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Top-Rated Online MBA Programs for California Students

A master’s in business administration (MBA) can help you to take that big next step in your business career. 2024’s best online MBA programs in California offer a variety of specializations, are affordable, and take one to three years to complete.

An online MBA can set 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 programs that allow you to pursue your degree while you work. You’ll gain in-demand leadership and management skills that can quickly pay off.

This guide to the best online MBA programs in California introduces this year’s top-rated online programs and highlights the many specializations available. You’ll also learn about income and employment potential and discover financial aid and other resources to help you reach your goals.

California’s Online MBA Programs: The Best of 2024

The list below represents the top online MBA programs in California in terms of affordability, accreditation, flexible delivery, and overall student support. See which California schools stand above the rest this year and learn how they can help you advance your career in business management.

About the ranking
1
Fresno, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

The MBA program at Fresno Pacific University prioritizes the teaching of practical skills for decision-making. The curriculum places a heavy emphasis on ethical standards, professional integrity, and applied concepts. Fresno Pacific is a faith-based institution, so students can expect their courses to be based on a Christian perspective. During their studies, students can expect an integrated approach to business that incorporates emerging technology, field experience, collaborative work, and interdisciplinary research. Fresno Pacific employs the cohort model, so students will progress through their coursework with a core group of peers. This can help online students feel more connected to their learning community.

Program Highlights:

MBA (Master’s In Business Administration)

  • Credits: 41
  • Length: 20 months
  • Mode: Online, partially online, in person
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
2
San Diego, California
Type:
Private for-profit
Cost:
$

California Miramar University’s (CMU) online hybrid MBA prepares students for corporate-level management positions across a wide range of industries. The program caters to working professionals and other students who need to balance their studies with other responsibilities. Because of this, MBA students need only come to campus one day each week. The rest of their work can be completed online. This model pairs the flexibility of online learning with face-to-face instruction that helps students build relationships with their peers and professors. At CMU, MBA students can select from seven different emphases: business administration, finance, healthcare management, international business, strategic leadership and management, technology management, or marketing.

Program Highlights:

Master of Business Administration

  • Credits: 39
  • Length: Varies
  • Mode: Hybrid, in person
  • Accreditation: CHEA

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ACICS
3
San Jose, California
Type:
Private for-profit
Cost:
$$

The University of Silicon Valley (USV) offers a unique graduate-level business program for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. The school’s online Master of Business Innovation program focuses on business model development, entrepreneurship, marketing, and digital transformation. All classes can be completed online, offering flexibility for all types of students. The program also incorporates a practicum session where students draw upon concepts from their classes to develop their own startups or other innovative projects. Upon graduation, students will have developed expertise in communication, marketing, leadership, business design, strategic planning, and risk evaluation. Taken together, these skills prepare graduates to take on new careers and become innovators in their fields.

Program Highlights:

Master of Business Innovation

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: One to two years
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
4
San Diego, California
Type:
Private for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ACICS
5
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
6
Bakersfield, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
7
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
8
Type:
Private for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
10
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
11
Riverside, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
12
San Bernardino, California
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
13
Type:
Public
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
14
Santa Clarita, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
15
Irvine, California
Type:
Private for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation DEAC
16
Rocklin, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation ABHE
17
Azusa, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC
18
Redlands, California
Type:
Private not-for-profit
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation WSCUC

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

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

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

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