Best California MBA Schools and Programs

Your Guide to an California MBA Career, Curriculum and Education

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What Can You Do With an MBA in California


Are you interested in pursuing a career in business, finance, or management in California and already have your undergraduate degree? If so, you may be considering a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Graduate school alumni are usually qualified for a variety of jobs that span across many business-related disciplines. Some of the most common employment opportunities span the country and include work in accounting, human resources, operations, business analytics, information technology systems, general management, and health administration. Not only will this degree prepare you for a variety of professions as well as higher-paying leadership positions in the field, it can also provide you with the knowledge necessary to start your own business.

Working professionals who already have a full schedule or other important life responsibilities, however, may feel that a higher education degree is out of their reach. Fortunately, many business schools offer online MBA programs offer flexible scheduling options (evening or weekend courses and part-time or accelerated programs for leaders and executives) and the opportunity to complete coursework from the convenience of your own home and/or office from anywhere in the U.S. It’s important to realize that many distance learning MBA programs California offers require some type of residency, or on-campus education events; this allows you to connect to your class or community and network with faculty, staff, and classmates in the real world. You don't want to skip these, even if they are offered rather than required, it's easier to create a cohort this way, rather than using email or social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. This means you'll still gain the most benefits from choosing a college or university that is relatively near your current location, even if it isn't the most affordable.

Why Consider An Online MBA?


There are several reasons people choose to search for an online degree in business in California. For starters, MBAs are immensely popular among individuals who want to further advance their careers. While not all of the business industries in California expect their employees to have a graduate degree, it does provide an edge over potential competition, including access to upper-management and administration positions, which often require more training and experience. It’s also common for a professional with an MBA to make more money than those without one. Additionally, some companies and organizations require promotion candidates to have an advanced degree or limit the potential for future raises until after the next level of education is completed.

At the very least, an MBA will impress a hiring committee; it shows great dedication to the field as a whole, indicates familiarity with more advanced concepts in business management, builds on your work experience, and suggests you're not afraid of innovation and are willing to learn. For this reason, current professionals interested in applying for leadership roles, changing their careers, or starting their own business should strongly consider enrolling in a part- or full-time MBA online. This type of degree makes graduates extremely marketable because content usually covers basic business, finance, and management techniques. The skills you develop throughout the program will be useful regardless of the focus of your specific career plans and goals.

Many people also choose to earn an MBA online because they are already employed, have family responsibilities, thrive academically without distractions, or are interested in a specific academic program, or one with great rankings, but are unable to move in order to study.

Earning an MBA, online or otherwise, does not guarantee advancement in your career, however. While a graduate degree in business will likely make you more marketable, impress potential employers, and result in a higher salary, these changes don’t occur overnight. You must combine the skills and knowledge attained from your MBA program with hard work and dedication to be truly successful in the field.

Percentage of Students Enrolled By Distance Education


Typical MBA Concentrations


As with many degrees, some MBA programs offer students the opportunity to choose a specialization in various areas. While the main coursework required will be the same, selecting a focus will allow you to take classes that will help you specialize in a specific business sub-field. Two of the most popular concentrations available for online MBA degrees in California are Health Administration and Information Technology. These may be completed in nearly the same amount of time as the usual degree, with only a few additional months needed for the most difficult specializations, such as engineering.

  • Health Administration

    California is home is some of the most prominent healthcare facilities in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the state had the highest employment level for medical and health services mangers in 2017. With 34,140 professionals in the field, the opportunity for employment as a director of a hospital, nursing home, or outpatient care center is promising. Students should expect to lean a variety of business, management, finance, and marketing techniques geared specifically toward these careers.

    Common coursework includes:

    • Current Issues in Healthcare Administration
    • Ethics and Decision Making
    • Law and Compliance
    • Health Information and Analytics
  • Information Technology

    California is also a center for many world-class technology firms. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistic, the state had the highest employment level for both database administrators and network and computer systems administrators in 2017. With over 50,000 professionals in these fields alone, the opportunities for employment as information technology directors, chief technology officers, and entrepreneurs are abundant. Students should expect to lean a variety of business, management, finance, and marketing techniques geared specifically toward technology-related careers.

    Common coursework includes:

    • Database Development and Applications
    • Electronic Commerce
    • Emerging Technologies
    • Business Process Analysis and Design

Accreditation in California


As you will quickly find out, no two online MBA programs are exactly the same. To ensure their programs meet certain quality standards, colleges and universities must undergo an accreditation process. Essentially, they must prove that their degree and each course follows the guidelines established by one or more accreditation organizations.

Some of the most prominent international accreditation agencies include:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
  • European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
  • The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

Of these, the AACSB is by far the most reputable organization. It does not, however, accredit many online MBA programs. For this reason, students looking for a quality program in California should consider colleges and universities accredited by the DETC. Students who complete an online MBA program accredited by either of these organizations will have little trouble finding employment within and outside of the United States.

An even better option is to attend a program accredited by a regional organization. Professionals who intend to work in California should consider institutions approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. This type of accreditation proves the program meets all necessary professional standards within the region and is accepted by employers across the nation.

The value of your degree, in terms of pay offered, greatly depends on the accreditation of the institution you select, regardless of whether you prefer a hybrid or on-campus program. Depending on your professional goals, you’ll likely want to avoid colleges and universities that are not accredited. Choosing a college or university with accredition for its online MBA program is important. Not only will it add credibility and value to your degree, but it ensures that you will graduate with the ability to work professionally internationally and/or within the United States. It’s highly recommended that you avoid institutions which have not been recognized as high quality by an international or regional accreditation agency.

Career and Job Outlook for MBA Graduates


The economy in California is quickly growing. In fact, according to the Employment Development Department, the state is expected to have an additional 2,585,500 job openings available before the year 2024. That’s on top of the 3,962,200 jobs expected due to replacement needs. About 12% of new jobs are expected to be office and administrative support occupations. Additionally, some of the fastest growing occupations include web developers, software developers, and operations research analysts.

Based on info provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals working in the business and financial operations field can expect a 10% increase in employment between 2016 and 2026. As of 2017, California was also the leading employer for medical and health services managers, database administrators, and network and computer systems administrators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all of these fields can also expect up to a 20% increase in job availability. The projected growth in many of these industries is faster than average.

While the Employment Development Department in California states that most new positions will not require a graduate education, having an MBA will be extremely beneficial as requirements for higher-level positions continue to change. Individuals with a master’s degree in business will be qualified to apply for upper-level leadership, consulting, and executive positions. The training and skills acquired will also make it easier to find a place in a variety of different industries.

Some of the most common employment opportunities for professionals with an MBA include:

  • Accountant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Business Operations Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • Health Information Manager
  • Health Policy Analyst
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Information Systems Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Marketing Manager
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Purchasing Manager
  • Securities Analyst
  • Top Executive

Top Employers in the State by Number of Employees


Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
32nd Street Naval Station Government San Diego 25,000
UCLA Health System Healthcare Los Angeles 3,000+
Walt Disney Resorts and Parks Entertainment Anaheim 130,000 worldwide
Caltrans Transportation Sacramento 15,000

Careers and Salaries for MBA Graduates in California


According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median wage for business and financial occupations was $67,710 in 2017. It’s important to note, however, that California is one of the highest paying states for many business-related occupations. For example, accountants, auditors, human resource specialists, health services managers, database administrators, and computer systems administrators working in California in 2017 were paid significantly more than they would have been if they worked in most other states.

Having an MBA improves salary potential. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, business, finance, and sales professionals with a graduate degree made more money than those without one in 2013. In fact, some occupations provided as much as a 90% increase to those with an advanced degree.

An MBA can help you find employment in many different industries, however, so you will need to research earning potential for your specific job of interest. California tends to pay business professionals well, but regional location, job type, and position title will all play a role in your salary.

Careers for California MBA Grads


As previously mentioned, there are numerous career opportunities for individuals with an MBA in California. While MBA graduates can usually find work in any industry, positions commonly deal with business management and finance. To give you a clearer understanding on some typical positions in the field, consider the following job descriptions.

  • Financial Business Analyst
    Financial business analysts utilize internal and external client data to advise company administrators, especially when thinking about and making important financial decisions. These professionals often evaluate income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets to better predict how current financials will impact ongoing operations.
  • Financial Manager
    Financial managers are primarily responsible for monitoring spending, preparing financial reports, and making financial forecasts. They are often asked to research how the company can improve its overall profitability. In some cases, these professionals also provide valuable insight regarding potential expansions, mergers, and acquisitions.
  • Business Development Manager
    Business development managers have two important responsibilities: identify beneficial opportunities for the company or establish relationships with potential clients. These professionals also find sales leads, manage marketing literature, and provide valuable information to customers about products and services.
  • Chief Financial Officer
    Chief financial officers report directly to the president or chief executive officer of a company or organization and oversee all business finances. They are also responsible for finding funding, forecasting financial futures, managing potential risks, and reporting important data to the administration.
  • Accounting Manager
    Accounting managers are in charge of managing a company or organization’s accounting department. They often develop any guiding financial principles and practices, as well as ensure procedures are being followed. These professionals are also responsible for monitoring and analyzing financial data and creating necessary financial reports.

Best MBA Programs in California


There are many colleges and universities in California that offer admission to online MBA programs. If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in business, it’s important to find an institution that fits both your budget and career goals. While there are numerous schools to choose from, read below to see some of the most prominent programs in California.

Stanford University Location
Stanford, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Social Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Global Experiences
  • Joint and Dual Degrees
Tuition
$55,011
Retention %
99%
Graduation %
94%
Avg. Grad Salary
$108,922
University of California-Berkeley Location
Berkeley, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Energy & Clean Technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Equity Fluent Leadership
  • Finance
  • Global Management
  • Health Management
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Social Sector Leadership
  • Sustainable & Impact Finance
  • Strategy & Consulting
  • Technology
Tuition
$14,243
Retention %
97%
Graduation %
93%
Avg. Grad Salary
$88,835
University of California-Los Angeles Location
Los Angeles, CA
MBA Concentrations
No
Tuition
$12,960
Retention %
97%
Graduation %
92%
Avg. Grad Salary
$83,050
University of Southern California Location
Los Angeles, CA
MBA Concentrations
No
Tuition
$48,705
Retention %
96%
Graduation %
92%
Avg. Grad Salary
$84,743
University of California-Davis Location
Davis, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Business Analytics
  • Entrepreneurship/Innovation
  • Finance/Accounting
  • General Management
  • Marketing
  • Strategy
  • Technology Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Statistics/Info. Tech./Operations
  • IMPACT Program
  • STEM
Tuition
$13,626
Retention %
92%
Graduation %
87%
Avg. Grad Salary
$78,958
University of California-Santa Barbara Location
Santa Barbara, CA
MBA Concentrations
No
Tuition
$13,554
Retention %
92%
Graduation %
83%
Avg. Grad Salary
$78,223
University of San Francisco Location
San Francisco, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Business Analytics
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Finance
  • Marketing
Tuition
$26,657
Retention %
85%
Graduation %
75%
Avg. Grad Salary
$79,762
University of California-Irvine Location
Irvine, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Executive MBA
Tuition
$13,354
Retention %
94%
Graduation %
84%
Avg. Grad Salary
$77,222
California State University-Fullerton Location
Fullerton, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics
  • Finance
  • MBA General (none) Concentration
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Risk Management and Insurance
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management (new)
  • Analytics in Digital Leadership (new)
Tuition
$8,396
Retention %
89%
Graduation %
69%
Avg. Grad Salary
$69,197
San Diego State University Location
San Diego, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Health Services
  • Information Systems
  • International Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Supply Chain Management
Tuition
$8,966
Retention %
89%
Graduation %
73%
Avg. Grad Salary
$73,837
San Jose State University Location
San Jose, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Development
  • Global Business Development
  • Entrepreneurship & Venture Development
  • Information Systems
  • Operations Management
Tuition
$9,342
Retention %
87%
Graduation %
64%
Avg. Grad Salary
$84,954
California Lutheran University Location
Thousand Oaks, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Finance
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Human Capital Management
  • International Business
  • IT Management
  • Marketing
Tuition
$19,903
Retention %
84%
Graduation %
68%
Avg. Grad Salary
$72,750
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona Location
Pomona, CA
MBA Concentrations
No
Tuition
$8,873
Retention %
90%
Graduation %
69%
Avg. Grad Salary
$74,278
University of Redlands Location
Redlands, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Finance
  • Marketing
Tuition
$22,851
Retention %
85%
Graduation %
76%
Avg. Grad Salary
$80,074
University of San Diego Location
San Diego, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Business Analytics
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Enterprise
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • International Business
  • Managerial Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Supply chain management
Tuition
$28,476
Retention %
92%
Graduation %
81%
Avg. Grad Salary
$74,696
University of California-Riverside Location
Riverside, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations & Supply Chain Management
Tuition
$13,584
Retention %
90%
Graduation %
76%
Avg. Grad Salary
$72,250
University of California-San Diego Location
San Diego, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Finance - incl Banking
  • Management
  • Other Disciplines
  • Business Analytics
Tuition
$13,513
Retention %
93%
Graduation %
87%
Avg. Grad Salary
$80,777
University of La Verne Location
La Verne, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • MBA for Experienced Professionals
  • Executive MBA Finance
  • Executive MBA Management & Leadership
  • Executive MBA Marketing
Tuition
$14,637
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
73%
Avg. Grad Salary
$74,279
California State University-Long Beach Location
Long Beach, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • Finance
  • Health Care Administration
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Recreation, and Leisure Studies
Tuition
$8,304
Retention %
87%
Graduation %
74%
Avg. Grad Salary
$71,691
California State University-Dominguez Hills Location
Carson, CA
MBA Concentrations
  • International Business
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Marketing Management
  • Information Technology
  • Human Resources
  • Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Logistics Management Certificate
  • Marketing
Tuition
$8,384
Retention %
77%
Graduation %
44%
Avg. Grad Salary
$69,129
Full Ranking Report

How to Choose & FAQ's


If you believe an online MBA degree is right for you, it’s important that you research the available programs in California. You will need to find a college or university that offers a curriculum that suits your lifestyle and career goals. Keep in mind that some online graduate degrees do require physically being on campus from time to time. For this reason, it may be necessary to choose an institution that isn’t too far away from your home and job. Other factors to consider are curriculum expectations and the potential to gain hands-on experience throughout the program.

Most online MBA programs consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework and are designed to be completed within one to two years. While no two programs are alike, many offer flexible scheduling for full-time professionals.

Classes also vary, but often include topics like:

  • Enterprise Management, Organization, and Strategy
  • Business Ethics and Law
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Marketing Management
  • Strategic Decision Making
  • Information Technology Management
  • Financial Principles and Policies
  • Marketing Research
  • Corporate Finance
  • Innovative Business Models
  • International Business
  • Human Capital Management Strategy
  • Data Management
  • Sustainable Business Strategies

Many students worry that an online MBA will not provide them with the hands-on experience they need to be successful in the field. This is why some colleges and universities often require distance learners to complete certain requirements on campus during residency experiences.

You will need to seriously consider whether an online MBA will provide you with the skills necessary to be successful in your preferred business profession. Some careers require little in-person interaction to begin with. Accountants, for example, would likely benefit as much from an on-campus program as they would an online one. A health administrator, on the other hand, may prefer some hands-on management experiences.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources