While the MBA may be the most popular master's program for business graduate students, some prospective master's students choose an alternative route for a Master's degree in Management (MiM). This type of master's degree is focused on general business management, like the MBA, but most MiM programs offer a shorter, more focus study on the ins and outs of organizational management and leadership. These shorter programs allow professionals to move into their future management pursuits faster. Many MiM programs also matriculate students with less professional experience, near the beginning of their business management careers. This management degree is reported as a popular degree in Europe and has shown great value to organizations that want a highly educated professional with the option of training them strictly through their company. For professionals who are looking for an advanced degree with courses specifically focused on the opportunities and problems of management and leadership, these specialized master's degrees are a great choice to fast track a management career.
In the state of California alone, there are over 1,100 educational institutions listed with the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences' National Center for Educational Statistics. Of these institutions, less than 20 offer a specialized master's program in management and leadership. Students still have multiple choices, and thus must weed through the list with their top priorities in location, focus, accreditation, and prestige. Location and proximity is an important factor to prospective students. For on-campus programs, the proximity of the schools weighs heavily into the factors of time management and commuting costs. But even if a program is offered online, some public colleges and universities offer a much lower tuition rate for in-state residents, and this gap in tuition costs can greatly affect a student's ROI.
Let this ranking help you find the best master's degrees in management in the state of California!
Also, check out our Top 25 Undergraduate Business Schools in California and our Top 25 Master's of Business Administration programs in California.
This ranking is designed to find the best Master's in Management programs available in the state of California. While the pool of schools offering graduate programs in management and leadership is smaller than those offering traditional MBAs, multiple options are still available for students. Programs were vetted based on their focus in management and leadership, as well as the following six factors:
Accreditation: As in other business programs, accreditation plays a significant part in vetting future management master's degrees. Because accreditations directly affect program value, brand recognition, and thus and alumnus competitive advantage, this criterion is one that should not be bypassed. Each master's program in this list is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations recognized by the US Department of Education, specifically the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Additionally, each program was ranked on whether it obtained a third party business accreditation from one of the top business school accrediting institutions: IACBE, ACBSP, and AACSB. AACSB is widely regarded as the highest level of business accreditations, thus the schools that achieve this accreditation were given the highest marks.
Affordability: Each program was vetted based on the estimated total base tuition for the master's program. This data directly affects each student's return on investment, and thus is an important factor to take into account. The tuition cost was gathered from the most recent data given on each program or school website. The lowest tuition in this ranking was $17,670, the highest came in at $125,336, with the average resting at $48,676.
Average salary: This data was collected from PayScale's Graduate School Salary Report to find the average early-career salary reported by recent master's graduates from each institution. Students can combine this data point with the estimated tuition cost to paint a better picture on a possible ROI. The highest early-career salary reported that was used in this ranking is $86,800. Any program without a recorded PayScale early-career salary was calculated at zero because of no available third-party data.
Prestige: This data was collected from two of the most prestigious sources in educational rankings, US News and World Report and The Princeton Review. Schools were ranked based on their score within the US News and World Report's Top Graduate Business School Ranking, as well as whether they were included in the Princeton Review's Best Western Colleges Ranking.
All data was collected, weighted equally, and then averaged for this ranking. Here is our list of the Top 10 Master's in Management Programs in California.
#10 California Baptist University Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education – Riverside, California
The Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education at California Baptist University features a Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies. This M.A. is designed to be completed within two to three years within a part-time schedule. The concentration-specific courses included within this degree are Group Dynamics and Staff Development, Knowledge Management and Decision Making, Leading and Managing Complexity, and Social Capital. Applicants interested in pursuing this Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies are required to complete an application, submit a $45 fee, hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, report a GPA of at least 2.75, and submit three letters of recommendation, a comprehensive essay, and a resume. This 30-unit M.A. in Leadership and Organizational Studies is priced at $589 a unit making the total cost of tuition $17,670. This degree is the most affordable of all the programs on our list.
California Baptist University is a four-year, private, not-for-profit institution of higher learning with a main campus in Riverside, California, a secondary campus in San Bernardino, and offers distance learning through an online program. The university was established by the California Southern Baptist Convention in 1950 and today oversees nearly 9,200 students seeking degrees at the associate, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. CBU receives its regional accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission and features a 100% Christian faculty and staff. The school was recently recognized by U.S. News and World report as the Best Regional University in 2017. Home of the Lancers, the athletic program at California Baptist University supports 10 men's varsity teams and 10 women's varsity teams while competing within the PacWest Conference.
Estimated Program Tuition: $17,670
#9 Claremont Graduate University Drucker School of Management – Claremont, California
Claremont Graduate University offers a Master of Arts in Management at the Drucker School of Management. This 32-unit program is priced at $1,847 per unit making the total cost of tuition $59,104. The M.A. in Management (MAM) is designed to be completed in just two semesters by students utilizing the accelerated full-time schedule or can be completed over four semesters by working professionals needing a more flexible part-time schedule. The Drucker School of Management advertises an interactive student-to-instructor ratio of 10 to one, opportunities for students to apply content in real-life scenarios through consulting projects, and career coaching offered by faculty and staff. This degree is divided between 12 units of core courses and 20 units of featured courses which include Digital Marketing, Creating Smart Products, Toxic Leadership, Entrepreneurial Finance, Women in Business, and game Theory & Decision Making. Interested applicants can begin the process of admission by completing an online application and submitting an $80 fee to the Drucker School of Management.
As a member of the distinguished Claremont Colleges, which includes Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, and Claremont McKenna College, the student body of Claremont Graduate University benefits from the strong network of shared resources these schools offer; whether its access to the over two million volumes housed in one of four libraries or the chance to learn under one of the 550-member Claremont University Consortium instructors. CGU is a four-year, private, not-for-profit university with a current enrollment of 2,136 students seeking degrees at the graduate and doctoral levels. The campus is in Claremont, California, a town in Southern California sandwiched between Los Angeles and San Bernardino. Receiving its national accreditation through the AACSB, the university is also regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. The school reports an average class size of 10 and employs a practice-based learning philosophy to education which relies heavily on student experience through work-programs and internships.
Estimated Program Tuition: $59,104
#8 Mills College Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy – Oakland, California
A Master of Management is featured at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College. This program distinguishes itself from an MBA degree by offering students a more specific focus of education in a specialized field of managing people yet offers the flexibility of students being able to transfer into an MBA if it proves a better match for their career objectives. This Master of Management consists of 30 credits divided between three core courses, two courses chosen from one of two tracks, and five courses of the student's choosing. With an accelerated full-time schedule of five courses per semester, this Master of Management can be completed in as little as one year. For students with schedule demands, this degree can be completed with late afternoon and evening courses as well. Elective courses for this program include, Economics for Managers, Managerial Accounting, Corporate Finance, and Quantitative Methods for Business. Based on a per-credit price of $1,285, this 30-semester course credit degree's total cost of tuition is $38,550.
Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Mills College is situated in Oakland, California. This four-year, private, not-for-profit institution of higher learning offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels to its nearly 1,400-member student body. Carrying the distinction as the oldest institution in the west to offer bachelor's degrees to women, Mills was established in 1852. Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission, the school has a reputation for achievement and recognition apparent in being named U.S. News & World Reports' top Best Value Schools West for 2016-2017. The Princeton Review has also named Mills College as the #19 LGBTQ Friendliest School.
Estimated Program Tuition: $38,550
#7 University of Redlands School of Business – Redlands, California
The School of Business at the University of Redlands offers a Master of Arts in Management. This 36-credit MAM is priced at $813 making the total cost of tuition $29,268. Designed to be completed in 18 months taking one class per term, this degree is divided between four General Management Knowledge courses, four Specialized Area In-Depth Knowledge courses including, Managerial Assessment and Development, Human Resources Management, Organization Theory, and Strategy, and one Capstone of Management Consulting. Applicants interested in this program can begin the acceptance process by filling out an online application which includes an essay, and submitting official transcripts and a current resume to the School of Business. Students need not have previous academic experience in business or management to be accepted into this MAM program and there is no charge to apply.
The University of Redlands got its start partly due to the devastation of the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco. That same year, the American Baptist Convention was convinced by Reverend Jasper Newton Field to establish a new university in idyllic Redlands, California. The school was chartered in 1907 and began meeting for classes two years later in 1909. Today, this four-year, not-for-profit, liberal arts university oversees 5,215 students seeking degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The school is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. With a high emphasis on sustainability, the campus features a Cogeneration Plant, sustainable food initiatives in their dining halls, and campus-wide ongoing water conservation efforts.
Estimated Program Tuition: $29,268
#6 Saint Mary's College of California School of Economics and Business Administration – Moraga, California
Among Saint Mary's College of California's recent accolades includes its being named by Social Finance, Inc. as the second-best "Return on Education" among all programs in the country and its being chosen as one of "40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges." SMC is the only Catholic and California-based school to be chosen for this elite group. The college receives its stellar national accreditation through the AACSB and is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. Situated in Moraga, California, this four-year private Catholic school maintains a student enrollment of just over 4,000 and offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.
Estimated Program Tuition: $29,700
#5 Azusa Pacific University School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences – Azusa, California
Receiving its national accreditation through the IACBE and being regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission, Azusa Pacific University is a four-year, private not-for-profit Christian university featuring a main campus in Azusa, California and seven centers of education located in the Southern California area. The current student enrollment at Azusa is 9,975 and the school offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Azusa Pacific University got its start in 1899 as the West Coast's first Bible college for men and women established to train men and women for Christian leadership and service. Today, the school reports a current student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to one.
Estimated Program Tuition: $24,660
#4 University of San Diego School of Business – San Diego, California
The School of Business at the University of San Diego offers a Master of Science in Executive Leadership. This program has been recognized by both U.S. News and the Princeton Review as one of the best in the nation. Applicants seeking admission into the School of Business are required to submit an online application along with accompanying transcripts and letters of recommendation. With a cost of $1,665 per unit, this 36-unit MSEL comes in at a total tuition cost of $59,940. Some students report an early career salary of up to $66,100 after completing this degree showing a positive return on the investment of education. The School of Business offers this Master of Science in Executive Leadership as a 22-month program consisting of small class sizes, a flexible schedule including weekend classes, and access to professors every step of the way. Courses for this degree include, Optimizing Individual Learning, Leadership, Power & Politics, Ethics in the Workplace, Communicating Your Leadership Point of View, and Effective Decision Making.
Describing itself as a contemporary Catholic university, the University of San Diego was established in December 1949 by Mother Rosalie Hill of the Society of the Sacred Heart and Bishop Charles Francis Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego. Today this four-year, not-for-profit, Catholic institution of higher learning located in sunny Southern California oversees 8,251 students seeking degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The beautiful campus of USD covers 180 acres and features Spanish Renaissance-inspired architecture while overlooking Mission Bay. The university receives its business accreditation through the AACSB and is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. Thirty-nine percent of the student body of the University of San Diego is comprised of minority students while 9% are residents of foreign countries. The athletic program at USD supports 17 varsity teams which compete at the NCAA Division I level and are members of the West Coast Conference.
Estimated Program Tuition: $59,940
#3 Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management – Malibu, California
Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management offers a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. This 16-month, part-time program is designed to give students the tools and knowledge needed to manage people and lead teams. This 36-unit MSML is priced at $1,564 per unit making the total cost of tuition $56,304. An early earning salary of up to $52,500 has been reported by some graduates of this Master of Science in Management and Leadership showing a positive return on the investment of education. U.S. News ranks this program as one of the nation's best at #83, while it also makes the Princeton Review's list as one of the best in the west. Students interested in applying for this MSML must complete an online application, submit an essay, resume, official transcripts, and complete an essay. GMAT/GRE scores are not required for admission into this program. Required courses for this degree include Organizational Dynamics and Managing Change, Business Negotiation and the Resolution of Conflict, Leadership Theory and Practice, Managerial Creativity and Innovation for Leadership, and Information and Process Systems.
With a high value on the connection between experience and knowledge, Pepperdine University reports that 85% of their student body is actively involved in student employment, teaching, and/or internships. This four-year, private, not-for-profit university situated on the Pacific coast of Malibu, California is comprised of five schools committed to business, education, law, liberal arts, psychology, and public policy. Pepperdine, which provides the current enrollment of 7,632 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students with 73 degree programs, is nationally accredited by the AACSB and receives its regional accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 12.5 to one and was recently named as the 29th Best Value by U.S. News & World Report.
Estimated Program Tuition: $56,304
#2 Stanford University Graduate School of Business – Stanford, California
A Master of Science in Management is featured at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. This one-year program is offered by the Graduate School of Business as a full-time, accelerated, and immersive academic experience. One unique component of the MSx program at Stanford is a student's access to the Sloan Fellow program which allows current students the chance to network with and learn from Sloan Fellows; a group of approximately 90 business professions living on or near the Stanford campus and prepared to help current students achieve their goals. This four-semester program begins with a semester of core courses and assessment and executive coaching followed by a class study trip to New York City and Washington D.C. The next three semesters include mostly elective courses and career planning with executive coaching. Students also have the option of taking part in global study trips offered twice and sandwiched between the final three semesters. The total cost of tuition for this program is $125,336. A list-topping pay scale salary of $86,800 has been reported by some students of this program upon its completion.
Established in 1891 and currently overseeing a student body of 16,000, Stanford University maintains a network of seven schools and a 2,153-member faculty consisting of 20 Nobel laureates. Stanford, which reports a healthy student-to-faculty ratio of four to one, receives excellent business accreditation through the AACSB and is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. This four-year, private, not-for-profit university is in Stanford, California and offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The school got its start when former California governor Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, wanted to honor the memory of their son Leland Jr. by establishing a co-ed university that would produce "cultured and useful citizens."
Estimated Program Tuition: $125,336
#1 University of Southern California Marshall School of Business – Los Angeles, California
The Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California offers a Master of Management Studies. This program is no stranger to accolades, receiving the #31 spot as the best in the nation by U.S. News and being featured as one of the nation's top schools by the Princeton Review. This 26-graduate unit M.M.S. is priced at $1,778 per unit making the entire cost of tuition $46,228. Some students have reported an early career salary of up to $64,500 revealing a positive return on the investment of education. This program is designed for students who have completed a year of a Master of Business Administration and would benefit from a specialization in Management Studies. While this M.S.S. can be completed on a part-time or full-time schedule, courses at the Marshall School of Business are offered both during the day and in the evening. Qualifications for admission into this program include a bachelor's degree from a fully-accredited institution, one year of MBA education completed, graduate work with a GPA of 3.3, a GMAT or GRE score within the 80th percentile, and at least two years of professional work experience.
Located in sunny Los Angeles and with an alumni list that tops 375,000 and includes celebrity notables George Lucas, Will Ferrell, Marcus Allen, John Wayne, and Forest Whitaker, the University of Southern California is a four-year, private, not-for-profit institution of higher learning which offers its student body degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. With a current student enrollment of 43,401 strong, USC receives its business accreditation through the AACSB, and is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission. The history of the school began in 1879 when Judge Robert Maclay Widney and the board of trustees he formed accepted a land donation of over 300 acres from prominent members of the Southern California community. The school has come a long way since the first classes held the following year with a staff of 10 instructors and 53 students.
Estimated Program Tuition: $46,228