University of Southern California
black horizontal bar for print styles

Master’s Degree Programs

Marshall M.B.A. Program

The Marshall M.B.A. curriculum is a compre-hensive two-year (63-unit) learning experience designed to develop outstanding leaders who act with positive impact and character in a rapidly changing economic, social and political world.

A core of 15 essential courses is designed to build the foundation of skills required of all leading executives, develop collaborative talent, expand the student’s vision with a global perspective and instill an innovative spirit. An individualized program of study, which begins in the second semester of the first year, allows students to acquire knowledge and skills in specialized functions within specific industries.

Recognizing that success in business requires more than a thorough knowledge of the vernacular of business, the Marshall M.B.A. curriculum is both broad and deep, offering students an opportunity to learn about business from varying perspectives. Marshall M.B.A. students develop:

• a world view that understands and appreci-ates different cultures and economies;

• a strategic perspective that understands the global dynamics of worldwide industries and new markets;

• appreciation for the creative process, intel-lectual property and a commitment to con-tinuous innovation;

• an entrepreneurial spirit for initiating busi-ness opportunities and moving large com-panies forward;

• an ability to integrate decisions and solu-tions across disciplines in complex decision-making environments;

• a clear framework for ethical and values-based, decision-making supported by un-yielding personal integrity and the confi-dence to act accordingly;

• a professional presence and the ability to articulate a vision needed to motivate others and lead diverse teams of people.

Marshall M.B.A. graduates are collaborative by nature, innovative in spirit and global in perspective.

The Faculty

Instructors in the Marshall M.B.A. program are an inspired group of teachers who are passionate about nurturing the development of their students and are committed to the program and to innovative implementation. Scholars bring their latest thinking into the classroom and convey it so that students embrace ideas and learning with excitement and a willingness to demonstrate that learning and enthusiasm in their careers.

Recognized experts, academic specialists and industry leaders are actively involved in the program. Faculty known for their work in Marshall research centers offer industry collaboration. Many faculty connect with other schools in the university, tap into the strengths of innovative Southern California industries and engage our alumni across industries and globally. The valuable contributions of experience and expertise from individuals and organizations outside Mar-shall weave theory with practice.

An Advanced Learning Environment

The educational approach of the Marshall M.B.A. is a careful balance of case learning along with course work, lectures, experiential exercises and field studies. Students are members of supportive and challenging learning communities. The experience is hands-on and teamwork based, with extensive opportunities to work with real companies and real managers on real projects.

Classes are taught in state-of-the-art caserooms featuring network access for every student. The Experiential Learning Center offers students opportunities for experimentation, video practice, simulation exercises and group preparation.

The full-time program is rigorous, intellectually demanding and time-intensive. Students typically spend 60-80 hours per week on course work and projects.


Applicants should have significant full-time work experience. Letters of recommendation submitted with the application should relate to the applicant’s work experience. For more information, contact the Marshall M.B.A. Admission Office in Popovich Hall (JKP), room 308; (213) 740-7846; Fax (213) 749-8520; Apply online at

Application Deadlines
Admission decisions for the full-time program are made within four admission rounds. Applicants who submit completed applications (including test scores) to the Admission Office by the December, January, February and April dates listed in the M.B.A. application packet will receive notification in approximately six weeks. Applicants are urged to file a completed application as early as possible, as the applicant pool is extremely competitive. The final deadline for the full-time program is April 1.

Jump Start

The Marshall M.B.A. Jump Start program was developed to assist students who have relatively little experience with quantitative course work and those who need a refresher. Intensive class sessions provide a fundamental knowledge base for the first year core courses.

Comprehensive Orientation

The Marshall M.B.A. program begins with an orientation that stresses leadership development and teamwork, empowering students to take responsibility for their learning climate at USC. Faculty, staff and second-year M.B.A. students lead the orientation program, advising students as they develop relationships and team values and learn how to be successful in the program. New students emerge with clearer expectations of the educational experience.

Focus on Collaboration

The ability to work in and manage teams is becoming increasingly important in business practice. Taking those skills from the program is a key part of each student’s leadership growth.

Students are assigned to small teams for the first year of study. These teams are composed of students with diverse backgrounds and experiences to enhance the overall learning experience for each team member. In group projects, study groups and competitive assignments, teamwork is crucial to success. A greater understanding of teams is bolstered through formal discussions and presentations throughout the year.

In addition to formal team projects, a strong community of mutual support develops from the important role informal study groups play in the school’s academic culture.

The Core: An Integrated Program of Study

Although the curriculum lists a series of required courses to be taken during the first year of the Marshall M.B.A. program, students are, in many ways, pursuing one nine-month course because the individual courses and materials covered are highly integrated.

Instructors for first-year required courses are selected on two grounds: teaching excellence and their ability to work together as a faculty team. The first-year teaching team develops and evaluates selected assignments jointly, linking concepts across courses, and occasionally team teaches, examining complex business programs from multiple perspectives.

Professional Development for Leaders

Professional Development for Leaders is a year-long, carefully structured leadership development experience of focused class sessions, tailored workshops and ongoing individual and group coaching. Throughout the entire first year, students are immersed in developing emotional intelligence -- the ability to understand and respond to the human side of business -- required of successful leaders.


The global vision generated during the first year of the M.B.A. culminates with PRIME -- Business Practices in the Pacific Rim. PRIME melds on-campus classroom study with nine days abroad. Students make a major presentation either on specific industry analyses or on consulting projects that they have undertaken. To date, students have studied in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing and Hong Kong/Shenzen, China; Havana, Cuba; Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Mexico City, Mexico; Singapore; and Bangkok, Thailand.


Practical experience is critical to success in business. Marshall has developed an extensive network of prospective employers who offer internships during the summer between their first and second year. Successful internships often lead to job offers.


The second year of the Marshall M.B.A. pro-gram builds on the first-year grounding in business fundamentals and allows students to tailor a program of study to their individual needs and long-term career objectives.

It begins with a required course on innovation. As business problems and opportunities in fast-paced global economies grow increasingly more complex and interdisciplinary in both analysis and solutions, highly innovative approaches are required to outperform competitors. GSBA 585 Management of Radical Innovation offers a unique perspective on how businesses relentlessly change to better serve consumers and how they create new business models, products and services that impact growth and success in today’s highly competitive global markets.

Functional Concentrations

During the remainder of their second year, students are expected and encouraged to organize their studies under two umbrellas -- a functional concentration and an industry “vertical.”

Functional concentrations help students select elective courses that will develop skill sets required in the jobs they hope to hold in the future. The following functional concentrations are overseen by faculty experts who conduct research in these fields and coordinate with the MBA Career Resource Center to sponsor clubs, speakers, internships and mentoring: investments, corporate finance, real estate finance, product innovation/brand management, integrated marketing communications management, strategic marketing management and analytics, global strategy, human capital and change management, operations management, information systems, and entrepreneurship and venture management.


Industry verticals provide M.B.A. students with a top-to-bottom understanding of an industry through intense exposure to it. The verticals, which span academic departments and disciplines, have been developed in consultation with business professionals who recruit M.B.A. students. As a result, their designs are market-driven and directly linked to career opportunities in financial services; real estate; consulting services; media, publishing, entertainment, leisure, gaming, hospitality; fast moving consumer goods and retail; high tech/manufacturing; health care/bio business; and non-profit. Throughout the M.B.A. program, career advisors and faculty members guide students to a range of opportunities including elective courses, industry nights, speaker series, research centers, case competitions, group projects, luncheon seminars with faculty experts, student industry groups and alumni mentoring programs in order to deepen the students’ involvement in their chosen field.

Tomorrow’s business leaders must be multidimensional -- capable of seeing opportunities that lie outside the traditional business model. The verticals program creates opportunities for students to take courses in the other professional schools at USC.

Students may petition to take up to nine units of graduate-level electives at USC outside the Marshall School of Business for elective credit provided the student shows sufficient reason why a course is relevant to his or her individual program.

International Exchange Program

The Marshall School offers a range of international exchange programs in cooperation with leading business schools around the world. Through this program students may attend a partner institution in Europe, Asia, Latin America or Australia. Students may choose to spend a semester abroad or may enroll in a summer program. Since many of the programs are taught in English, language proficiency is not a requirement for all countries. Students must complete the M.B.A. core and maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to participate in the exchange program.

Career Resources Center

The Marshall CRC provides a direct link between students and the prospective employers offering career paths identified in the verticals program. CRC advisors guide students in self-examination, selecting classes and extracurricular activities, obtaining an internship, choosing a mentor, preparing for job interviews and learning to make business connections.

Program Structure

A total of 63 units is required. The following outlines the typical full-time student’s schedule:

first year “core” required courses -- first semesterUnits
GSBA 502aProfessional Development for Leaders1
GSBA 509Marketing Management2.5
GSBA 510Accounting Concepts and Financial Reporting2.5
GSBA 511Managerial Economics2.5
GSBA 521Corporate Finance2.5
GSBA 524Data and Decision Models2.5
GSBA 533General Management1.5
GSBA 540Contemporary Issues in Competitive Strategy1.5

second semesterUnits
GSBA 502bProfessional Development for Leaders0.5
GSBA 504Operations Management2.5
GSBA 513Global Leadership and Accountability1.5
GSBA 515Contemporary Issues in Global Economic Strategy1.5
GSBA 526Global Economics1.5
GSBA 536Management Accounting1.5
GSBA 580Business Practices in the Pacific Rim (PRIME)1.5
Graduate business electives6
(500-level ACCT, BAEP, BUCO, FBE, IOM, MKT, or MOR)

second year “core” required courses -- first semesterUnits
GSBA 585Management of Radical Innovation3
Graduate business electives12
(500-level ACCT, BAEP, BUCO, FBE, IOM, MKT, or MOR)

second semesterunits
Graduate business electives15
(500-level ACCT, BAEP, BUCO, FBE, IOM, MKT, or MOR)

Total units required for degree: 63

Note: USC reserves the right to change, add or delete its course offerings and programs without notice.