The earliest schools in California were founded in the last half of the 18th century by Franciscan missionaries. In the 1840s, American settlers began to set up their own schools. Progressive school laws, passed in the 1860s, provided for free elementary education for every child and established an advanced state system of public education. High schools were granted state support in 1903, and junior colleges were recognized as part of the secondary school system in 1917.
California is noted for its many excellent public colleges and universities. The University of California, one of the larger universities in the world, has campuses at Berkeley, Irvine, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Davis, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Riverside. The system also includes a campus focusing on health sciences programs in San Francisco, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, and more than 500 research centers throughout the state. It was founded in 1855 as the private College of California, in Oakland, and was chartered as a state university, in Berkeley, in 1868.
Besides the University of California, in 2000 the state system of higher education included the California State University System, which has more than 20 campuses from San Diego to Humboldt County along the northwest coast and more than 100 community colleges.
Many of the early colleges in California were private institutions established by religious denominations. The two oldest schools in the state, both dating from 1851, are the University of the Pacific, founded by Methodists as California Wesleyan College, and Santa Clara University, established by Roman Catholics as Santa Clara College. Among the most noted of California’s many private institutions are Stanford University, in Stanford; the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles; California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena; Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven schools, in Claremont; Mills College, in Oakland; and Whittier College, in Whittier. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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