USC Marshall School of Business Essay Analysis 2017 – 2018

October 4th, 2017

| Last Updated on February 20, 2019

Welcome to this article in which we will discuss the USC Marshall MBA program. They have two programs, the one-year IBEAR program, and the two year program. The former is a one-year accelerated international MBA for mid-career professionals. The average age of students doing this program is 33; it’s meant for people who want a quick accelerated one year program.


However, the main program we’re looking at is the two-year degree, which is their flagship program. A couple of things about the USC Marshall program that you need to know up-front if you’re applying this year. The first is that Marshall has a focus on global outlook. They use their location on the Pacific rim. They have the “Pacific RIm Education” program, which is their prime program, and requires international travel of all students. This is something that differentiates it from other schools.


Apart from the global perspective, because it’s in California, the location makes a huge difference. Southern California has great weather. It is as India as you can get in terms of  weather, culture, and people. It’s one of the best places to be in the US. Because of the location, you have a tech focus, and an entrepreneurial focus. You find a lot of tech companies in the LA area, in Southern California. There are a lot of opportunities to work for exciting new start-ups. I think that’s a huge draw for the USC Marshall Program.


The third important factor is the emphasis on team-work. They believe that since classes are often small, the student body as a whole allows each student to receive a great deal of individual attention. The students participate in a lot of programs that are conducted on campus. A student has to work with other students, so teamwork is a huge focus at USC Marshall.



2017-2018 USC Marshall MBA Deadlines


Round 1

Application Deadline: October 15, 2017

Decision Notification: December 31, 2017


Round 2

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018

Decision Notification: March 31, 2018


Round 3

Application Deadline: March 1, 2018

Decision Notification: May 15, 2018


Round 4

Application Deadline: April 15, 2018

Decision Notification: June 15, 2018


Round 5

Rolling Admissions*





2017-2018 USC Marshall Essay Questions


Essay 1


What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (100 words)


With 100 words, you don’t have a lot of leeway to talk about things. If you remember, in the usual career goals essays, we talk about how you go from where you are and how an MBA will help you. No such options here. We have to be very specific..What do you want to do after your MBA? Tell them the role, and give an example of the kind of companies you want to work for. “I want to work for the Retail Leadership Program at Amazon.” Maybe that’s your dream. You probably want to talk about what you would do in that role. You have 100 words so you can  probably have a little leeway to explain in a sentence, “In such a role I would be doing….”


Remember that you have 100 words; keep it tight and steer clear of things that are generic. Don’t say something like, “I want to be in a general management position” or “I want to be in strategic position.” Be very clear. “Associate Consultant at McKinsey working in their LA office” –  you have to very specific. Now that was the easy part. If you know what to do, writing it is easy. (100 words)



Essay 2


Please respond to ONLY ONE of the following essay topics. (500 words)

    1. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates outside of the classroom during your time at USC.

    2. You have been asked to design a course to be taught at the Marshall School of Business. Please provide a title and description for the course.

    3. What has been the most interesting day or moment in your life and why?

    4. You have been hired by the Marshall MBA Admissions Committee to create an essay question for next year’s application. Please state the question and answer it.


Option 1#


A B-School experience is not so much about what you learn in the classroom. It’s a lot about what you learn outside the classroom. What we are really looking at is, “what is it that you would do with your classmates?” You can talk about extracurricular activities. If you have a passion, let’s say, cycling, you need to say how you will bring that passion to Southern California, to the USC campus. Talk about how you would encourage your classmates to follow your passion and help them perhaps take their mind off studies. You can also talk about anything that differentiates you. I would suggest that you pick two or three traits. Although it is 500 words, you need to flesh out the details. You need to say what it is that you have done, and then you need to talk about how you will contribute. It’s going to take 100 to 150 words. You could probably talk about three specific things that you can contribute. Try to steer clear of professional things.


Option 2#


Not just the title and the description, but I am assuming you would want to say why you want to pick the course. Why do you think it’s important? First, please make sure that it’s not the course that is already offered by the school.


I am going to give you a very general guideline of what to write. Talk about something which is futuristic. Talk about something that would probably be required in this changing world. For example; “How to manage millennials” Now, if you don’t know what a millennial is, go ahead and Google it. Managers are getting worried about how they can manage these guys who grew up in the last 20 years with the internet on their fingertips. Maybe you would want to talk about something futuristic like that.


Options 3#


You need to say what is the most interesting day was, but more importantly, you need to say why. For example, a student once wrote, not for this essay, but for something similar, “My most important day was the day I got married, not so much for the fact that I got married.” It’s a very Indian custom that the parents of both the boy and the girl need to meet and agree. In this student’s case, something went wrong. The parents were not on talking terms, and the boy and girl decided to get married with the help of their friends. He went and negotiated with the girl’s father and with his own parents, and somehow got them all together.


He said, “More than me getting married, my family is very important to me,and that is why this day is important.” Now, the idea is not to just talk about the event. That would be shallow. You need to say why it’s so important. In this case, his family was important and he also said, “This gave me the confidence that I have this inner strength. “When the times are weak and dark, I am able to take this inner strength, and push myself to achieve what I want to do”. This should be something else that they can know about you.


Option 4#


Here is what I would do. I would pick this if none of the first three resonates with me. Let’s say there is no specific day in my life I can remember. It happens, right? If you don’t have anything to say, leave it. Let’s look at , Option 2#, the contributions. I really don’t have three contributions that I can make. You leave that one too, and let us say there is no specific course that comes to my mind. What else do you think that Marshall would like to know about me?


What you can do is, you could spin it a little bit and could talk a little about why it is important for you and Marshall. For example, you could say “One essay that I would like Marshall to talk about is, “Your biggest failure, the most spectacular failure. The reason I would like to know this is because in my life, I learned from my failures.” You can go ahead and talk about your failures and what you have learned. You can also say “More than the successes in life, it is the failures that teach people things that make them who they are.”


That could be an interesting spin of you putting your story while underscoring the fact that this is an important aspect that you wish to see in your classmates.


Optional Essay


Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (250 words)


As always, you can talk about your educational gaps, experience gaps, or something that you think is necessary for the admission committee to know and they would not know through the application form. It could be stuff that you plan to do in the future, let’s say you plan to take a course in 2018.


What you should not do is retrofit stories that could not find their way elsewhere. Don’t do that.


I hope this article was useful. I wish you all the best for your application to the USC Marshall Program. I know it’s a little tough; I know it’s the first time you are probably writing essays. If you think there is any way in which we could work together, just click the link below, and we could get in touch.