Why Marshall

Frequently Asked Questions

Online MBA

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ANNOUNCEMENT: The Marshall School of Business is closely tracking the evolving situation in the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing precautions to protect the well-being of our students, faculty and staff.

New and prospective students can find information about the upcoming term and application changes here. Updates for the general USC community can be found at the COVID-19 Resource Center.


About the Program

Is the Online MBA program from USC Marshall the same as the part-time and full-time MBA programs?
The Online MBA is a uniquely innovative program with curriculum that has been developed specifically for an online learning environment, combining relevant, comprehensive courses with greater flexibility. The program includes a rigorous, challenging MBA curriculum that will enable students to gain mastery in all essential areas of business. The Online MBA at USC is not a copy of any existing, on-campus program.
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Will graduates earn a full MBA from USC or does the Online MBA confer a different degree or diploma?
Students will earn the same Master of Business Administration degree as our on-campus students. Neither the diploma nor any of your transcripts will say ‘online.’
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Is it possible to switch between the online and on-campus MBA programs?
Prospective students should only apply to one MBA program at USC Marshall. If, after beginning one of USC Marshall’s MBA programs, a student would like to switch to another program, he/she may need to re-apply to that particular program. The student would also need to start taking courses from the beginning of the new program since the curriculum and course requirements are different for each MBA.
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Are the hours flexible enough for full-time working adults?
Our program is intense and rigorous. The benefit is that you complete it in a relatively short amount of time compared to a traditional, on campus, part-time MBA program. Approximately 2/3 of your coursework is asynchronous, meaning that you study on your own time. Instead of spending up to 8 hours a week in a classroom, you spend less time in a live class session but more time learning on your own. On average, students are expected to spend between 20-30 hours per week on coursework.
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Can students transfer credits into the program?
Due to the one-of-a-kind nature of our program, individuals may not transfer credits.
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Does the program have a global or international experience?
While there is no mandatory international component for the Online MBA program, students may choose to take electives that include trips to Dubai or Singapore. Participants have the chance to gain valuable international business experience by visiting companies and meeting with executives in another country. Note that enrollment for these international electives is limited, and availability depends on class sizes and bidding.
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Is there any internship with companies built into the program?
Since the program was designed with fully-employed students in mind, there are not any formal internships offered at this time.
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Can you tell me more about the networking and interpersonal components?
One of the main purposes of the residential week is meeting your fellow students, faculty, and some business leaders in person, getting to know everyone and establishing those relationships. The majority of networking events we have tend to be in Los Angeles and California, but there are events held by the Marshall Alumni Association, the USC Alumni Association, and other affiliated groups that take place around the country and the world. We will do our best to make you aware of events that come up so that you can choose to attend if there is an event near you.Students should be proactive about reaching out to faculty and fellow students with any questions or needs they may have. All faculty members are very willing to connect.
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Where can students outside of Los Angeles attend networking events?
Voluntary social and informational gatherings for current students and alumni have taken place in San Diego, the Bay Area, New York, Chicago and Dallas, allowing individuals across the country to participate actively in the USC Marshall community.
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Will students have the opportunity to meet with business leaders while in the program?
During the residential intensive, students will have the opportunity to help solve a real-life business problem and meet executives of a prominent company. Current students and alumni will also be welcome to attend various USC and Marshall business conferences, speeches, and networking events.
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Are instructors’ office hours conducted online?
Yes, they are. Instructors may have availability during prescheduled times, which are virtual walk-in office hours. They also have custom scheduled office hours, when they can be available during a time that works best for your schedule. Students can also contact instructors directly via phone or email. Students who live in or visiting the L.A. area are welcome to arrange in-person meetings with their faculty.
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Is there a summer semester?
Yes, there are three semesters per year: Fall, Spring, and Summer. Students will be taking classes year-round.
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Will this online MBA program eventually be aligned with other online dual Masters programs, e.g. MS/MBA?
We do not have any specific plans for that right now, but there is always the possibility that we put something like that together in the future.
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Is it possible to talk to students currently in the program?
Prospective students who are interested in connecting with students who are currently attending our Online MBA program may contact us so that we may put you in touch with someone.
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Can prospective students sample the online platform?
We hope to be able to offer previews to both Canvas, used for asynchronous content, and Zoom, used for live class meetings, in the near future.
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What are the program’s technical requirements?

All students must have access to:

  • A computer (Windows or Mac OS) with the latest version of any of these browsers
  • Headset or built-in speakers & microphone
  • HD Webcam
  • Broadband/high speed internet (1.5mbps minimum/3mbps preferred)
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Curriculum and Participation

How many courses are required to complete the program?
Students must complete six courses to finish the requirements.
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What is the maximum number of units you can take each semester? Minimum?
The program is designed for students take a minimum of 9.5 units a semester following the completion of the first course, GSBA 501. If you follow the recommended schedule, you will finish the program in 5 semesters. While it is not possible to accelerate the pace, the program does offer students the flexibility to take a semester off if needed to balance work and other life demands.
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Is each course comprised of individual topics taught one at a time?
After completing the residential intensive, you will take one large themed course each semester. Students will be studying several different topics simultaneously on a weekly basis. Connections between these topics will be made whenever possible. Some projects and assignments will combine more than one area. Rather than being taught one at a time, classes are taught at once so as to take advantage of the integration opportunity. This is similar to the way in which students are expected to address business challenges in the real world. The various disciplines that are covered are meant to be used in conjunction with one another to solve problems in business environments.
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Can students pursue a concentration?
The program has a set course schedule that is designed to comprehensively cover all the important business topics as well as ones unique to the technology-enabled business environment of today, while allowing students to complete the degree in just under 2 years. Although having an emphasis in a specific discipline is not officially part of the program, students are welcome to extend their studies and take additional on-campus electives to create their own area of emphasis after completing their degree.
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Can students take elective courses?
After completing the six courses required for the Online MBA, students may choose to extend their studies. In addition to Marshall’s rich array of on-campus MBA electives and certificate programs, an alumnus may enroll in an online elective with topics such as project management, entrepreneurship, Lean Six Sigma, and virtual communication or apply to the online Graduate Certificate in Optimization & Supply Chain Management program.
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If an individual chooses to pursue concentration, will the degree be conferred at the end of the five semesters, or will it be conferred upon finishing all courses?
Once you complete all the requirements of the Online MBA program, you are conferred that degree. If you decide you would like to take elective courses in order to pursue an area of interest or create a concentration, you can enroll in courses as a USC alumnus. You may also decide to complete a Master of Science in Business Administration if you would like to earn a degree from the extra courses you complete.
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Are the live online class meetings required?
Regardless of where students are located, our live class meetings are a required and essential part of the program.
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If I miss a live lecture, will a recorded version of the lecture be available?
As with on-campus MBA programs, attendance is mandatory. However, sometimes work and life demands arise, and if you are able to arrange with your instructor ahead of time that you need to miss a class, we record all of our class sessions in Zoom. The primary intention is to allow students to review information that they have already seen, but the recordings may also be used when students have to miss a live class session.
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Will live class times vary, or will they be primarily in the morning or the evening?
The live class sessions, held online, are targeted toward working professionals who work standard business hours. During weekdays, live sessions will take place late afternoon Pacific Time, as early as 4:30PM and generally ending by 8:00PM Pacific Time. If we decide to hold some on the weekends, they are expected to be scheduled in the morning, in the range of 8:00AM-12:00PM Pacific Time.
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When will the on-campus one-week residential take place for students beginning the program in Spring 2021?
The residential week will begin on December 2, 2020, and the courses will conclude when courses begin on December 7, 2020.
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How often are students required to attend class on campus?
Students are only required to come to campus for the one week-long residential intensive at the start of the program. However, we do hope that everyone will be able to attend the commencement ceremony when they finish the program, and that takes place in mid-May every year.
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When does each semester begin once I finish the on-campus session?

For students who have completed GSBA-501, all Online MBA required courses will follow a semester schedule during these date periods.

Read more about important admission dates and deadlines.

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Does the program conclude with a thesis, test, case study or project?
No, there is not a formal thesis requirement at the end of the Online MBA program. However, there may be capstone projects combining topics in one or more courses.
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Can you expound on the international emphasis of the program?
Global topics and globalization are an important part of the program’s curriculum. There is a global mindset in terms of how the classes are taught, cases are chosen, and the extent to which we incorporate guest lectures. Several courses emphasize relevant topics such as international collaboration and virtual team management.
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Does this program feature guest lecturers?
Yes. The majority of our faculty feature guest lectures in the prerecorded content. As we continue through the program, there may be opportunities to bring in guest lecturers in the live class sessions. We try to bring in as many of our industry partners as we can.
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What speakers visit campus?
USC Marshall has hosted a variety of business leaders as guest speakers, including CEOs, digital marketing experts and entertainment and consulting executives. Speakers discuss issues like professional ethics, corporate leadership, data-driven marketing and brand reinvention. Online students can view guest lectures live and interact with speakers.
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What percentage of an Online MBA course consists of group work?
This varies by course. In general, anywhere between 30-50% of the work will be completed in teams. In the program, we offer you tools to collaborate efficiently with your team. Teams are switched each semester, so students gain experience with many peers who are working in different industries and have a wide range of specialties.
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How big are the teams on average when split into group projects?
It depends upon the specific size of the cohort. Individual student groups will typically contain 4-5 people.
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Can students graduate with dual degrees?
Although there are a variety of dual degrees available which include an MBA, 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. 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.
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How soon after applying should I expect to receive an admissions decision?
Students should receive an admissions decision within 4 weeks after the application deadline if they submitted a complete application.
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When would you recommend submitting an application by?
The sooner you can submit your application, the better. It is very important that you submit a completed application. We review applications during as many as four rounds prior to each start. Read more about application deadlines for our upcoming start.
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What are the upcoming start dates for the program?
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I recently submitted transcripts to another online graduate program at USC Marshall. Would I have to resend my official transcripts to apply to the Online MBA?
If they are already on file with USC, you do not need to resubmit transcripts or GRE/GMAT scores. Essays and letters of recommendation, however, will need to be sent again. Read more about our current admissions requirements.
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Can you tell us about the backgrounds of your current students?
We have a diverse group of students. The age range is approximately 25-50 years old. Students work in financial services, healthcare, military, entertainment, engineering and consulting. The average amount of work experience is about eight years. The majority of our students are from Southern California, but there are some students from the East Coast and the Midwest. The varying experiences and backgrounds help to bring unique perspectives to the program and lead to fruitful discussions.
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What is your average GRE or GMAT score? Is there a minimum?
The average GMAT score for our cohorts is 630 and the average GRE score is 314. Applicants should keep in mind that test scores are simply one component of the multifaceted admissions process that we consider when making an admissions decision. Read more about our current admissions requirements.
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What is the Executive Assessment (EA)?

The Executive Assessment (EA) is designed to evaluate business school readiness and focuses on skills that are critical both at work and school: higher-order reasoning, critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving. Because the EA was designed specifically for experienced professionals, it requires modest preparation, takes only 90 minutes to complete and includes flexible rescheduling options. The test is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), creators of the GMAT exam.

Applicants who receive high scores on the assessment will be considered strong candidates for the waiver, but there is no minimum score to qualify. We recommend uploading an unofficial copy of your Executive Assessment scores with your application as well as having your official scores sent directly to USC Marshall.

USC Marshall Online MBA Program Code: 389-9C-23

Read more about our current admissions requirements.

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Is there an average GPA for the program?
The average GPA for our first two cohorts is 3.2.
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Are the letters of recommendation confidential and submitted directly to Marshall?
The letters are submitted online through our application system. They are completely confidential.
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If we receive additional letters of recommendation above and beyond the required three, will they be accepted?
Yes, students can submit additional letters of recommendation. Two additional letters (beyond the required three) can be evaluated.
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When I ask for letters of recommendation, how long can I estimate the process will take for the person? What information do they need in terms of the way in which they will send the letter?
The amount of time it will take the individual to write the letter of recommendation is solely their choice. There are two things that they can do: they can fill out the basic form that says how long they have known the prospective student and write a letter of recommendation, or they can complete the form itself, which asks them to rank the prospective student and give feedback on them. Our recommendation is for the person to fill out the form, providing rankings and feedback, and also write a letter of recommendation.
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Should letters of recommendation have an emphasis? For example, should each letter focus on a different area of a prospective student’s abilities?
All letters of recommendation should echo the same thing and have the same theme. We want to get the full picture of who you are as a person and as a professional, why you would be a great fit for our program, and how you would enhance it.
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If a candidate is local and chosen for a final interview, is the interview still conducted online, or are they brought in for an in-person interview?
Regardless of a candidate’s location, the interview will be conducted online. We want to make sure they are comfortable working in a virtual setting, since that is the nature of the program.
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Who conducts the online interview?
Our faculty committee conducts the interview. This is comprised of a couple of our Admissions Committee.
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Is there a specific type of work experience that is preferred?
There is not a specific type of work experience preferred, but we are looking for individuals who can do the required academic work and contribute to class discussions. Our current students work in consulting, the government, financial services, engineering, retail merchandising, healthcare, etc. We are looking for a diverse group.
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How are applicants from a STEM background perceived in the admission process?
They are perceived quite well. We currently have a few students with STEM backgrounds in our program.
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Do graduating students participate in a commencement ceremony?
Upon completion of the program, students are invited to participate in the ceremony. The Marshall ceremony is in May, which coincides with the University commencement.
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Tuition & Fees

What is the tuition cost of the program?
Tuition for the program is $106,108. Read more for information on tuition and other program costs.
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Is the tuition for the Online MBA the same as the full-time campus program?
The tuition rate per unit is the same for all of our MBA programs. Programs may vary in their number of units.
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Is the application fee waived for USC alums? How about for veterans?
Yes, there is an application fee waiver for veterans. USC alumni and staff members also do not need to pay the application fee.
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Are online students considered for scholarships and fellowships?

There are a couple of scholarships that the university offers for our graduate students. Online MBA students are eligible for these options. Typically, those are Alumni Club scholarships. Students can apply for them in the fall semester. We will offer scholarships to new students with a GMAT score of 640 or higher or a GRE score of 315 or higher. The amount of the scholarship will vary depending on their overall application.

We also encourage students to apply for external scholarships and forms of funding, such as completing the FAFSA. Employer reimbursement can also be accommodated. Additionally, if an applicant is a veteran, USC is a Yellow Ribbon school.

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Does the USC staff and faculty tuition remission apply to this program?
Yes, there is tuition remission for staff and faculty.
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What is included in the cost of the residential intensive?

The cost includes lodging, all of your breakfast and lunch, and the kick-off dinner on Sunday night. The only pieces you will need to pay for are transportation and dinner on most evenings.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the residential week has been cancelled for Spring 2021.

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Student Services/Resources

Does USC offer any assistance with job placement at completion of the program?
Visit our Career Services page for information about resources available to you.
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Will local candidates have access to on-campus facilities such as the library and other resources?
Online students have access to the same resources as on-campus students, with the exception of the student health center. Please let the Online MBA program staff know if you would like information about any specific campus resources or services.
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If you are local, can you participate in student clubs and activities? Will you be issued a student ID card?
Every student will receive a USC ID card. Students have access to the Marshall Club website and can view the different clubs and organizations. Working professionals will find that many activities take place during the day. Currently, some of our Online MBA students are working to create a club that meets virtually for online student membership.
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Connect With USC Marshall School of Business:

Email: onlinemba@marshall.usc.edu
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.