Online MBA Curriculum

The USC Online MBA at the Marshall School of Business offers students an integrated curriculum with award-winning video content that consists of five cross-disciplinary courses. In each course, students acquire essential knowledge about the corresponding core subject areas—marketing, finance, management, accounting and entrepreneurship — and gain insight into how these disciplines intersect. 

OMBA’s courses are developed and taught by a team of  faculty members who engage students in relevant, practical exercises and timely real-world discussions. In today’s increasingly complex industries, our cross-disciplinary curriculum provides a holistic understanding of business operations that is essential for producing leaders ready to succeed in the global marketplace. 


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Online MBA Courses

Students must complete the following courses to graduate from the program:

GSBA-501 Role of the Manager (3 units)

Beginning with one week of online discussions, readings, activities and assignments and ending with a six-day residential intensive, this course kicks off the Marshall Online MBA. Students explore the fundamental roles of the manager and the process of thinking critically to solve business problems that leaders encounter. GSBA-501 also familiarizes students with managerial and strategic frameworks and helps them develop critical managerial communication skills. The course features team-building activities and culminates with a team competition during which students analyze and recommend solutions to a business problem of a prominent company or other organization.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand general manager roles and integrative thinking
  • Identify key dimensions of leadership in organizations
  • Apply essential analytical and rhetorical skills for managers
  • Apply key theories/concepts in competitive strategy and sustainable advantage
  • Formulate strategy through analysis, develop solutions, and select optimal actions
  • Develop action plans for strategy implementation
  • Compare and contrast managerial communication styles
  • Discuss implications of leadership communication
  • Evaluate collaboration strategies and emerging tools
  • Analyze team dynamics, development and communication
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GSBA-505 Fundamentals of Business (10 units)

Online 15-week course and prerequisite for all other courses in the OMBA program

Students learn to frame and analyze contemporary business problems using statistical evidence, economic principles, financial accounting concepts, and various analytical tools. The course incorporates these core subject areas—financial accounting, microeconomics, analytics and statistics, and virtual teams— into an overarching theme that explores the fundamentals of business. Students develop working strategies for analyzing and communicating fundamental business decisions.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the use of business analyses such as economic factors, financial statements and statistical analyses
  • Apply these analytic approaches to frame and analyze challenges and opportunities
  • Adapt and effectively communicate analytic findings to various audiences
  • Use theoretical concepts and best-practice case analysis for management
  • Develop innovative virtual team approaches to support business priorities
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GSBA-535 Opportunity Recognition and Implementation (9.5 units)

Online 15-week required course

Students explore multiple aspects of new venture management including how to identify and implement new business opportunities on a global scale. They also are introduced to tools and concepts needed to manage internal relations and operations. The course incorporates these core subject areas—entrepreneurship, organizational behavior/negotiations, and contract law—into an overarching theme that explores multiple aspects of new venture management. Students develop working strategies for effective entrepreneurial start‐ups.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe new venture creation from ideation through launch
  • Create and adapt a business model using primary and secondary data
  • Deliver effective, persuasive evidence-driven pitches
  • Manage challenges faced by individuals, groups and organizations
  • Analyze and evaluate organizational designs
  • Develop confidence and skill in negotiation
  • Analyze fundamental elements of torts, sales warranties and products liability, contracts, IP protection, anti-trust, and white collar crime
  • Evaluate selection, organization, and capitalization of business entities
  • Identify persuasive techniques with various types of decision-makers
  • Make business decisions using inferential statistics and data models
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GSBA-537 Managing Inside the Firm (9.5 units)

Online 15-week required course

Students learn to streamline operations across functions in an organization. The course incorporates these core subject areas—managerial accounting, operations management, employment law, and statistics/analytics—into an overarching theme that explores the internal management of a company. Students develop working strategies for effective internal relations, data/financial analysis, and operations.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate financial status of a company based on accounting documents
  • Recognize and manage employment law and discrimination issues
  • Analyze internal processes in operations management
  • Identify potential areas of organizational conflict
  • Lead effective teams
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GSBA-538 Managing Outside the Firm (9.5 units)

Online 15-week required course

Students explore tools and strategies for effectively managing external resources to compete and grow in an international marketplace. The course incorporates these core subject areas—corporate finance, marketing strategy, internet analytics/social media, and communication—into an overarching theme that explores management of the company in terms of external relations/operations. Students develop working strategies for effective new product development and communication with key stakeholders.

Upon completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Develop an integrated 3-statement projection model in Excel
  • Explain pros and cons of various types of capital and understand how to manage leverage
  • Analyze capital investment decisions using risk and break-even analyses
  • Develop effective online and social media strategies
  • Collect and analyze internet data to aid decision making
  • Evaluate strategies and components of external crisis communication
  • Evaluate market segments, trends, and issues in new product development
  • Apply consumer behavior concepts to successful marketing strategy
  • Develop meaningful market analyses and tactics using the 4Ps and 3Cs (or 5Cs) frameworks
  • Recognize importance of customer satisfaction, marketing performance metrics, effective salesforce management, and the impact of marketing on profitability
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GSBA-539 Business Environment & Leadership (9.5 units)

Online 15-week required course

Students are introduced to strategic analysis and decision making of the business environment and learn how to enable a company to thrive in a global economy. The course incorporates these core subject areas—macroeconomics, corporate strategy, financial markets, and analytics—into an overarching theme that explores the external environment of a company. Students develop strategies and skills to manage a company’s overall business environment.

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Discriminate between good and bad strategy, leverage core strategy, and construct effective business and corporate strategies
  • Identify and dissect the key competitive forces of industries and anticipate and predict their impact on a firm’s strategic moves
  • Identify, describe and explain a firm’s corporate strategy and evaluate the effectiveness of the firm’s corporate advantages to produce superior profits
  • Identify, describe and explain a firm’s global strategy and evaluate the effectiveness of the firm’s global advantages to produce superior profits
  • Understand risk and return in stock and bond markets
  • Use portfolio theory to construct portfolios to meet investment objectives
  • Analyze uses of financial and real options by both investors and firms
  • Evaluate the effects of government policy, such as changes in tax rates or money supply, on individuals, firms and the economy
  • Analyze and critically evaluate news reports about the macro economy in the financial press
  • Collaborate with others to appraise news reports about the U.S. and world economies
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Course Sequence  

GSBA 501 and GSBA 505 are prerequisites for all other Online MBA courses. GSBA 535, 537, 538 and 539 may be taken in any order and comprise the program’s second, third, fourth and fifth semesters. 

Course Structure 

With the exception of GSBA-501 (week-long, residential intensive) all courses are comprised of asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. Students can complete asynchronous activities at their convenience; however, students must adjust their schedules and attend mandatory synchronous activities.

Courses are modular in structure. Students are expected to complete all readings and online asynchronous content in preparation for live online class meetings.  

Asynchronous Activities  Synchronous Activities 
  • Video presentations and other content produced at the Marshall in-house studio 

  • Moderated discussion boards 

  • Case studies and simulations of real-world business scenarios 

  • Self-assessment exercises, interactive games, and other virtual learning experiences 

  • Class sessions twice a week 

  • Collaborative virtual activities and assessments including facilitated team meetings 

  • One‐on‐one faculty sessions via webcam* 

  • Other real‐time interactions 

*Instructors are also available via regularly scheduled virtual office hours and email. 

Online MBA Class Scheduling 

The live class session schedule varies each semester but is held at convenient times for working professionals: Monday-Thursday, 6:00pm-8:00pm (Pacific). 

 If students choose to take a break from the program, they can resume their studies the following semester. 

Electives and Certificate Programs (optional) 

After completing all six required classes for the Online MBA, graduates may choose to continue their USC Marshall education. In addition to Marshall’s on-campus MBA electives and certificate programs, an alumnus may enroll in an online elective. 

Online and on-campus electives vary in subject matter such as project management, entrepreneurship, Lean Six Sigma, and virtual.  

Please note: Online/on-campus electives and certificate programs are not included in standard tuition and can be taken at an additional cost for students. 

Dual Degree Programs 

Those looking for an online dual-degree program should consider the MBA/MS in Systems Architecting and Engineering, MBA/MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering, MBA/MS in Gerontology or MBA/Master of Social Work programs.  

See a full list of in-person and online dual degrees

Prospective students must apply and be accepted separately to each program and fulfill all requirements for both degrees. If interested, please talk to an Enrollment Counselor to confirm requirements before applying. 

Hear from people involved with the program.

Our faculty, students, and staff discuss the need-to-know about our unparalleled curriculum and course structure.


 Samuel Rodriguez "I have an undergraduate degree in business, but I knew that a graduate degree would help me move up in my career and give me the versatility to work in any industry. The Marshall Online MBA gave me a vision, opening my eyes to opportunities beyond what I imagined. And it gave me a framework of knowledge, skills and tools that I can use to move forward in any direction—from corporate management to entrepreneurial ventures.”

Samuel Rodriguez ‘17
Associate Director of Operations and Business Intelligence
Keck Medical Center Department of Surgery


Connect With USC Marshall School of Business:

Phone:(213) 821-6800

Recognized and Acclaimed

The Online MBA ranks #1 by U.S. News & World Report, ranks #3 by Poets & Quants for best online MBA program, reaches top-5 in the World University Rankings of global online MBA programs from QS, and ranks #3 on the list of Top Online MBA programs from The Princeton Review. The program's curriculum designers have been honored by the Online Learning Consortium and its video content has earned two Telly Awards. USC Marshall is accredited by AACSB, a longstanding quality benchmark for business schools.