Our 2020 list of the Top 10 Online MBA Programs in the West. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
|University of Southern California
|Washington State University
|University of Washington
|Portland State University
|California State University-San Bernardino
|City University of Seattle
|University of California Davis
|Santa Clara University
With 48,500 students and a distinguished faculty of 4,000 innovative scholars, researchers, teachers and mentors, University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world’s largest private research universities. The school is also one of the most competitive, admitting just 13% of 64,000 applicant’s.
University of Southern California houses Marshall School of Business. Founded in 1920 as the USC College of Commerce and Business Administration, USC Marshall is the oldest AACSB-accredited school of business in Southern California. The online MBA program here “weaves the fundamental topics of business education – marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and others – into hands-on exercises and real-world discussions,” says the school.
Students will complete the program via multiple delivery methods including interactive games, virtual learning exercises, group video conferences and class sessions led by instructors, and one-on-one faculty discussions via webcam. Video content and presentations produced at the USC Marshall dedicated studio are also highlighted, as well as case studies and dramatizations of real-world business scenarios, and collaborative video activities and assessments.
Pepperdine University is a Christian University founded by entrepreneur George Pepperdine in South Los Angeles in 1937. The school expanded to Malibu in 1972, and now serves 8,000 full-time and part-time students, with a full-time faculty of more than 300 professors and scholars. The school has five separate graduate and undergraduate schools offering 73 degree programs.
Founded in 1969, the Graziadio School of Business and Management offers online degree programs across six California campuses, including Malibu and Silicon Beach. The online MBA program here focuses on building “essential business knowledge in areas such as finance, marketing, accounting, economics, quantitative analysis, law, human behavior, information systems, strategy, management, and leadership,” says the school. Students in this AACSB-accredited program will build “business intelligence” as they “examine business from a global perspective and address the impact of globalization, competition, technological innovation, and ethics in the workplace.”
Students in this 52 credit hour program will “do more than read case studies about top brands, such as Disney, Starbucks, and Warner Bros.” Students “will actually work” with top executives on” live consulting projects” to “solve real-time challenges.”
Other program highlights include the Personal and Leadership Development Workshop residency, which takes place at the schools’ coastal Malibu campus, Global Business Intensives, which cover relevant topics such as international economics, culture, marketing, finance, and business law, and five in-demand concentration options including Digital Innovation and Information Systems, Finance, General Management, Leadership and Managing Organizational Change, and Marketing. An optional international residency that allows students to explore global issues and work with international experts to understand foreign markets is also available.
Graziadio Online MBA students can complete the program, with a concentration, in as few as 24 months.
In 2015, Washington State University (WSU) celebrated its 125th birthday. Established in 1890, the school began as Washington State Agricultural College and School of Sciences. The name changed to State College of Washington in 1905, and finally, to Washington State University in 1959. The school serves around 21,000 students from 48 states and 106 countries, it offers more than 500 study abroad programs in over 48 countries, it houses more than 330 registered student organizations, and it offers hundreds of academic programs in 11 colleges.
The Carson College of Business at WSU offers a 36 credit hour online MBA with four concentrations and a General Track. Concentrations include Marketing, Finance, International Business, and Hospitality Business Management. The program may be completed in as few as 22-29 months and the GMAT is not required for qualified applicants.
Two major highlights of the program are the optional international field study and the option to earn a nine-credit graduate certificate upon completion of any concentration. For 2020, the international field study option offers the opportunity to travel to Prague. Students will learn from local professors and experts, meet classmates in person, and network with professionals outside the U.S., helping students build confidence to venture into overseas markets after graduation. A wide range of topics specific Prague will be covered, in addition to tours of cultural landmarks.
The Carson online MBA experience closes with three capstone courses for an additional six credits. All coursework is entirely online and may be completed in as few as 22-29 months.
The University of Washington’s three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma) offer more than 613 degree options across 312 programs to a student body of more than 59,000. The Michael G. Foster School of Business at University of Washington (UW Foster) offers a hybrid MBA program that can be completed mostly online. This two-year, interactive program is the first of its kind offered by Foster and it allows students to complete 95% of the program online and 5% on campus. Course highlights for the 62 credit hour program include Business Analytics, Competitive Strategy, Domestic & International Economic Conditions, Decision Modeling, Digital Marketing Strategies & Systems, Foundations of Entrepreneurship, Global Strategy, and Leading Organizational Change.
Other program highlights include support through workshops, training, and coaching sessions, the opportunity to meet with faculty and peers each quarter for networking, and the opportunity to attend networking events with employers on the UW campus.
The Foster School of Business is AACSB-accredited.
The School of Business Administration at Portland State University (PSU) offers an Online Healthcare MBA in partnership with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The 72 credit hour program, which can be completed 80% online and 20% in-person, “provides students the flexibility to complete an MBA while working full-time,” says the school. In-person classes are held at Oregon Health & Science University, take place two Fridays and Saturdays per term.
The program focuses on six thematic areas including Understanding the Healthcare Industry, Leadership and Management in Healthcare, Financial Management Healthcare, Operations and Quality in Healthcare, Marketing, Business Planning and Strategy, and the Application Projects and Capstone. Designed for working professionals, the PSU Online Healthcare MBA attracts students from all locations and healthcare roles including doctors, dentists, nurses, clinic managers, lab specialists, nurses, dietitians, and medical technologists.
As part of Portland State’s School of Business, the PSU MBA is AACSB-accredited, and it may be completed in just 33 months.
California State University-San Bernardino (CSUSB) was born on April 29, 1960, when legislation was enacted to found San Bernardino-Riverside State College. The original three-building campus welcomed its first 293 students in 1965 and celebrated its first graduating class of 59 students in 1967.
Today, as a member of the 23-campus California State University System, CSUSB serves nearly 20,000 students enrolled in more than 70 undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and certificates offered in five academic colleges.
The Jack H. Brown College of Business (JHBC) and Public Administration offers a 12-course, 48 quarter-unit MBA program that may be completed entirely online. Courses are taught in five-week sessions and students typically dedicate 20-25 hours of study time per course. Students can expect to take courses such as Advanced Managerial Communication, Corporate Strategy in a Global Economy, Information Systems & Technology, Entrepreneurship and New Ventures, Data Driven Decision Making and Project Management.
All CSUSB MBA programs include a Boot Camp (0-units) to help students prepare for subsequent classes, two 'foundation classes' (8-units) to develop problem-solving and communication skills, seven 'essential' classes (28-units) to develop specific business knowledge and skills, and two 'culminating' classes (4-units) to apply knowledge and prepare students for subsequent career aspirations. Two elective courses (8 units) are also part of the program. Boot Camp modules cover accounting, finance, information management, marketing, and supply chain management.
The online CSUSB MBA program has an open enrollment process and it is AACSB-accredited. Students can expect to complete the program in just 18 months.
Founded in 1973 and serving nearly 7,000 students City University of Seattle (CityU) offers career-relevant degrees through the doctoral level. The School of Management here offers an online MBA with 10 emphasis areas. Options include Accounting, Change Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Management, Global Marketing, Human Resource Management, Project Management, Technology Management, and the MBA with Electives.
Classes for this 48 to 54 credit hour program are taught in a virtual classroom environment that allows students to log in to check assignments, discussion topics, and video. Students “collaborate and discuss topics with one another on a Portal, within this virtual classroom and on a system called Blackboard,” says the school.
For students who prefer a hybrid program, the School of Management also offers a "mixed-mode” delivery format. This delivery format allows students to complete part of the degree in class and part online. All MBA programs at City University of Seattle are ACBSP-accredited.
University of California Davis (UC Davis) opened in 1908 as the University Farm—the research and science-based instruction extension of UC Berkeley. Today, the school is one of the nation’s top 10 public universities and is the largest in area of the 10 campuses in the UC system and the third largest in student population. The almost 40,000 students who attend UC Davis pursue more than 200 undergraduate majors and graduate programs, as well as professional programs in law, business management, medicine, and engineering. Programs are offered across eleven colleges and schools.
The UC Davis Graduate School of Management offers an online MBA program known as “MBA@UCDavis.” The school says the program offers “first-of-its-kind access to a nationally ranked University of California management school.”
The “centerpiece” of the online experience is the live online classes, where students will participate in “spirited, face-to-face conversations” with peers and the school’s “world-class faculty” on a “state-of-the-art technology platform.”
The program requires 72 units with core courses that provide a foundation in the functional areas of business, such as accounting, economics, finance, marketing and strategy. Electives allow students to expand or narrow their interests. Course highlights include Markets and the Firm, The Individual and Group Dynamics, Negotiation in Organizations, Data Analysis for Managers, Management of Innovation, Digital Marketing, and New and Small Business Ventures.
Students may participate in a series of In-Person Residentials, where they will have the opportunity to join classmates, professors and business leaders for multiday, in-person experiences. “Planned for Silicon Valley, Davis and Napa Valley,” these residentials allow students to network and sharpen their skills.
Established in 1851 and located in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara University (SCU) is a Jesuit university that serves 9,015 students enrolled in 50 majors, minors, and programs across six schools and colleges. Leavey School of Business (LSB) at SCU houses the MBA program, which has on campus and online options.
Designed to help students become “Silicon Valley Professionals (SVPs),” this AACSB-accredited program highlights a curriculum based in “innovation and responsibility,” says the school. Sample courses include Doing Business in Silicon Valley, Leading People and Organizations, Ethics for Managers, Strategy, Analysis, Design, and Management of Enterprise Platforms, and Marketing is Everything. The program also highlights 28 units of free electives that allow students to focus in one or more areas.
The Leavey Online MBA requires two on-campus intensives, where students will meet their peers and experience Santa Clara University in person. These are the only two campus requirements. Otherwise, online students will take courses whenever and wherever, but they will learn from the same professors who teach the on-campus program. The program may be completed in as few as two years.
Brandman University was founded in 1958 by Chapman University—a private institution in Orange, California founded in 1861. Formerly named Chapman University College, Brandman’s original mission was to “deliver high quality education to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station,” says the school. Today, as a separate university, Brandman remains military-friendly, and has expanded its programs to include the adult learner. The school offers more than 90 programs at 25+ campus locations to 13,000 students.
The School of Business and Professional Studies at Brandman University offers an online MBA that allows students to customize the program to coincide with the students’ career goals by adding an emphasis in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Health Administration, Human Resources, International Business, Business Intelligence and Data Analytics, Organizational Leadership, Marketing, or e-Business Strategic Management.
Students in the program will analyze and evaluate business functions and processes, evaluate and formulate effective domestic and global business strategies, integrate ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability in decision-making, identify, evaluate, communicate and implement effective leadership of a diverse workforce, and research, design and apply the innovation process from creativity to solution design and implementation.
The 48 credit hour program culminates in a Business Strategy and Competitive Advantage Capstone worth three credits.