January 2020 Info Session Questions and Answers For Online MBA Programs

Best Online MBA - FAQ USC Marshall

What is the process for GMAT and GRE waivers?

The USC Marshall School of Business may waive the GMAT/GRE requirement for applicants with extensive professional work experience, demonstrated academic achievement at the undergraduate level, or a high level of demonstrated qualitative and and analytical skills.

Although a competitive score on the GMAT or GRE is preferred by the admissions committee, a waiver may be granted for applicants who meet any of the following criteria:

  • This requirement is automatically waived for applicants with:
    • An undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher from an accredited, U.S.-based university
    • A terminal or doctoral-level professional degree
  • A waiver may be considered if applicants:
    • Hold a graduate degree in a STEM field, business-related discipline, public administration or economics
    • Have 25 or more years of professional work experience
  • Applicants with 10 or more years of professional work experience may instead take the Executive Assessment, a more streamlined test designed by the creators of the GMAT specifically for experienced professionals

In order to qualify, applicants need to submit a GMAT/GRE Waiver Application Form for the admissions committee’s consideration. Applicants who are not automatically qualified for the waiver will have their request holistically reviewed in tandem with their other submitted documents to best determine if a student will need to submit test scores. Please note that applicants who automatically qualify for a waiver will need to submit an application form.

Regarding the MBA interview, what is the process? What is the timing of the interviews and how are they conducted?

Definitely. So before we offer final admission to students, we want to interview you, we interview you virtually even if you’re in the LA area, we still want to interview you virtually because you want to make sure that you’re comfortable in the online setting because not everyone is comfortable in it and not everyone is a good fit for the online setting. So we interview you via zoom. And it’s typically just different members of the admissions committee, myself, our Academic Director of Miriam, our program directors and a couple other staff members that are part of the admissions committee. And we just ask you just questions about your application and just different things like that.

I can’t give too much away, but just before we actually offer admission we will ask you to participate in an interview. Now, getting an interview does not guarantee admission. You can get an interview and still not be admitted or be wait-listed. So just know an interview is not, it doesn’t mean you’re admitted. It means that we’re strongly considering you, but we still have to make that final decision. So interviews are important.

What is the return on investment with the online MBA program?

[Kurtis]: Besides all of the long hours I put in starting my own company, I don’t know if that’s on the plus column or the minus column at this point, but even in my day job before I started the company, when I was in the program, the things that I was learning along the way with regards to the accounting and finance for which I’m responsible here, there were even just tax implication savings because I had a better understanding of how the balance sheet worked and how our profit and loss statements worked to be able to have higher level conversations with the accounting team and with the tax professionals that filed returns and that sort of thing.

And so early on in the program my company was seeing significant savings by year end to say that a $100,000 education provides X number of dollars of return. I’m sure there’s stuff like that out there. But that’s also like saying, what’s the return on your undergrad? To kind of put it back on you. If you have higher level degree the elevator oftentimes will go higher in that building than it otherwise would have. When you’re being considered for different positions or changing jobs.

We’ve had several people in the cohort that have changed companies that have moved up within their own companies. That would not have been considered for those roles had they not had their MBA. Even people that are in venture capital spaces that were in my cohort even with their significant background experience weren’t taken seriously by their peers because they didn’t have their masters. So, the doors that it opens, both from having those three letters after your name to the network and the network of your cohort and network of USC at large and the support that the faculty and staff provide. I certainly have seen return on my investment and would do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

What is the minimum experience required to enroll in the program? Is there a range of work experience?

Yeah, definitely. We’ve admitted students that have as low as about, I think it’s about four years, four to five years, work experiences about the lowest that we’ve admitted and then it goes all the way up to, 25 plus years. So it’s definitely a range there with the average being right around eight years. Can you be considered for admission under eight years? Yes. But when you have to have a pretty strong profile for us to consider you because we want to make sure that you’re learning from your classmates and also that you’re contributing to your classmates. Because it’s a given intake type process.

So yes, can you be considered with under eight years? Of course you can, but the strongest applicants are going to have more work experience. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t be considered if you have under that, because like I said, we’ve been these students that have about four or five year’s work experience. And sometimes those are the ones that really shine and challenge the thinking and the status quo of some of the older students. So it’s good to have that balance of a work experience. Hope that kind of answers the question.

We do talk also to people who are nontraditional students and have a few years or more of work before earning their bachelor’s degrees. So sometimes we do get the question from people. It’s not necessarily times since you earned your degree, but we’re looking more at your total years of experience. Again, if you ever want to talk about your candidacy with us the enrollment coordinators here, can have those conversations with you to help you get a better feel for that and how we think the process of work for you.

Is the nature of the program part time or full time?

Technically a full time program and the expectation is that everybody would move through your MBA program with your cohorts.

If something does happen, is there a possibility of taking a leave of absence and how would that work?

You can definitely take a leave of absence providing that you’re in good academic standing. So that’s typically a 3.0 which you should always strive to be because if you have under a 3.0 you won’t graduate from the program. So yes, you can definitely take a leave of absence. If you’re in good academic standing, you just notify your advisor let them know, what’s going on, why you need to take the leave. And then from there you can take up to four leaves throughout your time in the program. You just have to complete 501 and 505 first and you’re eligible to take a leave.

You can either opt to rejoin the program with your current cohort, that’s what most students do. And then you would have a class you missed. You typically add on after you finish the rest of the coursework. Or you can decide to join, a later cohort. So let’s say maybe you do 501 and 505, you take off the semester with 535 and then you come back a semester later. So you could just opt to join your current cohort or the cohort that follows you. It’s totally up to you.

What is the size of a typical cohort?

For Fall cohorts they’re a little bit bigger. The cohort Curtis was a part of was, I believe closer to 50. But our last Fall cohort had about 86 students. So Fall is typically a double cohort of at least anywhere from about 80 to a hundred students. And then the Spring cohorts are a little bit smaller. They’re about right at 40. So you’re applying for Fall, you can expect to be in a nice sized cohort of anywhere between like 80 and 100.

What is the criteria for a scholarship?

While the exact amount we offer will vary depending on the overall application, we offer scholarships to students with a GMAT of 640 or higher or a GRE of 315 or higher. Visit the Tuition page for more information about scholarship options.

How does the cost of the Online MBA compare to the other MBAs USC offers?

Our program costs a little bit less because the number of units that we have. So our program does not have elective. It’s a generalist degree where you take 51 units at the medic approach and you still cover all those same business concepts, but we don’t require you to take a 15 week elective in marketing or entrepreneurship or what have you, so that’s included in the total curriculum. So with that being said, the way USC is structured, you pay per unit. So ours is a 51 either program. So that’s why ours is a little bit less. If you do the full time or part time, I believe they are upwards of about 60 to 63 units because you take an elective, so you’re going to pay a little bit more.

Same thing with MBA. So it’s all structured depending on the number of units that you have. And the reason why ours is a little bit less because we don’t require the elective. As for the differences in the programs they’re all extremely different. We have five different MBAs in Marshall, so we’re targeting different student populations. There’s an international MBA, there’s the executive MBA. There’s our programs and there’s a full time in the part time, full time is your traditional, you quit your job, you go back to school for two years, when you get that internship and they recruit you and then you come back to school and then hopefully you turn that internship into a full time position.

The part time MBA it’s typically you have about five years work experience. It’s on campus, you have to be able to come to the USC campus typically two or three times a week. And it’s a little bit slower paced than our program. The curriculum is a little different, but again, you’re still learning those same fundamentals. And then you have our program, which we’ve just talked about for the last like 50 minutes. So you guys probably know about that. And then the international which is a one year program that was a little bit different from the program. So then there’s the E-MBA that’s designed for executives. So typically you have about 20 years work experience between 15 and 20 years work experience.

Our curriculums are somewhat similar because we do also offer up the sematic approach. But yeah, so they’re all so different. I’d say if you’re interested in our program, you’re in the right place. If you still have questions about the other MBA programs, we can get you connected with the MBA admissions office for those programs and you can figure out what’s the best program for you.

One tiny detail that I’ll add to what you just heard from Brittany is the fact that we do on occasion have students who elect to take an elective after they’ve completed the online MBA curriculum. So that is something that is done, it’s not frequently done, but there are certainly a precedent for that. And the other small detail I will mention is that although our curriculum does not include electives, the way that we designed our curriculum was through extensive research with prospective students, with prospective employers, with faculty, with corporate leaders, so all the stakeholders who have a vested interest in seeing that the MBA curriculum prepares our students very well. All of these stakeholders had input into our curriculum. So the idea was to really design a curriculum that although it does not include electives, it does touch on all the topics that are important in a general management graduate degree.