Online MBA in California
With the world’s eighth-largest economy, home to Silicon Valley and an innovative hub of diverse and flourishing industries, California’s status is also courtesy of premier business schools offering world-class online MBA programs in California. If you want to pursue a campus or an online MBA program in California, this guide will help you make smart choices that align perfectly with your needs.
We have provided a list of business schools and online MBA programs in California and state-specific resources informing and enlightening you on the career and job outlook in this field, financial aid, scholarships, associations and events, graduate research tools, and journals and publications. The information in this guide, and lots more in the external websites vetted and presented here, will be extremely useful in making data-backed decisions regarding your next online MBA move.
Online MBA Programs in California
If you are looking specifically for the best online MBA programs in California, the resources below will introduce you to several of them.
The below 9 online MBA programs in California are listed in alphabetical order.
- 1 – California Coast University
- 2 – California National University
- 3 – California Southern University
- 4 – California State University, Dominguez Hills
- 5 – California State University, Stanislaus
- 6 – California State University, Monterey Bay
- 7 – Fresno State
- 8 – Pepperdine University
- 9 – University of Southern California
1. California Coast University
Located in Santa Ana, California Coast University offers an online MBA. The California online MBA degree is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). If you are a busy working professional, this program might be for you. Graduates leave the program with a firm understanding of best practices and theories and are better equipped to succeed in today’s competitive business environment.
The program is 39 credits in length (all courses are core courses; no electives are offered). It is extremely flexible, and study is self-paced with no group projects, set meeting times or exam dates. All classes are delivered online, and students can begin any time of the year. No on-campus visits are required.
To apply, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, Leadership, or Management, though other undergraduate degrees may be accepted. Exams can be challenged, and transfer credits are accepted. Applications can be received anytime throughout the year. Work experience is not required.
Standard Coursework (39 credits) – Business Ethics, Business Law, E-Commerce Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, International Business Management, Leadership, Marketing Information Systems, Marketing Management, Organizational Behavior, Project Management, Strategic Management, and the Research Process.
2. California National University
Founded in 1993, California National University offers programs that help busy working adults re-think, re-tool, and re-launch their careers. California National University offers an online MBA degree accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). CNU aims to provide its graduates with an understanding of a broad range of business issues, including ethical, environmental, and technological issues.
For students with an undergraduate degree in business administration, the online MBA program in California is 36 units in length; for those without, it is 45 units in length. Both options are broken up into first or second-year courses, electives, and a master’s thesis or comprehensive exam. All courses are offered online, and no on-campus visits are required. Trimesters are 15 weeks in length and start every Friday. Students can study anytime and at their own pace. Completion time varies for each student.
An undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 is required to apply. Basic math skills and a working knowledge of computers is also required. A GMAT score is not necessary, nor is previous work experience. Applications are accepted year-round.
Standard Coursework (18 units) – Graduate Computers and Management, Graduate Economic Analysis, Graduate Financial Theory and Policy, Graduate Principles and Procedures of Financial Accounting, Graduate Production and Management System Analysis and Development, and Graduate Strategic Planning and Management.
3. California Southern University
If you are looking for an MBA degree that is delivered 100% online, California Southern University might be for you. CalSouthern is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It offers an online MBA degree in California that is tailored to prepare students for future leadership roles across all businesses and sectors.
The online MBA program is 36 credits in length and can be completed in as little as 18 months or as long as two years. It is extremely flexible – all work is done online on your schedule – and does not require an entrance exam to begin. What’s more, you can begin courses at any time throughout the year. Students also have the option to customize the program according to their interests, into focus areas like management, finance, or HR.
To apply, an accredited bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is required. Transfer credits may be accepted. Neither previous work experience or an official GMAT exam score is required. Applications are accepted year-round.
Standard Coursework (21 credits) – Applied Data Analysis, Business Graduate Capstone Project, Business Organization and Management, Economics for Organizational Management, Ethics in Business, Managerial Accounting for Decision-Making, and Marketing Management.
4. California State University, Dominguez Hills
From the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Lakers, Los Angeles is known for many things. LA is also home to California State University, Dominguez Hills. California State University Dominguez offers a WASC-accredited online MBA. The program is flexible and designed to provide students with a multidisciplinary skill set in business. Integration, teamwork, and critical thinking are core aspects of this program.
The MBA program online is 30–33 credits in length (depending on undergraduate coursework). All classes are delivered online and asynchronously, which means they can be viewed at any time. A combination of presentations, lecture notes, and case studies are used. Students can complete the program at their own pace, and in as little as 15 months. Most students enroll in two classes each term or semester. Courses are offered in four sessions, with each session being 12 weeks long.
To apply to the program, applicants must have an accredited undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 2.75. An official GMAT exam score is also required. Business foundational coursework is not necessary, but having foundational business courses can speed up completion of the MBA. Work experience is not necessary.
Standard Coursework (21 credits) – Advanced Topics in Accounting, Advanced Topics in Information Systems, Advanced Topics in International Business, Advanced Topics in Operations Management, Advanced Topics in Finance, Human Behavior in Organizations, Strategic Management, and Strategic Management: Cases and Current Issues.
5. California State University, Stanislaus
California State University Stanislaus boasts numerous certifications, including AACSB-accreditation and Online Learning Consortium (OLC) accreditation. It offers an MBA degree online that is designed to meet the needs of working professionals who want to pursue an MBA but are time constrained.
A total of 33 units are required for the MBA degree, 24 of which are core courses and nine are electives. All classes are delivered online, which means you’ll never have to visit the campus. You can learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace. Classes are asynchronous, and delivered by CSU’s full-time faculty.
An accredited undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and GMAT exam score are required to apply. Six foundational business courses, such as economics, marketing, and management, are also required. Professional work experience is not necessary.
Standard Coursework (24 units) – Business Organization, Theory and Behavior, Computer Information Systems, Integrated Business Strategy and Culminating Experience, Management Accounting, Managerial Finance, Marketing Management, and Seminar in Quality and Productivity Management.
6. California State University, Monterey Bay
California State University Monterey Bay is part of the Cal State University system and enrolls more than 7,000 students annually. Known for innovation and community service, CSUMB offers two WASC-accredited online MBA options: Executive and Traditional. Each track is delivered 100% online and designed to meet the needs of both experienced executives and soon-to-be leaders.
Program Completion Options
Executive MBA – CSUMB’s 48 credit Executive MBA is tailored for seasoned business professionals and built on cutting-edge, technology-driven curriculum. The program is cohort-based and focuses on areas such as ethical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem identification. The program consists of eight six-credit courses that last 10 weeks each. No electives are offered. Students can complete the program within 24 months and study online anytime. Terms start in April and October.
Traditional MBA – The traditional MBA is also 48 credits in length and delivered with eight six–credit courses, each of which lasts 10 weeks. It is a cohort program with a fixed curriculum specifically designed to build and foster soft and hard skills including leadership, teamwork, and ethics, as well as economics, finance, marketing, and management. No electives are offered. Students can study online at any time. Terms start in January, April, July, and October.
To be considered for admission, a variety of factors will be used. These include undergraduate GPA (> 2.5), personal statement, and application. A GMAT score is not required for either track. For the Executive Track, a minimum of seven years professional work experience (three in a management capacity) are required. For the Traditional MBA, one year of professional work experience is required.
Standard Coursework (48 credits) – Accounting and Finance, Business Strategy, Global Business, Innovation and Technology Management, MBA Fundamentals, Micro-Macro Economics, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and Organization and Leadership.
7. Fresno State
The Craig School of Business at Fresno State offers an AACSB-accredited online blended MBA. It is a perfect fit for individuals who want to pursue an MBA but cannot leave their career and/or have a family. A hallmark of the program is its flexibility in offering both on-campus and online classes.
CSB’s 36-unit online blended MBA is an accelerated program that follows the same structure and coursework as its traditional MBA counterpart. Classes can be taken online or on campus, and one or more classes can be taken at a time. Students progress through the program at their own pace. For highly motivated students, the program can be completed in 18 months.
To apply, an accredited undergraduate degree and official GMAT exam score are required. A minimum GPA of 2.5 and GMAT score of 550 is necessary. Admission is based on a combination of GPA, GMAT, and work experience. Prerequisite courses in business are not required to begin the MBA program, but will have to be completed during the program (15 units total). The application deadline is June 1.
Standard Coursework (18 units) – Financial Management, Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Management Information Systems, Managerial Accounting, Marketing Management, and Regulatory and Ethical Environment of Business.
8. Pepperdine University
From wine country to the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Diego Zoo, California is known for many attractions. It is also home to Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, which offers an AACSB-accredited online MBA program. The program is specifically designed for working professionals who want to develop practical skills needed to analyze and tackle the challenges of business.
Ranked among the Top 15 “Best Online MBA Programs” by U.S. News & World Report, the program consists of 15 courses in six 14-week trimesters. This format allows students to earn the degree in just two years. The small classes deliver individualized attention and learning opportunities that incorporate real case studies, networking, and interaction with active executives. A weekend-long on-campus residency is required during the Personal and Leadership Development course.
Applicants need to meet the following requirements to be eligible for the program: hold a bachelor’s degree with an acceptable GPA from a regionally accredited institution, have two years’ work experience, and official GMAT score.
Standard Coursework (52 credits) – Personal and Leadership Development Workshop, Behavior in Organizations, Accounting Information and Control Systems, Quantitative Analysis for Business Operations, Prices Profit and the Market Economy, Financial Management of the Firm, Marketing Management, Information and Process Systems, Political Regulatory Ethical & Legal Issues of Business, Integration in Business Operations, Strategic Management, Integration in Business Operations, Strategic Management, and Concentration Course 1, 2, & 3.
Program Concentrations and Specialization Options
- Finance (12 credits) – Example Courses: Financial Laws & Regulations, Financial Processing Systems, Strategic Management
- Leadership & Managing Organizational Change (12 credits) – Example Courses: Financial Management, Information and Control Systems, Information Systems
- Marketing (12 credits) – Example Courses: Business-to-Business Marketing, New Product Management, Marketing & Technology
- General Management (12 credits) – Example Courses: Finance Elective, Leadership Elective, Marketing Consulting
9. University of Southern California
USC’s Marshall School of Business is a school known for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation. Marshall offers an online MBA in California that has been uniquely designed for the digital age. It is rigorous, AACSB-accredited, and comprehensive in its approach. Contemporary real-world scenarios are a key aspect of the program.
USC’s online MBA is cohort-based and requires eight courses (consisting of six core courses and two electives) to complete the program. A one-week, on-campus session is required at the beginning of the program. Classes are a combination of pre-recorded classes and live sessions, and student should expect one to two hours of online live class meetings two to three times per week (evenings or weekends). A workload of 20 hours per week is typical. The program can be completed in 21 months.
To be considered for the MBA program, a four-year undergraduate degree and official GMAT score are required. Professional experience is desired but not a requirement. Start months are August and December.
Standard Coursework (8 credits) – Business Environment and Leadership, Fundamentals of Business, Managing Inside the Firm, Managing Outside The Firm, Opportunity Recognition and Implementation, Organizational Behavior, and Role of the Manager and Key Concepts in Strategy.
California MBA Programs On-Campus Options
- University of Redlands
The University of Redlands is a private liberal arts institute that offers a part-time MBA degree with a focus on the unique challenges of an increasingly technology-driven world. The program aims to develop graduates who have excellent critical thinking skills and make ethical decisions. It is 36-48 credits in length and offered in two tracks: a two-year evening MBA track, and a one-year track. Depending on the track, classes meet one or two evenings per week. Optional emphases include Finance, Geographic Information Systems, Global Business and Marketing.
- University of California Los Angeles Program
Founded in 1935, the Anderson School of Management at University of California Los Angeles offers executive, full-time, and part-time MBA programs. The program name is Management: MBA and the degree awarded is the Master of Business Administration. An aggregate of 84 hours is required to complete the program. The school is accredited by AACSB International.
- California State University, Northridge Evening Program
Accredited by the AACSB, the David Nazarian College of Business at California State University, Northridge program is geared towards working professionals. It offers a Master of Business Administration degree. All courses are administered on campus; no online classes are conducted. Students have the flexibility to complete courses at their own pace and can enroll in one to four courses per semester.
- San Diego State University Campus Path
Designed with a general management focus, the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University offers a Master of Business Administration, a Sports MBA, and a 22-month Executive program. The full-time MBA comprises 15-21 core courses, 18 electives, three business strategy courses, and three culminating experience options.
- California State University, Sacramento Programs
The College of Business Administration at California State University, Sacramento offers Traditional, Executive, and International MBA programs. The programs cover 30 to 44 semester units of graduate study.
- California Polytechnic State University
The AACSB-accredited Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University offers a traditional Master of Business Administration program. Students can complete their 60-unit requirement (36 core and 24 electives) at an accelerated pace of 10 months or spread it over multiple years.
- California State University, Dominguez Hills MBA Program
The College of Business Administration and Public Policy at California State University, Dominguez offers an on-campus or online Master of Business Administration program that can be completed over 18 months. The college is still in the stages of presenting its candidacy for AACSB-accreditation.
- California State University, East Bay MBA Program
The College of Business and Economics at California State University, East Bay offers a Master of Business Administration degree in eight disciplines. The program comprises 36 units of core coursework, 12 units of electives/options, and four units of capstone courses.
- Sonoma State Executive and Professional MBA Programs
The AACSB-accredited School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University offers Executive MBA and Professional MBA programs. The Evening MBA program comprises four core courses, three theme areas, two electives and one capstone course. The Executive MBA is a 17-month program with four modules delivered over a 16-week timeframe.
- California State University, Stanislaus MBA
The traditional Master of Business Administration program at this AACSB-accredited B-school is targeted at working professionals. Flexibility is the focus of this traditional MBA program, which gives students the option to complete their program within two years or up to seven years. The school also offers Executive programs.
- The University of La Verne Professional MBA
The College of Public and Business Management at University of La Verne offers a Master of Business Administration for Experienced Professionals in eight concentrations. Students have the option of evening, weekend, or online classes. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
- Brandman University MBA
Brandman University offers on-campus programs in nine concentrations. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Students require 36-48 credits (some are waived) to complete the program.
- Argosy University MBA Program
Argosy University offers an MBA program at multiple locations in the state: San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. Students can choose from blended or blended fast-track formats. The program comprises 10 core courses of 30 credit hours. The program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
- Bristol University MBA Degree Program
Bristol University offers an MBA degree with a Business Administration, Sports Management, International Business, or Marketing emphasis. Students are required to complete 27 core and 12 emphasis courses. Bristol University is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
- University of California, Davis Master of Business Administration
The Davis Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis offers full-time and part-time Master of Business Administration programs across multiple concentration areas at Bay Area and Sacramento. Students are required to complete 24 courses equivalent to 72 hours of credit.
- University of California Berkeley
The AACSB-accredited Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley is one of the 14 colleges and schools at the University of California, Berkeley. It offers a two-year full-time, a three-year part-time evening and weekend, and an Executive program with multiple areas of concentration.
- University of Southern California Programs
The USC Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California offers a traditional two-year full-time program, a three-year part-time program, a 21-month online program, a 22-month Executive program, a one-year Accelerated program, and a 20-month Global Executive program.
- California State University, Los Angeles Degree
The Master of Business Administration program at California State University can be completed as a traditional two-year or a part-time four-year program. Students are required to complete a total of 48 units. The programs are accredited by AACSB International.
- California State University, Long Beach
The College of Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach offers evening, daytime accelerated, Saturday, and MBA/MFA programs. Depending on the program, students can complete their degree in two years, 23-months or a little more than a year.
- Concordia University Irvine MBA
The Concordia University, Irvine California offers a 40-hour program that can be completed through evening classes. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Students also have the option to enroll in a MAIS/MBA program or an MBA with Public Policy emphasis.
- University of California, San Diego Program
The AACSB-accredited Rady School of Management at UC San Diego offers a full-time MBA that can be completed in 21-months, a FlexEvening program requiring 30 consecutive months, and the FlexWeekend MBA that takes 24 consecutive months. The first year of the program requires 13 core courses, one elective, and a capstone lab-to-market class. The second year comprises nine electives, three professional seminars, and two lab-to-market workshops.
- California State University, San Bernardino MBA Degree
The College of Business and Public Administration at California State University, San Bernardino offers four programs: the Traditional MBA (consists of 60 quarter units), Online MBA, Professional MBA, and an Executive MBA. Students enrolling in the online MBA program must complete 12 courses and 48 quarter units.
- University of California, Riverside Program
The A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at UC Riverside offers a full-time two-year Master of Business Administration program. Students must complete nine core courses, 28 units of electives, and a mandatory internship to graduate. Those who wish to obtain their degree with 20 months can opt for the 90-unit Flex program.
- University of California, Irvine
The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine offers Full-Time, Fully Employed, Executive, and Health Care Executive MBA programs. The FEMBA program can be completed in 24 to 33 months, while the rest are 21-month programs.
- California Lutheran University MBA Programs
Accredited by the AACSB and Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, this B-school offers a fully online program, an on-campus program, or a mix of the two MBA programs. The on-campus program can be completed over four 11-week terms, while the distance program can be completed over five eight-week terms.
- California State University, Fresno Program
The AACSB-accredited Craig School of Business at Fresno State offers a traditional two-year full-time program, an EMBA program, an online blended program, and an Ag-MBA program for non-profits, growers and bankers. To earn the full-time or online degree, students must complete 36 units. EMBA and Ag Executives can earn their MBA in less than 17 months.
- Pepperdine Program
The Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine offers part-time, full-time, and executive programs, along with an online option, all of which are accredited by the AACSB. Every program offers multiple concentrations as well as options such as Fast Track, Flex, Two-Year and Accelerated programs. The Fast Track program can be completed in as little as 20 months of part-time study, while the Accelerated Full-Time program can be completed in 12 to 15 months.
- Point Loma
Point Loma Nazarene University offers a one-year daytime program requiring students to complete 14 core courses of 42 units. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
- Golden Gate University
The Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University offers an program with an online option. Students can also enroll in a program comprising a mix of on-campus and online learning (mixed mode). The 48-credit hour online program offers multiple areas of concentration. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
California Career and Job Outlook for MBA Graduates
According to California’s Employment Development Department, the state’s occupational employment will add over 2.4 million jobs, for a total of 18.7 million jobs by 2022. Professional and business services industry sectors figure among the top 50 list of the fastest-growing occupations.
Many students and professionals pursue an MBA in California to get into the executive suite. Examples of top executives include CFOs, CIOs and COOs. Most people in these positions have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or an area related to their field of work. According to statistics from BLS.gov, the 2014 average pay for top executives was $112,490 per year. The demand for top executives is expected to grow by 14.1% in California between 2012 to 2022, compared to just 5.9% in the rest of the United States. Figures from Career InfoNet reveal that the national median hourly salary of chief executives is $83.33, while that of executives in California is higher, at over $90.
The top three industries with high levels of employment in management-related occupations include companies and enterprises, elementary and secondary schools, and the local government. California tops the list of states with the highest employment level in this management line of work. Los-Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division is one of the metropolitan areas with the highest employment level in this occupation. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is also among those with the highest concentration of management-related jobs. This metropolitan area also boasts the highest reported pay in this occupation.
On the topic of salary, here are some additional statistics from PayScale.com:
- The median salary of California employees with an MBA degree is $100,934, the highest of any state in the country.
- An MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business attracts an early- and a mid- career pay of $118,000 and $175,000 respectively.
- The same degree from Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley pays an early-career starting salary of $123,000 and a mid-career salary of $169,000.
- Among the top 15 California business schools with the best salary potential are Anderson School of Management at UCLA, Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, Graduate School of Management of University of California Davis, and Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California.
The average salaries of MBA holders in various occupations are listed below:
- Financial analyst: $46,635 – $87,067
- Senior financial analyst: $64,277 – $98,136
- Chief financial analyst: $82,619 – $224,031
- Marketing manager: $49,121 – $117,728
- Marketing director: $63,878 – $164,684
- Operations manager: $46,360 – $116,477
- Finance manager: $65,614 – $115,883
Below we have provided a collection of additional resources:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Employment and Wage Statistics For California
- Career Outlook for Top Executives
- Chief Executives in California
- General and Operations Managers