Best 14 MBA Programs in Southern California in 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

MBA Programs in Southern California

Professionals looking to take the next leap in their career will benefit from continuing their education and obtaining a Master’s in Business Administration.  A popular degree offering at many schools around the country, students wishing to get an MBA have many choices when picking a college or university.

MBA overview

MBA programs are best suited for career professionals who have completed an undergraduate degree and are looking to give their career a boost up into higher level—and higher-paying—corporate jobs. For this reason, many schools offer part-time, hybrid, and online MBA programs to accommodate students who want to maintain active employment. For students who want a fast-track to getting their degree, many schools offer accelerated MBA programs that can be completed in one year.

MBA programs offer a diverse amount of coursework in various business topics such as finance, marketing, accounting, and operations. Many schools provide specific concentrations in business management or industries like healthcare, engineering, and entertainment.

Many schools require students to have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and have at least three years of work experience. As part of the application process, many schools require students to submit resumes and letters of recommendation from colleagues and co-workers, along with GRE or GMAT scores and school transcripts.

Careers with MBA degrees

MBA graduates have several employment opportunities available to them after graduation. One of the most lucrative ways to gain employment with an MBA degree is to move up the corporate ladder at your current place of employment. Completing an MBA program shows your current employer that you are dedicated to learning the skills necessary to lead a business into the future.

Other employment opportunities include jobs such as management consultants, investment fund managers, and information technology directors. Learn more about career opportunities for MBA graduates in our post, The Best Careers with an MBA.

Need help finding the college or university that’s right for you? Best Value Schools can help. We match students with their perfect school based on degree program, location, and budget!

Rank School Location
1California State University – Los AngelesLos Angeles, California
2University of California – IrvineIrvine, California
3University of California – BerkeleyBerkeley, California
4California State Polytechnic UniversityPomona, California
5California Baptist UniversityRiverside, California

The best MBA programs in Southern California

As one of the largest populated areas in the country, Southern California is full of educational institutions, varying from Ivy League contenders to small, private colleges. Plus, as the world’s sixth-largest economy, California is a great place to put your MBA into practice with employment opportunities near most campuses.


California State University – Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, California
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
College students standing next to building at Cal State LA

Cal State LA offers two tracks within its MBA programs, the Main Track, and the Fully-Employed Track. The Fully-Employed Track provides students flexibility in elective concentrations, allowing for interdisciplinary studies if desired. The Main Track balances required course work with elective studies in different concentrations. To apply to the program, students must submit GMAT or GRE test scores, submit a graduate school application, and provide two letters of recommendation.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $14,334 in-state, $33,360 out-of-state
Program length: 1-2 years
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University of California – Irvine

  • Irvine, California
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
Paul Merage School of Business campus

UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business offers MBA programs in Southern California that are made to help future leaders excel in the digital age. MBA program participants can choose from several specialties to focus their coursework on, including digital transformation, real estate, and entrepreneurship. They also offer specialty suited MBA programs focusing on finance, accounting, and business analytics. They offer full-time, fully-employed, and executive MBA programs that match students where they are in their professional careers.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $22,884 in-state, $53,088 out-of-state
Program length: 21 months (full-time)
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University of California – Berkeley

  • Berkeley, California
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

UC Berkeley offers its MBA program through the Haas School of Business. The program is made up of 12 required courses that focus on general business knowledge and leadership. The rest of the program includes elective courses giving lots of flexibility to build an MBA degree tailored to a student’s specific career goals and desired industry. Students must complete at least one Applied Innovation course, which gives students real-world experience in the corporate environment to apply their educational studies. There are also dual-degree options available as well.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $22,884 in-state, $53,088 out-of-state
Program length: 2 years
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California State Polytechnic University

  • Pomona, California
  • Graduation Rate: 82%

The MBA program at Cal Poly Pomona offers a hybrid, evening, and weekend courses to help working professionals continue their academic studies. To be admitted into the program, students must submit a resume, personal statement, letter of recommendation, and have graduated with a bachelor’s degree with a 2.5 GPA or higher, along with school transcripts. Coursework includes Organizational Behavior, Information Systems seminars, Management Strategies, Data Analytics, and Marketing. Students complete nine credits in elective studies, where they can pursue business study concentrations. The program also requires a business research project to graduate with a degree.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $26,924 in-state, $40,388 out-of-state
Program length: 2 years
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California Baptist University

  • Riverside, California
  • Graduation Rate: 58%

California Baptist University is a private university located in Riverside. MBA Students complete their coursework at the Robert K. Jabs School of Business, also known as Jabs MBA. The program dives deep into the many areas of business administration, from economics and finances to strategy and marketing. Students put their knowledge into practice globally with international internships or trips to explore business operations in other countries. Students can pursue concentrations in healthcare, management, accounting, or business analytics.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $28,832
Program length: 1-2 years
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California State University – East Bay

  • Hayward, California
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

The East Bay campus of California State University system is located in Hayward. They offer three MBA programs: the MBA with Concentrations program, an accelerated MBA program, and an MBA for Global Innovators program. Those seeking the MBA with Concentrations program have several options, including Analytics for Managers, Finance, General Business, Human Resources, Operations, and Supply Chain, and Strategy and Innovation. The accelerated MBA program is a general program that can be completed in one year. The Global Innovators program meets once a week on Saturdays and is focused on global business leadership skills.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $30,000
Program length: 12-18 months
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California State University – Long Beach

  • Long Beach, California

There are multiple types of MBA programs offered at California State University-Long Beach. These include accelerated full-time programs, evening and Saturday MBA programs, and online MBA programs. The full-time program is designed for professionals just starting their careers with less than five years of work experience. The Saturday and evening programs are designed for working professionals looking to take their careers to the next level. Their online MBA program is a new addition to the school and gives students flexibility when completing their studies.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: Evening & Online MBA $30-$37K/ Accelerated MBA $45,600/Saturday MBA $48,000
Program length: 21 months (full-time), 48 months (part-time)
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San Diego State University

  • San Diego, California
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

San Diego State University’s MBA program offers a flexible schedule, hands-on learning experiences, and a full range of specializations including general MBA programs, a sports MBA, and Latin American Studies. There are also specializations in entrepreneurship and international business. Students can work on a business consulting project or complete a thesis as a capstone experience.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $22,930
Program length: 1-2 years
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Loyola Marymount University

  • Los Angeles, California
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
Outdoor view of college campus

Go beyond with an immersive business education from LMU. Build leadership, creative thinking, and strategic skills. Know your professors and classmates through small, intimate classes. Stay relevant and competitive in today’s ever-changing marketplace.

Their graduate programs are led by faculty experts who are invested in your success. Real-world examples illustrate key concepts, and hands-on projects give you opportunities to apply your new skills.

  • Part-time MBA
  • Executive MBA
  • M.S. in Accounting
  • M.S. in Business Analytics
  • M.S. in Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Innovation
  • Joint Master in Global Entrepreneurial Management
  • M.S. in Management

Scholarships and GMAT/GRE waivers available for most programs. Ready to transform your career? Connect with them today.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $74,664 (MBA)
Program length: 24-36 months (MBA)
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Santa Clara University

  • Santa Clara, California
  • Graduation Rate: 89%

Online, evening, and executive MBA programs are available at Santa Clara University. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, these programs are designed for professionals to advance their careers while maintaining employment. Students with three or more years of professional experience excel in this type of program. The executive program, on the other hand, is tailored to advanced-level professionals with more than ten years of experience in their fields. Their evening program meets twice a week in the evening. It allows students to complete a core course work and several electives to create a specialized course of study.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $83,510
Program length: 2 years
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University of San Diego

  • San Diego, California
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
College students sitting outdoors at college campus

The University of San Diego offers full-time, evening, hybrid, and dual MBA degrees, making it one of the most diverse MBA programs in Southern California. This private, Catholic-affiliated institution offers small class sizes, allowing students to build personal relationships with faculty members as they mentor them along their chosen career paths. As part of the program, students participate in a semester-long project in a corporate setting. Their unique hybrid MBA program blends personal classroom interactions with flexible online learning options in the same amount of time as the full-time MBA program.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $82,945
Program length: 17- 22 months (full-time)
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Chapman University

  • Orange, California
  • Graduation Rate: 79%

Chapman University in Orange County offers both full-time, flexible, and accelerated MBA options through its Argyros School of Business and Economics. Evening courses are also available. Degree specializations include marketing, entertainment, and finances. The MBA program is 50 credits long and includes classes in accounting, statistics and organizational management, business analytics, and operations and technology management. They also offer dual degree programs in Food Science, Film and TV producing, and executive MBA programs.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $86,000
Program length: 16-28 months
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Stanford University

  • Stanford, California
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

Stanford University, well known for academic excellence, offers a full-time residential MBA program that allows students to immerse themselves in their studies entirely. The program provides diverse coursework, from seminars to real-world experiences. The MBA program at Stanford is a general degree focused on providing students with a mixed level of coursework in the business field, touching on all areas of business administration.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $104,958
Program length: 2 years
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Pepperdine University

  • Malibu, California
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

Pepperdine University, located in Malibu, offers both on-campus and online MBA programs that can be completed in one year with full-time enrollment.  They offer general MBA studies or concentrations and certificates like the Social Environmentally and Ethically Responsible Business Strategy. They require that students have had at least two years in the workforce before entering their program. For working professionals, they also offer part-time enrollment options. The program is offered through the Graziadio Business School.

School Overview

Estimated program tuition: $101,880
Program length: 1-2 years (full-time)
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Ranking methodology 

Schools on this list were ranked using ranking factors such as tuition, program length, and degree programs offered. School location was also given special consideration. Tuition and program information was collected from the individual school’s websites at the time of publication. Tuition rates and program offerings may change at any time. Advertisers never influence our rankings. You can trust that our list is based on school data. Learn more about how we rank schools on our website.

Expert Q&A on MBA Programs

Dr. Rangapriya (Priya)  Kannan  is the Associate Dean of Faculty & Accreditation at the Knauss School of Business at the University of San Diego and a Professor of Strategic Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

What advice do you give to graduating MBA students?

Graduating MBA students might be delighted to realize that in a post-pandemic world, their skills are uniquely valuable in transforming organizations. Organizations are facing tremendous challenges from their external and internal environments that simultaneously present opportunities for innovation. These challenges range from dealing with the after-effects of the pandemic — work-life balance, mental health and burnout issues among employees — to economic, political and socio-cultural issues, the latest being the Ukraine crisis and ongoing supply chain disruptions.

At the same time, organizations are presented with tremendous opportunities that result from advances in technologies, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cryptocurrencies and others. An MBA education gives organizational leaders the foundation to create unique value for their organizations by seizing the opportunities to overcome these challenges. An MBA is imperative not only for an organization’s growth but for its very survival. Our advice is to embrace these challenges and opportunities as a launchpad for making a positive impact on their organizations’ future. 

What sets The University of San Diego’s Knauss School of Business MBA program apart from other programs?

At the Knauss School of Business, we rebuilt our MBA program right in the middle of the pandemic. We did this intentionally to prepare agile organizational leaders who can take on the unexpected challenges that the world is bringing us.

Starting in fall 2022, our program can be uniquely customized to every student based on their previous education, experience and interests. The updated program emphasizes experiential learning and a contemporary lens on business topics, including a “flex class” that addresses emerging technologies and trends, and two mandatory consulting project classes that focus on social impact and international experience, which are at the core of the Knauss School of Business’ mission. Even while introducing cutting edge classes and increased flexibility, we have reduced the total number of units required to graduate from our program compared to other programs.

What advice do you give to aspiring MBA students?

When you are looking into MBA programs, some of the foremost considerations for students are brand names, employer placement, and networking opportunities. In addition to these aspects, MBA students must also consider the following: The fit between the values of the program and your personal values; The emphasis a given program has on providing personalized attention to students; Whether the program integrates aspects that employers care about such as diversity and inclusion, using data analytics and 4IR technologies to explore business and societal challenges; Location of the program, e.g. cities that are up and coming provide tremendous opportunities for exciting job placement.

For example, in recent years in San Diego the investment in innovation and entrepreneurship has increased from around 3 billion in 2019 to 9 billion in 2021[1]. Leading employers such as Google, Amazon, Apple etc. have established or expanded their office spaces and employee strength in San Diego. This is leading to a high demand for local talent in managing these organizations. These trends are extremely valuable for MBA aspirants to pay attention to. In Wayne Gretzky’s words, skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been. The Knauss School of Business MBA program is readily positioned where the puck is going.

What personal qualities or academic strengths make someone a good fit for an MBA program?

An MBA program is a generalist degree that trains strategic leaders of organizations for mostly mid-level career positions. To be a successful strategic leader, some of the key qualities are: the ability to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity to make key decisions, listening skills and empathy to translate top management priorities to front line employees and to convey front line employee feedback to senior management, competencies in taking large amounts of data and information and processing it for effective decision making amongst others. This requires one to have a combination of both hard and soft skills. These include the ability to learn and analyze data quickly (both quantitative and qualitative) to make decisions.

They must also possess excellent listening, interpersonal communication and team building skills. Perseverance, resilience and optimism are three personal qualities that will make them a good fit. At the Knauss School of Business, we attract students who have a desire to make an impact in their organizations and then provide them with ample opportunities to develop these qualities through our focus on experiential, hands-on learning, throughout the MBA program.

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