University of Southern California

Core Curriculum

The Three Cs

"Marshall empowers you with Three Cs: Career, Curriculum, and Community. I think by focusing on that when you first get here allows you have a broader experience, and allows you to really have something that’s tangible once you graduate."

Brandon Smith
Class of 2014

Core Curriculum

The USC Marshall core curriculum offers myriad opportunities to personalize the Full-Time MBA experience while ensuring the discipline-base depth required in today’s complex business arena. With the exception of GSBA 580/PRIME offered during spring semester, students complete the required core curriculum by the end of fall semester.


Before fall semester classes begin, MBA students participate in a mandatory one-week MBA Orientation program. Non-US citizens have a mandatory two-week Orientation program (International MBA Student Orientation, plus the MBA Orientation). During Orientation, students identify their communication and leadership styles, and develop their interpersonal and team effectiveness while collaborating with their new core classmates and study groups. The week includes classroom discussions, outdoor team building exercises and a case competition.

Foundational Courses

Divided into three terms, fall semester courses ground students in business fundamentals. By the end of the semester, students will have taken classes in accounting, corporate finance, management communication, marketing, microeconomics, operations, organizational behavior, statistics and strategy.

Elective Classes

Work Projects

USC Marshall offers students many opportunities to apply classroom learning to real world scenarios.

Graduate Student Investment Fund (SIF) Course

The Seminar for Applied Portfolio Management Student Investment Fund (SIF) Program is a one-year commitment consisting of two three-unit courses. In these classes students learn the theory and practice of investment management through a merging of financial analysis, portfolio management and the actual management of the Student Investment Fund. Each year interested Marshall graduate students apply to be part of the course and 16 students are selected to manage approximately $5 million in four equity and one fixed-income portfolios, each with a unique investment discipline.

MBA Society and Business Fellowship Program

Sponsored by the USC Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab (BSEL), the MBA Society and Business Fellowship Program is a highly selective, year-long opportunity for the small cadre of MBA and MBA.PM students who are seeking a business degree in order to pursue careers in poverty alleviation, including homelessness, education, and global health.

Independent Projects

Upon completion of the core curriculum, second year MBA students in good standing (minimum 3.0 GPA) may apply to complete an independent research project. The independent project option allows students to pursue research in specific areas of interest that may not be covered in other course offerings. Independent projects include Field Research in Business, Independent Research in Business, Research Practicum in Business and Consulting Project in Business. Students working on independent projects work one-on-one with their supervising faculty member to design and execute their research plan.

Elective Classes

MBA students may select as many as four elective classes during spring semester of their first year. This provides students the opportunity to take classes that they feel will prepare them to be successful in their summer internship. Students may choose to take additional elective classes during the summer in lieu of an internship.

The second-year of the MBA program is intended to be customized to suit student’s interests and career goals. The remaining required units can be earned by:

  • Taking elective coursework - Marshall offers close to 100 elective courses for MBA students in any given year;
  • Designing an individualized program of study that cuts across several functional areas*;
  • Completing an independent study project*; and/or
  • Selecting courses from other graduate schools within the university*- students may take up to nine elective units at another USC graduate school

*Available to second year MBA students who have completed all core curriculum and are in good standing (minimum 3.0 GPA)

Students are eligible to select from a wide range of graduate elective courses offered by the USC Marshall Academic Units which include:

View the University Catalogue for an overview of courses. The Marshall Graduate Elective Course Guide is a tool students can use to determine which electives align with their career path. Please note course offerings are not guaranteed and students should consult the Schedule of Classes for courses offered during any given term.

Featured Elective Courses

Negotiation and Deal Making
The purpose of this course is to understand the theory and processes of negotiation as it is practiced in a variety of settings. The course is designed to be relevant to the broad spectrum of negotiation problems that managers face. Considerable emphasis is placed on simulations, role-playing and case studies.

Strategy and Operations through CFO Lens
This class addresses the strategic and operational issues that companies face in multiple industries, and the responses of chief financial officers who are responsible for the accounting and financial planning and decision making. The class includes guest speakers, CFOs who present how they view the business as a whole and measure performance effectively.

Paul Celebucki

“The electives offered, in addition to Core, allowed me to tailor my education toward the industry and job I was looking for. Being able to do so helped me to speak with companies and interview for job positions easier. Having the knowledge gained from these classes helped me to easily transition back into the professional world.”

Paul Celebucki
Class of 2014

Global Education


"PRIME is one of those foundational and very influential trips that you’ll take in your life."

Marcus Sun
Class of 2014

Contact Us

Office of Global Programs and Partnerships
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
BRI 310A
Los Angeles, California 90089-0802
Ph: 213-740-1875
Fax: 213-740-7701

Current Student?

Resources for PRIME participants

Global Education

Marshall students travel across the globe to gain invaluable new perspectives. MBA students can gain international experience through the required core course PRIME, as well as study abroad opportunities and elective courses that offer international learning opportunities.


GSBA-580, The Global Context of Business, is a key component of the Marshall MBA experience and seeks to train students as global managers by allowing them to compare and contrast the U.S. business experience with that in other countries. The course is a carefully sequenced and integrated learning experience that has three main components: common sessions, country-specific sessions, and PRIME International Experience Learning, a required 10-day site visit overseas. Students visit selected companies, both domestic and multinational, and governmental institutions. Teams complete industry- and company-oriented recommendations in capstone projects that incorporate concepts from global strategy and global economics.

Current sites include*:

  • Osaka and Tokyo, Japan
  • Hong Kong and Guangdong, China
  • Taipei, Taiwan and Shanghai, China
  • Seoul, Korea and Beijing, China
  • Hanoi, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina and Lima, Peru

*PRIME destinations are subject to change each year.

Study Abroad

Through the Marshall MBA International Exchange Program (IEP), second year MBA students* can spend a semester immersed in another culture, acquiring the knowledge and skills to succeed in a global market. Students can build their global network and study business at one of 14 partner schools in locations such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia.

*Available to students in good standing (minimum 3.0 GPA), who have received department approval.

Electives with International Travel

Students eager to obtain more global education may opt to enroll in elective courses that include international travel. Below is a sample of elective courses. Classes listed are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

Digital Strategies for Sustainability in Global Emerging Markets
The course includes a semester-long field consulting project with a pre-selected company in Dubai/Abu Dhabi, and an international experiential trip during Spring Break to the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi/Dubai) that includes five full days of company visits, lectures and briefing. Click here to learn more.

Global Healthcare Operations Management
This course focuses on tools and techniques needed to close the gap between supply and demand for healthcare services. A significant component of this course is field projects that are based in Los Angeles, Brasilia and Buenos Aires.

Strategic Issues for Global Business
During winter break 2014, students enrolled in MOR 542 had the option to travel to Cuba on an educational license. The goal was to provide students with a snapshot of the economic, cultural and business climate in the country.

ABAC Research Project

APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) is a confederation of 21 Pacific Rim economies that encourages cooperation and promotes free trade among its members. Since 2003, Marshall has been the only business school worldwide whose MBA students have conducted research for ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council), which studies the current market forces and conditions of the region.

After conducting extensive research in APEC countries, the Marshall ABAC team of approximately 12 students presents its findings at the annual ABAC CEO Meeting, which consists of more than 60 CEOs assigned by their respective country leaders. Past research teams have investigated topics such as: sustainable energy, temporary worker mobility, non-tariff barriers to trade, and rules of origin regimes. Read about the 2014 project.

Faculty & Centers

Faculty and Centers

USC Marshall faculty can be full-time, part-time, tenure-track and non-tenure track. Divided into seven Academic Units, members of the faculty use a variety of teaching styles when delivering elective and core curriculum.

Academic Units

Class Formats

  • Case discussion
  • Consulting projects
  • Experiential trips
  • Guest speakers
  • Lectures
  • Movie Clips
  • Simulations

Marshall Golden Apple Teaching Awards

Each year, the Marshall Golden Apple Teaching Awards are awarded to professors by Marshall students. Through the Golden Apple Awards, students select the professors who have had the greatest impact both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. The professors listed below were awarded the Golden Apple by students in the Full-time MBA core.

  • Randolph Beatty, Accounting Circle Professor of Accounting
    2013 Golden Apple Recipient
  • Greg Patton, Professor of Clinical Management Communication
    2012 Golden Apple Recipient
  • Kyle Mayer, Professor of Management and Organization
    2011 Golden Apple Recipient
  • Diane Badame, Professor of Clinical Marketing
    2010 Golden Apple Recipient

Jack Cheng

"Acquiring technical skills was expected and I could get that in any business school, but receiving advice from faculty to develop myself personally and professionally was golden."

Jack Cheng
Class of 2013

Dual Degrees & Certificates

Marshall Certificate Program

Graduate Certificates enhance a student’s graduate education through a concentrated curriculum. USC Marshall School offers several for-credit certificate programs. Click here to view the entire list. Individuals must be admitted into the Graduate Certificate program. Admitted MBA students should research the Graduate Certificate for more information on when and how to apply. A sample of certificates include:

USC Marshall also partners with USC Cinematic Arts for the Graduate Certificate in the Business of Entertainment, and students may also be eligible to apply to the certificate programs offered through the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. USC Marshall students should confirm with the program office that the units can be applied to the MBA degree.

Dual Degrees & Certificates

MBA students may complete a dual degree in conjunction with the Marshall MBA. Applicants must apply to both schools individually. Visit the USC Catalogue for detailed descriptions of each dual degree program.

Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (J.D./MBA)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Arts in East Asian Area Studies (MBA/M.A.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Planning (MBA/MPl)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Real Estate Development (MBA/MRED)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in Gerontology (MBA/M.S.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering (MBA/M.S.)
Master of Business Administration/Doctor of Education (MBA/Ed.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Doctor of Medicine (MBA/M.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Doctor of Pharmacy (MBA/Pharm.D.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Arts in Jewish Nonprofit Management (MBA/M.A.)
Master of Business Administration/Master of Social Work (MBA/MSW)