Irvine: The City of Education

Monday, October 04, 2021

Main News Photo

By Bryan Starr, President and CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber | Destination Irvine
As published in the Orange County Business Journal, October 4, 2021 

(Text included below flipbook.)








It’s not surprising that Irvine is one of the best places in the nation to receive an education, from K-12 to Ph.D. More than six decades ago, Irvine was master-planned with education in mind. Visionary city leaders knew that prioritizing education would be the key to the city’s long-term economic vitality and quality of life, so they designed the city around a research institution — known today as the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

As the city has developed, so has its portfolio of outstanding schools, colleges, and universities. Today, there are 15 colleges and universities that have a physical presence in Irvine:

  • California State University, Fullerton
  • Chapman University, Rinker Health Science Campus
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
  • George Washington University
  • Hancock International College
  • Irvine Adult School
  • Irvine Valley College
  • Pepperdine University
  • Stanbridge University
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Orange County Academic Center
  • University of LaVerne, Orange County Regional Campus
  • University of Massachusetts, Global
  • Webster University
  • Westcliff University

With an abundance of post-secondary education options, Irvine is home to a highly-educated community. According to a 2020 U.S. Census Bureau report, about 69% of adult Irvine residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, more than double the national (32%) and state (34%) figures. Moreover, the quality of the education students receive here is exemplary — a fact numerous rankings confirm.

UCI is one of the world’s leading education and research institutes. More than 37,000 students enrolled last year — approximately 29,600 undergraduates and 7,3745 general and health sciences graduate students. UCI has been ranked a Top 10 Public University seven years in a row by U.S. News & World Report, the #1 Best College in the U.S. by Money in 2019, and a Top 10 Cool School in the U.S. for Sustainability by Sierra magazine for 12 years.

The New York Times named UCI #1 among U.S. universities Doing the Most for the American Dream in 2017 and 2015 College Access Indexes. The ranking measures economic diversity based on several factors: the share of students receiving Pell Grants (which typically go to families making less than $70,000 a year); the graduation rate of those students; the net cost, after financial aid, that a college charges low- and middle-income students; and endowment per student.

Orange County’s premier private university, Chapman University, serves more than 10,000 students annually — approximately 7,600 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students. The university’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law has been ranked in the nation’s Top 10 law schools for best quality of life and #134 overall by The Princeton Review. Chapman is also recognized for its Argyros School of Business, Crean College speech-language pathology programs, and others. The Hollywood Reporter ranks Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts the #4 Top American Film Schools.

Chapman’s Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine is home to the highly-ranked School of Pharmacy and several graduate programs within the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

A College for the Community

Students can enter post-secondary education at a community college with one of the region’s highest transfer rates to UC schools, and is an affordable option: Irvine Valley College (IVC). With the Irvine Valley Promise, IVC offers eligible first-time, full-time IVC students two years of free tuition, bookstore vouchers, designated counseling resources, and other resources to help them succeed. This past year, IVC offered more financial aid than ever – more than $20 million, including scholarships, grants, and work-study. 

Each year, IVC serves 22,000 students from Irvine and local communities and offers more than 100 career-ready degrees and certificates, and pathways in 21 in-demand industries.

Educating Irvine’s Youth

Irvine’s youth are prepared for higher learning at some of the nation’s finest K-12 schools.

Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) high schools have been consistently ranked top in the nation by Newsweek’s List of America’s Top High Schools. It serves about 36,000 students annually through 40 schools and other programs. IUSD has ranked among California’s highest performing school districts in math and English language arts and literacy for the past two years, outperforming Orange County and State score averages. IUSD schools have been awarded the California Distinguished Schools/Gold Ribbon designation 77 times since 1986. IUSD high school SAT scores consistently rank top in Orange County and the state.

More than 96% of Irvine residents have graduated from high school, exceeding the national figure of 88%.

IUSD is the fastest-growing school district in California. Since 2012, IUSD has opened eight state-of-the-art schools:

  • Jeffrey Trail Middle School (opened in 2012)
  • Cypress Village Elementary School (2014)
  • Portola Springs Elementary School (2015)
  • Portola High School (2016)
  • Beacon Park School (K-8) (2016)
  • Eastwood Elementary School (2017)
  • Cadence Park School (K-8) (2018)
  • Loma Ridge Elementary School (2019)

Irvine’s newest school, Solis Park School (K-8), located at the north end of the Great Park Neighborhoods, officially broke ground in September and is expected to open in 2022.

Community Partners

In addition to Irvine’s world-class schools and distinguished educators and administrators, community partners ensure our students have access to quality programs and auxiliary opportunities.

Over its 25-year history, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, the largest education foundation in California raising funds for public schools, contributed more than $90 million in program and financial support to IUSD.

The Greater Irvine Chamber supports student learning through scholarships and career readiness programs such as its award-winning Career Edge soft-skills series for students attending colleges, universities, high schools, and academies in Orange County and Southern California. The Chamber’s semester-long Ethics Forum, for Irvine high school students, is designed to teach students the process of ethical decision-making, using common ethical dilemmas to determine criteria and respond appropriately.

The Greater Irvine Chamber celebrates Irvine’s world-class education as part of what helps the city live up to its promise as a model master-planned community and its ability to sustain economic vitality by ensuring a continued skilled workforce.

During its Oct. 13 Distinguished Educators event, the Greater Irvine Chamber will recognize outstanding Irvine educators and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) programs offered in the city. 


Category: Education Excellence, Distinguished Educators, Irvine, Greater Irvine Chamber, Leaders Circle, UCI, Chapman University