From the School

The Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) offers one-year MBA programs that follow the educational philosophy of "learn by doing". The programs' in-class experience includes simulations of management decision-making scenarios, case studies, team exercises, extensive interaction with faculty and other students, and personal communication and presentation skills enhancement. The Orfalea College of Business' (OCOB) MBA programs are accredited by the AACSB and admit a limited number of students each year. This select group of graduate students fosters an eclectic student body with a strong sense of community and a culture that emphasizes high quality performance. Students accepted into and enrolled in Cal Poly's OCOB MBA programs may: Enter the program without an undergraduate business degree and without completing prerequisite business course requirements. Choose an accelerated option (Track One) that allows full-time students to follow a prescribed course of study and complete the program in less than a year or a traditional, non-accelerated option.(Track Two.) Study relevant, current, challenging, and intellectually stimulating courses. Enroll in short intensive summer sessions to complete the MBA program and/or follow the accelerated option requirements. Enroll in a 2-1/2 week international business study tour to mainland China or India• Work with renowned faculty in a friendly and professional academic atmosphere. Live and study on California's beautiful Central Coast In addition to a general management MBA, Cal Poly offers an MBA with a Specialization in Agribusiness, and an MBA with a specialization in Graphic Communication Document Systems Management, an MS in Accounting Taxation. Two-year dual-degree options are also available for students wishing to pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously. For example, a formal joint MBA/MS program in Engineering Management (EMP) and various other informal MBA/MS or MBA/MA dual-degree options are available.


From The School

The Cal Poly MBA program seeks candidates that are bright, motivated, and demonstrate the ability to successfully complete a rigorous academic program. While admission is primarily based on GPA and GMAT achievement, we do consider additional factors such as work experience, leadership qualities, and letters of recommendation in order to develop an overall assessment of the applicant. Interviews are optional.

Acceptance Rate
Average Undergrad GPA
Years Work Experience
Average Age

Test Scores

GMAT (25th and 75th percentiles)
580 - 750
3.0 - 3.9


Regular Application Deadline
July 1

Rolling Admission Deadline
July 1

Other Admission Factors


GMAT Score
Undergraduate GPA

School Type And Accreditation

School Type


Selectivity Rating


From the School

Degrees Offered

The Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business offers a General Management Masters in Business Administration (MBA), as well as specializations in Agribusiness and Graphic Communication Document Systems Management. Also available, an MBA & MS in Engineering Management (EMP) dual degree, and Masters of Science in Accounting - Taxation, and a Masters in Business and Technology (MS BT). In addition, Cal Poly offers a variety of informal dual degree options where a student can link the MBA degree with certain other graduate degree programs on campus.

Academic Programs

The Cal Poly MBA program is a 60-64 unit program that provides students who are willing to commit to a rigorous schedule of prescribed courses the option to complete the program in less than 11 months (Track I). A traditional MBA model (Track II) for those not pursing this accelerated option and/or simultaneously pursuing joint/dual degrees is also offered.

Special Academic Programs

In addition to a general management MBA, Cal Poly offers an MBA with a Specialization in Agribusiness, an MBA with a specialization in Graphic Communication Document Systems Management, and an MS in Accounting - Taxation. Two-year dual-degree options are also available for students wishing to pursue two graduate degrees simultaneously. A joint MBA/MS program in Engineering Management (EMP) and various other MBA/MS or MBA/MA dual-degree options are available.


Outstanding faculty teach in Cal Poly's MBA programs. Each faculty member has a terminal degree in his/her discipline, e.g., PhD or JD. Further, each faculty member is active and engaged in his or her discipline, whether it's their research and publication work, consulting and/or their community and professional service.

Program Types






Faculty Information

Total Faculty


Students Say

Poised at the intersection of business and technology, California Polytechnic State University's graduate business programs are a great choice for students with a background in applied science or architecture. As a state school, Cal Poly is "less expensive" than comparable private institutions, yet its AACSB-accredited business programs are rigorous, current, and intimate, enrolling fewer than fifty students each year. The MBA comprises sixty to sixty-four total credits for graduation; depending on your schedule, availability, and academic goals, students have "the option for oneor two-year completion" of the MBA, with an academic focus in general management, agribusiness, or graphic communication document systems management. The chance to complete a specialized MBA in just one year—even without an undergraduate degree in business— is a huge advantage to this program. At the same time, students must be prepared to work hard: not only is coursework challenging and accelerated, "the program requires students [to] maintain a 3.0 GPA" throughout. For working students who want to pursue a degree part-time, or for those who'd like to explore concurrent employment or internship opportunities, Cal Poly also allows students to take fewer than the full-time 16 units per quarter, through a secondary MBA track.

For many, the major benefit of Cal Poly is its strength in technical fields, which students can exploit through technology-oriented electives, or through formal dual degree programs with other academic departments. Of particular note, the school offers joint MS and MBA degrees in engineering management and engineering fields (including aerospace, civil and environmental, computer science, and more). Almost 40 percent of current MBA candidates are concurrently enrolled in a master 's program, telling us that, "the dual degree program is fantastic" at Cal Poly. A current student adds, "The MBA/ EMP dual degree program they offer was exactly the type of program that I was looking for, and Cal Poly has a tremendous reputation in the world of engineering."

A hallmark of the Cal Poly MBA program is the "learning-by-doing teaching style," which encourages students to develop applicable skills through coursework. To that end, classes and assignments include teamwork, case studies, and presentations. Additionally, the "international business course"—a unique offering within an accelerated program—gives students the opportunity to study a foreign economy and business practices during a two-week trip overseas. In recent years, the program took students to India and China. Students can also tailor their education by pursuing research projects in conjunction with Cal Poly faculty, or by competing with other business students in national case study and strategy competitions. When it comes to Cal Poly's faculty and administration, it's a mixed bag. Here, "there are some professors that are outstanding, and some that are good in their field, but not good at teaching." A student summarizes, "It's a cliché, but the more effort you put into the program, the more you will get out of the program."


MS/MBA - Dual Degree
Non-Profit Management/Public Administration


Courses in Sustainability

Sustainability course is


Research Opportunities in Sustainability


Career Overview

From The School

The Cal Poly Career Services office offers extensive career counseling, career employment services, online databases and résumé books, student employment, career exploration and job search preparation workshops, employment-related events such as job fairs and a Career Resource Center.

Average Starting Salary
Accepted employment by 3 months after graduation

Graduates Employed by Region

Students Say

At Cal Poly, Career Services hosts career fairs and networking events for the entire school community. They also offer career preparation assistance, including resume revi- sions and interview skills workshops. While graduate students are free to participate in these offerings, "the career services are more geared towards undergrads" at Cal Poly. Fortunately, the school boasts an excellent reputation and strong ties to the local community. Even without extensive assistance, around 85 percent of Cal Poly students have accepted a job offer by graduation; three months out, 100 percent of MBA alumni are employed.

Top employers of Cal Poly MBA graduates include Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Rantec, General Dynamics, Sun MicroSystems, Deloitte Consulting, Qualcomm, IBM, Agilent Technology, Amgen Inc., Lawrence Livermore Labs, Pacific Gas & Electric, USDA, Dept of Veterans Affairs, KPMG, Pratt & Whitney, Morgan Stanley, Boston Scientific, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Sandia National Lab, Lam Research, Columbia Sportswear, Adelaida Cellars. The mean base salary for MBA graduates is $100,000.

Prominent Alumni

Robert Rowell
President, Golden State Warriors

Linda Ozawa Olds
Founder, Jamba Juice

Bill Swanson
Chairman & CEO, Raytheon Company

Burt Rutan
Pres., Scaled Composites, designer SpaceShipOne

Gary Bloom
CEO, Veritas


From The School

MBA Program: Tuition and Fees -nine-month academic year:

California Residents $ 5,751
Non-Residents $16,599
Optional Session Courses: $ 3,234
Optional International Business Tour $ 5,000

Housing, transportation, books, and personal living costs are approximately $13,000.

Cal Poly students have a variety of financial aid programs available for assistance. Programs vary in eligibility criteria, award amounts, and repayment options.


Application Deadlines
Mar 1

Financial Aid Statistics

Average Aid Package

Average Scholarship / Grant Aid Package

Students Receiving Some Form Of Aid

All Students Receiving Scholarships / Grants

New Students Receiving Some Form Of Aid

New Students Receiving Scholarships / Grants

New Students Receiving Loans

Tuition Full-Time (per year)

Tuition (In-State)
Tuition (Out-State)
Fees (In-State)
Fees (Out-State)

Expenses per Academic Year

Estimated Room And Board On-Campus
Estimated Room And Board Off-Campus
Academic Expenses

Student Body Profile

Total Enrollment
Part Time

In State
Out of State
Foreign Countries Represented



35% female
65% male

Campus Life

From The School

With 300 clubs on campus, MBA students have many opportunities for activities outside the classroom. Offering the ability to demonstrate leadership and collaboration, the GSB Association is a popular choice. This club hosts a variety of fundraising, professional and social events. It organizes a Professional Speaker Series giving students the opportunity to network with industry professionals. Firms also find the Speaker Series to be a valuable recruitment tool.

Cal Poly MBA students have a proud tradition of competition. They participate annually in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition; and the MBA Business Ethics Competition. In 2006, they won that competition defeating teams from USC, Loyola Marymount, University of Washington and College of William and Mary and in 2008 they earn 2nd place. There is the Bank of America Low Income Housing Challenge competition, comprised of a multidisciplinary team of City Planners, Architects, Construction and Business Managers. This competition involves developing an affordable housing development proposal. In 2005, Cal Poly's team won that competition, defeating teams from Stanford and UC Berkeley.

Students Say

Life is good at Cal Poly. Located on a hilltop overlooking San Luis Obispo, "the college campus is gorgeous" and the surrounding town is beautiful, friendly, and student-orient- ed. No wonder many students say "the location" is among the Cal Poly's greatest assets. Graduate students have access to the school's excellent recreation center, health center, and library, and they may even choose to live on campus. Within the business school, the Graduate Students in Business Association (GSBA) organizes social gatherings for students and faculty, as well as fundraisers and professional development events.

Cal Poly offers just a few graduate programs; therefore "the undergrads overwhelmingly outnumber the graduate students" on campus. Fortunately, "the Graduate School of Business students have their own Room/Lounge with a fridge, microwave, tables, com- puters, and whiteboards"—a nice enclave for the more mature crowd. At Cal Poly, most MBA candidates are "young, career-driven" professionals, principally from technical or engineering backgrounds.

More Information

% of Classrooms with Internet Access

Campus-wide Internet Network

Internet Access for All Students

Admissions Office Contact

From The School

Campus and Location

Cal Poly is located in San Luis Obispo, an idyllic city of 45,000 located on the beautiful Central Coast of California, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. San Luis Obispo’s small-town casual atmosphere makes it an excellent location in which to study and socialize away from the large metropolitan areas; however, close enough for easy interviews and contacts. Cal Poly students can enjoy almost any type of outdoor recreation -- at the beaches, along coastal dunes and ridges, mountains, and nearby lakes, ranging from mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, golf, sailing, kayaking, camping, or just relaxing in an unspoiled natural setting. The Orfalea College of Business occupies a modern building which offers multi-media capabilities and instructional technology in all classrooms. In addition to the largest computer laboratory on campus, the building offers wireless internet, small meeting rooms, and student lounges.


The Orfalea College of Business, named after Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko's, is a modern building offering over 13,000 square feet of computer lab space and teaching facilities. Cal Poly offers on-campus housing for 2,783 students in 13 residence halls; has library holdings of 2,576,3000; computer access of 1,800 student work stations in labs, classrooms and residence halls; and a modern 91,559 sq. ft. recreation center.

Victoria Walls
Assistant Director of Graduate Programs

1 Grand Avenue, OCOB
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Abu Dhabi




Articles & Advice