Online MBA Programs in California

If it were its own country, California’s $2.9 trillion economy would be the fifth largest in the world. With local housing costs having surpassed their pre-recession highs, the state budget holding a multi-billion dollar surplus, and over $110 billion of venture capital flowing in, California is booming.

Small businesses play a significant role in the state’s economic rise, but geography keeps California as a central node of the financial world. Silicon Valley remains the unchallenged global tech hub in an age dominated by digital, while Los Angeles acts as a gateway to the Pacific Rim and the powerhouse developing economies that lay within it.

An MBA is a smart investment in any climate, with graduates of such programs usually doubling their salaries within a relatively short time frame. And MBA programs in California can provide the added perk of access to the geographical resources of a state that makes up 14 percent of the national economy. Practically all major companies have offices and dealings within California, and this creates a climate of collisions between businesses and their executives that one can’t find many places on Earth.

While the economic outlook for California remains as sunny as ever, a familiar boom-bust pattern and anxieties over federal interdiction have the public and private sectors alike playing cautiously, even with the strong hand they’re currently holding. Reliant upon high networth individuals and corporations who are heavily intertwined with global markets, California’s economy is subject to seismic swings in both positive and negative directions.

Even in a recession, the benefits of an MBA generally outweigh their costs. And with more top business schools in California offering MBA programs online, it’s possible to get the business skills needed to get ahead, regardless of your geographical, employment, or economic situation.

Read on to get a look at some of the best professors and MBA programs on offer in the largest state economy in the US.

Featured Online MBA Programs in California

Consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the nation, Graziadio’s online MBA is similarly highly ranked, offering the unique E2B program that pairs students and faculty with partner companies who identify contemporary issues that can be brought into the classroom.

The core curriculum covers topics like organizational behavior, accounting information and control systems, quantitative analysis for business operations, financial management, and integration in business operations. Students may specialize in one of five concentrations: marketing, finance, leadership and managing organizational change, general management, or digital innovation and information systems.

The program consists of 52 credits. In addition to their online learning, students must attend two weekend-long campus visits, one of which is a personal and leadership development workshop course. GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process, but the school does waive this requirement for a few qualified candidates.

Location: Malibu, California
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Expected Time to Completion: Two years
Estimated Tuition: $1,715 per credit

USC’s Marshall Online MBA is an internationally-recognized program that offers students a top-level education and access to an influential network of over 390,000 alumni. The program consists of six required courses that cover the role of the manager, the fundamentals of business, opportunity recognition and implementation, managing inside the firm, managing outside the firm, and business environment and leadership. Students may pursue additional electives to create their own unofficial area of concentration.

Online dual-degree paths are available for an MBA/MS in systems architecting and engineering, an MBA/MS industrial and systems engineering, an MBA/MS in gerontology, and an MBA/MSW (master of social work). Students may also apply to pursue the online graduate certificate in optimization and supply chain management.

The baseline online MBA program consists of 51 required credits. During the first course of the program, students spend one week on the USC campus in Los Angeles, and connect face-to-face with the faculty and peers they’ll be working with online. GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process, but may be waived in some cases.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Expected Time to Completion: Under two years
Estimated Tuition: $99,692 (total)

Launching in fall of 2019, the online MBA at CSULB is an affordable entry point into a program that puts tried and true business school methodology into an accessible online format.

Students at CSULB take classes in topics like financial accounting, financial management, business policies, marketing concepts, managerial accounting, and the management of information systems. Seminars in human resources management, business finance, strategic management, marketing policies, leadership skills, investments, and marketing analytics round out their education.

The program consists of 16 required classes, one of which is an international trip to investigate global business practices. Students also are required to attend a three-day orientation in Long Beach, where they meet faculty and peers, prepare to work in teams, and master the Harvard-style case discussion format used in many of the program’s classes. Either GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process.

Location: Long Beach, California
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Expected Time to Completion: Under two years
Estimated Tuition: $48,000 to $53,000 (total)

Targeted at business professionals who are ready to advance their careers, the online MBA at CSUSB offers accelerated five-week courses at an asynchronous pace across a breadth of business topics.

After taking foundation courses in data-driven decision making and advanced managerial communications, students take essential core classes in accounting for managerial decision making, financial theory and corporate finance, information systems and technology management, organizational theory and behavior, corporate strategy in a global economy, marketing management, and managing the supply chain. Electives are available in subjects like administration, financial reporting and disclosure, entrepreneurship and new ventures, global marketing strategies, and project management.

The program consists of 48 credits and may be completed entirely online, with no mandatory campus visits. No GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process, but the program is geared towards applicants with at least five years of work experience in management or leadership positions.

Location: San Bernardino, California
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Expected Time to Completion: 18 months, but with longer part-time options available
Estimated Tuition: $750 per unit

The online MBA at CSUMB offers students global perspectives, individualized study plans, and sophisticated tech to take their business skills to the next level—all at an affordable tuition rate.

The curriculum focuses on a mix of trending topics and business fundamentals, with classes that feature practice simulations for students to approach real-world scenarios. The program’s 11 courses include business communication, MBA research methods, organization and leadership, accounting, finance, microeconomics, macroeconomics, innovation and technology management, marketing and entrepreneurship, global business, and business strategy.

The program consists of 48 credits and may be completed entirely online. No GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process.

Location: Monterey Bay, California
Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Expected Time to Completion: Two years
Estimated Tuition: $41,600 (total)

Built in the heart of Silicon Valley, SCU’s online MBA program is designed to turn “ordinary” professionals into what the school calls SVPs (Silicon Valley Professionals) who make use of the school’s connections to the global tech hub.

The core curriculum covers topics such as financial accounting, managerial economics, financial management, analytical decision making, and doing business in Silicon Valley. Electives cover areas like game theory and strategic behavior, alternative investments, data science with Python, tech marketing, and strategic business negotiations.

The program consists of 70 units, but runs on the quarter system rather than the semester system. Students are required to attend two three-day intensives in Santa Clara: one just before the first course begins, and one during the final quarter of study. GMAT or GRE scores also are required as part of the admissions process, but a waiver may be given to an applicant in certain circumstances. Additionally, the program prefers applicants with three years or more of work experience.

Location: Santa Clara, California
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Expected Time to Completion: Two years, but with asynchronous options available
Estimated Tuition: $1,108 per credit

Brandman University’s online MBA is affordable, accessible, and entirely self-paced, while still offering the nuance of ample sub-specializations.

Core classes include financial reporting and analysis, data analysis for decision making, economic analysis for managers, corporate responsibility, leading organizational change, human resources foundations, and leadership and innovation. Students may select one of ten 12-credit emphases: accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, health administration, human resources, international business, organizational leadership, marketing, e-business strategic management, or business intelligence and data analytics.

The baseline program consists of 36 credits, or a total of 48 with an added emphasis, and may be completed entirely online. No GMAT or GRE scores are required as part of the admissions process.

Location: Multiple
Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Expected Time to Completion: Two years, but with self-pacing options available
Estimated Tuition: $650 per credit

Hybrid MBA Programs in California

Hybrid programs blend online and on-campus learning. While some online programs may require students to make a campus visit at the beginning and/or end of the program, hybrid programs alternate between the two delivery formats more frequently.

Some hybrid programs have on-campus weekends, and then online delivery during the week, while others have a more relaxed interchange between the two formats. This method maintains some of the accessibility of an online program, but still prioritizes the benefits of face-to-face learning and networking.

Those who hold geographical or employment commitments that keep them away from a full time on-campus program, but still have the desire to network and learn face to face, may benefit from a hybrid MBA program, including those at the three standout business schools below:

Professors to Know in California MBA Programs

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    Judith Blumenthal, PhD - University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

    Dr. Judith Blumenthal is a professor of clinical management and organization and marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, where she teaches the online MBA’s introductory class on the role of the manager. She received both her MBA and PhD from USC.

    In the course of her career, Dr. Blumenthal has served as a speaker, consultant, academic writer, and business administrator, with her work spanning a wide array of business areas, including strategic alliances, strategic management, corporate governance, organizational design, and development and leadership. Notably, she served as the associate dean of the Marshall School of Business from 1996 to 2000, and currently serves on the board of directors of the California Council on Economic Education.

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    Owen P. Hall, Jr., PhD - Pepperdine University - Graziadio School of Business

    Dr. Hall holds the Julien Virtue Professorship at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, where he teaches courses in decision studies. With more than 35 years of industry and academic experience, he’s been deeply involved in developing Graziadio’s entrepreneurial and e-learning programs, and his current area of research focuses on the applications of AI to integrated learning systems. He received his PhD from USC before pursuing postdoctoral work at the Center for Futures Research.

    In addition to authoring several academic papers and books, he’s founded his own high-tech sensor company and served on numerous government panels and corporate boards. Dr. Hall was named the Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow in 1993, won the Howard A. White Teaching Excellence Award in both 2009 and 2017, and earned the Sloan-C Effective Teaching Practice Award in 2013.

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    Juan Montermoso, PhD - Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business

    Dr. Montermoso is a professor of practice in marketing at SCU’s Leavey School of Business, where he teaches classes on the principles of marketing, marketing strategies and decisions, and B2B marketing. He’s also held teaching positions at Stanford University, the University of San Francisco, and St. Mary’s College of California.

    Prior to joining academia, he spent 27 years at Silicon Valley’s own Hewlett-Packard, where he led the marketing of commercial systems, planned global channel programs, and fostered e-business initiatives. He earned his undergraduate engineering degree from Yale University, his MS in applied math and computer science from Harvard University, and his PhD in business administration from Harvard School of Business. A prolific speaker and publisher on management and marketing, Dr. Montermoso is also the recipient of an award in excellence in online education from Universitas 21 Global, a consortium of 21 universities.

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