Choosing a top West Coast business school to earn a graduate degree will depend on what you consider the highest priority and whether you choose a full-time, part-time or online program. Major media rankings on top business schools differ because they rely on different criteria, and not all lists are published in the same year. But these publications can be a good starting point in looking at general rankings, because they compare business schools in California, Oregon and Washington to others around the country.

U.S. News & World Report

"U.S. News & World Report" includes online grad school programs for business in its annual rankings.

The West Coast’s Stanford University Graduate School of Business in California tied for No. 1 with the East Coast’s Harvard University in the “U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools in 2014" report, released by the magazine in 2013. California’s Anderson School of Business Management at UCLA was No. 14 in rankings that compare U.S. schools. Deans and corporate recruiters were among those interviewed. Washington state’s Foster School of Business at the University of Washington climbed from No. 35 to tie at No. 23 on this year’s list. When it comes to part-time MBA program rankings, the Haas School of Business at University of California-Berkeley ranked No. 1. "U.S. News & World Report" was the only major media outlet to gauge the best online graduate business programs. Among West Coast schools, Washington State University's online MBA program was No. 1, California State University-Fullerton was No. 5. and California’s University of San Diego was No. 23.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek is among media companies that also rank part-time MBA programs each year.

The April 2012 rankings (published in 2013) from "Bloomberg Businessweek" placed Stanford at No. 4. (The University of Chicago was No. 1.) Other West Coast graduate business schools that made the list included Berkeley (No. 13), UCLA (No. 18) and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California at No. 28. For part-time MBA programs, UCLA was No. 2 (behind North Carolina’s Elon University). Berkeley was No. 5, and the University of Washington was No. 10. This ranking relied in part on student and corporate recruiter surveys.

Financial Times

Financial Times and the Economist compare globally when creating lists of top graduate business school programs.

The "2013 Full-Time MBA Ranking" published by "Financial Times" placed Stanford at No. 2 (behind Harvard). Other West Coast business schools that made the top 25 for 2013 were Berkeley (No. 12) and UCLA (No. 23). Up and coming is the Merage School of Business at University of California-Irvine, which jumped 27 places to No. 54. "Financial Times" surveys business schools around the world.

The Economist

Why different results for top MBA rankings? Major media companies that rank top MBA programs have different selection criteria.

"The Economist," which conducts surveys internationally, based its 2012 rankings on career opportunities, faculty and student quality, student diversity and other factors. No West Coast business school made it to the top 5 for full-time MBA programs. (The University of Chicago was No. 1.) Berkeley ranked No. 6, Stanford was No. 8 and UCLA was No. 23.


"Forbes," which bases its rankings on alumni surveys, publishes biennial lists. On the "Forbes" 2011 list, Stanford ranked No. 2 (behind Harvard) for best graduate business schools. Two other West Coast schools made the Top 20: Berkeley (No. 13) and UCLA (No 20). Media publications are just one tool to find a top West Coat business school based on your criteria, and most offer online tools to hone in on school rankings by specific criteria versus general rankings.