10 Best Online Business Schools in California

May 24, 2019 | By Anna Baluch
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Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities in this state that met the following criteria:

  • Offer at least one business-related degree program, either in an online or hybrid format
  • Have at least 1 percent of students attending some form of distance education
  • Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in a business-related subject in 2016-17
  • Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below

We ranked the resulting colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2017-18 data from IPEDS:

  • Number of business-related programs offered via distance education
  • Number of degrees conferred in business-related subjects
  • Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  • Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Prepaid, Other)
  • Services (Academic/ Career, Placement for Completers)
  • Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  • Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2017-18 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.


  • Report: California's Hotel Market Continues To Trend Upward, Bisnow, Accessed March 2019, https://www.bisnow.com/orange-county/news/hotel/report-orange-county-los-angeles-californias-hotel-market-continues-to-trend-upward-91234
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  • Regulators Seek to Address Interstate Regulation of Fintech Companies, Accessed March 2019, https://www.lendio.com/blog/small-business-tools/regulators-seek-address-interstate-regulation-fintech-companies/
  • Report: California Outpacing the Nation in Economic Growth, Accessed March 2019, https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2018/02/20/report-california-outpacing-the-nation-in-economic-growth-but-thats-not-the-whole-story/
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  • About CE Online, California State University East Bay, Accessed March 2019, https://www.ce.csueastbay.edu/ce/about/locations/online.html
  • About Cal State Online, California State University, Accessed March 2019, https://www.calstateonline.net/About-Cal-State-Online
  • Online Programs, Fresno Pacific University, Accessed March 2019, https://www.fresno.edu/programs-majors/online-programs
  • Online Bachelor's in Business, San Diego State University, Accessed March 2019, https://business.sdsu.edu/online/faq
  • Certificate in Business Analytics, San Jose State University, Accessed March 2019, http://www.sjsu.edu/lucasgsb/programs/advanced-certificates/business-analytics/index.html
  • Online Learning, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising- Los Angeles, Accessed March 2019, http://fidm.edu/en/majors/online+learning/
  • Degree Programs, University of La Verne, Accessed March 2019, https://laverne.edu/online/programs/
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best online business colleges in california

California is an economic powerhouse, accounting for 14.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) — the total value of goods and services produced in the year. Since the Golden State has no shortage of Fortune 500 companies like Google and Facebook and startups such as InstaCar and AppLovin, the state's high economic growth is no surprise. This volume and diversity of business in California can offer a range of potential career paths for students pursuing online business program at any degree level.

In order to thrive, California-based companies need a variety of business professionals to fuel their growth. For example, the state's entertainment and food industries look for creative marketing professionals who can perform market research and design and implement campaigns. Meanwhile, California's insurance and banking industries want degree-holding professionals to generate financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies for long-term financial goals, and California's healthcare industry needs human resources professionals who can oversee recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. But these are just a few of the career options that graduates of online business programs in California can consider.

3 Facts about Business in California

  • The hotel industry is experiencing exponential growth in California. Despite the fact that construction costs have skyrocketed, new hotels are being built every day. According to Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group's midyear report, twenty-six hotels in the Golden State opened in the first half of 2018.
  • To support micro-businesses (firms with five or fewer employees) in the state, the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO) offers financing, technical assistance, and business management training to entrepreneurs and startups. CAMEO firms create 37,000 jobs for California's economy, making them invaluable to the state.
  • FinTech, which is the use of technology in the financial services industry to drive growth, has surged in California over the past few years. LendingClub, Square, and Prosper are several of the FinTech startups in the state that have revolutionized the world of finance in the state.

How To Pick a Business Major That's Best For You?

There are a wide range of business majors that students can pursue at accredited business schools in California, from marketing to accounting, from entrepreneurship to supply chain management. Because the state shares a border with Mexico and is a major travel hub to Asia, those who know a foreign language and like to travel may want to consider international business programs, which can be taken at many of the best business colleges in California.

On the other hand, those who would like to have access to many different fields may wish to enroll in a marketing program. Marketing is a skill that can be useful to just about any kind of business, and it is in demand at many different businesses in California. Upon graduation, marketing students may be able to earn positions at ad agencies such as Echo-Factory or PR firms such as Blaze PR.

Many online business schools in California also offer entrepreneurship programs, which can be great options for creative risk-takers who see themselves creating a new startup in the state. Students who enjoy math and could picture themselves working at a bank or investment firm in a city like San Francisco may benefit from finance programs. And finally, programs that focus on sales or event planning may be a good route for extroverts who find joy in building strong relationships and are interested in working in account management/ sales positions at a California-based company like PayPal or Twitter.

Most Popular Business Degrees in California

Below is our ranking of the most popular Business degrees in California, based off how many degrees of each type were awarded by California schools in the 2017-18 school year.

Bachelor in Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other
Master in Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other
Bachelor in Hospitality Administration/Management, General
Certificate in Real Estate
Bachelor in Agribusiness/Agricultural Business Operations
Associate in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
Master in Organizational Behavior Studies
Bachelor in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other

Best Online Business Schools in California

Here at OnlineColleges.com, we've created a list of the best online business schools in California to help prospective students find the ideal business school for their interests and needs. All the schools that landed a spot on our list offer a degree or certificate program in a business-related subject, either an online or hybrid format. The list was formulated using data from the National Center of Education Statistics.


Ashford University

At Ashford University's Forbes School of Business & Technology, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Arts in business-related disciplines such as accounting, business administration, economics, eMarketing, and entrepreneurship. An online MBA program, as well as a master's of human resource management and a Master of Accountancy, are available as well.

The courses in these programs are typically five to six weeks long and are taught in an asynchronous format. In addition, AU offers a number of scholarships to business students who are pursuing a senior project or have an entrepreneurial spirit and currently own a business or have a business plan for one they would like to start.

AU also allows for up to 90 credits to be transferred with approval, making this an excellent institution for students who have completed some prior schooling or are looking into a career change after earning a previous degree.


California State University-East Bay

California State University-East Bay makes our list of the best online business schools in California because of its plethora of online business courses and programs, which are delivered in an asynchronous format through the Blackboard learning management platform. This isn't the only accolade we've seen fit to award CSU-East Bay, either: the university also ranked on our list of the best online colleges in California overall.

Through CSU-East Bay, undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Science in business administration, hospitality, recreation, and tourism, or operations and supply chain management. For grad students, an online Master of Science in health care administration degree program is available. In contrast, students who would like to enter the field of business more quickly may elect to complete an online business certificate in a field of study such as accounting, digital marketing or wine business management.


Fresno Pacific University

Undergraduate students who have completed their general education requirements and at least 10 electives may pursue one of several online business degree completion programs at Fresno Pacific University, a school that also made our list of the best online colleges in California. Students may earn a Bachelor of Arts in business management, organizational leadership or health care administration. These online degree completion programs start in the spring and fall, and each is organized in a cohort format of seven to 20 students.

A hybrid MBA program is also available at FPU. It can be completed in approximately 20 months and involves a cohort of up to 20 students that take courses online and on-campus one evening per week. Students enrolled in the MBA program can gain first-hand experience through international travel and fieldwork opportunities, which is one of the many reasons FPU makes our list as one of the best accredited business schools in California.


San Diego State University

Considering San Diego State University has made not only our list of best business colleges in California, but also our list of best online colleges in California period, you know this school must have a lot to offer. The list starts with an online Bachelor of Science in Business degree completion program, made for working students who have already earned an associate degree. From there, graduate students can pursue a Master of Science in hospitality and tourism management, or a Master of Public Administration.

SDSU also boasts a bouquet of business-oriented certificate programs that can be taken online, including accounting and finance, business writing, grant writing, project management and more. Finally, there is the online CareerTraining program in Microsoft Office, an accelerated program that covers material related to various Microsoft Certification Exams.


San Jose State University

At San Jose State University, students can earn a certificate in business analytics that can be completed entirely online through Cal State Online. This certificate program is designed for current business professionals and graduate students who would like to learn how to transform data into useful business intelligence.

It is offered in the spring and fall and consists of four courses, including Introduction to Business Analytics, Business Research, Data Mining, and Business Analytics Simulation. These courses are taught via the Blackboard learning management system in an asynchronous format.

Should this program not be what you're looking for, SJSU also offers a hybrid Master of Science in data analytics program that focuses on quantitative methods, focusing on the skills that students are likely to need for careers as business analysts.


Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-Los Angeles

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Associate of Arts in merchandising and marketing is an accelerated 45-unit program for students who already hold a college degree (or a minimum of 45 units of transferable coursework). It involves courses such as Brand Management Strategies, Merchandise Buying, and E-Commerce Buying. This program is also known as fashion merchandising, and it is designed to prepare students for careers as buyers, designers, catalog production managers or merchandise display artists. FIDM also offers a 91-unit Bachelor of Science in business management that can help students learn how to launch a business venture or run an existing company.

Online courses at FIDM are taught in an asynchronous format via the school's eLearning Program. Registration for online business courses is only available during published registration dates.


University of La Verne

At the University of La Verne, students may select from a number of online undergraduate and graduate business degree programs, with courses delivered asynchronously through the Blackboard system. For example, they can earn a Bachelor of Arts in business administration, or perhaps a Bachelor of Science in organizational management. There is also a Master of Business Administration for Experienced Professionals, a program that is designed for business professionals with at least three years of experience. Minors in business management and business administration are also available online, complementing the above programs.

Students who are interested in pursuing any online business programs at ULV are encouraged to attend an information session online so they can learn more about what they can expect and how to have their application fee waived.


San Joaquin Delta College

A variety of online business courses are available at San Joaquin Delta College, which is not only one of the top accredited business schools in California, but also earned a spot on our list of the best online colleges in California. While fully online business degree programs are not offered at SJDC, the school's online courses can be strung together to satisfy many different major requirements, giving students many different ways to hybridize the program they wish to pursue.

SJDC offers its online business courses through the learning management system Canvas, in subjects such as Principles of Accounting, Professional Selling, and Small Business Management. Courses range from one to five units and can be taken in the fall, spring or summer, giving students great flexibility.

Professional Business Organizations in California

Professional business organizations can be an invaluable resource to students pursuing degrees at the best business colleges in California. They can serve as a great opportunity for students to gain additional knowledge in their fields of study and to network with professionals who may be able to help them land an internship or job.

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