Best Online MBA Programs in California

An MBA can help you to take that big next step in your business career. The best online MBA programs in California offer a variety of specializations, are affordable, and take one to three years to complete.

An online MBA sets you apart as a key asset for your organization and unlocks new pathways for career advancement. According to Fortune, an overwhelming majority of recent graduates report a positive return on investment after graduation and rate the value of their MBA as outstanding or excellent.

Earning an MBA in California is more convenient than ever thanks to online and hybrid modalities that allow you to pursue your degree while you work. You gain vital hands-on experience while developing specialized skills that could pay dividends.

This guide to the best online MBA programs in California tells you what to expect from top programs, including the many specialties available. You’ll also learn about income and employment potential and discover financial aid and other resources to help you reach your goals.

Top Online MBA Programs in California in 2022

The school rankings below offer some of the top online MBA programs in California in terms of affordability, accreditation, flexible delivery, and overall student support to help you begin or advance your career in business or management. Take a look at the in-depth profiles for the top-5 schools to see what sets them apart from the rest and continue reading to see which California schools stand out for 2022.

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About the ranking
1
Sacramento, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$29,700

Sacramento State University’s College of Business offers an Online iMBA program designed to equip leaders for new advances in the global marketplace. With possible completion in just 12 months, this 36-credit program uses a cohort-based learning model to help students establish valuable network connections with colleagues and faculty. The curriculum develops applied business knowledge and prepares students for integrative analysis and problem-solving in a variety of fast-paced contexts.

The programming at Sacramento State follows an accelerated pace, making it suitable for those who wish to finish their studies as quickly as possible. Components are entirely online using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous formats with most courses delivered in three-week sessions. Boot camp courses at the beginning of the program act as refreshers for those familiar with business and serve as an immersive introduction for those unfamiliar with the field. 

Program Highlights:

Credits: 36

Length: 12 months

Cost: $825/credit 

Format: Fully-online

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (school); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (program)

Specialization Options

  • General Track

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
2
Type:
Public
Cost:
$30,400

Students at California State University can earn an online or hybrid MBA with specializations like marketing, human resources, and finance, among others. Administered by satellite campuses in Chico, Bakersfield, and Stanislaus, these programs typically last two to three years and require 30 to 35 credits depending on the concentration. Students complete a round of comprehensive exams near the end of the program, ensuring that acquired skills and knowledge can be mobilized to solve real-world problems faced by business leaders and corporate experts every day. 

Cal State lets student complete their degrees on a full-time or part-time basis and is flexible in terms of pacing and delivery. Students can complete all course requirements online, or they can opt for a hybrid approach. Course offerings include business analytics and financial management, operations planning, project management, and computer information systems. 

Program Highlights:

Credits: 30-35

Length: 2-3 years

Cost: Varies 

Format: Fully-online; Partially-online

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (school); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (program)

Specialization Options

  • General Track
  • Finance
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology Management 
  • Logistics Management
  • International Business
  • Marketing

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
3
Los Angeles, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$42,640

UCLA extends two different pathways for aspiring MBA students looking to earn their degrees online. Designed for working professionals with seven years of experience, the Fully Employed MBA lets students stay at their jobs while working through the program using online or hybrid methods. Those with even more hands-on experience can take advantage of the two-year Executive MBA with its high-level career coaching component to help professionals transition into new roles. It also includes a one-week immersive experience abroad. 

Administered by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, both tracks use the same faculty, curriculum, and learning objectives as the school’s campus-based programming. These online programs offer increased freedom and flexibility to craft a schedule that meets students’ unique needs without sacrificing quality and rigor. Courses include leadership foundations and organizational behavior, marketing strategy and policy, data analysis, and operations management. 

Program Highlights:

Credits: 68-80

Length: 22-27 months

Cost: $1,640/credit 

Format: Partially-online

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (school); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (program)

Specialization Options

  • Fully Employed MBA
  • Executive MBA

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
4
Berkeley, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$148,386

The renowned Walter A. Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley offers a flex MBA that administers program instruction primarily online. The 42-credit course of study is designed to be completed at a part-time pace through mostly weekend and evening classes, an ideal option for busy professionals unable to complete a traditional program. The school mixes synchronous and asynchronous methods to achieve an ideal blend of interactive and self-paced learning. Core courses look at evidence-based decision-making in business, macroeconomics, and design thinking fundamentals. 

Although students can complete most courses online, all learners must participate in three in-person immersive experiences with additional experiences available if interested. These hands-on components give students the chance to apply key business and management principles in a collaborative context. Students completing the flex MBA are eligible for scholarships and grants awarded by the Hass Business School. 

Program Highlights:

Credits: 42 (minimum)

Length: 2.5-3 years

Cost: $148,386/program

Format: Partially-online

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (school); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (program)

Specialization Options

  • General Track

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
5
Type:
Public
Cost:
$26,924

Cal Poly Pomona extends an MBA program with hybrid options to qualified students interested in focusing on supply chain management, data science, and economic policy. It also accepts up to nine transfer credits earned through a relevant graduate course of study. Experienced faculty, consultants, and global entrepreneurs lead the program, offering a range of courses covering subjects like business research methods, market behavior and motivation, project management, finance and investment, and human capital management. 

The program requires 34 credits, including eight core courses, three free electives, and a culminating capstone experience designed to ready graduates for career advancement. Cal Poly minimizes commutes to campus through a flexible hybrid delivery model that allows working professionals to complete requirements at their convenience. Each student is also assigned a dedicated graduate advisor and MBA career coach to help them navigate the transition into more senior-level roles following graduation. 

Program Highlights:

Credits: 34

Length: 12 months

Cost: $26,336/program (resident); $32,672/program (non-resident) 

Format: Partially-online

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (school); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (program)

Specialization Options

  • General Track

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
6
Davis, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$105,480

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
7
La Verne, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$30,855

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation WASC
8
Los Angeles, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$112,072

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$36,000

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation WASC
10
Moraga, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$45,360

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
11
Type:
Public
Cost:
$27,600

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
12
Malibu, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$103,740

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
13
Irvine, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$111,825

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
14
Type:
Public
Cost:
$30,000

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACBSP
15
Thousand Oaks, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$39,375

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACBSP
16
Santa Clara, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$86,380

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AASCB
17
Santa Ana, California
Type:
Private
Cost:
$9,750

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation DEAC
18
Santa Barbara, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$36,000

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
19
San Rafael, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$39,960

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
20
Type:
Public
Cost:
$48,600

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACBSP
21
Redlands, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$33,297

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACBSP
22
Riverside, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$24,000

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACSBP
23
Fresno, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$33,130

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation AACSB
24
Type:
Private
Cost:
$19,065

School Services

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Accreditation ACBSP

Many online MBA programs in California offer special areas of focus or concentrations. In addition to building core competency in business administration, these pathways allow you to tailor your skills to your professional aims. Learn more about popular specializations and the qualifications they unlock below.

MBA with an Emphasis in Finance

This concentration focuses your MBA studies on the financial side of business administration. Ideal for those interested in becoming financial analysts or accounting managers, curricula look at principles of economic and marketing analysis, investment and holdings strategies, and large-scale portfolio management. Graduates gain expertise in stocks, bonds, and futures.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

California State University, Stanislaus

Pepperdine University

Santa Clara University

MBA with an Emphasis in Human Resource Management

MBA programs emphasizing human resources build extra competency in the rules and regulations that govern human resources. Courses typically look at fundamental principles for managing human capital, labor law and negotiation strategy, and organizational behavior. Students also learn to effectively coordinate recruitment and training efforts and optimize personnel performance.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

California Lutheran University

National University

California State University, Stanislaus

MBA with an Emphasis in Marketing

This specialization focuses on the marketing side of business and organizational management. It builds competency in developing and selling different products, brands, and services in a range of sectors and contexts. Courses cover market segmentation and targeting, customer relations, channel distribution, and strategic planning.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

Santa Clara University

Pepperdine University

University of Redlands

MBA with an Emphasis in Global/International Business

MBA programs with a global/international emphasis build concentrated skills related to business operations in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. Ideal for those interested in leadership roles within transnational or multinational organizations, specialized programming develops technical knowledge in competitive marketing and sales, risk assessment, cross-cultural competency, and foreign markets.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

Pepperdine University

California Lutheran University

Dominican University of California

Health Services Management

A perfect option for those looking to blend health services delivery with business and management acumen, this MBA concentration prepares professionals for work in the growing field of healthcare administration. It focuses on healthcare policy, population health, healthcare law and regulations, and budgeting. Some curricula may also consider topics like healthcare analytics and health care information systems.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

California Baptist University

Dominican University of California

University of La Verne

The Generalist Track

Also called a standard MBA at some schools, this path develops a comprehensive generalist understanding of management and business administration. It prepares students for entry into a range of roles, and some schools offer the opportunity for developing an individual plan of study.

Examples of Online MBA Programs in California with this Specialization

California State University, Chico

Holy Names University

California State University, Stanislaus

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Earning your MBA Online in California

What is the average cost of an MBA program in California?

The average cost of an MBA program in California is difficult to quantify because of varying tuition rates that change each academic year. Taking the schools profiled above as examples, expect to pay at least $270 per credit and possibly up to $3,000 per credit. These rates do not include scholarships, grants, or other types of financial aid nor do they account for any employer assistance, especially popular for these types of programs, you might receive.

What does an MBA admissions process in California look like?

Most programs use a similar admissions process with some shared requirements. As a general rule, applicants need a relevant, accredited bachelor’s degree, a recent resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that discuss career plans and intent for study. If you plan to enter an accelerated or executive-level program, you’ll likely need several years of professional experience in an administrative or managerial role as well.

How quickly can I earn an online MBA in California?

Seasoned professionals entering an executive-level program and those with some relevant work experience could complete their studies in as few as 12 months. Timeframes for completion vary widely, however, and often depend on program pacing, student background, and enrollment status. Most online California MBA programs graduate full-time students in two to three years. Part-time study can take a year to a year and a half more, depending on the program and pacing.

Is the GMAT required to get into an MBA program in California?

Some schools may require GMAT or GRE scores, but standardized tests are not a universal requirement for online California MBA programs. Check the admissions criteria for each school before applying. Institutions like UCLA make the test optional for prospective students. Others, like UC Berkley, require it for all applicants. Schools such as Sacramento State do not require these tests at all, while Cal State partners currently waive the requirement.

In California, what is the ROI on an MBA vs a bachelor’s degree in business?

In terms of pay, the ROI on an MBA could amount to an extra $20,000 in compensation and benefits each year as the median salary for MBA-holders is more than double that of bachelor’s degree graduates nationwide. California is a great example of this broader trend since, according to ZipRecruiter, graduates with an MBA earn just over $85,000 each year on average while those with a bachelor’s degree in business only take home around $55,000 annually.

What accreditations should I look for in an online MBA program in California?

Any MBA program you consider should come from a school with institutional accreditation from the appropriate agency. For California, accreditation comes from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Programmatic accreditation comes from top-level agencies in business or management, like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Online California MBA programs with institutional and programmatic accreditation meet the same standards of quality and excellence as in-person MBA offerings.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for MBA Students in California

The best online MBA programs in Californiaextend opportunities for financial aid to help lessen the financial burden of earning a master’s degree. Some even offer full funding. Many professional organizations in business and management also fund relevant scholarships, and some California MBA students can receive employer tuition assistance as well.

Consult the list below to learn more about scholarships open to students completing an online MBA in California. For more information, including tips on how to secure financial aid and advice on where to apply, navigate to our guides on financial aid, scholarships, and employer tuition assistance.

Berkeley Haas Scholarships

Cal State Chico MBA Scholarships

Government Finance Officers Association Scholarships

Holy Names MBA Scholarship

Russell and Linda Young Graduate Scholarship

Salary Potential for MBA Grads in California

MBA graduates enjoy a significant bump in pay in a field already known for being lucrative and profitable. As you can see from the table below, the earning power for most roles is in the six-figure range. Additionally, graduates with an MBA earn more than double the annual mean wage for all occupations in California (currently $68,510) and nearly three times the national average of $45,760.

Nearly all the professions listed below will benefit from an overwhelmingly positive growth rate well above the state growth rate of 16% through the next decade. Each role, other than chief executives, will grow faster than virtually all other positions in California. Medical and health services managers in particular will see a significant growth rate, almost twice as fast as the remainder of the workforce.

Job Growth Rate (2020-2030) Average Annual Openings (2020-2030) Annual Mean Wage (2021)

Training and Development Manager

19.6%

650

$147,520

Medical and Health Services Manager

35.5%

6,430

$132,180

Financial Manager

27%

10,760

$166,220

Chief Executive

-0.6%

3,170

$230,730

Human Resources Manager

20.1%

2,660

$154,430

Sources: Projections Central;Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Online MBA Students and Professionals in California