Our 2021 list of the Top 10 Online MBA Programs in the West. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
|1||University of Southern California||California|
|2||University of Washington||Washington|
|4||Washington State University||Washington|
|5||University of California Davis||California|
|6||Santa Clara University||California|
|7||Portland State University||Oregon|
|8||Oregon State University||Oregon|
|9||California State University-San Bernardino||California|
|10||California State University-Long Beach||California|
With 46,000 students and a distinguished faculty of more than 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 12% of more than 70,000 applicants.
Marshall School of Business at USC (USC Marshall or Marshall) was established in 1920 as the USC College of Commerce and Business Administration, making it the oldest AACSB-accredited school of business in Southern California. The school offers an online MBA program that “teaches students to become forward-thinking business leaders who can analyze a situation from diverse perspectives and create effective, practical solutions,” says the school.
Students will complete the program through multiple delivery methods including interactive games, virtual learning exercises, group video conferences, class sessions led by instructors, and one-on-one faculty discussions via webcam. Telly Award-winning 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.
Students must attend a one-week, on-campus residency to complete this AACSB-accredited program.
University of Washington (UW) has three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma) that offer more than 600 degree options to a population of just over 57,500 students. 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. The online component consists of a combination of guided independent work supplemented with virtual teamwork, Foster Live sessions (60-90 minute interactive sessions with Foster faculty and Hybrid classmates for weekly class), and optional Thursday evening online review sessions. The in-person component consists of a mandatory three- to five-day intensive, on-campus immersion, at the beginning of each quarter.
The curriculum for the program is comprised of 52 credits of core courses and 10 credits of Hybrid MBA electives. Due to the unique online and in-person format, Hybrid MBA electives are exclusive to the Foster Hybrid MBA program. Elective highlights include Behavioral Finance, Digital Marketing Strategies & Systems, Foundations of Entrepreneurship, International Study Tour, International Supply Chain Management, Leading Organizational Change, Mergers & Acquisitions, Negotiations, Product Management, Real Estate Finance, and Tools for Big Data: Business Analytics.
Students in the program will also benefit from “hands-on case analysis,” says the school, which allows them to “examine real-world business problems and learn how to best evaluate a situation by applying concepts and strategies acquired throughout the program.”
Other program highlights include support through workshops, training, and coaching sessions, and the opportunity to attend networking events with employers on the UW campus.
The UW Foster School of Business is AACSB accredited.
Pepperdine University was established by entrepreneur George Pepperdine in South Los Angeles in 1937. The school, which expanded to Malibu in 1972, 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 more than 70 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 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 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, AACSB-accredited program will “do more than read case studies about top brands, such as Disney, Starbucks, and Warner Bros.” They will “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 seven in-demand concentration options. These include Business Analytics, Digital Innovation and Information Systems, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Business, Leadership and Managing Organizational Change, and Marketing. A General Concentration that allows students to develop expertise across multiple business areas is also available.
Students will have the option to complete an international residency. The experience allows students to explore global issues and work with international experts to understand foreign markets.
The Graziadio Online MBA can be completed in as few as 24 months or up to 48 months part-time.
Established in 1890, Washington State University (WSU) 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, which serves nearly 20,000 students from 50 states and 98 countries, offers 565 study abroad programs in over 70 countries, it houses 260+ registered student organizations, and it offers more than 200 degrees and majors in 11 colleges.
The Carson College of Business at WSU offers an AACSB-accredited online MBA with four concentrations and a General Track. Concentrations include Finance, Hospitality Business Management, International Business, and Marketing. 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 this 36 credit hour program are the optional international field study and the option to earn a nine-credit graduate certificate upon completion of any concentration. In July 2021, 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 WSU 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.
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 MBA@UCDavis experience is the live online classes, where students participate in “spirited, face-to-face conversations” with peers and the school’s “world-class faculty” on a “state-of-the-art technology platform.”
This STEM-designated MBA 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 Data Analysis for Managers, Digital Marketing, Management of Innovation, New and Small Business Ventures, and The Individual and Group Dynamics.
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.
Graduates of the MBA@UCDavis Program enjoy an 84% job placement rate within six months after graduation.
Established in 1851, Santa Clara University (SCU) is a Jesuit university located in Silicon Valley. The school serves close to 8,700 students enrolled in 50 majors, minors, and programs across six schools and colleges. SCU’s Leavey School of Business (LSB) houses the MBA program, which has on both 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.
Leavey Online MBA alumni include C-level individuals from Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Google, GoPro, LinkedIn, and many others.
Portland State University (PSU) was founded in 1946 as Vanport Extension Center. When it opened, the school had 220 students. Today, this public research university serves just over 26,000 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs in 10 colleges and schools. The School of Business Administration at PSU offers a Healthcare MBA in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) - Division of Management.
The 63 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 OHSU, and they take place two Fridays and Saturdays per term. Coursework focuses on Finance, Marketing, and Strategy; Leadership and Management; Operations and Quality Management; Understanding the Industry; and Capstone and Application Projects.
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.
Oregon State University (OSU) was founded in 1858 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Today, the school is considered a major teaching, research, and public service institution, and it’s just one of two land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant universities in the U.S.
Serving around 33,350 students, OSU is also the largest university in the state for the seventh consecutive year. The school has two campuses, 11 colleges, 12 experiment stations, Extension programs in all 36 counties, and 200+ academic programs.
The OSU College of Business and the top-ranked Oregon State Ecampus offer online MBA programs in Business Analytics, Marketing, Organizational Leadership, and Supply Chain and Logistics Management. The OSU Online MBA blends the schools’ “world-class curriculum, faculty, resources and Beaver alumni network with the flexibility of online learning,” says the school. Students in the program “will take classes with accomplished leaders in a variety of industries and earn the same degree” as on-campus students.”
MBA students will “build a network of peers and graduate with a strong network of Beaver alumni from different industries that can help propel” their careers.
The AACSB-accredited OSU Online MBA can be completed in 30 months. Students who qualify for the accelerated program can finish in as few as 21 months.
California State University-San Bernardino (CSUSB) began as San Bernardino-Riverside State College in 1960. The school’s 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 around 19,400 students enrolled in more than 70 degree programs 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. The MBA Online for Executives (formerly known as Online MBA), is designed for “qualified applicants possessing early- or mid-career experience who seek to expand their professional knowledge and skills through graduate business education,” says the school.
Courses for this AACSB-accredited program 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 JHBC MBA programs include a Boot Camp (0 units) to help students prepare for subsequent classes, two foundation classes (eight units) to develop problem-solving and communication skills, seven essential classes (28-units) to develop specific business knowledge and skills, and two culminating classes (four units) to apply knowledge and prepare students for subsequent career aspirations. Two elective courses (eight units) are also part of the program. Boot Camp modules cover accounting, finance, information management, marketing, and supply chain management.
The JHBC MBA Online for Executives has an open enrollment process and it may be completed in just 18 months.
California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) dates back to September 28, 1949, when Los Angeles-Orange County State College began its first day of classes on a 320-acre site set on a hill on the outskirts of Long Beach. Today, CSULB has 84 buildings, 63 academic departments and programs, 24 centers, four institutes, four clinics, and its own zip code. The school serves more than 38,000 students and it is a member of the 23-campus CSU system, which educates 485,550 students every year.
The College of Business (COB) at CSULB offers an Online MBA (OMBA) for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and three or more years of work experience (preferred). Program features include small to medium class sizes (25-35), dedicated program advisors that work with students throughout the program, the opportunity to work on complex business problems across different disciplines, social networking events such as alumni mixers and Toastmasters, and access to Career Services including customized career coaching, mentoring, mock interviews, and company visits to introduce students to potential employers.
Students in the this cohort-based program will attend an orientation at the beginning of the program to get acquainted with faculty, fellow students, and alumni, learn how to use the technology needed to work online, and engage in team-based learning and the Harvard case discussion method. With full and part-time tracks, the OMBA is 50% synchronous (interact with faculty and students in the virtual classroom weeknights (Monday-Thursday) with 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. start-times, and 50% asynchronous (access pre-recorded lectures and digital curriculum material, collaborative documents, and discussion boards based on the students schedule).
The CSULB OMBA accepts students each fall and it takes anywhere from 21 to 48 months to complete.