Business administration is one of the most popular undergraduate majors for college students in California.
Every year about 30,000 undergraduates earn their degrees from California business schools. The average salary of their first jobs is $43,027 per year. But you may earn substantially more than an average salary right out of school when you graduate from one of the best business schools in California.
How much higher? Take a look at this list we adapted from College Factual:
- The average first-year salary for business graduates of the University of California at Berkeley in 2020 was $76,600. The average student debt load for a UC Berkeley grad was $14,222, with a monthly payment of $145.
- The average first-year salary for business graduates of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2020 was $59,800. The average student debt load for a Cal Poly business grad was $17,550, with a monthly payment of $163
- The average first-year salary for business graduates of the University of Southern California in 2020 was $57,800. The average student debt load for a UC Berkeley grad was $18,024, with a monthly payment of $192.
- The average first-year salary for business graduates of the University of San Francisco in 2020 was $54,800. The average student debt load for a University of San Francisco grad was $22,456, with a monthly payment of $258.
- The average first-year salary for business graduates of Pepperdine University in 2020 was $54,600. The average student debt load for a Pepperdine grad was $29,004, with a monthly payment of $291.
As you can see, choosing the right undergraduate business program can make a huge difference in your future earning, starting the year you graduate. You may also notice that schools whose students earn higher salaries also have higher student debt. Future earnings aren’t the only factor in your choice of business school for your undergraduate degree, but it pays to check out career potential before you choose your school.
We calculated the rankings of best business schools in California on the basis of multiple criteria including tuition, how many students graduate, and other factors we explain at the end of this article. Now let’s dive into our list of the best business schools in California.
#1 University of Southern California
Net Tuition: $36,161
Acceptance Rate: 13%
Typical SAT Scores: 1350-1530
USC is a great place to build networks. The Marshall School of Business at Usc has 70,000 alumni in 44 countries. In addition to a Bachelor of Business degree, Usc offers a World Bachelor of Business degree. Students in the World Bachelor of Business Program study at the USC campus, at the Hong Kong University of Science, and at the Universita commerciale Luigi Bocconi. When they complete the program, they have degrees from all three universities.
USC has 43 organizations for undergraduate business majors. You will be able to find a community at UC. The school has a Center for Global Supply Chain Management and a Sports Management Institute, in addition to 12 centers of excellence.
All of USC’s business programs emphasize innovation, collaboration, research, and responsibility while reinforcing entrepreneurial attitudes. The university’s huge alumni network and worldwide reputation give you real advantages for finding a great job when you graduate.
#2 University of California at Berkeley
Net Tuition: $17,862
Acceptance Rate: 15%
Typical SAT Scores: 1350-1520
Every school at the University of California at Berkeley emphasizes a global outlook, constant intellectual growth, research, and novelty, and the Haas School of Business is no exception to the rule. If you want to earn a BBA degree that doesn’t perpetuate the status quo so you don’t become a stereotypical executive as you grow into your career, the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley is for you. YOu will learn to think and confront business issues in novel ways while maintaining a social conscience.
Undergraduates at Hass can study accounting, finance, marketing , business communications, and organizational behavior, and they can also earn business certifications in 31 fields.
UC Berkeley grads have an average starting salary of $59,000 per year, but they grow in their careers with an enormous network that lasts a lifetime. Berkeley isn’t for everyone, but if you are a good fit, it can start you on a great career.
#3 University of San Francisco
Net Tuition: $34,475
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Typical SAT Scores: 1120-1350
Possibly no other undergraduate business program in California exerts greater effort to include a diverse student body than the School of Management at the University of San Francisco. The School of Management trains students for success in the private, public, and non-profit sectors under the slogan “From City Hall to Fortune 500 companies to Silicon Valley startups.” Located in San Francisco, there are abundant opportunities to learn from experts and to seek career opportunities in all kinds of management positions. The school is noted for its commitment to sustainable environmentally sensitive practices.
Mid-career graduates of the University of San Francisco report average salaries of $95,000 per year. They may not have the highest compensation of graduates of California undergraduate business programs, but they tend to find jobs that fit their passions.
#4 Pepperdine University
Net Tuition: $40,941
Acceptance Rate: 36%
Typical SAT Scores: 1220-1420
Pepperdine University sits in the mountains near Malibu overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The university has one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, but its undergraduate business program is unquestionably first-rate.
Undergraduate students at the Seaver College have a relatively limited choice of majors, just accounting, finance, management, or marketing, but they earn degrees from an institution known for its intense commitment to ethical business practices and its sensitivity to its Church of Christ heritage. Reflecting the university’s religious heritage, students are trained to be community leaders as well as business leaders, with skills for public service as well as business success.
#5 Santa Clara University
Net Tuition: $41,545
Acceptance Rate: 50%
Typical SAT Scores: `1270-1440
Santa Clara University is a Catholic university founded by Jesuits in 1851. Its Leavey School of Business is unique in its focus on community service. Undergraduate business students at Leavey serve low-income neighborhoods through the school’s Co-Creative Leadership and Sustainability Program.
Students at Leavey can major in accounting, accounting information systems, economics, finance, management information systems, management, and marketing, with possibilities for minors in business analytics, real estate, and retail management. The university reports that 88% of business majors complete at least one internship before graduation and 94% of graduates have a job within six months of graduation.
#6 Loyola Marymount University
Net Tuition: $43,779
Acceptance Rate: 47%
Typical SAT Scores: 1210-1390
Loyola Marymount is a Catholic university in the Westchester District of Los Angeles. Undergraduate business students at Loyola Marymount are given an app called CBA Advantage that keeps them informed of exclusive opportunities for networking that give them an edge up for job applications and internships. Every student in the College of Business Administration maintains an ePortfolio that keeps track of all of their co-curricular activities while they are at the university.
Loyola Marymount trains its undergraduate business students to excel in management of “people, planet, and profit.” In recent years, graduates have been placed at Disney, Paramount Pictures, Univision, and YouTube, as well as Google, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and startups like The Honest Company.
#7 University of California at San Diego
Net Tuition: $13,452
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Typical SAT Scores: 1260-1470
The Rady School of Business at the University of California at San Diego seeks to integrate business skills into every professional endeavor. Students from any other program at the university can pursue minors in general business, accounting, entrepreneurship and innovation, and supply chain management. Students can major in Business Psychology or International Business. The UC San Diego program turns out future executives who rise about mere technical expertise to have a broad set of leadership skills that take them farther than the average business school graduate.
#8 University of California at Los Angeles
Business Economics Bachelor of Arts Degree
Net Tuition: $15,002
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Typical SAT Scores: 1290-1520
UCLA has a unique approach to teaching business to undergraduates that doesn’t replicate programs found at countless other universities. Instead, UCLA offers its undergraduate business degree through its Department of Economics, so students have a more tightly focused and rigorous understanding of how the world of business works that prepares them for an MBA to develop their specialty.
What do you learn as an undergraduate student of business at UCLA? The stated objectives of the program at UCLA are to ensure that every student leaves the program, quoting from the program’s home page:
- Understanding, through application of microeconomics, of the interaction of individuals and organizations in markets; and of the role of public policy in shaping those interactions.
- Understanding, through application of macroeconomics, of the functioning of market economies at regional, national, and global levels; and of the role of public policy in shaping those interactions.
- Understanding and application of accounting principles to analysis of business problems.
- Acquisition and use of data to evaluate hypotheses with tables, charts, and statistical analyses.
- Use of appropriate analytical perspectives and approaches to frame problems involving the interaction of people, organizations, markets, and society; identify effective strategic approaches to problem solving; and gather and organize key information to facilitate problem solving.
There are many great jobs for which this kind of undergraduate training can get you in the door, although you will need to have or need to develop a specific area of business expertise to complement your training for a future executive position at UCLA.
#9 University of the Pacific
Net Tuition: $47,480
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Typical SAT Scores: Not required.
Students at the University of the Pacific have an opportunity to manage a $1 million investment fund to get real-world experience with the stock market. They have an opportunity to complete all of their coursework to compete for jobs that lead to qualifications as a California CPA. And they have opportunities to earn a master’s degree to complement their undergraduate accounting training in as little as four years. UOP specializes in producing certified professional accountants. If that’s your goal, UOP is a great undergraduate destination.
#10 Chapman University
Net Tuition: $41,463
Acceptance Rate: 50%
Typical SAT Scores: 1190-1370
Undergraduate business students at Chapman have opportunities to earn one of three degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, or a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Chapman University also offers a minors in business analytics, in entrepreneurship, and in “humanomics,” in which students are taught by Socratic method to answer three basic questions:
- What makes a rich nation rich?
- What makes a good person good?
- What do these questions have to do with one another?
But most undergraduate business majors at Chapman come for the accelerated MBA, which allows students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s in as little as four calendar years after high school.
Other Great Schools That Didn’t Make the Top of Our Rankings
The preceeding 10 schools aren’t all your options for an excellent undergraduate business education in California. There are other excellent programs that didn’t make the top of our list because they are extremely selective, or because they cater to working students who have difficulties finishing their programs so the school doesn’t have a high retention rate, or because they don’t have a lot of scholarship money. But if you don’t find a match in our top 10, consider five more really good undergraduate business programs.
University of California at Irvine
Net Tuition: $15,014
Acceptance Rate: 29%
Typical SAT Scores: 1190-1410
Today’s business environment needs professionals who understand business concepts and practices, and know how to use information technology for strategic business analysis and decision-making. The Paul Merage School of Business offers two majors: Business Information Management and Business Administration.
This Business Information Management major consists of an integrated curriculum covering computing (computer science, informatics, and software); business fundamentals (accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, and operations); and analytical methods (mathematics, statistics, economics, management science, and decision analysis). The Business Administration major offers a traditional curriculum found in one of the top business schools in the country. The major is broad, drawing on the social sciences to study organizations, interpersonal communication skills, individual and group behavior, leadership, strategy, financial and accounting issues, ethics, information technology, marketing, and more.
Net Tuition: $30,013
Acceptance Rate: 13%
Typical SAT Scores: 1300-1450
Pitzer offers students an opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in management engineering from Pitzer and a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the second institution. Students typically get their engineering degree at USC or Columbia.
California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) San Luis Obispo
Net Tuition: $20,036
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Typical SAT Scores: 1230-1420
There’s no better university in the United States to become an expert in consumer packaging. Cal Poly offers three programs in packaging, along with degrees in accounting, HR, and real estate finance.
University of California at Davis
Net Tuition: $15,724
Acceptance Rate: 41%
Typical SAT Scores: 1160-1400
The University of California at Davis offers undergraduate business students to round out their degrees with some minor fields not found at many other universities, including energy efficiency, energy policy, energy science and technology, professional writing, and technology management.
Net Tuition: $23,232
Acceptance Rate: 100%
Typical SAT Scores: Not required.
Are your SAT scores all that is holding you back from getting into a good undergraduate business program? National University can give you a chance to prove yourself even if you haven’t done well on your SATs.
How did we compute our rankings?
We gathered data on the best business schools in California from U.S. News and World Report, the Higher Education Institute at UCLA, PayScale.com, and the National Center for Education Statistics. We parsed those data sets to identify the following factors:
- Tuition data: How many students receive scholarships, total amount of scholarship money available, how fast tuition rates are going up.
- Program popularity: How many students are enrolled in the undergraduate business program, how many programs are offered.
- Student-to-faculty ratio.
- Retention rate: Graduation rate, transfer-out rate.
We list typical SAT and ACT scores for the classes that entered in 2020, but we did not weigh them as a factor in ranking schools, since none of the top business schools uses them as an absolute way to include or exclude your application for admission.
Then we gave all of these factors equal weight in computing a score for each undergraduate program. Giving greater weight to a low student-to-faculty ratio produced a few surprises in our list, such as
Have you graduated from one of these programs? Is there a great program we need to know more about? We welcome your comments below, and invite any updates on the information we provide for each school.