2021

Our 2021 rankings of the Top Online MBA Programs in California. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

Top 5 Online MBA Programs in California - 2021 Rankings
RankingSchoolCity
1University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles
2Pepperdine UniversityMalibu
3University of California, DavisDavis
4Santa Clara UniversitySanta Clara
5California State UniversitySan Bernardino
1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern 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.

2. Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
Pepperdine University

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.

3. University of California-Davis, Davis, California
University of California Davis

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 “[email protected].” 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] Program enjoy an 84% job placement rate within six months after graduation.

4. Santa Clara University, El Camino Real, Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara University

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.

5. California State University-San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California
California State University-San Bernardino

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.