Master of business administration graduates in the past primarily sought out jobs in finance, but as the industry and interests continue to shift, now the most popular sectors include technology and products and services. The B-School Alumni Employment Report Alumni Perspectives Survey of 2018 found that 23% of MBA graduates work in products and services, 18% in technology, 13% in finance and accounting, and 12% in consulting. California, home of Silicon Valley, offers a wealth of tech opportunities for qualified candidates.
An MBA degree prepares graduates to develop problem-solving, leadership, and management skills. Programs focus on foundational business classes and then encourage students to study specialties such as sports management. The top programs in California also emphasize global business studies, vital knowledge for graduates seeking high-paying management jobs in companies that have a global influence. Graduates land mid-level jobs such as marketing managers which make a median annual salary of $129,380, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To find out more about the top MBA programs in California, keep reading.
Check out our Top 25 Undergraduate Business Schools in California and our Top 10 Master’s in Management degrees in California.
This ranking is designed to find the best Master’s of Business Administration available in the state of California. A list of over 100 MBA programs was obtained and then vetted based on the following four factors:
Accreditation:Accreditation should always play a role in vetting future MBA degrees. Accreditations directly affect brand recognition of a program, and can ensure the quality and value of a program. This brand recognition affects the competitive advantage of each alumnus in the job market. Each MBA 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 business program was evaluated on whether it obtained an additional third party business accreditation from one of the top business school accrediting institutions: IACBE, ACBSP, and AACSB. AACSB is widely regarded as the gold standard of business accreditations, thus the schools with this accreditation were given the highest marks.
Affordability: Each program was vetted based on the estimated total MBA base tuition. This data directly affects each student’s return on investment, and thus is an important factor to consider. The cost was gathered from the most recent data given on each program and school website. When a college offered an in-state and an out-of-state tuition, the in-state tuition was used, showing students the lowest tuition available. The lowest tuition in the list was $0, the highest came in at $133,080, with the average resting at $59,504.
Average salary: This data was collected from PayScale’s Graduate School Salary Report, giving the average early-career salary reported by recent master’s graduates from each institution. This data, combined with the tuition cost, gives students a better picture on a possible ROI. The highest early-career salary reported that was used in this ranking is $130,000. 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 valued on their score within the US News and World Report’s Top Business School Ranking and whether they were included in the Princeton Review’s Best Western Regional Ranking.
All data was collected, weighted equally, and then averaged for this ranking. Here is our list of the Top 25 Master’s of Business Administration Programs in California.
#25 Naval Postgraduate School Graduate School of Business and Public Policy – Monterey, California
The Naval Postgraduate School offers a Master’s of Business Administration degree that is focused on the education of service men and women of the United States Armed Forces. This program was chosen for our list because of their elite accreditations and affordability for those who qualify.
The Naval Postgraduate School offers the only interdisciplinary master of business administration programs specifically for officers to work in the Department of Defense. The school offers five focuses of study, including acquisition management, defense management, financial management, information management, and logistics management. Some programs, such as the Acquisition Management MBA, offer students the option to take concentrations like strategic purchasing. All programs run for six quarters with start dates in January and July. Funded through the U.S. Navy, the NPS only accepts officers serving in the U.S. military, Allied National military officers, and U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $0
#24 Saint Mary’s College of California School of Economics and Business Administration – Moraga, California
At Saint Mary’s College of California, students can earn a highly respected Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was chosen for their prestigious accreditations and hands on approach.
Keeping with its tradition of educating working professionals, Saint Mary’s College of California offers a professional master of business administration degree designed for students who work full time. The school offers evening and weekend classes. Generally professional MBA students take two courses every quarter, but students may create their own schedules. The college also has an executive MBA and a global executive MBA. Students can focus their studies on international management, entrepreneurship marketing, finance, or business analytics. As a part of the curriculum, students need to complete seven foundation courses and eight core courses. Students may transfer up to two core courses from an accredited school.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $56,700
#23 Humboldt State University School of Business – Arcata, California
At Humboldt State University, students can earn an exceptionally accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our list because of their high level of affordability and education standards.
Humboldt State University’s master of business administration degree focuses on teaching students strategic sustainability to enable graduates to have the skills to implement long-term changes within companies. The program, which suits working professionals with evening classes, takes about one year to complete. Students take 34 credits over three semesters. All enrolled students receive a $1,000 scholarship and they have to option to do summer internships. In their first semester, students take foundational courses including strategic sustainability, research methods, and accounting. The final semester includes an optional business internship and exam. To graduate students need to maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $14,756
#22 California State University, San Bernardino Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration – San Bernardino, California
California State University, San Bernardino offers a well respected Master’s of Business Administration degree. The MBA through the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Administration was chosen for our ranking because of their elite accreditations and reputation within the region.
California State University San Bernardino offers a supportive environment to earn an MBA degree with boot camps designed to help students prepare for subsequent classes. The school offers three different MBA degrees: the 60-unit traditional MBA, the 48-unit traditional professional MBA, and a 48-unit online professional MBA. Both the traditional and online MBA programs offer open enrollment. The bulk of the classes, 28 units, teach students to hone specific business skills in accounting, financial theory, marketing, management, and corporate strategy. All programs end with a business analyst project and the submission of a business portfolio, showcasing work students have done throughout the program.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $30,000
#21 California State University, Stanislaus College of Business Administration – Turlock, California
At California State University, Stanislaus students can earn an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was chosen for our list because of their affordability and excellent accreditations.
California State University Stanislaus designs its master of business degree for working professionals by offering evening classes and a flexible schedule. The degree takes anywhere from two years to seven years to complete, depending on a student’s status. The program emphasizes that students study areas of focus such as general business, accounting, and finance. The program requires 30 credits or 10 courses to earn a degree. The executive MBA requires 36 units and allows students to graduate in 15 months. As a final project students pick between an exam or individual project which must be approved by the project committee.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $24,000
#20 Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics – Rohnert Park, California
Sonoma State University offers an economical Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was chosen for our list because of their high accreditations and program affordability.
Sonoma State University’s MBA degrees take advantage of the campus location in wine country, offering a MBA in wine business and a MBA professional degree. The professional MBA degree begins with an immersion weekend. Then students take four core courses: business intelligence, cost analysis and control, management human capital, and managerial finance. After completing electives and one of three business themes, student must do a capstone project and seminar. The MBA in wine business curriculum requires students to take three wine business courses. Both programs take one year for full-time students and two years for part-time students. Students have the option to take international trips.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $22,175
#19 University of Redlands School of Business – Redlands, California
At the University of Redlands students can earn an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was chosen for our list because of their affordability and high accreditations.
The University of Redlands offers a two-year MBA program that prepares students to think critically and build their oral and written communication skills. Classes meet once a week in the evenings. Students customize their MBA degrees by taking one of four concentrations: location analytics, global business, finance, or marketing. Throughout the program students receive one-one-mentoring, career services, and international study opportunities. The program culminates with a capstone project, where students demonstrate their knowledge and ability to solve business problems in a simulative environment. The program requires students to take 36 to 48 credits and takes about 10 to 24 months to complete.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $29,733
#18 Loyola Marymount University College of Business Administration – Los Angeles, California
Loyola Marymount University offers a well rounded Master’s of Business Administration degree. The MBA program at Loyola Marymount University was selected for our list because of their esteemed accreditations and high early salary of graduates.
Loyola Marymount University’s MBA program appeals to globally-minded working professionals with small classes, customized curriculum, and international study components. Students graduate from the program in 20 to 36 months, depending which MBA format they take. All four formats require students to complete 57 units. In the first year, students study in a cohort, taking core courses such as managing operations and managing people. The second year includes electives and a study abroad opportunity. Students must specialize in one of four courses: finance, entrepreneurship, human resources and organization, marketing, international business, and information technology. The degree includes a mandatory two- or three-week global study program.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $88,500
#17 University of San Francisco School of Management – San Francisco, California
Students can earn an exceptional Master’s of Business Administration degree at the University of San Francisco. This program was chosen for our list because of their elite accreditations and prestigious recognitions.
At the University of San Francisco students get to personalize their degree with career-focused classes. The school offers a full-time MBA, a part-time MBA, and an executive MBA. Six concentrations such as business analytics, entrepreneurship and innovation let students tailor their degrees. The core courses focus on problem-solving, leadership, communication, ethical perspectives, and global perspectives. Students need to complete a final project and career workshops to graduate. The full-time MBA takes 22 months to complete and most applicants have two years of professional experience. Students typically graduate from the part-time MBA program in two to five years. The 20-month executive MBA program suits students with eight years of work experience.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $77,280
#16 Azusa Pacific University School of Business and Management – Azusa, California
Azusa Pacific University offers a well respected Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our list because of their affordability and flexible formatting options.
Azusa Pacific University’s master of business administration degree emphasizes a Christian ethical curriculum. The school lets students tailor their schedule to include online and classroom learning at the main campus in Azusa or at three other satellite campuses. Students, depending on the format of their study, graduate in as few as 12 months. The average students graduate in two and a half years. After completing their core courses students take concentrations such as finance, marketing, or sports management. The program, with eight-week terms, has six start dates throughout the year. Students interested in global business may take advantage of international travel opportunities.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $31,164
#15 University of San Diego School of Business – San Diego, California
The University of San Diego offers a highly accredited Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our list because of their notable accreditations and high return on investment potential.
The University of San Diego offers four MBA degrees formats which emphasize international business experience with all students flying overseas to do consulting projects for companies such as BMW or Nike. Students pick from three formats: a full-time MBA program, a professional part-time MBA program, or an international MBA program. The school also has dual MBA degrees. The full-time MBA program takes 17 to 22 months to complete with core classes offered Monday through Thursday. The international MBA takes 11 months to complete and students take classes in Madrid or San Diego. The professional MBA offers classes in the evening and students graduate in 24 to 36 months. The school also has a hybrid MBA degree.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $73,140
#14 Chapman University George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics – Orange, California
Chapman University offers a highly recognized Master’s of Business Administration degree through the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics. This program was selected for our list because of their high accreditations and prestigious recognitions.
Photo courtesy of Chapman University
Chapman University’s four different master of business administration degrees emphasize international business studies. Students choose from the 50-credit full-time MBA, the 50-credit professional MBA, and accelerated 47-credit MBA. The full-time MBA program, which accepts students who have about three years of work, takes 16 to 21 months to complete. Students may take specializations such as marketing analytics, entertainment, and finance to tailor their degree to their career goals. Students also have an option to do international study in Prague, South America or Scandinavia. The professional MBA takes 21 to 28 months to complete and the accelerated MBA takes 21 months.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $76,500
#13 Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business – Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara University offers an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our list because of their flexible schedule and high early pay in graduates.
Santa Clara University offers three MBA programs for working professionals who have three or more years or work experience. The two-year Evening MBA program, which offers evening classes twice a week, requires applicants to have three or more years of work experience. Students can choose to take the 70-credit Evening MBA program on a part-time or full-time basis. The Online MBA program also requires candidates to have three years of professional experience. The Executive MBA, a 18- month program with bi-weekly and weekend classes, requires applicants to have 10 years or more of work experience. Students enrolled in the Executive MBA must travel internationally in their first term.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $71,540
#12 University of California, San Diego Rady School of Management – La Jolla, California
Students can earn a highly accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree through the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. This program was selected for our list because of their high early pay in graduates and excellent accreditations.
Photo courtesy of The University of California, San Diego
Studying for a master of business administration degree at the California State University San Diego sets students on a clear career path on the first day when they attend the Graduate Career Connections. The college offers three types of MBA degrees: a full-time program, an evening format, and weekend format. Students must complete 92 units, which typically takes 21 months with an internship done in the summer after the first year. On average students take four classes per quarter. Toward the end of the program the capstone project, called Lab to Market, as well as electives and independent study, allows students to draw on their studies to work as a team with to solve real business problems.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $93,550
#11 California State University, Long Beach College of Business Administration – Long Beach, California
Students can earn an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree at California State University, Long Beach. The MBA program at CSU, Long Beach was chosen for our list because of their affordability and high accreditations.
California State University at Long Beach offers a full-time MBA program that mostly attracts students who have in studied business, chemistry, and engineering as undergraduates. The school offers four different MBA formats: accelerated, evening, Saturday, and online. Students in the accelerated 22-month program take classes full time, Monday through Friday. All programs culminate with an international trip to do community service in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Portugal, or Italy. In the spring and summer semesters, students also enroll in a career development course for no credit to work on their resumes and cover letters. The school also offers a dual MBA and master of fine arts degree.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $31,768
#10 Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management – Malibu, California
Pepperdine University offers a exceptionally accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. The MBA program at Pepperdine University was selected for our list because of their high accreditations and high early pay in graduates.
Photo courtesy of Pepperdine University
Pepperdine University, located overlooking the Pacific coastline, offers three options for full-time MBA degrees that finish in 12, 15, or 20 months. To apply for the program, applicants need one to three years of work experience, depending on the length of the program. Students taking the 20-month MBA program have the option to study abroad in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, or Latin America. This 55-credit program offers eight concentrations of study, including specialties like marketing, finance, and dispute resolution. To earn a concentration students must take 12 additional credits. The accelerated 12- and 15-month MBA programs require students to complete 49 to 61 credits with an optional study abroad trip.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $71,700
#9 California State University, East Bay College of Business and Economics – Hayward, California
California State University, East Bay offers an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our ranking because of their affordability and high return on investment.
Earning a master of business administration degree at the California State University, East Bay prepares you to become an industry leader in the global context. Students customize their degree choosing from eight concentrations: marketing management, strategy and innovation, general business, finance, operations and supply chain management, analytics for managers, human resources and organizational behavior, and global innovator. The program offers part-time and full-time coursework. Students must complete 42 credits, including a three-unit capstone project which requires creating a business plan for a company. Graduates of the program land jobs as investment fund managers, human resource managers, and marketing researchers.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $29,800
#8 San Diego State University Fowler College of Business Administration – San Diego, California
Students can earn a well respected Master’s of Business Administration degree from San Diego State University. This program was chosen for our ranking because of their affordability, high early pay in graduates, and high return on investment.
San Diego State University offers a flexible full- or part-time master of business administration program with classes focused on general management. Students must complete between 15 to 21 core courses, three units in business strategy, and 18 credits in electives. To earn a specialization in accounting or supply chain management students take an additional 12 electives. At the end of the program, students must complete a three-unit thesis or business consulting course. The college provides suggested MBA degree plans for students working full time or part time. Students may take classes in the day or evening. The Graduate Career Management Center also helps students with career counseling, interview coaching, and contacting corporate connections.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $28,130
#7 University of Southern California Marshall School of Business – Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California offers an elite Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our list because of their accreditations and exceptionally high early career pay in graduates.
Located outside of downtown Los Angeles, the University of Southern California offers a full-time MBA that focuses on building critical thinking skills and teamwork. In the first year — over five terms — students complete the core coursework: accounting, marketing, data analysis, and finance. Students also complete a seven-week consulting assignment with a local company. In the final term of the first year, students must complete the Global Context of Business course, a 10-day overseas project where they draw on the fundamental business skills they learn throughout the program. The curriculum in the second year also includes a capstone project and electives. Students can take independent study or courses from other departments to fulfill elective requirements.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $112,014
#6 California State Polytechnic University, Pomona College of Business Administration – Pomona, California
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona offers a well rounded Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected for our ranking because of their excellent accreditations, economical tuition rates, and high return on investment.
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona offers a master of business administration program for working professionals with weekend and evenings courses. Students study core business courses in their first semester. Most students take three courses per semester. In total students must complete 24 core courses, including marketing, leadership and ethics, data analytics, and accounting. Students must complete an additional nine credits of electives. The program takes four semesters to complete. For their final project, students choose between a business research project or a comprehensive exam. The college also offers a 30-unit master of science business administration program, which takes two years to complete.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $14,096
#5 University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business – Irvine, California
Students can earn an accredited Master’s of Business Administration through the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. This program was chosen for our ranking because of their high early graduate pay and notable accreditations.
University of California, Irvine designs its MBA program to produce qualified digitally-minded graduates. The program takes 21 months to complete. Four specializations — digital transformation, healthcare management and policy, innovation and entrepreneurship, and real estate and urban development — allow students to tailor their degrees to suit their career interests. The program begins with a two-week intensive orientation. Second years take all electives and have the option to study internationally in Asia, Europe, or Latin America, in a quarter-long exchange program or a week-long study abroad program. The Merage School Career Center offers help preparing students for internships and their career goals.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $84,447
#4 University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management – Davis, California
Students can earn an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree through the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis. This program was selected for our list because of their high early graduate pay and high return on investment potential.
Photo courtesy of The University of California, Davis
Master of Business Administration students at the University of California, Davis earn work experience and career coaching while in school. The curriculum focuses on building communication, writing, and critical thinking skills. Students pick from eight concentrations, including business analytics and technologies, marketing, and strategy. In the fall of the final year, students typically study abroad at one of 13 partner schools or take a two-week international study trip. The final year also consists of a 10-week capstone project where students create business strategies for Fortune 500 companies or Silicon Valley startups. Second years also receive career coaching and attend workshops to prepare them for the workforce through the Leadership Fellows Program.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $76,958
#3 University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management – Los Angeles, California
The Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles offers an accredited Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was chosen for our ranking because of their esteemed recognitions and high early pay in graduates.
Located in Westwood, the University of California, Los Angeles offers a master of business degree that allows students in the winter session of their first year to begin taking electives and hone their specialty. The program offers numerous specializations in entertainment, brand management, accounting, and corporate finance. Students must complete nine core credit courses, covering the fundamentals in business, but the second year of the program consists entirely of electives and a final capstone project. Students choose their final capstone project, which can include everything from starting a new business with a team or working for a partner organization locally or globally.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $104,544
#2 Stanford University Graduate School of Business – Stanford, California
Students can earn an elite Master’s of Business Administration degree from Stanford University. This program was chosen for our list because of their exceptionally high early pay in graduates and prestigious mentions among many of the top ranking systems.
Stanford University provides a personalized master of business administration degree which allows students to customize their curriculum. In the first year, students learn general management perspectives and foundations, and global experience. At this time, students also participate in global study trips. In the second year of the program, students take mostly electives, seminars, and they can also enroll in classes outside of the Graduate School of Business. In addition to a wide range of electives — sports business management, biodesign innovation, real life ethics — the program allows students the chance to complete joint or dual degrees. On average, the program takes two years to complete.
Estimated Program Tuition & Fees: $133,080
#1 University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business – Berkeley, California
At the University of California, Berkeley students can earn an accredited and highly respected Master’s of Business Administration degree. This program was selected to top our list because of their prestigious credentials and exceptionally high average early graduate pay.
The University of California, Berkeley offers a full-time MBA degree that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, teamwork, and hands-on learning. Students begin studying general management, taking 12 core classes in accounting, marketing, business and ethics, and leadership communication. The curriculum also includes 20 applied innovation classes in which teams of students provide consulting to nonprofits or develop business solutions for companies such as Visa or Disney. The program, divided into four sessions, runs for 15 weeks. Students customize their degrees with electives that comprise 60% of the curriculum. Students can also design their own elective course. The program offers dual juris doctor degrees and master of public health degrees.