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USC / Marshall MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

USC Marshall School of Business

The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business is situated in the southeastern corner of USC’s University Park campus in Los Angeles, California. In addition to its full-time MBA program, the school offers a part-time MBA program, an online MBA program and several Executive MBA options. Hallmarks of the full-time program include its early start and small class size. Also notable is the program’s international experiential learning requirement, called Pacific Rim International Management Education or PRIME, through which students visit companies and speak with executives in the Pacific Rim and Latin America.

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Throughout its seven academic units, Marshall employs a total of 244 faculty members.  In addition to teaching classes, these scholars and practitioners also help staff the school’s 10 centers, which range in focus from sports business research to the commercialization of technology.


Marshall’s professors draw upon a variety of teaching methods.  The school notes that professors use case discussions, student presentations and team projects more frequently than lecture-based learning.  To help students get to know each other better, Marshall divides its incoming class into three “cores” that take all of their required courses together.  Each core is further broken down into teams of five to six students that complete group projects together; students are assigned to different teams in the fall and spring semesters.

Unlike most MBA programs, which typically begin in August or September, Marshall’s full-time MBA program starts in mid-July with a weeklong orientation.  Following orientation, first-year students complete a four-week intensive term that features coursework in financial accounting, statistics, strategy, microeconomics, and management communication.  Nine first semester core courses, which range in focus from microeconomics to marketing, then begin in late August.  Midway through the semester, students choose two additional core courses from a menu of three, completing a total of 11 courses by the end of the semester.  Fall semester exams are held in mid-December and are followed by approximately three weeks of winter break.

In the spring semester, first-year students may take up to four elective courses and must complete the last required core course, The Global Context of Business, which features an experiential learning component called Pacific Rim International Management Education (PRIME).  Through PRIME, students embark on a 10-day trip to the Pacific Rim or Latin America, during which they visit companies and meet with managers to gain firsthand exposure to international business issues.  Spring semester courses end in early May.

The second year of the MBA program is comprised entirely of elective courses, with students taking a total of nine electives over the two semesters.  Each year, students can choose from a menu of nearly 100 elective offerings. Second-year students may also cross-register for courses at other USC schools and departments, applying up to nine credit units of non-Marshall courses towards their MBA degree.  To help students further tailor their studies towards their desired career paths, Marshall has designed 16 concentrations and 10 certificate programs.

Other MBA Degree Options

Along with its full-time MBA program, Marshall offers a three-year, part-time MBA for Professionals and Managers at either its main campus in Los Angeles or its Orange County Center in Irvine.  The school also has a two-year Executive MBA program and a one-year Accelerated International MBA for Experienced Professionals, as well as a two-year Global Executive MBA program in collaboration with the Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

In August 2015, Marshall welcomed the inaugural class of its Online MBA (OMBA) program, which features a unique curriculum distinct from the full-time and EMBA programs but with courses that are all taught by full-time Marshall faculty.

In addition, students can pursue one of 11 dual degree programs offered by Marshall and other USC graduate schools, including an MBA/MD, a JD/MBA and an MBA/MRED, among others.  For students interested in pursuing careers in the entertainment industry, Marshall has partnered with the USC School of Cinema and Television to offer the Business of Entertainment Certificate Program.

Concentrations at Marshall

  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics
  • The Business of Creative Industries
  • Business of Education
  • The Business of Entertainment
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship and Operations
  • Finance and Business Economics
  • Health Care Advisory Services
  • Information Systems
  • Management and Organization
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainability, Society, and Business
  • Technology Development and E-Business

Degree Offerings at Marshall

Full-time MBA Program

Part-Time MBA Program
MBA Program for Professionals and Managers

Online MBA Program

Executive MBA Programs
Executive MBA

Global Executive MBA

1 Year International MBA (IBEAR)

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Clubs, Conferences & Competitions

Students at Marshall have many opportunities to become involved in extracurricular activities.  The full-time MBA program has 40 student-run organizations that cover community, career, diversity, social and athletic interests.  One of the most popular student clubs is Challenge for Charity, through which Marshall students compete against teams from other West Coast MBA programs in athletic, volunteer, social and fundraising events to benefit groups like Special Olympics, Junior Achievement and A Better LA.  Meanwhile, on the more professional side, USC Marshall Graduate Women in Business helps develop the careers of women MBA students by organizing events, such as lunches with executives, company presentations and panels on women leaders in business.

Further supplementing students’ extracurricular options, Marshall’s research centers and student organizations host conferences and competitions throughout the year.  For instance, the USC Marshall Business of Entertainment Association hosts an annual conference on the evolution of the entertainment business, and the school hosts a yearly Asia/Pacific Business Outlook Conference.  Meanwhile, the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies organizes the New Venture Seed Competition, through which teams of student, faculty, and staff entrepreneurs from Marshall and other USC graduate schools compete for cash prizes of up to $75,000 in seed funding.

Campus Space

The Marshall School of Business is located in the University of Southern California’s University Park campus close to downtown Los Angeles.  Marshall’s graduate programs are housed in Popovich Hall, which, in addition to academic facilities, boasts a café and a courtyard that serve as common meeting places for members of the Marshall community.  Students and faculty can also take advantage of the nearby Crocker Business Library for their research needs.

MBA students can find housing on campus in both apartments and residence halls.  However, a fair number of Marshall students choose to live off-campus in nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods.

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Career Services

Marshall’s MBA Career Services provides year-round career development programming to help students secure summer internships and post-MBA jobs in their desired fields.  Offerings include interview preparation, job search engines and help with résumé updating, among others.  In addition, students have a wide variety of opportunities to meet with potential employers through on-campus information sessions and receptions.  MBA Career Services also organizes several hiring events on campus throughout the year, as well as off-campus site visits to locations such as the Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest and Hong Kong.

Career Statistics

Thirty-one percent of the Class of 2016 went into consulting careers after graduating from Marshall.  Both financial services and media/entertainment were the second most popular industries, claiming 13% of graduates each, followed by technology at 11%.  Nine percent of the class went into consumer products while 7% joined the real estate industry. Pharmaceutical, biotechnology and health care products attracted 5% of the Class of 2016.  Meanwhile, the top three most chosen functions were consulting, marketing/sales, and financial services, which drew 34%, 27% and 18% of 2016 graduates respectively.

As often occurs among business school graduates, a large proportion of the Class of 2016, 86%, found post-MBA employment in the region where Marshall is located: the Western U.S.  The Northeastern U.S. drew 7% of graduates, and 3% chose jobs internationally.  The remaining portion of the class spread throughout the Southwestern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the U.S.

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The Class Profile

Admission to Marshall’s full-time MBA program is competitive, as the school admitted only 33% of those candidates who applied to the Class of 2018.  The 228 students who matriculated in that class had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.37 and an average GMAT score of 692, with 80% of the class scoring between 640 and 740.

The average student in this class was 29 years old at the time of matriculation and had five years of work experience.  Prior to attending Marshall, 17% of students worked in financial services, 13% in technology, 11% in media/entertainment, 8% in consumer products, 7% in pharma/biotech/healthcare, 7% in consulting, and 6% each in the government and manufacturing industries.  Although most of the Class of 2018 pursued undergraduate degrees in traditional pre-MBA paths such as business, economics and engineering, 28% of students majored in the humanities and social sciences.

Thirty-two percent of first-year students hold citizenship outside the U.S. Thirteen percent of Marshall’s first-year class identify as U.S. underrepresented minorities, and women comprise 32% of the Class of 2018.

Application Procedures

Marshall’s full-time MBA program offers four rounds of application submission deadlines, which typically occur in mid-October, early January, early March, and mid-April.  To apply, prospective students must submit an online application form, official academic transcripts from any undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, two required essays and a résumé.  The school also requires applicants to submit official GMAT or GRE score reports, A $150 application fee, and, if applicable, a TOEFL or IELTS score report.  Interviews are required for admission and are offered by invitation only; the school notes that on-campus interviewing is preferred.

Application Checklist

  • Data Form
  • Résumé
  • Application Fee
  • Academic Transcripts
  • GMAT/GRE and TOEFL/IELTS Academic Scores
  • Essays

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Tuition for the first year at Marshall totaled $58,674 in 2016-2017 with an additional $9,466 in fees.  However, the school estimates that considering other living expenses such as housing and textbooks, students will spend approximately $92,809 in this time.  To help students finance their education, Marshall offers several merit-based fellowships ranging from partial to full tuition for domestic and international applicants. Second-year students who do not receive a fellowship when admitted to the program are eligible for Dean’s Scholarships, which are awarded based on accomplishments during the first year of the MBA program.  Students may also finance their education through federal and private loans.

Cost of Attendance

  • Tuition: $58,674
  • Books, Fees & Supplies: $10,816
  • Room & Board: $18,333
  • Personal & Transportation: $4,986
  • Total: $92,809

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Mailing Address:
USC Marshall MBA Admissions
630 Childs Way — JKP 308
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2633
Phone: 213-740-7846
Fax: 213-749-8520
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @USCMarshall

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Application results in real time, submitted by site visitors.
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Interview Invite via phone.
GPA: 3.47. GMAT: 700.
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Interview Invite via email.
January 6, 2018 10:19am
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GPA: 3.58. GMAT: 640.
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GPA: 2.99. GMAT: 730.

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