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
A Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies is offered at the Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education at California Baptist University. This 30-unit program is the most affordable on our list with a total tuition cost of $17,670.
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
The Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University features a Master of Arts in Management. This program benefits from exceptional business accreditation through the AACSB and regional accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Senior College and University Commission.
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
Mills College offers a Master of Management at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy. This 30-hour program sits in our list with a lower than average tuition cost and a high level of regional prestige.
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
A Master of Arts in Management is featured at the School of Business at the University of Redlands. This program is ranked because of it highly esteemed regional accreditation and lower than average tuition costs.
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
The School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary's College of California offers a Master of Science in Management. This program benefits from excellent accreditation and features a total tuition cost of $29,700.
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
Azusa Pacific University's School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences offers a Master of Arts in Leadership. This 36-unit M.A. in Leadership stands out in our list as our second-most affordable program with a total tuition cost of $24,660.
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
A Master of Science in Executive Leadership is featured at the School of Business at the University of San Diego. Some students report early career earnings of up to $66,100 upon completing this degree revealing a sound return on the investment of education.
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
The Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University features a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. This program receives high marks from both U.S. News and the Princeton Review.
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
Stanford University's Graduate School of Business offers a Master of Science in Management. This stellar program benefits from excellent accreditation and an impressive pay scale salary of up to $86,800 reported by some graduates.
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
A Master of Management Studies is featured at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. This nationally-recognized program tops our list with quality accreditation and a total tuition cost of $46,228.
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