Last Updated: February 1, 2021
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 15 online MBA programs.
California's 10 Best MBA Programs 2021
|1||Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA|
|2||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|3||California State University, Bakersfield||Bakersfield, CA|
|4||Santa Clara University||Santa Clara, CA|
|5||University of La Verne||La Verne, CA|
|6||California State University, San Bernardino||San Bernardino, CA|
|7||California Lutheran University||Thousand Oaks, CA|
|8||California Baptist University||Riverside, CA|
|9||Azusa Pacific University||Azusa, CA|
|10||California State University, Monterey Bay||Seaside, 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.
Ranking the 15 Best Online MBA Programs in California 2021
An MBA can help you move into a leadership role, serve as leverage for a more competitive salary, or allow you to branch out into a specialization. This guide ranks the 15 best online MBA programs in California in 2021. Click the link below for more information about how we rank schools.
What the Best MBAs in California Have in Common
Every college provides a unique experience, but top schools often have the following characteristics in common.
They are accredited. Accreditation assures that a school meets standards set by recognized regional, national, and/or global agencies. A college accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), for example, places the college in an exclusive group of 5% of 13,000 business schools internationally.
All of the schools on our list are accredited by one of the following regional accrediting agencies:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Many also hold accreditation by a program-specific accreditor, such as:
- AACSB International
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
- They are affordable. Competitive colleges are accessible to diverse groups of students. Many schools have mitigated the cost of attendance by offering exclusively online options, while several set themselves apart by distributing extensive financial aid.
- They are reputable. Graduating from a reputable school can open industry doors and advance your career. Highly competitive schools successfully place graduates in the field. For example, Santa Clara University boasts alumni in C-level positions (CEO, CFO, COO) at Apple, Google, LinkedIn, and more, while 98% of students from SCU's business school find employment within six months of graduation.
- They offer strong academic programs. Strong academic programs offer challenging courses, support systems that keep students engaged, and prestigious faculty. California State University, San Bernardino boasts a 78% retention rate for its MBA learners. Another example, the University of Southern California, employs five Nobel Laureates, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a professor who has earned the MacArthur Genius Award.
1. Pepperdine University
|Private, nonprofit university in Malibu, CA, accredited by AACSB and WSCUC|
Pepperdine University has educated over 120,000 alumni worldwide. Pepperdine was originally founded in 1937 as a Christian college under the Church of Christ. Founded in Los Angeles and moving to Malibu in the 1960s, Pepperdine has expanded to several additional campuses and online programs.
With an average class size of 26, Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School students can regularly interface with faculty and peers. Learners benefit from live discussions and debates in classes, group projects, and an on-campus workshop during their first term. Graziadio's online MBA degree is accessible, offering several scholarships, including a 10% tuition discount to new student employees of EdAssist partners.
During the program, MBA students work directly with local businesses and corporations, gaining field experience. After graduation, 82% of Graziadio students gained employment within three months of completing the program at companies like Boeing, AT&T, Bank of America, and more.
Pepperdine's MBA Specializations
Business Analytics | Digital Innovation | Information Systems | Finance | Leadership and Managing Organizational Change | Marketing
Applying to Pepperdine
Classes for Pepperdine's online MBA begin in May and August. Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. To apply, students need two years of professional experience, and a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. They must submit a statement of purpose, resume, an official transcript, and can submit GMAT or GRE scores (though test scores are optional).
Program at a Glance
2. University of Southern California
|Private, nonprofit university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by AACSB and WSCUC|
With a rich history spanning over 140 years, the University of Southern California family includes a student body of 44,000, a prestigious faculty of 4,000, and an alumni network of 437,000 around the world.
Over the past 100 years, the USC Marshall School of Business has developed a history of excellence; its alumni of 88,000 span 92 countries, and the department's faculty of professionals regularly contribute to research journals and studies.
The online MBA program best suits professionals who are well into their careers and looking to deepen their knowledge through coursework, collaborative projects, and guest lecturers. Students begin their program with a week of on-campus learning and may participate in a study-abroad program, where they can interface with international business professionals.
Applying to USC
USC's online MBA offers start dates in August and December. Due to COVID-19, requirements for the GMAT, GRE, and EA have been suspended, though the at-home test option is encouraged.
Students must have at least two years of working experience and submit an official transcript from a four-year accredited undergraduate institution (or equivalent), a resume, three letters of recommendation, an essay, and proof of English proficiency (for non-native English speakers). Upon acceptance, candidates complete an interview.
Program at a Glance
3. California State University, Bakersfield
|Public university in Bakersfield, CA, accredited by AACSB and WSCUC|
California State University, Bakersfield opened in 1970 on the acreage of a former sugar beet farm. Deeply rooted in the local community, CSUB prides itself in its role in advancing and expanding the region's workforce, with 70% of alumni employed in the surrounding area after graduation.
With no on-campus requirements, the CSUB School of Business and Public Administration online MBA program allows a great deal of flexibility for working professionals. CSUB professors come to the classroom equipped with professional and academic experience, making themselves available to students for additional support outside of lectures. Students of the MBA program can maximize their experience in virtual networking events and online study sessions.
The MBA culminates in a final project through which students can use their knowledge and skills to compete with their peers in a business simulation.
CSUB's MBA Specializations
There are no formal specializations, but MBA students can create their own personalized specialization in an area of interest (e.g., entrepreneurship).
Applying to CSUB
Applications for the Fall 2021 term are open until July 15, 2021. Admission requirements include an application, official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, all prerequisite coursework completed before the first day of class, a bachelor's degree from a four-year university (with a 2.75 GPA in upper-division classes), and GMAT or GRE test scores (waived for candidates who meet certain requirements).
Program at a Glance
4. Santa Clara University
|Private, nonprofit university in Santa Clara, CA, accredited by AACSB and WSCUC|
Santa Clara University, home of Bucky Bronco, first started offering classes to students in 1851. One of the oldest colleges in operation, SCU bears the rich history of its locale and was originally built around a Jesuit mission that dates back to 1777.
At the SCU Leavey School of Business, students complete an average of 8.5 years in the workforce before starting the MBA program. Online MBA students complete two weekend-long, on-campus residencies to collaborate with their cohorts and network with prestigious faculty. Many of SCU's faculty are patent-holders, researchers, and scholars with publications.
The program's online dashboard provides a streamlined experience, with access to courses, networking resources, and pertinent school activities.
SCU's Online MBA Specializations
Data Science and Business Analytics | Leading Innovative Organizations | Marketing | Finance
Applying to SCU
Online MBA students can begin their program in September, January, March, or June. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree and three or more years of applicable work experience. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, three business essays, two letters of recommendation, GMAT or GRE scores (can be waived), and proof of English proficiency (for non-native English speakers). The nonrefundable application fee is $148.
Program at a Glance
5. University of La Verne
|Private, nonprofit university in La Verne, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
Thirty-five miles east of Los Angeles, and home to Leo and Lea the Leopard, the University of La Verne was founded in 1891 by the Church of the Brethren. Over 100 years later, La Verne boasts a network of 80,000 alumni worldwide.
The online MBA for experienced professionals (MBAX) requires candidates to have at least three years of work experience. Throughout their online degree, MBAX learners take classes pulled from 35 years of on-campus course content, also completing a business seminar and culminating activity.
The La Verne Center for Career and Professional Development provides MBAX students with resources and opportunities to network with local businesses. The university also offers merit-based graduate scholarships and assistantships, which can cover up to 25% of tuition.
La Verne's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Finance | Information Technology | International Business | Management and Leadership | Supply Chain Management | Health Services Management | Organizational Development | Human Resources Management | Nonprofit Management | Aging Studies
Applying to La Verne
In addition to completing the online application, La Verne's admission requirements include three years of work experience, a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college, a letter of recommendation, and demonstrated writing skills. Students may need to submit GMAT or GRE scores, depending on their undergraduate GPA.
Program at a Glance
6. California State University, San Bernardino
|Public university in San Bernardino, CA accredited by AACSB and WSCUC|
Nestled in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, California State University, San Bernardino has been welcoming students since 1965, and now offers over 70 bachelor's and master's degree programs, education credentials, and certification programs, plus a doctoral program.
CSUSB's MBA online for executives offers experiential learning opportunities including an MBA bootcamp, internships, study abroad options, student clubs, and graduate assistantships. The MBA bootcamp is required for students to prepare for their subsequent classes.
Online MBA students at CSUSB can complete the program in 1.5 years or take the flex track, which allows more time. CSUSB offers a 10% tuition discount through its referral program, making this online MBA an affordable choice.
Applying to CSUSB
Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and submit a resume to verify eligibility. Eligible applicants need to submit a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts for all previously attended schools, and a current resume. CSUSB requires candidates to complete an interview.
Program at a Glance
7. California Lutheran University
|Private, nonprofit university in Thousand Oaks, CA, accredited by ACBSP and WSCUC|
Founded in 1959, California Lutheran University is one of 26 colleges and universities associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Currently, more than 1,200 graduate students and 2,800 undergraduate students from over 49 countries attend CLU.
The CLU online MBA program offers a variety of learning and experiential opportunities in a flexible package for working professionals. Students can pursue their MBA on campus, online, or in a hybrid format, studying part or full time. With small class sizes of 15, business students at CLU can regularly interface and build rapport with experienced faculty.
Through the MBA capstone course, students can work directly with local organizations, consulting or completing internships with organizations like Girl Scouts of Central California and the Centre for Neuroscience. Learners may also study abroad, working with businesses on an international level from Vietnam to Austria.
Applying to CLU
CLU offers accepts applications on a rolling basis. January 15, 2021 is the priority application deadline for Spring 2021, April 15, 2021 for Summer 2021, July 15, 2021 for Fall 2021, and October 1, 2021 for Winter 2021. Interested candidates must submit an online application, official transcripts from accredited institutions, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, GMAT scores (waived depending on undergraduate GPA), and complete a Graduate Program Advisement session with an admission counselor.
Program at a Glance
8. California Baptist University
|Private, nonprofit university in Riverside, CA, accredited by ACBSP and WSCUC|
Founded by the California Southern Baptist Convention in 1950, California Baptist University learners work to further their education and their biblically based careers of service.
Offering specializations in management and accounting, the CBU online fully employed MBA with a specialization in general management equips business professionals to work in upper-management positions. Working closely with faculty and staff through mentorships and counseling sessions, students receive support both for their work in the program and in their careers.
CBU is authorized to offer distance learning in 37 states. The school offers its eight-week online MBA classes year-round, making the degree accessible for students who are well into their careers. Through the Interdisciplinary Culminating Project, students are able to demonstrate the expertise they have gained throughout the program.
CBU's MBA Specializations
Management | Accounting
Applying to CBU
In addition to submitting an online application, prospective learners must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit sealed transcripts and a 500-word personal statement. CBU accepts applications throughout the year on a rolling basis.
Program at a Glance
9. Azusa Pacific University
|Private, nonprofit university in Azusa, CA, accredited by IACBE and WSCUC|
As the first Bible college on the west coast and one of the nation's largest Christian Universities, Azusa Pacific University provides a Christ-focused academic experience to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees, continuing education, and professional certificates.
Students pursuing an online MBA through the School of Business and Management can expect a fast-paced learning environment for business professionals looking to further their careers and build their understanding of ethical leadership. A comprehensive, two-week online orientation equips students to succeed in the program.
The flexible learning model and year-round schedule allows students to graduate in just over a year. Learners benefit from live class discussions and specialized courses. Coursework culminates in either a capstone project or field study courses, through which program participants collaborate with local or international business.
APU's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Entrepreneurship | Finance | Institutional Research | International Business | Marketing | Organizational Science | Sport Management
Applying to APU
APU's online MBA offers six start dates each year. To apply, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA and submit an application, an essay, an official transcript, GMAT scores (based on prerequisites), and a resume. Applicants must also demonstrate competency in business.
Program at a Glance
10. California State University, Monterey Bay
|Public university in Seaside, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
With 72% of students receiving financial aid and 53% identifying as first-generation college attendees, California State University, Monterey Bay offers an accessible higher education option for traditionally under-resourced populations.
With a focus on collaboration and relationship-building, the online MBA at the CSUMB College of Business caps class sizes at 30, allowing students to interact with faculty and peers through discussions of case studies, simulations, and coursework. The program's platform provides additional resources, including readings, video lectures, and career-building support.
Courses are organized sequentially, leading to an applied business strategy capstone, where students can showcase the knowledge and skills they gained throughout the program. All students automatically receive a $3,000 tuition discount after completing the final academic term of the online MBA program. Half of CSUMB alumni report upward mobility in their career trajectories within 1-3 years of graduation.
Applying to CSUMB
CSUMB offers start dates in January, June, and August. Students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.8 GPA and at least one year of applicable work experience. Applicants submit a resume, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation The admissions committee requires a video interview if the candidate's GPA is below 3.0. GMAT or GRE scores are not required.
Program at a Glance
11. University of Redlands
|Private, nonprofit university in Redlands, CA, accredited by ACBSP and WSCUC|
On a 160-acre campus filled with over 1,700 trees and elegant architecture, the University of Redlands has offered a diversified approach to academics for more than a century.
With a 95% approval rating from MBA alumni — reflecting overall satisfaction with the program's quality, coursework, and faculty — the Redlands School of Business offers an online MBA characterized by excellence and innovation.
Students can choose between two capstone project options: consulting for an organization or participating in an online business simulation. Redlands also offers networking programs where students immerse themselves in businesses, deepening their knowledge about business practices and practicing relationship-building and decision-making skills.
Redlands' MBA Specializations
Global Business | Finance | Marketing | Location Analytics
Applying to Redlands
In addition to completing an online application, interested candidates must possess a bachelor's degree or higher and submit official transcripts, a resume, a writing sample, and (optional) GMAT scores. Redlands offers six start dates each year.
Program at a Glance
12. Brandman University
|Private, nonprofit university in Irvine, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
As a part of the Chapman University System, with roots in continuing education for military members, Brandman University programs support adult learners through curricula designed to fit working professionals' busy schedules.
Whether on campus or online, Brandman University offers high-quality, adaptable MBA options for skilled business workers. Students can choose from a variety of specializations that emphasize the most vital elements of a business career.
With a specialization in international finance, students can take classes about globalization and diversity to learn about the cultural components of leading on a global level. Online MBA students also enjoy access to a staff of full-time support specialists, including tutors who keep virtual office hours.
Brandman's MBA Specializations
Accounting | e-Business Strategic Management | Entrepreneurship | Finance | Health Administration | Human Resources | International Business Marketing | Business Intelligence | Data Analytics | Public Administration | Organizational Leadership
Applying to Brandman
Brandman accepts applications on a rolling basis. Candidates must submit an application and an official transcript from an accredited baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate institution demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. applicants with lower GPAs should submit GMAT or GRE test scores or a portfolio showing preparation for MBA studies.
Program at a Glance
13. William Jessup University
|Private, nonprofit university in Rocklin, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
Founded in the 1930s as a Bible college for the San Francisco area, William Jessup University now offers over 70 programs on campus and online. Online learners join on-campus student bodies in San Jose and Rocklin.
Jessup's online MBA provides invaluable field experience, allowing students to work directly with local businesses through year-long entrepreneurship projects. Jessup's faculty include business experts who previously worked as CEOs, directors, and VPs.
MBA learners study in a cohort model, with small class sizes and classes taking place once or twice each week. Jessup's online MBA alumni are equipped to continue their career trajectories, potentially becoming CEOs, financial managers, or human resources managers.
Applying to Jessup
Jessup offers six start dates each year. Interested candidates must submit an application, a personal essay, official transcripts from previous institutions, and a resume detailing 3-5 years of experience. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must have completed prerequisite coursework in microeconomics.
Program at a Glance
14. National University
|Private, nonprofit university in San Diego, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
National University was founded in 1971 by a retired U.S. Navy captain. With veterans and active-duty military service members comprising 30% of the total student population, NU provides flexible curricula and resources to assist service members in the transition to civilian life.
Students in NU's online MBA program can format the degree to meet their professional goals and fit their schedules. Learners follow one of two formats: one class in one month or three classes in three months.
MBA students who completed undergraduate or graduate courses in business may qualify to waive up to 13.5 quarter units of foundational classes. With small class sizes, learners may work closely with faculty and peers. NU online MBA graduates join the university's global network of over 180,000 alumni, who demonstrate strong competencies in decision-making, problem-solving, and management.
NU's MBA Specializations
Financial Management | Human Resources Management | International Business | Management Accounting | Marketing | Organizational Leadership | Supply Chain Management
Applying to NU
Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants should submit an online application and unofficial transcript and complete an interview. GMAT, GRE, or Miller Analogies Test scores may supplement applicants with GPAs of 2.0-2.5.
Program at a Glance
15. California State University, Stanislaus
|Public university in Turlock, CA, accredited by WSCUC|
First opening its doors in 1960, California State University, Stanislaus now educates more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university has a strategic plan in place to continue reinforcing community partnerships, supporting college resources, and bolstering student support systems.
With two specializations available, Stanislaus State's online MBA offers academic support for upward professional mobility. Students may focus on finance, gaining expertise in investments, or on human resource management. Learners may also pursue a general MBA, developing their knowledge of an array of topics.
Working professionals can easily adapt this asynchronous course format to their current schedules, attending lectures and completing assignments at their convenience. A comprehensive exam including elements of the core curriculum caps off the online MBA experience. Stanislaus State students gain access to nearly 140 scholarships from business partnerships, endowments, and merit-based opportunities, making the online MBA degree an accessible option.
Stanislaus State's MBA Specializations
Finance | Human Resources
Applying to Stanislaus State
Candidates must submit an online application for Stanislaus State and the online MBA program, including an official transcript, three application letters, a resume, and a statement of career objectives. Applicants must hold a bachelor's from an accredited institution. Due to COVID-19, GMAT or GRE test scores are currently not required for Spring 2021 admission, though the program website advises students interested in starting classes in Fall 2021 to take either of these tests.
Program at a Glance
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.