Last Updated: October 14, 2020
A master of business administration (MBA) program teaches students the essential management skills to run a company successfully. The highly versatile MBA can help you move to a higher-paying position in your current occupation, successfully launch and run your own business, or begin a managerial career in an industry of your choice.
Should you have your heart set on an occupation requiring specialized skills, such as healthcare management or cybersecurity analysis, you can choose a program that offers the desired concentration.
Earning an MBA can be quite lucrative. In 2019, the estimated median starting salary for new MBAs was an impressive $115,000. Online degrees offer several advantages, including distance learning and potential financial savings.
An online MBA in California can open doors to the state's largest employers, including Silicon Valley tech giants Apple, Google, and Facebook.
Even for students who don't plan to take advantage of California's vocational strengths, the state is ranked fourth-best in the U.S. for higher education, making it an attractive place to study. Let's begin by looking at California's top 10 online MBA programs.
California's 10 Best MBA Programs
|1||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA|
|2||University of California, Irvine||Irvine, CA|
|3||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|4||California State University, Dominguez Hills||Carson, CA|
|5||California State University, Long Beach||Long Beach, CA|
|6||Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA|
|7||California State University, Stanislaus||Turlock, CA|
|8||California State University, San Bernardino||San Bernardino, CA|
|9||California Baptist University||Riverside, CA|
|10||St. Mary's College of California||Moraga, CA|
Why Get an Online MBA in California?
An MBA from a high-quality school carries benefits that easily outweigh the costs. This degree can help you kickstart your career, build a strong professional network, and differentiate yourself in a competitive job market. An MBA also strengthens widely applicable personal and vocational skills, such as creativity, time management, communication, and strategic thinking. Here are three top benefits of earning an online MBA in California.
- Versatility: An MBA is one of the most versatile professional degrees you can earn. Many of the hard and soft skills you acquire during your study transfer across a variety of industries.
- Flexibility: Most MBA programs allow you to complete your degree at a pace that fits your schedule. Studying part time or online may be a particularly attractive option if you don't want to quit your job.
- Increased Earning Potential: With an MBA in hand, you have a good chance of landing a high-paying job. The median starting salary for an MBA hire is more than double that of someone with a bachelor's in the same position.
MBA programs in California come with their own unique benefits. As the largest economy in the U.S. and a thriving business hub, California presents endless opportunities for MBAs to intern or work for some of the world's most prominent companies, many of which are headquartered in California.
Online students used to face disadvantages compared to on-campus learners, missing out on local networking and job opportunities. But in the age of Zoom, most top-tier MBA programs offer online students the same opportunities to connect with alumni, local business leaders, and corporate recruiters as their on-campus counterparts. Some online programs feature periodic on-campus visits or short in-person residencies.
The 25 Best Online MBA Programs in California, 2020
Learners who have decided to pursue an online MBA in California face the laborious task of choosing where to apply. All programs feature their own unique curricula, entry requirements, degree requirements, schedules, flexibility, career tracks, and concentration options.
Some programs accommodate working professionals, others serve aspiring entrepreneurs, and others offer accelerated tracks for students with strong business backgrounds. To guide your quest in selecting the best schools for you, we have compiled detailed descriptions of the 25 best online MBA programs in California.
Our Ranking Methodology
Online MBA Today uses eight metrics to grade each school:
- Quality of online programs as determined by U.S. News & World Report
- Midcareer pay data from PayScale
- Student review score from Rate My Professors
- Aggregate reputation score from other ranking sites
- Percentage of online programs
- SAT scores
- Average net price
- Retention rate from the National Center for Education Statistics
For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.
#1. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
The University of California Los Angeles is home to a Fully Employed Master of Business Administration program, which is delivered through 80 units of coursework. The curriculum is divided between 44 core units and 36 units of electives, which are designed to take students between two and a half to three years to complete.
UCLA operates on the quarter system, with students in the program generally taking two classes per term in the summer, fall, winter, and spring. Coursework begins with courses such as Leadership Foundations, Data & Decisions, and Managerial Economics. Students have the option of completing a one-week Global Immersion or International Exchange in place of one of their elective courses. Global studies course options are available in more than 20 countries.
UCLA offers three different delivery options for its Fully Employed MBA program. Students can choose to take classes all-day Saturday, on Tuesday & Thursday evenings, or through a hybrid combination of online and on-campus study.
Students in the program see an average salary increase of between 23-34% while they are in the program, as well as a 137% increase in salary 6-8 years after they have graduated from the program. Professionals in the program come from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds. Students from the program represent over 40 different industries and are employed at more than 600 different companies.
#2. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
The University of California, Irvine, has a Fully Employed Master of Business Administration program, which is designed for early to mid-career professionals in business roles. UC-Irvine's MBA curriculum includes specialization options, as well as cutting-edge research and case studies that give students practical problem-solving abilities relevant to the modern workforce.
Students complete a total of 78 units of coursework, which is designed to take students around three years to complete. Coursework begins with an opening residential experience before covering foundational topics such as organizational behavior, microeconomics, and financial reporting. Later coursework is then built around electives or a chosen area of emphasis. Available emphasis areas from the program include Accounting, Economics/Public Policy, Finance, Information Systems, and Interdisciplinary, among others.
Students in the program see an average salary growth of 35%, and 95% of students report being "highly satisfied" with the MBA program. Program start dates are available in both the fall and spring, with multiple application deadlines available for each term (three for spring, five for fall). Students are encouraged to apply during the earliest cycle possible, as decisions and fellowship awards packages are awarded within a few weeks of each deadline. Students who apply to the program earlier also have a higher chance of receiving aid or being accepted. It is preferred that applicants have at least two years of work experience to apply to the program. Students with less than this may still apply, but the average candidate in the program has around six years of experience.
#3. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
The University of Southern California's Marshall Online Master of Business Administration program has almost exclusively online coursework, with only a one-week on-campus residency required during the program. The curriculum for the program is designed to develop students' skills in metrics, communication, and effective collaboration (primarily through virtual/remote mediums). U.S. News & World Report ranked USC's MBA program as one of their "Top Online MBA Programs" for 2019. The Princeton Review also rated the program as one of the Top 25 Online MBA Programs for 2019.
The 51 units of coursework include the on-campus intensive residency and five online courses. After completing the residency, students take a series of five courses, such as Managing Outside the Business Environment & Leadership. Portions of the course content are synchronous, but there are also two to three online class meetings per week (during the evening to accommodate working professionals).
The program's one-week residency gives students a chance to build personal and professional connections within their cohort. The residency includes intensive, collaborative coursework, as well as a good-natured consulting competition that simulates the practical application of skills students will learn throughout the MBA. Company executives are on hand to offer feedback on each team's final proposals. This experience happens during a student's first semester in the program to help form those connections with students and faculty right out of the starting blocks, making the remainder of the student's time in the program more enjoyable, productive, and community-oriented.
#4. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, DOMINGUEZ HILLS
California State University, Dominguez Hills, is home to a Master of Business Administration program, which can be completed in just 18 months. Students have the option of taking classes either on-campus or through the university's online learning platform. The on-campus program requires students to come to campus two times per week, while the online platform offers asynchronous content that students can access at any time.
The MBA is built around the principles of integration, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking. Classes in the online program are scheduled in 12-week intervals, and students typically take two courses per session. Students take at least seven core courses in the program (there are eight core courses available to choose from), along with three classes of electives.
In total, there are seven concentration areas for MBA students, which include Information Technology Management and Global Logistics/Supply Chain Management. Most emphasis areas have around seven-to-eight course offerings to choose from, except for International Business, which is a preset sequence of three courses.
Admission to CSUDH requires students to have a GPA of at least 2.5 cumulatively or 3.0 in their last 60 semester/90 quarter units. MBA applicants are also expected to earn a minimum score of 450 on the GMAT or a comparable score on the GRE. The most recent cohort of 15 MBA students had an average GPA of 3.06 and an average GMAT score of 486.
#5. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH
Cal State Long Beach's online Master of Business Administration program is cohort-based and ideally designed for students who will be working full-time during their education and who are thus unable to attend in-person courses. Depending on a student's enrollment status, the degree requirements take between 21-48 months to fulfill. Students take a total of 16 courses in the program, with full-time students generally taking two courses per term (there are five terms offered each year). Courses from the program include Marketing Concepts, Managerial Accounting, Seminar in Leadership Skills, and Integrated Analysis. At the end of the program, OMBA students complete an international trip along with faculty mentors: previous trips have been to Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Morocco.
Applications for the online program are open from October to June for Fall admission. It is preferred that applicants to the program possess at least three years of full-time work experience. Admission to CSULB graduate programs requires a minimum overall GPA of 2.75, as well as a GMAT score of 500 (4.0 essay score and 4.0 integrated reading score, as well). GRE minimum scores are 150 on both the verbal and quantitative sections, and a 4.0 on the essay section. Applicants also complete a video statement of purpose, which is uploaded to YouTube and then reviewed by the Admissions Committee. In addition to the online MBA, CSU Long Beach also has an Accelerated Full-Time MBA, as well as Evening and Saturday MBA programs.
#6. PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
Pepperdine University offers an online Master of Business Administration program, which includes an option for one of four concentration areas. Concentration areas available in the program include Finance, Marketing, Digital Innovation/Information Systems, and Leadership/Managing Organizational Change. Students may also choose to pursue a general track, where elective courses are drawn from a cross-section of specialty areas.
Pepperdine's MBA curriculum consists of 15 courses (52 units), which includes participation in one immersion experience in Los Angeles. The immersion allows students to deepen their skills in business ethics and leadership, as well as to work with one of Pepperdine's corporate partners, where they will learn practical applications for their business know-how. Students have previously worked with industry vanguards like Boeing, AEG, Kaiser Permanente, and Farmers Insurance.
The MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (a distinction earned by fewer than 5% of global business schools and programs). It is designed for professionals with at least two years of full-time experience in business, but Pepperdine does value diversity in students' academic backgrounds and life experiences. Students generally take two courses at a time, along with occasionally adding one-credit seminar experiences in Leadership Development and Business Operations.
Pepperdine University was ranked as one of the 50 best universities in the country by U.S. World & News Report in 2018. Online learning students at Pepperdine have access to the LinkedIn Premium Career Center and WeWork, which is a shared working space program that connects students to shared workspaces throughout the world.
#7. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, STANISLAUS
California State University, Stanislaus, has an online Master of Business Administration program, which offers degree options for either a general MBA or one that comes with an emphasis in Finance. There are seven core classes and three electives required in the curriculum, for a total of 30 credit hours.
Core courses include Seminar in Quality & Productivity Management, Computer Information Systems, and Marketing Management. Electives vary each term, but some of the recent elective offerings are as follows: Security Analysis & Portfolio Management, Negotiation Skills, and International Marketing.
There are also prerequisite courses that students are expected to fulfill before they may begin their MBA coursework. These prerequisites cover topics such as financial accounting, microeconomics, marketing, and management. Stanislaus also has a Saturdays-only Executive Master of Business Administration program, which is designed for mid-career professionals with significant experience, who are available to meet on-campus on weekends.
The OMBA program ends with a comprehensive examination, which is a part of the final capstone course. The comprehensive exam includes seven questions, one related to each of the core courses that a student takes in the program.
Admission to the OMBA program requires students to have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and to have a minimum GPA of 2.5. GRE or GMAT score requirements are correlated with a student's undergraduate GPA at the time of application.
#8. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN BERNARDINO
California State University, San Bernardino, has a 100% online Master of Business Administration program. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of mid-career professionals with two or more years of work experience. There are no concentrations in the program, and students can finish the program in as few as 18 months.
The program begins with courses covering Advanced Managerial Communication, Data-Driven Decision-Making, and Organizational Theory & Behavior. Students eventually move on to courses on information systems and financial theory, before completing the program with the "MBA Culminating Business Analysis Project" course. In this course, students complete a written assessment designed to integrate the knowledge from their previous courses into practical applications as students prepare to return to the real world.
In total, there are 40 units of coursework, which is split up between 28 hours for core courses, eight hours for electives, and the four-hour capstone class/experience. In addition to the 18-month track, there is also a flex track available for students who need more flexibility in their time-to-graduation or their course loads for each semester/term. There are two sessions available during each term, and students can apply to begin the program during any session (including winter). Each course in the program lasts five weeks, and students generally take one course at a time (as the requirements for two courses would generally exceed feasibility for someone working full-time). GMAT and GRE scores are not required for admission to the program.
#9. CALIFORNIA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
California Baptist University offers an online Master of Business Administration program, which can come with a specialization in either Accounting or General Management. Each of these specializations requires 36 credit hours of coursework and takes an average of 12 months to complete.
The first 21 hours of coursework covers core topics, such as the legal environment of business, organizational behavior, entrepreneurial management, and quantitative business modeling. The other 15 hours are dedicated to specialization courses, which for the general management specialization includes Managerial Ethics, Financial Management, and Global Business Management. All students in the program complete their degree with a Strategic Management course, which uses the case analysis method to teach creative problem-solving and practical applications to students.
Admission to the online MBA program requires a bachelor's degree, official sealed transcripts, and a 500-word personal statement covering a student's purpose for entering the program and long-term career goals. Applicants are also expected to have completed prerequisite courses in areas such as organizational management, business ethics, and business law.
Students without academic experience in these areas may be able to substitute related work experience. The director for the MBA program is Dr. Scott Dunbar, who earned his Doctorate in Business Administration from Liberty University in 2017. His research interests include religious coping, burnout, differentiation of self, and mindfulness. CBU also has online Masters's degree programs in Christian Leadership, Organizational Leadership, and Public Health, among others.
#10. ST. MARY'S COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA
St. Mary's College of California has a Professional Master of Business Administration program, which requires eleven total courses. Students take eight core courses in managerial economics, quantitative methods, and ethical/social aspects of a business. Students then complete their coursework by choosing three electives related to an area of specialization, such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and more.
The MBA is designed to take students 24 months to complete, with students generally taking around two courses per term.
Students can choose between three different delivery methods, including Classroom Evenings and Weekends, Online Evenings and Weekends, and Experimental. Students applying to the MBA program are required to have between 0-5 years of work experience.
Graduates from the program are now working in managerial positions at several noteworthy global organizations. Alumni currently serve in positions such as Complaints Manager at First Republic Bank, Project Manager at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, and Marketing Manager at Peet's Coffee. The most recent cohort of students in the program was between 23-32 years of age and had a gender breakdown of 66% men and 34% women.
Depending on their undergraduate major and GPA, students may be required to submit GRE or GMAT scores for the program. Students without a quantitative-based major are generally required to submit scores, as well as students below a 2.8 GPA. Admission to the program is handled on a rolling basis, with multiple rounds/deadlines for applying.
#11. UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO
The University of San Diego's Master of Business Administration can be taken as a hybrid degree program, which allows students to blend online learning and classroom experiences. Students in the hybrid program are required to come to campus one weekend per month (Saturday and Sunday), after which they complete the remainder of their coursework online.
The MBA starts with an immersive one-week orientation at USD's main campus, during which students also take their first class in the program. Overall, 40% of the program coursework is completed online, and 60% of coursework is delivered through the monthly campus meetings. The curriculum for the program includes Business Function Core classes like Financial Accounting and Economics in a Global Environment.
San Diego also has a full-time MBA program and a Professional Part-Time MBA, both of which are on-campus programs. Students who start in the Hybrid MBA program can transfer into the Professional Part-Time program once they have completed the opening immersive experience. All students begin the hybrid program during the spring semester, which makes it the only MBA program in San Diego with a January start date.
USD offers more than 15 short-term study abroad options to MBA students, as well as a 10-day international consulting project that has previously taken students to work with PetroRio in Rio de Janeiro, BMW in Munich, or Nike in Shanghai. The most recent class of Hybrid MBA students had five years of professional work experience, as well as an average student age of 29 and an average GPA of 3.1.
#12. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
Cal State Sacramento has a hybrid Executive Master of Business Administration program, which is a 15-month degree that has been completed by more than 650 students since the program started in 2005. Students take a total of 41 units in the program, which includes 24 units of core courses, 12 units of electives, a 4 unit culminating experience project, and 1 unit orientation/boot camp.
The EMBA begins with the two-day orientation in Sacramento, which includes "boot camp" refresher courses that help prepare students for the rigor of the EMBA program by refreshing them on foundational material related to finance, management, and related subjects. Students complete their degree by submitting individual application projects, which are eventually delivered through an individual presentation on the final day of the program.
The average age for students entering the program is 41 years, with an age range between 24-63. Students had an average of 13.5 years of work experience, and 45% of students entering the program were female. Admission to the program is dealt with via a "portfolio approach", which takes into account students' Professional Experience, Academic Qualifications, a personal interview, and additional criteria such as community service or professional activities.
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with an overall GPA of at least 2.5. Students must also have at least three years of work experience. Students with more than ten years of valid and documented relevant and significant professional/managerial experience do not need to submit standardized test scores.
#13. BRANDMAN UNIVERSITY
Brandman University offers an online Master of Business Administration program, which can also be taken as a hybrid program. The 36 credit-hour degree includes 24 units of core courses and 12 units of electives. Core courses cover topics such as financial reporting, economic analysis for managers, business process analysis/innovation, and organizational dynamics management.
Students can choose a concentration to dedicate their elective credits towards. There are ten different options to choose from, including Finance, Health Administration, International Business, and e-Business Strategic Management. Each concentration area has four pre-selected courses that students take. For example, students pursuing a Marketing emphasis will take classes in Marketing Research, New Product Development, Advertising/Promotion, and International Marketing.
Students without an undergraduate degree in business may be required to take an additional 12 credit-hours of foundations courses before beginning their MBA coursework. There are four different GPA requirements that students can meet to qualify for admission to the program. These include earning a 3.0 GPA over the last 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) of attempted courses or earning a 2.5-2.99 GPA over the most recent 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours) and a satisfactory score on a graduate admissions exam (GMAT, GRE, CSET, or MAT). Students can also qualify if they have earned a previous master's degree in a relevant field or submit a portfolio showcasing adequate preparation for graduate studies. These portfolios can include writing samples, letters of recommendation, or a detailed resume.
#14. UNIVERSITY OF LA VERNE
La Verne has an online Master of Business Administration program, which includes 100% online coursework delivered in a fully asynchronous format. Core classes give students a broad overview of contemporary management skills, and coursework places a specific emphasis on practical applications of skills in the day-to-day of the global business environment. Students take 12 courses (36 credit hours): eight core courses, three concentration courses, and one Graduate Business Seminar.
There are eight different concentration options for students to choose from in the program, such as Accounting, Health Services Management, Management/Leadership, and Information Technology. There are also additional concentrations that are a part of the Master of Science in Management and Leadership program, which students can also take in the MBA program. However, overlapping courses cannot count for both the core unit requirement and the concentration unit requirement.
The online MBA program does not require substantial work experience, and students from academic backgrounds outside of business are welcome to apply. The majority of faculty members who teach courses for the online MBA program also teach as part of the on-campus program at La Verne's main campus.
La Verne has been offering online/adult education to students for more than 35 years. The Online MBA program has the same admission standards as the school's MBA for Experienced Professionals. That program is designed for students with at least three years of full-time work experience. It is also offered both online, as well as several different regional locations throughout California.
#15. NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
National University's 100% online Master of Business Administration program requires 12-14 courses (54-63 quarter units). The curriculum starts with seven core competency courses in global business, supply chain systems, economics for managerial decisions, and a seminar in financial management. Students may then choose to take either four general electives from any concentration area or to pursue a four-course concentration.
National's MBA program has the following concentration options for online students: Organizational Leadership, Supply Chain Management, Bank Management, Marketing, Management Accounting, International Business, Human Resource Management, Supply Chain Management, or Financial Management. The capstone experience for the program is a Business Strategy and Policy course.
There are two foundation courses in Financial Accounting and Statistics that students must either pass or place out of. Students who have completed an undergraduate degree in business will generally qualify for waivers for both courses.
Students can transfer in up to 13.5 quarter units of credit from a similarly accredited university or college. The program requirements can be completed in as little as 12 months.
Every student who enters the program is assigned a faculty mentor who helps to offer academic and professional support as a student progresses through the program. National also has tutors who are available for almost all courses, including electives. NU also has more than 170,000 alumni members, who students can connect with for networking opportunities during and after the program.
#16. NORTHCENTRAL UNIVERSITY
Northcentral University is home to an online Master of Business Administration program, which offers both an accelerated schedule option, as well as 17 different professional specializations. Students are required to complete ten courses (30 credit hours), and the recommended time to completion for the regular program is around 16 months.
MBA students can choose to specialize in unique areas, such as Criminal Justice, Health Services, Entrepreneurship, Homeland Security, or Applied Computer Science. Concentration areas require three elective course options, and each concentration generally has around seven course offerings to choose from. Samples of elective coursework would include Current Issues in Law Enforcement and Juvenile Offender from the Criminal Justice track. The credit requirements and time to completion are the same for all of the specialization areas.
Students can start the program on any Monday of the year, as students in the program have classes to themselves (thanks to asynchronous coursework and examinations). Graduates from the program have gone on to careers, including Business Analyst, Administrative Director, Director of Sales, and Business Development Manager.
Students can also pursue an accelerated version of the program, which speeds up completion time to just around one year. Students should consult with a faculty advisor to see if the course load and time sequence of the accelerated degree would be right for them. There are also special scholarships available, including $20,000 and even full-tuition scholarships, for new students.
#17. AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
Azusa Pacific University has an online Master of Business Administration program, which requires 42-43 credit hours of coursework. Students can also choose one of eight different areas of study to specialize in, including sport management, organizational science, and institutional research. Students can access course materials at any time and should expect to spend between 6-10 hours per week per unit to succeed in their courses.
Courses in the program run on 8-week sessions, with each term being made up of two 8-week sessions. Most students complete the MBA in between 15-30 months, depending on their enrollment status. Students enrolled in at least nine units during one term are considered full-time, while students beneath this threshold are considered part-time.
Azusa Pacific University is a member of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which offers financial aid opportunities to veterans, active-duty military members, and spouses of those who are currently on deployment. All of APU's online programs include a two-week online orientation before the program itself begins, which allows students to engage and become comfortable with the online learning/communication platforms that they'll be interacting with throughout the program.
All students in the program are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout the program. In addition to the online version of the program, there are also on-campus versions of the MBA at the main Azusa campus, as well as the Inland Empire, Murrieta, and Orange County regional campuses.
#18. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, MONTEREY BAY
Cal State Monterey Bay is home to an online Master of Business Administration program, which can be completed under two years. Online classes in the program are capped at a maximum of 30 students. The program curriculum was recently revamped as the Responsible Business curriculum, which is designed around the themes of innovation, responsibility, and impact. Students learn not only about the ways to manage people and money, but also the way that responsible business practices can positively impact the elements of people, planet, profit, ethics, and equity. Students take 14 courses in the program, which are taken in a predetermined sequence, starting with Responsible Business Communication. Students finish the program with a Professional Development Seminar, where they will learn to promote their career by working on value clarification, goal setting, networking, resumes, and LinkedIn profiles.
Monterey Bay has also provided a $3,000 scholarship for new online MBA students to qualify for, which offsets much of their tuition for the first semester of the program. U.S. World News & Report ranked Monterey Bay's online MBA as one of the ten best regional public universities in the West. Alumni from the program have seen an average salary increase of 40% within three years of graduation. Half of all graduates from the program also receive a promotion within three years of graduating. And female alumni are four times as likely to receive a promotion as male alumni. The school's mascot is an otter, which is a subtle nod to the school's location along the south-central coast of California.
#19. HOPE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
Hope International University offers an online Master of Business Administration program. There are four options for a student's specialization in the program, including marketing and non-profit management. Students also take four courses in their area of concentration, which can include options such as Enterprise Development and Human Resource Management.
Applicants to the program are expected to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, as well as a degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
Graduates from the online MBA program have pursued career fields including entrepreneurship, marketing, retail, and finance.
There are two prerequisite courses that students must meet the requirements before beginning the MBA coursework. The two courses are Principles of Economics and Accounting/Finance. Students with an undergraduate background in business will generally be able to waive these requirements. Students who are unable to waive them will end up taking a total of 42 credit hours in the program.
All students in the program are given an Academic Coach, who helps to guide them through their coursework and professional steps necessary to take advantage of the MBA degree and their new, practical skills. Hope International also has Master's programs available in Management, as well as Education and Christian Ministry/Biblical Studies.
#20. GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY
Golden Gate University's Master of Business Administration can be completed online, in-person, or through a hybrid combination of both. The curriculum is designed to give students a blend of hard and soft skills in areas such as communication, management, presentations, and team-building. There are 54 units of classes required for the degree, which includes nine units of foundation courses that students may be able to waive, based on their undergraduate background.
Overall, there are 33 units of core courses, which include skills, contextual, and functional classes. Students then take 12 units in a chosen concentration area. Golden Gate has more than 13 concentration options, such as Adaptive Leadership, Human Resources, Business Analytics, and Public Administration. The capstone requirement for the program is a "Business Planning" course, which allows students to practice strategy development and implementation exercises.
Golden Gate University has a joint degree program through both the schools of business and law, which allows students to earn both their JD (Juris Doctorate) and their MBA at the same time. Golden Gate also offers a Master of Science program in Leadership.
College Choice ranked Golden Gate's Online MBA program as one of the best in the State of California. 95% of students in the online MBA program are 25 years of age or older. The average class size in the program is 14 students. GGU has more than 68,000 alumni throughout the country, as well as around the world.
#21. POINT LOMA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY
Point Loma Nazarene University's Evening Master of Business Administration is a 24-month degree program, which requires 42 credit hours of coursework to complete. Students are organized in a "cohort model," which progresses them through a pre-set sequence of courses along with their peers. This allows students to be personal and professional relationships with their classmates that will help them in the program, as well as after they graduate.
Students may select from one of three concentration areas in the program: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Project Management, and Organizational Leadership. Credits in the program are divided between 36 units of core classes and six units of elective (concentration) courses.
Evening classes in the program are held Monday through Thursday. Students may accelerate the program or slow it down, depending on their needs, preferences, and schedules during a given term.
Faculty members in the program have a unique balance of academic knowledge and practical experience, which combines with small class sizes to give students in-depth mentoring opportunities. Point Loma Nazarene also has a Daytime MBA program, as well as graduate programs in Education, Christian Ministry, and Nursing, among others.
#22. CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY
Cal Lutheran is home to an online Master of Business Administration program. It is a 15 course (45 credit-hour) program, which is designed to last between 12-24 months, depending on a student's enrollment status. Online students have five eight-week terms available to them throughout the year. There are eight core courses, such as Organizational Behavior, Macroeconomics in the Global Economy, and Business Ethics/Law, which make up the first credit-hours of the program.
Professional Concentration courses makeup 12 credit-hours, and can include courses in Marketing, International Business, Information Technology, Finance, Human Capital Management, and Enterprise Innovation/Entrepreneurship. The remainder of the required credits is dedicated to prerequisite courses and the final 3-credit capstone course.
There is also an on-campus version of the program for students who are local to the Thousand Oaks or Southern California region. In-person courses are available at the main Thousand Oaks campus, as well as at regional schools in Oxnard and Woodland Hills. These can include evening courses or weekend intensives that meet the needs of students who are working full-time or who have persona commitments throughout the week.
Students may also choose to pursue a blended version of the program, which combines both face-to-face and online learning opportunities for MBA students. California Lutheran is a "veteran-friendly" school, which is why they are a part of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps veterans and active-duty military members to cover expenses that the Post-9/11 GI Bill might not.
#23. TOURO UNIVERSITY WORLDWIDE
Touro University Worldwide's Online Master of Business Administration is a fully online program, which does not require students to submit GRE or GMAT scores for admission. Students can finish the program in as little as one year, and they have more than ten concentrations to choose from to go along with their core business knowledge.
There are six start dates available throughout the year, and students generally choose to take two courses per term for six consecutive terms (to graduate within a year). The curriculum requirements total of 36 credit hours, which begins with 27 credit hours of core coursework. Core courses in the program include Management Across Cultures, Professional Communications, Financial Principles & Management, and Strategy/Planning.
The final nine credits in the program are dedicated to elective/concentration courses. The concentrations offered in the program are as follows: Accounting, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Finance, Global Management, Health Administration, Human Resources, Marketing, Non-Profit Management, and Physicians/Healthcare Executives.
Each concentration has a preset sequence of three courses that will fulfill the elective credit requirement. For example, the AI concentration has classes on Introduction to AI, Machine Learning/Robotics in Business, and Special Topics in Artificial Intelligence Business. Touro is a non-profit institution that looks to serve all students and provide a wide variety of educational opportunities. So Touro recently decided that students should have their application fee to the program automatically waived.
#24. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FRESNO
Fresno State's online Master of Business Administration can be taken as either a hybrid, online, or on-campus degree program. Students take a total of 51 units worth of classes in the program. This includes a sequence of 15 prerequisite courses, in which students with an undergraduate background in business or a related field are often able to waive.
Fresno State's Online MBA is accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business, which is a distinction earned by only 5% of business schools worldwide. All coursework can be completed online, with only small exceptions for the introductory orientation, selected final exams, and the final presentation for the student's culminating experience.
Students use the Blackboard Learning System as their primary software for accessing course materials and engaging with their peers/professors through discussion posts and direct messaging. Students can choose to participate in an optional Summer Study Abroad Program. Graduate courses in the program are currently taught in Sydney, Australia. Courses from the study abroad include International Business and Seminar in Comparative – Human Resource and Industrial Relations Systems.
#25. CALIFORNIA COAST UNIVERSITY
California Coast University has an online Master of Business Administration program, which is a self-paced degree that students can complete 100% online. Coursework in the program is not structured in semesters, quarters, or terms, and students can start their classes at any point during the year. However, some employers require students to complete courses on a per-term basis. This is also sometimes the case for military students.
Overall, there are 13 core courses and a final examination in the program, and students do not take electives or earn a concentration. The core courses include Human Resource Management, Business Law, Leadership, E-Commerce Management, and The Research Process. The Final Comprehensive Examination that students take to finish the degree is a Pass/No pass exam.
The Final Comprehensive Examination is a combination of essay, short-answer, and multiple-choice questions, which require students to integrate the knowledge from all of their previous courses. Students can repeat portions of the exam that they do not pass until they receive a passing score.
Applicants are required to have completed a bachelor's degree from a college or university that has been recognized by the United States Department of Education. It is recommended that students have a degree in business administration, leadership, management, or marketing. Students with academic backgrounds outside of these fields will be considered by the committee, with the expectation that they have the necessary foundational knowledge to succeed in the program.
What To Expect From MBA Programs in California
A traditional MBA comprises 36 credits, not including the final project. A traditional MBA takes about two years to complete, and accelerated options typically take one year. The latter best suits business professionals seeking to move into higher positions.
An employer-sponsored executive MBA, or EMBA, serves midcareer professionals aspiring to move up in the workplace. Finally, online and part-time degrees are great options for prospective students who don't want to quit their jobs or uproot their families.
On-campus MBA degrees often come with hefty price tags, especially considering cost of living and loss of income. The 10 best business schools in California cost nearly $58,500 per year on average, according to U.S. News & World Report. Online MBA programs cut out expenses for transportation, accommodation, and campus fees, making them more economical for many students.
To be considered for a top-tier MBA program, applicants must submit evidence of solid academic credentials or work-related accomplishments in accordance with the specified instructions. Many schools require GRE or GMAT scores, though some waive this requirement for online applicants. Schools occasionally short-list candidates for interviews before making final decisions.
More and more MBA students are choosing to specialize their degrees, and MBA concentrations may add course requirements on top of the core curriculum.
Business schools across the U.S. offer hundreds of concentration options. Traditional concentrations include corporate finance, accounting, and real estate, while more modern specializations include information technology, cybersecurity, and environmental sustainability. Students who plan to make California their home after graduation may consider the following popular MBA specializations.
- Information Technology: An IT concentration teaches the skills to manage computer-related activities, determine IT goals, and implement systems to meet those goals. The home of tech giants and an endless stream of new tech startups, California demands MBAs who understand IT.
- Cybersecurity, Information Security Analysis: Information security analysts use innovative solutions to prevent unauthorized users from hacking into computer networks to expose security weaknesses, insert malicious software into the servers, or steal sensitive information. IT is one of California's fastest-growing industries, and the number of hacking attacks from cybercriminals is rapidly increasing. Training to become an information security analyst could secure an express ticket to Silicon Valley.
- Environmental Management, Sustainability: An environmental management MBA cultivates a deeper understanding of environmental laws and how business operations can negatively impact the environment, along with how to minimize those effects. Given California's ever-changing landscape of environmental legislation and the compliance issues facing business owners, this MBA concentration seems an ideal fit for California.
Popular MBA Program Courses
The standard MBA curriculum comprises mandatory courses to cultivate foundational skills, elective courses catering to student interests, and a final thesis or capstone. The two kinds of final projects differ in terms of which skills they test. A thesis focuses on theoretical research, while a capstone addresses a practical business problem. Read on for examples of courses you can expect to find in a standard MBA curriculum.
- Strategy: A class in strategy sharpens students' problem-solving skills by asking them to assess case studies of historically impactful executive decisions. This helps students develop the skills to lead businesses through adverse circumstances.
- Finance: A class in finance seeks to deepen students' understanding of capital budgeting and investment and cultivate their ability to perform risk assessment under varying degrees of uncertainty. This helps students acquire the skills to effectively handle company finances.
- Marketing: A course in marketing teaches students about product policy and pricing, distribution channels, and branding and advertising. This helps students develop the abilities to effectively price, distribute and advertise products or services in competitive environments.
- Business Ethics: One of the newer additions to the standard MBA curriculum, a class in business ethics sharpens students' understanding of the ethical and legal responsibilities managers and executives face in running a business. This braces candidates for the intricate ethical and legal dilemmas that can arise in the modern business world.
The MBA Capstone or Thesis
Most programs require students to complete either a thesis or a capstone project at the end of their study. A thesis, which takes about one year to complete, is a comprehensive research paper addressing a theoretical issue, such as the potential causes of stock market seasonality or the effects of cybercrime on the e-commerce industry. Prospective Ph.D. students and those planning to teach at two-year colleges may benefit from completing a thesis rather than a capstone project.
A capstone is a practical project in which learners interact professionally with real businesses or develop mock start-up proposals. Students typically complete the capstone during their last semester, often in collaboration with classmates. Those vying for corporate jobs might prefer the capstone option.
If you attend a business school in California, you can differentiate yourself by tailoring your capstone project to current problems facing California businesses, such as challenging environmental legislation and high business tax rates and utility and labor costs.
What Jobs Can MBAs Get You?
The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that those in business and financial occupations earn relatively high median salaries. However, earning potential is just one factor to consider when choosing an occupation. Another is the employment outlook, or the projected change in employment in an occupation over a set period. The BLS projects a 5% growth in business and financial jobs from 2019-2029 — faster than than the 4% projected job growth for all occupations nationwide.
If you plan to find a job in California after you graduate, you can improve your employment outlook by aiming for a position in one of the state's fastest-growing industries (e.g., technology) or biggest sectors (e.g., tourism, agriculture, or the film industry). The most important consideration when selecting a vocation, however, is finding a good match for your lifestyle and interests. The following occupations may suit a California MBA graduate.
Computer and Information Systems Manager: Computer and information systems managers are in charge of their companies' computer-related activities.
- Required Education: A bachelor's degree in computer or information science and related work experience are required at the entry level; however, many employers prefer candidates with an MBA or another graduate degree.
- Job Outlook: +10% (2019-29)
- Median Annual Salary: $146,360
Information Security Analysts: Information security analysts are in charge of protecting companies' computer networks and systems from unauthorized access and cybercrime.
- Required Education: A bachelor's degree and work experience in a related field are required at the entry level; however, employers sometimes prefer candidates with an MBA or another graduate degree with a concentration in information security.
- Job Outlook: +31% (2019-29)
- Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Medical and Health Services Manager: Medical and health services managers are in charge of the business activities of healthcare providers.
- Required Education: A bachelor's degree is required at the entry level; however, some employers prefer candidates who have an MBA or another type of master's degree. Candidates typically complete work experience in a healthcare facility prior to starting in this role.
- Job Outlook: +32% (2019-29)
- Median Annual Salary: $100,980
Human Resources Manager: Professionals in this occupation manage companies' human resources departments, ensure employees adhere to changing labor laws, and handle the practical aspects of recruitments and layoffs.
- Required Education: A bachelor's degree and several years of related work experience are required at the entry level; however, some employers may require an MBA or a master's degree in human resources or labor relations.
- Job Outlook: +6% (2019-29)
- Median Annual Salary: $116,720
Management Analyst: Management analysts analyze companies' operations and suggest strategies for improving efficiency.
- Required Education: A bachelor's degree and some work experience are required at the entry level; however, some employers prefer to hire candidates with an MBA.
- Job Outlook: +11% (2019-29)
- Median Annual Salary: $85,260
Selecting Your California MBA Program
Rankings can help prospective MBA students kick off their school selection process. However, for top-tier programs, learners must consider at least two additional factors: accreditation and alumni network.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) sets the gold standard for business school accreditation. If a school carries the AACSB stamp of approval, it meets rigorous standards of academic quality. Most highly ranked schools hold this designation, but applicants should always double-check to make sure.
A program's alumni network gives a sense of how graduates can apply their degrees in their careers. Most programs organize events where students and alumni can mingle, and making a lasting impression on a renowned alumnus can significantly impact your career trajectory. For example, alumni can make employee referrals, connect you with internship opportunities, and mentor you through your entrepreneurial ventures.
Should You Consider Online Schools in California?
If you opt to enroll in a top online MBA program, you will most likely engage in the exact same types of activities as your in-person counterparts, including attending live lectures and class discussions, meeting with teachers during office hours, collaborating with peers on projects, attending guest talks by alumni, and schmoozing with alumni and local business leaders at networking events — just in an online environment.
High-quality video conferencing platforms like Zoom have helped close the quality gap between on-campus and online education. Moreover, many top-tier MBA programs require brief on-campus residencies, which students can fit into their work schedules.
You may wonder: If learners can study from anywhere, is there any point in completing an online MBA degree in California? California may boast plenty of excellent business schools, but there are top-ranked schools all over the country.
However, if you plan to land a job in California after graduating from business school, it does make sense to pursue an MBA in the state. Likewise, if you plan to specialize in a sector that particularly thrives in California — such as technology or film — the state should top your list for business school options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are online MBAs respected?
Yes. Today, online and in-person MBAs from top-ranked schools feature the same high quality. Most employers recognize that the educational platform is inconsequential to a candidate's skills.
How much does an MBA cost in California?
California's top business schools cost nearly $58,500 per year on average. Online MBAs may cut some costs, since distance learners can avoid transportation and housing expenses. Out-of-state students can expect to pay higher tuition rates than in-state residents at California's public universities.
Is getting an MBA online worth it?
Yes. An online MBA from a top-ranked business school can provide the same quality education as its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This option also allows you to work full time and stay physically close to friends and family.
Does California have online degrees?
As online MBA degrees have increased in popularity, many renowned business schools in California have developed high-quality online and hybrid MBA programs. Online MBA degrees may require brief on-campus residencies, which are usually compatible with working professionals' busy schedules.