Executive Education

3 EMBA Programs to Consider in Southern California

EMBA programs in Southern California

As you decide which EMBA program will be best for you, you will likely come across a variety of factors. You’ll look at which majors are offered and how much travel is involved. You’ll reflect on what type of schedule would work best for your life and think about what class size works best for the way you learn. You will also consider location.

Location is a big one because you may need to travel to your business school and adjust your life outside class to fit. There can also be extra expenses depending on the location of your EMBA program as well as certain benefits – some of which you just cannot ignore.

Southern California is a great example. If you already live in Los Angeles, San Diego, or somewhere in the vicinity, it is a short drive to a business school, but there are some smart reasons to look at business schools in southern California, even if you don’t live anywhere near there. Southern California is home to some major urban centers (read: networking prospects) and some terrific EMBA programs.

Chapman University EMBA 

Chapman University is home to the Argyros School of Business and Economics. The campus is beautiful. It is in the Old Town part of Orange, CA. The school is smaller but you could say that is part of its charm – and there is the location. Orange is halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, near Anaheim. Commuting to either urban center is easy and Orange offers a welcome respite from the high traffic and high parking fees you’d encounter in a bigger city. Plus, Orange has great food and entertainment.

Chapman University’s EMBA program is 20 in the US West overall. Within its region, the Chapman University EMBA is ranked 20 for prestige, 20 for career advancement, 20 for curriculum, 20 for global experience, and 19 for life balance. The program takes 21 months to complete and 100% of that is classroom based. Cohort sizes are small – averaging just 25 students – so you will get plenty of focused attention if that’s your style. Classes meet on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The school also offers a professional MBA. Like the Chapman University EMBA, the program is designed so you can take classes while working, but the format is even more flexible. You have up to 28 months to complete your studies. Classes are offered in the daytime and evening during the week. The Chapman Professional MBA also includes international study options.

UC Irvine

The University of California Irvine Executive MBA is offered through its Paul Merage School of Business. The campus is located less than 20 miles from Chapman and Orange, and just minutes from Newport Beach and Huntington Beach – a local favorite.

If you choose the UC Irvine Executive MBA Program, you will need to attend classes on Friday afternoons and all day on Saturdays, four weekends every quarter. Students also have a week-long international experience. Recent locations have included Hong Kong, India, Israel, Myanmar, Shanghai, and Vietnam. During your time there, you will meet with local executives and have the chance to practice what you’ve learned. The  UC Irvine Executive MBA Program is also unique because the school offers more than 50 electives., so you get a chance to tailor your study to fit your interests. The UC Irvine Executive MBA Program is ranked 10 in the US West overall. It will take 21 months to complete the program.

The average cohort size is 42. Top industries include: Technology, Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical, Healthcare, Government, Financial Services, and Real Estate.

Executive MBA at Loyola Marymount University

The Executive MBA at Loyola Marymount University is ranked 9 in the US West. Within its region, the program is ranked 9 for prestige, 15 for career advancement, 12 for curriculum, 17 for global experience, and 16 for life balance. The program last 20 months and is 100% classroom taught.

Classes meet every Saturday and average 23 students per cohort. Plus, all students receive executive coaching to help them make the most of their experience there. The Loyola Marymount EMBA is AACSB accredited and the campus itself is located convenient to LAX. It is in close proximity to Silicon Beach, the well-known West Coast hub of innovation. Top industries include: Marketing, Operations, Accounting, Finance, General Management, and Information Technology.

Going to grad school in southern California guarantees you a mild climate year-round. The blue skies and sunny weather could be a welcome vacation of sorts from colder climates – and not only is it warm all the time, but the fresh produce is amazing. The climate also makes for some great wines (hello, Napa). You will find tons of great dining options too (many with outdoor seating), including some of the best Mexican food in the country and several In-N-Out burger joints. For more outdoorsy folks, the area has its fair share of National Parks as well. Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite are close by and always open for hiking or stargazing. Plus, if you have children, studying in California opens the opportunity for your little ones to visit Disneyland (aka “The Happiest Place on Earth”) while you go to class. With so much to offer, Southern California should definitely be on your shortlist.


Ivy Exec’s goal in releasing its annual EMBA program rankings is to support its members and the broader, global professional community in making better-informed decisions when selecting the best-fit Executive MBA program for themselves. Pursuing an EMBA is a significant investment of time, not to mention money, so these rankings may help a professional consider potential ROI ahead of time.

About the Author

Renee Ann Butler is a business writer whose writing has appeared in numerous outlets related to finance and investing, from TheStreet to SCORE. She has an MBA, degrees in psychology, and over 15 years of experience working with hedge funds and startups.