It depends what universities you are looking to buy next to. I would recommend around UCLA or on the Westside of Los Angeles and you will be in the $550K range for a 3 bedroom. As you head further east you can find condos in good areas for around $400k or less that may work as well.
I agree with Andrew that having a house may be a good investment for you as well and there are several more affordable options and typically houses appreciate more than condos.
I'm happy to help in your search. I have sold condos and homes all across Los Angeles.
Keller Williams Realty
If you're interested in a condominium strictly as an investment, you may consider single family homes as well. From the Downtown to the beach, the Los Angeles basin proper is some of the most valuable real estate on the west coast. Meanwhile, the only way for the area to grow is to increase density. Single family homes won't be developed here on a mass basis ever again and should be a particularly sought after commodity in the years to come.
Here's a link to a blog that I recently wrote about where to find some of the most affordable homes in the L.A. basin for under $500k.
Here's another link to a good free tool called Market Snapshot that may be useful to you. It will give you this week's housing pricing and conditions including community reports for any neighborhood from L.A. & Orange County to San Bernardino.
Please feel free to contact me through my Trulia Profile or my website posted below if you have more questions. Best of luck.
Best of luck,
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
Licensed Realtor for 33 years