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Best MBA universities in California (USA) for international students

Why are MBA colleges in California so popular?

From an all-round perspective, California is a great place to be in and has its reputation of being ‘The Golden State’. It is known for its sunshine and pleasant climate all the year round. No wonder it is hugely popular among international students and professionals, including those from India.

This region houses reputed companies from a variety of sectors including retail, construction, financial services as well as venture capital firms.

The Silicon Valley is well-known for being the center for innovation and technology. Students studying here can make use of the time spent to build a strong and diverse professional network and explore the various job opportunities in and around this area.

Here’s a list of the best ranking MBA programs in California for international students. We divide the article into two sections.

The first list includes the top ranking business schools that are widely recognised and respected within and outside the U.S. That makes them very good for international students who are planning to return to their home countries after (or in a few years of) completing their MBA abroad.

The section list includes programs that have a good regional reputation and could get you access to local jobs after the MBA. However, they are less likely to get oohs and aahs from your friends and colleagues back home.

Top Ranking MBA programs in California

If the US is going to be your MBA destination, the next big decision would be which business schools you would like to apply to.

You may have heard so much about California and if the thought of being able to spend time there excites you, you do have some good options that you can consider.

Stanford Graduate School of Business:

This is one of the dream schools that MBA applicants have on their list. The selectivity is very high. The campus is located in the Silicon Valley to the south of San Francisco.

Full-time MBA Program:

The first year of this 21 month long program covers the general management topics as well as global experience which provides various global opportunities to participate and spend time in another country.

Depending on your interest there are various options to choose from including social innovation study trips, global study trips, exchange program and immersion program. Applicants on an average have around four years of work experience.

The second year offers more flexibility in terms of its curriculum. Students have a wide range of choice for the electives and can opt for up to eighteen electives. As per college statistics, around 20% students also go in for the dual degree/ joint degree programs.

Stanford MSx Program:

This is a twelve month long accelerated program that is meant for those with considerable experience and are leaders in their field.

This rigorous residential program focuses on the art and science of leadership with its objective to provide deeper insights into the various areas of business and leadership required by those in senior managerial positions.

There are numerous opportunities to collaborate with peers, faculty as well as those in other disciplines. The small class size translates into better interaction and knowledge sharing.

The average work experience in the Stanford MSx class is 12 years.

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Full-time MBA Program:

This is one of the top MBA program and offers a two year long full-time MBA program. Its campus is at Los Angeles which is again a city of great opportunities. Considering that Hollywood, the centre of the entertainment industry is in the neighbourhood of LA, there’s a good scope for those planning to make a career in media, entertainment or the creative field.

Executive MBA:

This 22 month year long program for experienced professionals (average 14 years work experience) is for the working professionals with classes are held every other weekend (Fridays and Saturdays) so that the students can continue with their professional commitments while pursuing the EMBA.

The study group comprises students from diverse industry experience to represent a mini-board model. This experience of interacting and sharing ideas with peers from diverse backgrounds adds a new dimension to the entire learning experience.
Read UCLA PGP Pro for Executives – Costs, eligibility, application and essay tips, career prospects and more

Part-time MBA program:

The FEMBA (Fully employed MBA) is a part-time program and students have access to the same facilities and faculty as the full-time MBA students.

Students have the option of fast-tracking their schedule and completing within 27 months. In addition to the core courses and the electives, students have to an intensive six-month field study called GAP (Global Access Program).
Also read How this Electrical Engineering graduate got into UCLA MBA with a $60k Scholarship

Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley

This is also a top-tier business school and offers the following options:

Full-time MBA Program:

The two year full-time program offers the core courses, electives and global opportunities which allows students to take an international trip.

Executive MBA:

This 19-month-long program is for senior professionals with an average of 12 years experience. Classes are held on campus every three weeks. There’s also a week long international immersive program to give students a global business perspective. The advantage of EMBA is that the concepts you learn in bschool can straightaway be applied at your workplace.

Part-time MBA program:

Evening & Weekend MBA Program is a three year long program meant for working professionals. In case of evening MBA, classes are held Monday to Thursday from 6:00 to 9:30 pm. First year students have to attend twice a week. Weekend MBA classes are held on Saturdays either at Berkeley or a Silicon Valley location. Both programs cover the same curriculum of core courses and electives.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania – San Francisco Campus

Wharton opened this campus in California to tap in the best of talented professionals from the west Coast into their program.

MBA for executives:

The San Francisco campus has only this MBA option. This Wharton Executive MBA program is meant for working professionals and spans a 24 month duration with classes held on alternate Friday / Saturday as well as an international study trip.

If you always yearned for the topmost brand in business management education without relocating, Wharton’s Executive MBA programs might be the one for you.


Other MBA Colleges in California

If the list of the best MBA programs in California that enjoy top rankings seem out of your reach, here’s an additional list of colleges in colleges that offer business management courses. These may not match the earlier ones in brand power, but are still worth a look.


University Name Location Business School MBA Programs offered
University of South California Los Angeles Marshall School of Business Full-time, Part-time, Executive MBA
Pepperdine University Malibu Graziadio School of Business and Management Full-Time, Full-time Joint MBA, Part-Time, Executive MBA
University of California, Irvine Irvine The Paul Merage School of Business Full-Time, Part-Time, Executive MBA, Health-care Executive MBA
University of California, San Diego San Diego The Rady School of Management Full-Time, Part-Time
University of California, Davis Davis Davis – Graduate School of Management Full-Time, Part-Time
University of San Diego San Diego School of Business Administration Full-Time, Part-Time, Dual Degree

While shortlisting the MBA programs, in addition to a good business school brand, there are other criteria that matter to applicants including geographical location, climate, job placement scenario.

There may be some MBA colleges that make it too easy to get in. We’re talking about getting into an MBA university without experience or GMAT.

Be careful and do some extra research about such colleges before you apply.

Author Bio: Swati has worked in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world for over a decade. She now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including career guidance and self-improvement.

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About Swati
After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.

7 thoughts on “Best MBA universities in California (USA) for international students”

  1. Hello,
    I would be pleased to get a suggestion at the present moment as i have been planning to persue my mba from canada but i have been provided with an option to go to usa too. And i am not able to decide any one of them both have different rules and fees structures and part time work permites . I would be pleased to get a good suggestion from anyone.

  2. Dear Sir

    What is the average salary, person ( experience of 14 yrs.) gets after executive MBA, from
    1– Havard School of Business
    2–Stanford school of business

  3. @Sajil: MBA in USA will open up many more post MBA opportunities than in Canada. However, Canada makes it easier to get work permits.

    @Anand: For executive MBA programs, students are already working. In many cases, they are sponsored by their companies. There is no placement.

  4. Hi,
    Need some suggestions,

    B.Tech- 70% (First Division)
    I have an experience of 1.5 years in an MNC (Infosys Ltd.) and have recently quit to move back to my home town and give full devotion to my studies. I still plan on working in my hometown till I actually get admitted to some good b-school abroad.
    I have quite a solid record in academics throughout schooling and graduation. Extra-curricular and Organisation of events being in the college’s core team plus some technical events too, were some of my major time consumers at college still I managed to bag a first division grad degree.
    I know that my experience is not much but I do aspire to get about 700+ in GMAT as I got 680 in my first diagnostic test attempt.
    I want to get an MBA post grad degree in Marketing/Supply chain and Ops from an Ivy/ other good b-schools (specifically from California or a state near by it). Please throw in some suggestions as to how I can make my application strong? Any internet assessment sites available to get essays evaluated etc. Which colleges can I “realistically” aim at (as cost comes as a major factor).


  5. hai
    i would like to go to USA for mba and have one more option also is there canada but i am very confuse to decide. after trump own us president he was making so many new rules so which country is useful to do MBA , could you give suggestions to me ?

  6. Hello
    I m planning to do mba from san francisco ,Right now i am in graduation in last year ,Can anyone tell me good colleges in san francisco for MBA


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