Best Online MBA Programs In California

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Earning an online MBA in California may be an ideal option for a range of business professionals with diverse career goals.

Earning a master of business administration (MBA) can help students achieve a variety of goals. For example, small-business owners who function as their own marketing directors and accountants can benefit from completing an MBA program. Earning an MBA can also help professionals qualify for advanced leadership and management positions within their organization.

MBA curricula cover many business areas, and programs offer various specialization options. Earning an online MBA in California allows students to learn from professors with extensive business experience. Because the state is home to Silicon Valley, a hub of tech startups, California MBA graduates often secure positions with local companies.

This guide highlights the best and most affordable online MBAs in California. The following sections also explore employment projections for careers in the field, common MBA courses, and scholarships for students earning an online MBA in California.

Top 10 Best Online MBA Programs In California

Rank School Location
1 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
2 St. Mary's College of California Moraga, CA
3 University of La Verne La Verne, CA
4 California State University, San Bernardino San Bernadino, CA
5 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
6 Brandman University Irvine, CA
7 Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA
8 California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA
9 California State University, Monterey Bay Seaside, CA
10 National University La Jolla, CA

Recommended Online Programs


  • What is an MBA?

    MBA programs cover various business topics, such as marketing, accounting, leadership, and supply chain management.

  • How long does it take to earn an MBA?

    Most full-time learners complete their MBA in two years. However, degree-completion time varies based on credit requirements and the student’s personal schedule.

  • Can I earn an MBA online?

    Many schools offer fully online MBA programs. This guide includes a ranking of the best schools for learners pursuing an online MBA in California.

  • What are the requirements for resident tuition in California?

    Residency requirements vary by school. For example, to qualify for in-state tuition rates at the University of California, students must have been fully present in California for at least 366 days.

Best Online MBA Programs in California 2021

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA




    Pepperdine University offers an online master of business administration with five concentration options, including digital innovation and information systems and leadership and managing organizational change. This online MBA in California can be earned in less than two years with a full-time course load. Students complete 12 core courses covering topics in economics, legal issues of business, and financial management, as well as up to six major courses. All students participate in two on-campus residencies, including a personal and leadership development workshop. An optional international residency also open to online students. Students with a professional background in business may be eligible for a GMAT waiver.

  2. St. Mary's College of California

    Moraga, CA




    Earn a hybrid executive MBA from St. Marys College of California in 18 months by taking two courses each quarter. Students take classes with a small cohort of 30 peers or less. Courses include interactive web conferencing twice a week online, with in-person classes held every other Saturday on campus. Coursework includes individual and group assignments, including group presentations and projects that develop essential collaboration skills. Students can watch and listen to recorded lectures via iTunes at anytime. This program offers an entrepreneurship or business analytics concentration. Alumni of this online MBA in California have gone on to work for companies like Tesla, Linkedin, and VisiQuate, Inc.

  3. University of La Verne

    La Verne, CA




    University of La Vernes MBA online is open to students with at least three years of professional experience who want to develop the expertise necessary for advancement in their company or field. Students choose from eight concentrations, including health services management, international business, and information technology. Depending on professional experience and undergraduate background, students may complete up to 15 semester hours of foundational courses; the required number of hours is determined by the program chairperson, who reviews all candidates applications. Beyond foundations, the program requires completion of 33 semester hours, including 18 hours of core, 12 hours of concentration courses, and three semester hours of a culminating project in strategic management.

  4. California State University, San Bernardino

    San Bernadino, CA




    The 18-month online MBA in California from CSUSB is an accelerated, affordable option for full-time professionals, who have an average of 13 years experience in the workplace. After completing two foundational courses, students complete a business boot camp module that covers broad business topics like information management, marketing, and finance. Students further complete seven core classes, two electives, and a two-part culminating experience that involves a business analysis project and creation of an MBA portfolio. The suggested program plan and sequence ensures students are able to complete their degree in 18 months. For admission, students need to provide evidence of five years of professional experience in a leadership role related to business.

  5. California Baptist University

    Riverside, CA




    CBUs online fully employed masters of business administration in general management is geared toward professionals who want to advance to leadership positions or start their own business. The average completion time of the programs required 36 credits is one year. Core courses include organizational behavior, quantitative business modeling, and entrepreneurial management. All CBU faculty have a doctorate in their area of specialization and bring years of professional experience to the classroom. CBU is a Yellow Ribbon school, offering benefits and scholarships to active military members and veterans. This online MBA in California requires no gmat for admission.

  6. Brandman University

    Irvine, CA




    The master of business administration from Brandman University offers a choice of 10 innovative concentrations, including data analytics, e-business strategic management, and business intelligence. One of the top online MBA programs in California, Brandman Universitys program is available in both online or hybrid format. Students complete 36 credits of core classes, with the option to transfer up to 12 credits from an accredited graduate program. A well-rounded core curriculum includes topics in organizational dynamics and change, economic and data analysis for decision making, and business strategy. An additional 12 elective credits in a chosen emphasis complete the degree requirements. Students who provide evidence of a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies are not required to submit GMAT scores for admission.

  7. Golden Gate University

    San Francisco, CA




    Golden Gate Universitys (GGU) master of business administration gives students a choice of how many courses they enroll in for a semester, making this a flexible online MBA California degree for busy professionals. Students can choose from 13 concentrations, including entrepreneurship, international business, and public administration. Courses are completed in cohorts, with an average class size of 14. The curriculum includes 54 total units, with a final capstone course in business planning. Most students in the program have three or more years of professional experiences. Popular employers of GGU alumni include companies and organizations like ATT, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Air Force.

  8. California Lutheran University

    Thousand Oaks, CA




    The online MBA from California Lutheran University (CLU) is an accelerated program that gives students the flexibility of completing all requirements in less than two years. Courses are offered over five, eight-week terms over the course of the year. Students can begin classes during any one of the five terms. Degree requirements include 45 semester credits, or 15 courses. In addition to eight core courses, which cover topics like information technology management and business ethics, the curriculum includes two major courses, four electives, and a final capstone course. Students enrolled in CLUs online program earn a general management degree. Additional tracks are available with an on-campus degree, which can be completed with a mix of online and in-person classes.

  9. California State University, Monterey Bay

    Seaside, CA




    CSUMBs online MBA in California with no gmat requirement provides an ideal option for motivated students who do not necessarily perform well on standardized tests. All first-time CSUMB students receive a $3,000 scholarship toward tuition costs. Students complete 48 credits in core business topics like international business, business communication fundamentals, and systems thinking. Courses are kept small and capped at 30 students. Students may begin classes at three times during the year, including summer. Classes are synchronous and interactive; students participate in real-time case study discussions online and receive feedback from instructors lessons. Admissions include completion of a bachelors degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

  10. National University

    La Jolla, CA




    National University offers a master of business administration, available either on-campus or online. All students receive a dedicated faculty advisor who serves as a guide for all program-related decisions. After acceptance into the MBA program, students choose a general business track or one of nine other concentrations including integrated marketing communication, organizational leadership, and mobile marketing and social media. Students complete a minimum of 63 quarter units of credit to meet degree requirements. UP to 13.5 quarter units may be transferred from a a relevant program at another accredited university. Core courses are grouped into two online modules completed in sequence. Electives include a final capstone in a chosen major.

Career and Salary Outlook for MBA Holders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for business careers to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Business professionals earned a median salary of $69,820 in 2019, according to the BLS. The information below includes job growth projections, typical responsibilities, and median salaries for some common business careers.

  • Financial Analysts

    These professionals advise businesses and individuals on financial decisions. Financial analysts need a strong understanding of investments, economic trends, and methods for evaluating historical and current financial data. These professionals prepare written reports and present recommendations to management teams. Many financial analysts work for large financial institutions based in New York City.

    Median Annual Salary: $81,590

    Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 5%

  • Management Analysts

    This position is ideal for strategic thinkers with strong interpersonal skills and a passion for business. Management analysts gather information about businesses and identify ways to improve efficiency. These professionals analyze revenue numbers and streamline business operations.

    Median Annual Salary: $85,260

    Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 11%

  • Operations Research Analysts

    These analysts identify opportunities to improve business functions. Operations research analysts need a strong understanding of business logistics, including supply chain and production schedule management. They help organizations determine product prices and efficient workflow processes.

    Median Annual Salary: $84,810

    Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 25%

  • Top Executives

    Top executives can work for large and small organizations, including corporations and nonprofits. These professionals develop company strategies and policies. Some top executives focus on their organization’s financial health, while others make big-picture decisions that impact day-to-day operations.

    Median Annual Salary: $104,690

    Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 4%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for MBA Programs

Students researching online programs for an MBA in California should verify each school’s accreditation status. To earn and maintain accreditation, institutions must undergo regular quality assessments from a third-party agency. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee and approve accrediting bodies in the United States.

California schools can earn regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. MBA programs can also earn field-specific accreditation from agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Courses in MBA Programs

Students earning an online MBA in California develop skills in math, communication, leadership, and strategic thinking. Courses typically require written assignments, class discussions, and assigned readings. Most classes feature a lecture-based format, and many require group assignments. MBA students usually complete a thesis or capstone project. However, some programs require a portfolio review conducted by a panel of professionals.

Curricula vary by program, but MBA programs generally cover topics including applied statistics, human resources, accounting, marketing, and management styles. Individuals should contact their prospective school for information about specific program requirements.

  • Mathematics and Business

    Nearly every MBA program features at least one math course. Mathematics classes for business majors emphasize topics such as statistics and interest rates. Degree-seekers learn how to calculate earnings on investments, determine ideal product pricing, and project profit earnings.

  • Accounting

    In addition to providing foundational knowledge for aspiring accountants, this course prepares learners to communicate effectively with accountants. This class also benefits small-business owners. Coursework covers topics including tax write-offs and employee payroll.

  • Marketing

    Students learn how to persuade target audiences to purchase products and services. Coursework explores common marketing channels, such as social media, influencer partnerships, and print placements. Learners also review advertising and public relations principles, and they may complete a campaign for a client.

  • Management Style and Leadership

    This course explores common leadership methods and the theories behind them. This class provides foundational knowledge to help students determine their preferred management style. Graduates can apply these skills to nearly any role for MBA-holders.

  • Human Resources

    Students learn how to attract and maintain talent. Coursework covers topics including safe and inclusive work cultures, employee benefits, and legal aspects of human resources. Learners typically read case studies and participate in class discussions.

Scholarships for MBA Students

Students can apply for scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition, books, and living expenses. Scholarships are often competitive, but learners can increase their chances of receiving funding by applying for multiple awards. Individuals should begin the application process early to allow enough time to gather recommendation letters and write essays. The list below includes a few of the many scholarships reserved for MBA students.

  • AICP Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship from the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals supports students who plan to pursue a business career. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities.

    Amount: $1,500

  • AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This award supports learners pursuing a degree in a business-related field, such as business administration. Applicants must provide details regarding their work experience and academic accomplishments.

    Amount: $500

  • NAHR SHRM Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: In partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Academy of Human Resources Foundation offers this scholarship to master's students pursuing a degree related to human resources, such as business administration. The scholarship committee considers each applicant's academic achievement, leadership involvement, and financial need.

    Amount: $5,000

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