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Best Business Schools in California

College
Written by Elise Nass
Updated: March 14, 2023
8 min read
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A business degree can be incredibly lucrative and versatile, which is why many Golden State students choose to attend business schools. Students from out of state may also be interested in the best business schools in California, as this state is home to Stanford University, Berkeley University, and San Diego State University, to name a few.

Students who study in the field of business can learn several marketable skills, including:

  • Business administration
  • Business management
  • Leadership
  • Financial literacy
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Communications

For more resources on how to get into and pay for the best business schools in California, visit Bold.org’s scholarship blog. Business schools can be costly, depending on which business school you attend. Sign up for a free profile today with Bold.org to access hundreds of scholarships.

Students may be interested in these exclusive business scholarships, which are unique opportunities to earn money for business school. In addition, Bold.org has a separate page for exclusive MBA scholarships as well.

A business degree can lend a lot of flexibility to your career, as business students may find administrative jobs in any field or company. You may be interested in this article on what skills employers look for to help you decide what business classes to take in college. In a more hierarchical corporate setting, a bachelor’s in business can easily become a good foundation for a more specialized degree, like accounting, which will further increase your value to your company.

Read this article on what to major in if you’re unsure about applying for a specialized program.

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General business degrees are a good entry point into the workforce, and investing time into a specialized business degree may help you climb the corporate ladder later on. Attending one of the top business schools in California can help you earn either a general business degree or a specialized business degree. There are many factors to consider when choosing a business school, such as location, price, course offerings, and whether specialized tracks are offered.

Take a look through this list of the best business schools in California.

Consider your priorities and note any business schools that fit your preferences. Though all these universities are top business schools, finding a school right for you is important.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, has a well-connected urban location. This large private university has an undergraduate class size of 18,560 students. The University of Southern California has a competitive acceptance rate of just 16% and a high graduation rate of 92%.

USC students typically earn an entry-level salary of around $54,000 after graduating. Business is a popular major to study, along with communications, biology, and computer science. The net price of a year at USC is $39,759. Most students— 70% of the student body— will receive financial aid.

The Marshall School of Business is ranked fifth in undergraduate entrepreneurship programs by the Princeton Review and seventh in real estate programs by U.S. News. Marshall School of Business emphasizes interdisciplinary business degrees, STEM certifications, and more to help business students make the most of their business degrees.

Stanford University

This prestigious private university has an undergraduate enrollment of 5,752 students. 95% of Stanford University students will graduate and continue to earn an entry-level salary of $70,400. Admissions to Stanford are exceedingly competitive, as the acceptance rate is just 5%. The SAT range for accepted students is between 1420 and 1570, while the ACT scores range from 31 to 35. Improving your test scores may help you attend the college of your dreams.

Read about how to study for the SAT here to increase your score. Students will need to have a high GPA as well to be accepted.

Popular majors at Stanford include computer science, biology, engineering, cognitive science, and economics. The tuition cost for one year is $20,023, with 70% of students receiving financial aid. It is important to note that Stanford University is one of the best business schools in California for graduate students. Undergraduate students may opt for a pre-business degree track in preparation for a graduate-level business degree.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University is a reputable public university with a main campus in San Diego, California. As a larger school, the undergraduate student body consists of 28,084 students. SDSU is one of the best California State Universities for a business degree.

This business school has a decently high graduation rate of 76%. San Diego State students typically earn an entry-level salary of around $37,700 after graduating. Some of the most popular majors include business, liberal arts and humanities, psychology, and physical education teaching. SDSU has a reasonably competitive acceptance rate of 37%, meaning you must be above average in your high school to be accepted.

The SAT range for San Diego State University is between 1090 and 1300, whereas the ACT range is between 22 and 29 points. The net cost of a year at SDSU is lower than the national average of $13,192. Just over half of students will receive financial aid from the school. 92% of students are employed two years after graduating.

The Fowler College of Business at SDSU was created to teach students to build leadership, collaboration, and communication skills. Engaging with the San Diego business community is encouraged when pursuing your business degree to get hands-on experience. As one of the best business schools in California, Fowler College of Business has a global network of alumni students can make use of. SDSU alumni can be hired by Fortune 500 companies, local businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations.

california-state

California State University Long Beach

This reputable public university in Long Beach, California, is conveniently located near Los Angeles. CSU Long Beach is a larger university with an undergraduate student population of 29,110 students. The admissions process is mildly competitive, with a 42% acceptance rate. The SAT range for California State University Long Beach is between 1020 and 1240, while the ACT range is between 20 and 16 points. Standardized test scores are considered in the admissions process but are not mandatory.

Some of the most popular majors at California State University Long Beach are business, family studies and consumer sciences, and psychology. 73% of students will graduate and continue to earn an entry-level salary of around $36,500.

The College of Business is one of the many schools listed under California State University Long Beach. As one of the top business schools in the state, the College of Business offers a quality education at a good value to prepare students for a global workplace.

The core values of the College of Business are academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. Business students can also visit the center for student success for coaching and career advice as they learn how to apply their business degree to the workforce.

San Jose State University

As a reputable public university in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose State is on the larger side, with 23,317 enrolled undergraduate students. 66% of San Jose State students will graduate and continue to earn an entry-level salary of about $42,200. The acceptance rate for San Jose State University is 66%. The SAT range is between 1010 and 1240, while the ACT range falls between 19 and 26 points for the typical accepted student. Standardized test scores are considered but not mandatory to apply.

San Jose State University is a well-known business school with 1,548 business degree students. Some other popular majors include psychology, communications, early childhood education, physical education teaching, and public health.

The cost of a year at San Jose State University is $15,995, which is close to the national average cost of a year in college. 72% of students will receive financial aid.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredits SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business. Hospitality, tourism, and event management majors are also a part of this dynamic business school, making it a flexible undergraduate business program.

Santa Clara University

This business school is located in Silicon Valley, presenting an invaluable opportunity for business students looking to make connections in the tech industry. With 5,478 undergraduates enrolled in a full-time program, Santa Clara University is on the smaller side. The school has a mildly competitive admissions rate of 51%. The SAT range of the accepted student pool is between 1270 and 1450. For students who prefer the ACT, aim for 28 to 32 points to increase your chances of acceptance. Standardized test scores are taken into account but are not mandatory.

92% of enrolled students will graduate, and 86% of Santa Clara University alumni will be employed six months after graduation. Out of 800+ business schools, Santa Clara is ranked 24th in the best colleges for accounting and finance.

The cost of a year at SCU is well above the national average at $42,284. Over 70% of students will receive financial aid to help pay for their educational costs. Some of the most popular majors at SCU are finance, communications, psychology, economics, and marketing.

The Leavey School of Business aims to foster a collaborative classroom that helps business majors develop competence, conscience, and compassion. According to U.S. News, SCU’s business school boasts 13th on the list of best colleges for an executive MBA program. The undergraduate business program offers majors and minors in business and business-adjacent fields. The Leavey School of Business is designed to promote critical thinking, learning to take entrepreneurial risks, and adopting leadership skills.

University of California Berkeley

This highly reputable public university in the San Francisco Bay Area has an undergraduate enrollment of 29,300 students. Popular majors at UC Berkeley include computer science, economics, cellular biology, and political science and government.

The acceptance rate is highly competitive at just 17%, meaning the typical grades and test scores of UC Berkeley students are comparatively higher. The average SAT range for a Berkeley student is between 1310 and 1530, while the ACT range is between 30 and 35. Standardized test scores will be considered but not required. The cost of a year at Berkeley is just slightly higher than the national average, sitting at $19,329. Of the students who are accepted, 63% will receive financial aid. The graduation rate at UC Berkeley is 92%, with 88% of alumni employed two years after graduation.

The Haas School of Business offers business degrees like programs in business administration, global management, entrepreneurship and technology, and more. This business school emphasizes the importance of impacting society and improving the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number one business school in California?

The University of Southern California, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley, are consistently ranked as the top business schools in California. The criteria for ranking business schools can vary between different ranking websites, and different students will look for different things in a business school. It’s important to choose a business school that fits your needs. Some students may have a particular location in mind— studying near Silicon Valley, for instance, might be helpful to students who want to earn a technology and business degree.

Choosing the right business school depends on what you want from your business degree. For example, students who know they want to focus on business administration or international business should prioritize business schools with those majors. Otherwise, choosing from well-rounded business schools like California State University and San Jose State University can help ensure students have some flexibility with their business degrees.

What UC school is good for business?

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is one of the best business schools in California. Many other UC schools also have undergraduate business schools that may appeal to students looking for a particular location or field of study.

Find more free college and student finance resources on Bold.org’s scholarship blog!

Elise Nass
Content Writer

About Elise

Elise is a skilled and knowledgeable writer. Her understanding of scholarships and internships enables her to craft insightful and informative content that resonates with students, helping them navigate the often complex processes of applying for financial aid and career opportunities.

Elise graduated from New York University with a double major in English and Psychology, as well as a minor in Creative Writing.

Experience

Through challenging university coursework and corporate experience, Elise has become an expert in several different types of writing, including literary analysis, content pieces, formal scientific writing, SEO editing, and more. Elise expanded on her knowledge while interning in marketing, using her understanding of SEO to boost website traffic and customer engagement.

She’s published a short story in The Foundationalist literary magazine and has also won several short story writing awards at the regional and international levels. Elise loves to craft content that helps students navigate college life and scholarship applications. She makes use of syntax and tone to write readable, engaging pieces. Elise has a solid understanding of linguistics and grammatical structures across multiple languages thanks to her fluency in English and proficiency in Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Elise first joined Bold.org in 2022 during her undergraduate studies, explored other pursuits in 2023, and happily returned in 2024 as a Content Writer. Motivated by her writing skills, she aims to make educational resources more accessible for students of all backgrounds. Additionally, she believes it's important to add to the available information on student loans and student finances in a way that's user-friendly and easy to understand.

Quote from Elise

“I try to create content that would have helped my younger self— stuff I wish I knew when I was starting college.”

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