Guide To The Top Executive MBAs in the Los Angeles Metro Area

For mid-career professionals looking for a formal business education in the Los Angeles area, an Executive MBA may be the answer.

While a traditional MBA requires candidates to quit their full-time jobs, an EMBA allows students to continue their careers while getting an education at the same time. Not only does this provide students with the opportunity to immediately apply what they’ve learned in real-time, it also makes getting an education more accessible for those who want to level-up in their careers.

“The type of person who comes into an EMBA program is much further along in their career than the person who comes into an MBA program,” says Randall Beatty, the academic director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.  “The EMBA teaches people to think strategically about where a company is going.”

In the wider Los Angeles market, there are nine EMBA programs that vary greatly in price, curriculum,  duration, and required work experience. As students consider what programs to apply to, they’ll notice that programs in the area range from 19-24 months and from $83K to $173K. For those in the LA market, these programs provide a wide variety of options, some incorporating online elements to allow for more flexibility to get the degree. The less expensive programs offer bigger class sizes, whereas the more expensive programs at schools with bigger brands often include opportunities to specialize their EMBA degree, gain international experience, and receive executive coaching and mentorship. Not surprisingly, the least expensive program, the $82,945 hybrid option at the University of San Diego, does not earn any EMBA rankings and is the lowest ranked full-time MBA.

A RANKINGS SURPRISE IN THE MARKET: MICHIGAN ROSS COMES OUT FIRST

And when it comes to rankings of Executive MBA programs in the Southern California market, perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the University of Michigan’s EMBA in LA now out ranks UCLA’s Anderson School of Management as the top dog. Ross, which brought its Executive program to LA in 2012, now places second among all U.S. Executive MBA programs, slightly better than UCLA’s fifth-place finish in the 2021 Poets&Quants‘ composite ranking of the best U.S. options.

Of the nine programs in the LA metro area, five of them are ranked (see below table). Pepperdine, Chapman and Loyola Marymount are the three EMBA options that have not cracked the rankings game at all on the latest up-to-date lists, though Pepperdine’s full-time MBA program placed 68th in U.S. News‘ latest ranking and Chapman’s full-time MBA finished 77th.

UCLA Anderson School of Management

LOS ANGELES: WELCOMING DIVERSE INDUSTRIES AND BACKGROUNDS

One of the benefits of students who get their EMBA in the Los Angeles metro area is that they gain exposure to a diversity of industries and people.

“Often people from the Bay Area want to come down to LA because they’re surrounded by high tech folks. Here, students can learn from diverse industries,” says Francesca Baugh, the executive director of UCLA Anderson School of Management’s EMBA.

Sylvia Haas, who heads up the EMBA program at the University of California Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, says that diverse backgrounds and experience are also encouraged. While many students are concerned that their undergraduate degree will hinder their success in an EMBA program, she advises students to not let their prior degree hold them back. “We see all types of majors: zoology, fine arts, drama, engineering, math. We want a diverse class,” she says. “When an art major believes that they're not going to have something to contribute, we'll have five stories to tell them about how somebody with their background made such a difference because of how they look at problem solving.”

Haas says that many people choose an EMBA because they’re at a point in their career where they need a formal business education. “Most students have lofty goals, and many of them meet those goals because of the EMBA and the network within their peer group.”

While UCLA, USC, Michigan Ross, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount are located right in Los Angeles, there are a couple of options nearby; Chapman University and UCI are both less than an hour away in nearby Irvine and Orange, and UC San Diego is a two-hour drive from the city. Whether a prospective student wants to be right in LA or on the outskirts, there’s something for everyone.

SchoolProgramCost# of MonthsProgram StartFormatEntry Exam
University of Michigan Ross School of BusinessEMBA-Los Angeles$173,50021JulyMonthly, with 2 week-long residencies in Ann ArborNo
UCLA Anderson School of ManagementEMBA$171,35422SeptemberBi-weekly Fridays/Saturdays or Monthly with Blended OptionsNo
UC-Irvine Paul Merage School of BusinessMBA for Executives$136,00022SeptemberAlternating Fridays & SaturdaysNo
University of Southern California Marshall School of BusinessEMBA$156,00022AugustAlternating Fridays & SaturdaysNo
UC-San Diego Rady School of ManagementFlexWeekend MBA$115,00024AugustAlternating Saturdays & SundaysNo
Pepperdine University Graziadio Business SchoolEMBA$140,87519AugustFridays & Saturdays every 3 weeksNo
Chapman University Argyros School of BusinessEMBA$118,20521SeptemberEvery Thursday p.m. & Saturday a.m.No
Loyola Marymount UniversityEMBA$103,00022August2 Saturdays monthly plus one Saturday a month onlineNo
University of San DiegoHybrid MBA$82,945Two-to-three yearsJanuaryOne Saturday-Sunday weekend per month, with remainder onlineNo

USC's Marshall School of Business

COMPARING LOS ANGELES EMBA PROGRAMS

Besides the program’s ranking, each EMBA school has something different to offer. 

UCLA Anderson School of Management is the cheapest program in the area at $83,996 despite being one of the most academically rigorous. Requiring 14 years of work experience prior to entering, this school has larger class sizes than other programs with an expected 175 - 200 students this fall. Plus, it’s one of the more flexible programs, delivered on Fridays and Saturdays either bi-weekly, monthly, or blended bi-weekly for 22 months. 

The next least expensive option is Loyola Marymount University at $103,000. This program, also 22 months in length, has a blended delivery, meaning two Saturdays a month are on-campus and one Saturday a month is online. The average age of students is 35 with 12 years of work experience, and the program has intimate class sizes of only 20-25 students. Plus, it’s located in the heart of Silicon Beach surrounded by tech and innovation perfect for those with an interest in learning more about the startup ecosystem.

UC San Diego Rady School of Management follows Loyola Marymount, ringing in at $115,000 for a 22-24 month curriculum. As the only STEM designated program in the area, over 50% of the school’s EMBA students have advanced degrees at the time of entering the program as well as an average of 13.6 years of working experience. This program focuses on analytical and data-driven content, and offers a Lab to Market Capstone Course Sequence that teaches students how to evaluate business opportunities, assess innovations, and bring them to the marketplace in a hands-on, collaborative environment. This is the only EMBA school in LA that requires a GMAT/GRE score upon enrolment. 

For a mid-range tuition, Chapman University Argyros School of Business & Economics’ 21-month program costs $118,205. Unlike the other schools, this cost includes textbooks, sessions with an executive coach, meals and accommodations for three residential courses, pre-class meals, and tutors. With a total of six terms, course content ranges from organizational, marketing, and operational management to statistics, economics, and policy.

UCLA Anderson School of Management

For those with a bigger budget, the higher tuition range programs are found at UCI Paul Merage School of Business, Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, USC Marshall School of Business, and finally Michigan Ross. 

The $136,000 EMBA program offered at UCI Paul Merage School of Business offers mid-size classes with an average of 58 students who have an average of 18 years of work experience. Unlike other programs, UCI offers students the opportunity to specialize in three areas: digital transformation, innovation and entrepreneurship, or real estate and urban development. Plus, this is the oldest program in the area, running for over 40 years, and has a focus on leading in the digital economy. 

The 19-month program at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School includes five terms per curriculum in three campus locations: West Los Angeles, Irvine, and Malibu. Costing $140,875, only seven years of work experience is required but most students have an average of 14. 

Next is USC Marshall School of Business, costing $156,000 for 22 months. With an average class size of 65-70 students, this program has five themes per semester, the  highlight being the real-life experience students get when analyzing a merger and acquisition. Lastly, the most expensive program in the area is at Michigan Ross. This school offers the EMBA in two locations, Ann Arbor and Los Angeles, and costs $168.500 for Michigan residents or $173,500 for non-Michigan residents. Offered in 21 months, this program gives students a chance to practice their learnings with hands-on, industry experience in the program’s ExecMAP — a project immersion course that offers students an opportunity to explore a parallel industry or functional role in the U.S. or abroad — that is said to be a highlight of the program. Past ExecMAP projects were completed for companies like Microsoft, Disney, Bridgstone, Teach For America, and Stryker. Leadership training is also offered through Ross’ Leadership Development Program that’s woven into the curriculum. This leadership training is based on the Michigan Model of Leadership, which was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the 40 most important frameworks in the history of business.