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Business Schools in California

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With over 250 schools offering a huge array of business degree programs including over 50 doctoral programs, the only problem you’ll have preparing to study business in California is choosing a school.

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Marketing Degree Programs in California

State of California’s Marketing Industry

Marketers, you’ve found the promised land. If California were a country, its $2 trillion economy would have been the ninth-largest in the world in 2012, according to Forbes. The state represents 13% of the national economy, plays host to 53 Fortune 500 companies and was rated #1 in “Growth Prospects” by Forbes in 2012.

Even better, from 2009-2012, the venture capital community invested $36 billion in California, four times the total of any other state, reports Forbes. Nearly 700 California names appeared on Inc.’s 2012 Top 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Of these, 80 were advertising and marketing firms.

There are a few cautionary notes. As of 2012, California had the fourth-highest tax burden in the U.S. (the Tax Foundation), the fourth-worst regulatory climate (the Mercatus Center) and energy costs that are 33% above the national average.

But even with these limitations, Chase Bank economists are predicting the state will outstrip the nation in real GDP growth to 2015. That’s excellent news for the marketing industry.

Job Prospects for California Marketing Graduates

The Golden State is shining bright for marketers. Thanks in part to Silicon Valley, California has the highest tally of marketing companies in the nation. Not only does it employ more marketing managers than any other state, it ranks fourth in annual pay for this occupation, with a 2011 median annual income of $134,200, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.

The Department is predicting an abundance of jobs for marketing graduates. From 2010-2020, openings for marketing managers are projected to increase by 18.6%, PR specialists by 21.1% and market research analysts by 45.8% – the second fastest-growing occupation in the state.

Polish up your resume. Graduates from top universities like Stanford typically stay on after finishing their degree programs. In the 2000s, only 35% of skilled California natives chose to move out-of-state, according to the Milken Institute in 2011. Outflow figures for foreign-born residents were the lowest in the country.

California Schools for Marketing

There are 20 accredited marketing schools in California, not counting Stanford and UC. If you can’t afford (or can’t get into) Stanford – the top business school in the state – here are two others to consider:

1. University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) (http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/)

Ranked #7 in “Best Business Schools” by U.S. News & World Report in 2013, UC’s Haas School of Business has developed an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in business (marketing is a core part of the coursework, but not a major), a part-time and full-time MBA with an emphasis in marketing (ranked in the top ten, nationally), and a doctorate.

Haas is known as a feeder for California’s knowledge economy. Network World named Berkeley the #1 university for producing U.S. tech industry CEOs, including MBA alumnus Paul Otellini of Intel. In 2011, LinkedIn ranked it the fourth most entrepreneurial business school.

2. Santa Clara University (SCU) (http://www.scu.edu/business/marketing/)

SCU is a private Jesuit university near Silicon Valley. SCU’s Leavey School of Business reached #101 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 rankings and offers a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in marketing (and a minor in retail), along with an MBA in marketing.

If you’d like to focus on retail, SCU’s Retail Management Institute (RMI) also offers internships, management development programs and opportunities for networking.

Professional Marketing Organizations in California

The land of milk and honey is awash with California marketing organizations. In addition to organizing networking and informal social events, many clubs provide members with education and employment opportunities.

Business Degree Programs in California

California’s unique standing as a world leader in a number of key industries makes a formal education indispensible to a career in business in the state. If ranked as an independent country, California would have the sixth largest economy in the world, with its Gross State Product (GSP) totaling more than $2.4 trillion in 2015 alone – more than $600 billion more than the next-closest state.

Esteemed business schools in California are recognized among the best in the nation, and for good reason. Each year these institutions produce some of the world’s most highly qualified bachelor’s-prepared business professionals who specialize in fields like finance, advertising, marketing, and human resources, along with MBA graduates that take on leadership positions in some the world’s most profitable companies. California’s thriving business community has produced legendary businesspeople like Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, David Geffen, George Lucas, and Charles Schwab.

While large companies like Apple, Google, and Chevron occupy an important space in California; educated businesses leaders are also required to manage the state’s small and medium sized companies. This is particularly true in a state where successful startups rival some of the most well established multinationals. In fact, the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) points out that half of all of California’s companies are classified as medium or small businesses, and a full 34 percent of the state’s businesses have fewer than 100 employees.

How California’s Business Professionals Drive the National Economy to New Highs

As the national leader in business, California ranks first when it comes to having the highest number of business professionals, and by extension the highest number of career options and opportunities. The following numbers have been detailed by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) in 2015:

  • General and Operations Managers – 262,660 professionals
  • Financial Managers – 73,700 professionals
  • Sales Managers – 63,830 professionals
  • Administrative Services Managers – 38,410 professionals
  • Marketing Managers – 32,520 professionals
  • Chief Executives – 31,360 professionals
  • Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers – 26,840 professionals
  • Industrial Production Managers – 18,560 professionals
  • Human Resources Managers – 15,300 professionals
  • Natural Sciences Managers – 8,870 professionals

The list of California businesses that rank among the most profitable in the nation include many household names (Fortune 500 for 2015):

  • Chevron – $19.24 billion in profits, valuation of $197 billion, headquartered in San Ramon
  • Apple – $39.51 billion in profits, valuation of $725 billion, headquartered in Cupertino
  • HP – $5.01 billion in profits, valuation of $57 billion, headquartered in Palo Alto
  • Wells Fargo – $23.1 billion in profits, valuation of $280 billion, headquartered in San Francisco
  • Google – $14.4 billion in profits, valuation of $378 billion, headquartered in Mountain View
  • Intel – $11.7 billion in profits, valuation of $148 billion, headquartered in Santa Clara
  • Disney – $7.5 billion in profits, valuation of $178 billion, headquartered in Burbank

California’s massive economy can be analyzed in terms of macroeconomic impact and by sector (US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) for 2015):

California on a Macroeconomic Scale

  • Total employment in California – 22.63 million
  • Total GSP of California – $2.48 trillion
  • GSP generated by private sector – $2.18 trillion
  • GSP generated by the public sector – $302.71 billion

California by Industry Sector

  • Finance and insurance sector – 987,781 employed; $125.6 billion GSP
  • Manufacturing sector – 1.40 million employed; $277 billion GSP
  • Wholesale trade – 849,859 employed; $137.9 billion GSP
  • Retail trade – 2.09 million employed; $141.4 billion GSP
  • Transportation and warehousing – 753,437 employed; $57.8 billion GSP
  • Information – 584,525 employed; $204 billion GSP
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services – 1.95 million employed; $324.1 billion GSP
  • Management of companies and enterprises – 251,684 employed; $39.5 billion GSP
  • Educational services, health care, and social assistance – 3.03 million employed; $178.3 billion GSP

Being aware of the nature of California’s economy can make you a better informed student as you choose a school through which to pursue your undergraduate degree in business or MBA.


California is a big state and thus offers quite a bit of variety in Master of Business Administration (MBA) options. These include very highly-ranked programs, as well as those that are to well-respected but more accessible.

University of California Los Angeles

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management is a top-20 program, as ranked by Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review and others. You’ll be taking classes from well-known faculty and industry leaders and join a network of well-placed and highly-involved alumni. The program options include a traditional MBA with a marketing, finance or custom track, a part-time Fully-Employed MBA, an Executive MBA and the two international MBAs, one focused on Asia Pacific and one geared toward the Americas. Getting into these programs isn’t easy, however. Only 23 percent of applicants are offered a spot, but for those who are accepted the program is rewarding: 91 percent of students receive job offers within three months of graduation.

Pepperdine University

The Graziadio School of Business & Management at Pepperdine is a highly-ranked program. Whether you pursue a traditional on-campus MBA or take advantage of a distance learning program, you will have the opportunity to interact with top-level faculty and a network of well-connected business leaders. Among the programs offered are a full-time MBA, a part-time program for working students and joint degree programs combining a Juris Doctor or a Masters of Public Policy with an MBA. The online option offers four areas of concentration, all with an emphasis on interactive “live” case studies taken from current, real-world situations. All programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Golden Gate University

The Ageno School of Business offers MBA programs that can be completed on campus, on their “CyberCampus” or a combination of both. You can start on campus and transfer to online classes or the other way around; you can also pursue the degree with a mix of on-campus and online classes throughout. The coursework is the same regardless of which route you choose and all degree programs are AACSB accredited. Three programs are offered, including a part-time evening and weekend program, an intense 16-month professional MBA and an Executive MBA for mid-career, fast-track executives.

California State University – San Bernardino

An MBA program from California State University is meant to be accessible – it is affordable, available online and open to students with any bachelor’s degree. The focus of this program is on sharp analytical skills, practical decision-making and solving real world problems. The standard MBA offers concentrations in accounting, cyber security, entrepreneurship, finance, global business, information systems and technology, management, marketing management and supply chain management. California State University also offers a professional MBA program for mid-career students seeking positions of leadership in their organizations. Both programs are AACSB accredited.

Stanford University

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is perennially tied for the top spot in lists of the nation’s best business school lists. Their on-campus MBA program is among the most selective and the most rigorous. Students’ experience are intense and varied, with learning through case studies, trips abroad, live simulations and role playing, and internships with some of the world’s most innovative companies. Earning an MBA from Stanford is about more than what you learn, however; it is also who you meet. Networking opportunities form the beginning of lifelong connections with leaders in business.