculty members who are experts in their respective fields, creating an environment conducive to intellectual growth and innovation.


The University of California, Riverside, is one of the best safety schools in California. In the past four years, UCR has consistently earned the top spot for a public university in the U.S. for social mobility rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Like every other institution in the UC system, the University of California, Riverside, is test-blind, which means that the institution does not require test scores (SAT or ACT) even if you provide them. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing a safety school is an essential part of the college application process. However, some students believe that solely applying to reach schools is the best strategy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as it can be very competitive and nerve-wracking, and you may end up not being admitted to any of them. Therefore, having a blend of reach, target, and safety schools is very important to maximize your chances of being accepted into at least one college.

Furthermore, consider factors like location, size, academic programs, and campus culture. We’ve made a list of some of the best safety schools in California, and they offer excellent education and great opportunities for students.

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