University of Southern California

Frequently Asked Questions

The GEMBA Program Overall

Q. Why should I choose the GEMBA Shanghai program?

A. You seek to become an increasingly successful and globally relevant C-suite leader. But you face barriers. You may not be getting key promotions and job offers. Or your skill set may no longer be sufficient to meet your growing leadership challenges. Or you're not receiving the increases in compensation you know you're capable of earning.

  • To become the global leader you seek to be, you need:

    C-suite-level confidence from stronger leadership and interpersonal skills, to build partnerships, influence others and drive results in a diverse global environment, confirming that you are a globally powerful leader;

    Top-tier global credentials, so business leaders seek you out for hiring and promotion as they feel more confident in your ability to lead;

    A truly global network, expanding your range of career and business opportunities, as well as your understanding of the global business environment, so you can effectively lead worldwide.

  • GEMBA delivers the credibility and transformation you seek, with the following key attributes:

    The credibility and prestige of USC Marshall — the globally recognized USC Marshall MBA degree, from a business school consistently ranked among the top in the world. Plus the prestige of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), widely recognized as a top-five institution in mainland China;

    Membership in two famed, global alumni associations — USC's 'Trojan Family,' a 300,000-member global network of enormous wealth, influence, diversity and geographical reach, and the prestigious alumni association of SJTU, with more than 100,000 connections in China and overseas.

    World-class, globally engaged faculty, with a laser focus on fostering the strategic thinking, leadership skills and executive confidence necessary for you to excel at the C-suite level;

    A unique, integrated and theme-based curriculum, strategically designed to ensure your C-suite-level mastery of the challenges and opportunities facing 21st century business leaders;

    A truly global perspective, informed by study in several dynamic, international business centers, with peers from many nations, and the world-leading alumni networks.

Q. Who are the GEMBA students? Who will I be studying with?

A. GEMBA students are uncommonly diverse, in their industries and professional backgrounds as well as their nationalities and residences.

  • Average age 38, the majority with East Asian heritage, but typically representing about a dozen nationalities.

  • About 70% live and work in the Shanghai metropolitan region. The remaining 30% fly in from in other cities in East Asia, as well as from the west coast of North America.

  • - About 30% are PRC citizens.

  • - They work in everything from major multinationals to family-owned businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives, from the manufacturing sector to professional services.

Q: When does the GEMBA program start? Is the schedule executive-friendly?

A. Your first class day will be 11 May 2017, in a five-star hotel in Shanghai's Sheshan suburb. We hold our GEMBA sessions about once every six weeks, as five-day intensive modules. Our students and alumni confirm that our schedule is ideal for rising executives with increasingly global roles.

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Selection Criteria and Admissions Process

Q. What are my chances of being admitted to GEMBA?

A. We require:

  • Ten years' full-time working experience, at least six of which in a managerial role;
  • A bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited institution;
  • Ability to participate dynamically in a 100% English-language learning environment;
  • The understanding and support of your employer and family, because of the substantial time commitment required to complete the program successfully.
  • If you meet these requirements, and your career trajectory is sufficiently globalized, you have an good chance of being offered admission to the GEMBA program.

Q. Does GEMBA require GMAT or TOEFL?

A. We have offered our top-ten ranked EMBA program in Southern California for nearly 30 year, and our GEMBA Shanghai program for ten years, and we've consistently avoided requiring these tests. Our in-depth admissions process, which features a formal interview and other substantial interactions, produces GEMBA student populations that are more dynamic and focused than that of any class resulting from a test-based admissions process. We seek candidates who are not only highly qualified, but also well suited to our program. However, we encourage candidates who have GMAT or TOEFL scores to submit them, as additional proof of ability.

Q: Does GEMBA admit candidates with less than a bachelor's degree?

A. In rare cases, less than 10% of any class, we consider candidates who are otherwise exceptionally strong (career accomplishments) who don't have bachelor's degrees. Please contact our office about your individual situation.

Q What is the admissions process?

1. We ask that all candidates send us a resume at the first stage. Please e-mail to the GEMBA Shanghai Office.

2. We require candidates to complete the online application. Candidates may apply at any time, using USC Marshall's on-line applications system. A complete application includes:

a) Official transcripts and diplomas from each educational institution attended.
b) Two letters of recommendations;
c) Two essay(s) of 500 words each;
d) A US $155 application fee, payable by credit card.

3. We conduct an admissions interview with every qualified candidate who submits the online application. Interviewers include our academic and administrative leadership, as well as one of our alumni. The interview takes about 45 minutes in English. In the interview, we seek to learn more about the candidate's career accomplishments and goals, as well as his or her reasons for seeking an EMBA education. We offer provisional admission (contingent on successful completion of USC's admissions process) to candidates who pass the interview stage.

4. We require all applicants to submit official transcripts from each post high school academic institution attended (certified English translation required for non-English transcripts). For example, if you attended ABC University for one semester and transferred to XYZ University for the remainder of your undergraduate studies, you would need to submit transcripts from both ABC and XYZ Universities.

Q. May I apply on-line?

A. We accept only on-line applications, though the transcripts must be sent on paper to USC.

Q. How do I obtain my transcripts, and where do I send them?

A. Requirements vary by country and academic institution. Contact our GEMBA Shanghai office for details.

Q. What should I do when I'm accepted?

A. To secure your seat in the GEMBA program, you must pay a US$5,000 non-refundable deposit. See 'How Should I Pay' below for details.

Once you've paid your deposit, you will receive your initial course materials. Begin your GEMBA studies by preparing well for the first class session, starting May 2016.

We hold our annual orientation session for the incoming class in mid April. Join us for this valuable, but not mandatory, session in Shanghai – meet your new classmates and gain a stronger understanding of your GEMBA journey.

The GEMBA Class

Q. Do all students take the same classes? Do you offer any specialization or electives?

A. All students in each cohort attend the same class sessions, all at the same time. We have proven over decades that this program structure delivers the right educational experience – one that fosters the development of C-suite thinking and global leadership.

Q. How will I be graded in GEMBA? How do you use assignments and exams?

A. Reflecting our integrated, theme-based curriculum, we award you one grade for each theme. This grade appears on your transcript, though we also give you subject-by-subject grades. The overall theme grades appear on your transcript. Our faculty of course use all the common tools for assessing your academic progress -- quizzes, in-class evaluation, tests and projects. You must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to graduate from the GEMBA program.

Q. How long are the overseas trips? What are the destinations?

A. The second and final sessions of the program are week-long intensive sessions on the USC campus in Los Angeles. During the second year of the program we will visit one ex China Asian economy (Southeast Asia most recently) for five days of company visits and conversation with local business leaders.

Q.. How may I learn more about the program?

A. Continue to read our material, whether on the website or our printed matter.

A. Join our GEMBA seminars and information sessions.

A. We invite all qualified candidates to attend a GEMBA class session, or to visit our campus when class is not in session, to meet our students and faculty, and to spend time in discussion with our academic and administrative leadership, all with the goal of helping candidates understand more about the program. Deciding to join an EMBA program is a major decision; the combined requirement of time and tuition is a huge resource commitment. Therefore, we seek to do all we can to give candidates the information and perspective they deserve for quality decision-making.