MBA in Los Angeles | TopMBA.com

Los Angeles, which is located in southern California, has a reputation for its bright sunshine and beautiful people. Known as the City of Angels, Los Angeles is the epicenter of the film and television industry, with tourists swarming the place to catch a glimpse of the rich and famous. Even if they don’t spot a famous face, visitors can take in the view of the Hollywood sign or see if their handprint matches those of legendary film stars outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

But the city’s appeal is not limited to its relationship with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Businesspeople are attracted to Los Angeles for a number of reasons. The city is the third largest metropolitan economy in the world and it has a population of about 10 million and a gross domestic product of more than $700 billion.

What people don’t realize is L.A. is the largest manufacturing center in the United States, according to the Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department. It is also home to the largest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, which means 40 percent of all containerized goods pass through the city. In addition, aerospace, clean technology, fashion, healthcare, and tourism are thriving industries.

MBA aspirants have many avenues from which to choose when pursuing graduate education in this city.

Frankly, Los Angeles is a mecca for competitive, prestigious MBA programs. These are some of the best business schools in the world, and they have close relationships with the industries powering the city. The progressive culture, which places emphasis on creativity, also lends itself nicely to innovation and entrepreneurship.  

That’s why it’s no surprise UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, ranked 11th in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, UCLA Anderson School of Management (13th) and University of Southern California Marshall School of Business (37th) call Los Angeles home.

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

The Haas School brands itself as providing “new thinking for the new economy” and there’s a distinct effort to distinguish the school from others. It defines its “leadership principles” as questioning the status quo, having confidence without attitude, being students always, and thinking beyond yourself.

Founded in 1898, Haas was the first business school at a public university. Housed in new digs opened in 2017, the school serves 2,200 students with six degree programs. Two of the faculty members have won Nobel prizes in economics and Janet Yellen, professor emeritus, served as chair of the Federal Reserve.

Students play a big role in how the school is run. In fact, in recent years, they led the creation of the Gender Equity Initiative at Haas. After grassroots efforts on the part of students, the school jumped from 29 percent of the class being held by women to more than 40 percent in recent years.

Technology companies hired the most Haas graduates in 2017, followed by consulting and financial services. Still, consulting was the top function, which indicates that some of those technology companies hired MBAs to provide consulting services. Health/biotech/pharma, consumer products and retail, and others round out the other industries.

While the curriculum is focused on general management, students have a breadth of options when it comes to careers. The career services team is made up of relationship managers, who partner with employers and help students based on their interest in a specific industry.  

Haas is unique for its place in UC Berkeley history. Some mistakenly associate this business school with the counter culture for which its greater campus was once famous, but you’re not going to find hippies at Haas. That said, the school is a proponent of innovation and doesn’t just pay lip service to thinking outside the box.

In recent years, Haas has made one course, entitled ‘Problem Finding, Problem Solving’, a requirement. This leads to the required experiential learning courses that can have students working with companies, such as Disney and Cisco. They want students to look at challenges in a new way and find novel solutions.

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Collaboration is at the core of the Anderson school’s character, according to its website. Here you’ll also find the school describing its students as non-conformists. These are not the usual adjectives applied to business school communities, and so, as a result, you might get the idea that Anderson is a different kind of MBA program.

From day one, the school tries to make it clear that teamwork is a priority. Students participate in team building exercises, such as a ropes course during orientation. Some insider’s guides about the school refer to social events, including one that has students reading brief texts at a different bar every week. There is also a required research project that is said to help bring students together.

The curriculum is still quant heavy, but in recent years the school has included softer skills, particularly communication, into the core.  Students can expect a range of teaching methods, including lectures, case studies, and experiential learning.

Being in the heart of the city gives the campus a different energy from those of more remote schools. You find yourself in the middle of the action and it’s hard to realize where the city ends, and the school begins.  

Much like Haas, more UCLA Anderson grads took jobs in technology, followed by consulting and financial services. This is an across-the-board trend at business schools in recent years. Still, don’t count out Hollywood’s influence. Anderson sets itself apart from other schools because it is one of the only ones to have a center dedicated to the business of media and entertainment.

USC Marshall School of Business

USC and its schools form a strong, well-known network whose members are known as Trojans. In talking to current students and alumni, this is no ordinary group, and you should believe the hype. For starters, it’s not limited to just the business school. People from all over the university contact one another about job leads, career advice, and information about functions and roles. 

The Trojans always seem to come through for one another. This can be particularly powerful for those who want to remain local after graduation or who want to launch a new business. Being able to promote a university-wide network gives Marshall an advantage over many other business schools.

In addition, the school aims to differentiate itself based on values and ethics. Administrators spell out the pillars of the community on the website, and they are “transformational courage, collaborative ambition, impactful service, and unwavering integrity”. Educators aim to integrate these ideals into required and elective courses.

International business is a focus. The school takes advantage of its position as the “gateway to the Pacific Rim”. USC claims to be the first school that required MBAs to go abroad as part of their coursework.

Unlike other programs in the area, consulting remains the top job prospect for grads with 35 percent of the Class of 2017 entering the field. Marketing and sales comes second with 33 percent, followed by financial services with 17 percent.

More business schools in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a big, diverse city. Certainly, there are other options for earning your MBA. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find ones as competitive as these top-ranked programs.

About an hour away from L.A. in Malibu, California, you’ll find Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School, which offers a number of degrees. Its MBA program is known for encouraging students to be innovative and have integrity. In other words, faculty encourage grads to make a positive difference in addressing social ills in whatever work they do.

Further away – about a five-hour drive from Los Angeles – you’ll find one of the best business schools in the world, Stanford Graduate School of Business, which is ranked fourth in the world by QS. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford attracts students with its focus on technology and desire to transform the world through innovation in business. However, getting into Stanford is extremely difficult because it’s currently the most selective MBA program in the United States.

Walt Disney Studios, DirecTV, Amgen Inc., Mattel Inc., and AECOM are among the top employers in Los Angeles. They all hire MBAs to offer consulting or financial services, provide leadership, and guidance in operations, negotiations and strategy among other things.

Those interested in leading entertainment companies are particularly drawn to Los Angeles as Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Universal are headquartered in L.A.

Of course, technology companies from Silicon Valley come calling too. Top employers of Haas grads in 2017 included Adobe, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, plus Amazon and Microsoft hired 20 or more MBA graduates of UCLA Anderson. Other top employers of Anderson’s Class of 2017 included traditional firms, such as Deloitte, EY, and PwC. The list looks similar for the Class of 2017 at USC Marshall.

There’s no question that a city such as Los Angeles can be an expensive place to live, but fortunately MBAs from these top L.A. business schools have great earning potential.

The median base salary for 2017 graduates of USC Marshall was $117,000, while it was $123,000 for the Class of 2017 at the Anderson School and the median base salary was $125,000 for the 2017 MBA grads at Haas. In fact, in QS’ most recent ROI Report, the Haas MBA is tenth in the region for the return on investment for graduates.

Clearly, Los Angeles may be appealing to ambitious business leaders. Its diverse population and portfolio of industries are a great fit for modern companies and those who want to helm them and some of the world’s most innovative business schools call L.A. home. The beautiful weather and intriguing culture and history are simply bonuses. MBA aspirants with a desire to make a difference in the world while working on their tan just might find what they are looking for in Los Angeles.