Studying in Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Updated 2023-10-04 09:42

Los Angeles is a city that probably needs no introduction. Home to all things Hollywood, vibrant and diverse culture, and a number of famous universities, it is a great place to study, live and work. However, all of these benefits make LA a highly desirable location, so make sure to prepare for competitive acceptance rates and a higher cost of living.

Why study in Los Angeles?

California is one of the most popular destinations for international students. According to QS Top Universities, Los Angeles is the 30th best city for students worldwide. Everyone will have their own reasons for why LA is their dream study destination, but here are some common reasons why students love LA.

Firstly, Los Angeles is one of the most multicultural cities in the world; it has some of the most immigrant-friendly laws in the whole country, and there are over 220 different languages spoken in the city. You will find lots of ethnic communities in Los Angeles, like Koreatown and Boyle Heights, and Spanish is spoken by 36% of residents.

Los Angeles is the center of business, trade, and technology. It is home to 22 Fortune 500 corporations, famous tech companies, new startups, and more. This means that as a new graduate in the city, you will have many employment and internship options — although competition can get tough.

Networking is a benefit of studying in many places in the United States and is definitely not reserved exclusively for Los Angeles. More than any other, this city is driven by ideas, creativity, and the search for something new — and networking is second nature to most LA residents. Putting yourself out there and getting acquainted with new people in your future line of work can prove to be very helpful. It is also a good idea to keep your eyes open for internship opportunities and potential job offers upon graduation. Put yourself out there, introduce yourself by your name and what you do (or wish to do), and let the magic happen.

This city is also known for its great climate. The temperature here rarely goes below 6°C or above 28°C, which is a very comfortable setting to live, study and work in. Plus, Los Angeles is home to some great beaches where you can unwind after a busy day at college.

Los Angeles is one of the most exciting cities in the world in terms of culture and creativity, especially in film, TV, music, and entertainment in general. Some of the best movies, TV shows, and music are produced here. There are always numerous exciting activities to explore in LA, from visiting Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and television show tapings to discovering the city's nightlife and restaurant scene.

While there are lots of advantages that come with living in the city, the most important thing to consider is the quality of education in Los Angeles that you will receive. This is why it is essential to do some research on universities and colleges in Los Angeles to make an informed decision.

Best universities in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known for its international student population. There are lots of great universities in the city to choose from in the city itself. Plus, there are eight Ivy League colleges in California: Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Pomona College, University of Southern California, Claremont McKenna College, and Hurley Mudd College.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA is the most popular university in LA and one of the best institutions in the world — ranking 44th in the QS Top Universities ranking in 2023.

UCLA prides itself on being “the birthplace of the Internet”: it was here where the first ARPANET transmission was made.

The university offers over 125 majors and around 80 minors. Some of the most popular fields of study include business and economics, biology, psychology, political science, and others. There are several undergraduate colleges: the College of Letters and Science, the School of Theatre, Film and Television, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of the Arts and Architecture, and the School of Nursing. The university also has seven schools for postgraduate study and four postgraduate health schools.

The cost of tuition at UCLA is $43,473, and the admission rate is 11%.

The University of California has 9 other campuses in California located in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the world — in the QS University Rankings of 2023, it occupies the 134th spot. The University of Southern California was the first private university in LA and dates all the way back to 1880.

The university has 21 schools — the oldest and most popular being the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. This school alone has over 139 different majors.

An interesting fact about the University of Southern California is that it has more Oscar-winning alumni than any other institution in the United States.

It will cost you around $65,000 per year to study here, and the admission rate to the university is 12.5%.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is another famous institution. It tied at number 6 in the QS Ranking of Top Universities in 2023 and is one of the most prestigious establishments, not only in the United States but also in the world.

Caltech is a relatively small private university with an undergraduate enrollment of under 1,000. It is an elite establishment, and studying here will cost you $58,600 annually. Getting into Caltech is also a demanding enterprise, with the admission rate at the university standing at 3.9%.

The most popular majors at the university include engineering, computer and information sciences and support services, physical sciences, biology and biomedical sciences, and mathematics and statistics.

Occidental College (Oxy)

Occidental College is a small liberal arts college in the Los Angeles area. The institution dates back to 1887 and is one of the oldest colleges in liberal arts on the West Coast of the US. The college offers over 30 majors and around ten minor-only programs.

Studying at Occidental College costs $60,000 annually, and the acceptance rate is 38%. The college is sometimes referred to as “Princeton of the West” and is considered to be an elite institution.

Interesting fact: due to its proximity to Hollywood, Occidental College is often used as a filming location for movies and TV shows.

Pomona College

Pomona College is another liberal arts school in Los Angeles where students can benefit from a more personal approach and smaller classes.

Some of the most popular subjects to major in Pomona College are social sciences, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics and statistics, physical sciences, and more.

The cost of tuition at Pomona College is $62,000, and the admission rate is 7%.

Applying for a student visa to study in Los Angeles

To study in the United States, you must obtain a student visa. If you plan to study in an American university full-time, you must apply for an F-1 student visa. Once you have received the visa, you must stay enrolled in the university and keep up good grades for your visa to stay valid.

If you are in the United States on an F-1 visa, you can also get an on-campus job — up to 20 hours a week. There are also options for working as an international student off-campus — but doing this is a bit more complicated, and you will first need to file an application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

There are two other types of student visas you can apply for: J-1 and M-1.

J-1 visas are intended for individuals doing an internship, working on research projects, or involved in similar activities in the US. Note that a J-1 visa is only valid for the length of the program you are enrolled in.

M-1 visas are meant for those who are enrolled in technical or specialized study programs that are not held at academic institutions. Generally, as an M-1 visa holder, you are not allowed to work while in the US.

To apply for a student visa in the United States, you must first be accepted into your chosen university. You will also need to show proof of financial capacity: you should be able to pay for tuition and be able to support yourself throughout your stay in the US.

General requirements for entry to a university or college in Los Angeles

Different colleges and universities in Los Angeles have varying admission criteria, so it's crucial to evaluate your eligibility. Start by checking the admission rate at your desired institution to assess your chances objectively.

To apply to a university in Los Angeles, you typically need strong grades from your previous educational institution. These grades should align with the GPA (Grade Point Average) requirements set by the university you're applying to. If there's a significant academic gap between your prior education and the US university's expectations, consider enrolling in a pathway program. These preparatory courses cater specifically to international students in Los Angeles, helping them bridge the curriculum gap and greatly enhance their application prospects.

Another essential requirement for US university applications is proficiency in the English language. If you're not a native English speaker, you'll usually need to provide proof of your English language skills, often through tests like TOEFL or IELTS. To improve your language proficiency before applying, consider enrolling in a preparatory language course. Additionally, if you're aiming for a specific exam like TOEFL or IELTS, taking a dedicated language course can be beneficial.

Working while at university in LA

While studying in LA, international students are typically able to work, which can help with the high cost of living in LA. There are some restrictions and limits when it comes to working as a student in Los Angeles, and for the most up-to-date info, always check your visa requirements via US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We cannot emphasize enough that it's crucial to adhere to visa regulations while working as an international student. Ensure that you do not exceed the allowed work hours and maintain your full-time student status. Always consult your designated school official (DSO) or international student advisor for guidance on employment options and visa compliance. However, most students won't encounter difficulties if they adhere to some simple restrictions. Here's a breakdown of what to expect when looking for work as a student in LA:

  • On-campus employment: F1 visa holders are typically allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as summer or winter vacations. These on-campus jobs can include positions within your university, such as a research assistant or library aide;
  • Off-campus employment: Off-campus employment options are limited for international students. However, there are opportunities to participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs. CPT allows you to engage in internships or employment related to your field of study during your program. OPT is often used after completing your degree and provides practical work experience;
  • Career services for international students: Many universities in Los Angeles offer career services and resources to help international students find on-campus or off-campus job opportunities, internships, and co-op programs. These services can assist with resume building, interview preparation, and job search strategies;
  • Work authorization for international students: Depending on your visa status and eligibility, you may need to apply for work authorization through the USCIS for programs like OPT. Be sure to follow the necessary steps and deadlines.

To make sure you make the most out of your time in LA, take the time to do more research on student life in the city.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.