University of Southern California

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Application Requirements & Enhancements

The Online Application

GRE, GMAT, IELTS and TOEFL

  • Which standardized test should I take? Do I have to take the GMAT or GRE?
  • What are Marshall's institution codes for GRE & GMAT?
  • What exams do you accept to demonstrate English proficiency?
  • Do I have to take the TOEFL or IELTS if I received a master's degree from a university within the United States? What if I have been working in the U.S.?


  • Admissions Criteria

    After Applying

    Application Requirements

    I'm currently an undergraduate student. Am I eligible for admission?

    Yes! Anyone who has earned a Bachelor's degree equivalent to a four-year U.S. undergraduate degree from an accredited institution may be considered. See Admissions.

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    Is any prior coursework required?

    For students with a quantitative research focus, one year of college calculus or its equivalent is required and matrix algebra is desirable. All students benefit from introductory mathematical statistics and intermediate economic theory.

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    What is the application deadline?

    Please see Application Timeline.

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    Can I be admitted for the spring semester?

    No, we only accept applications for admittance in the fall.

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    Are official transcripts required?

    When you submit the application online, you will include unofficial (student) copies of your transcripts. Should your application proceed to the final stages of review, we will contact you to request official transcripts. Please see Application Requirements.

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    Are campus interviews required?

    In the final rounds of application review, you may be interviewed. If an in-person interview cannot be arranged, a video-teleconference or telephone interview will be substituted. While we do not require in-person interviews of all applicants, we encourage you to visit the campus when you have the opportunity.

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    Can I send in some of my prior research?

    You may upload one writing sample while completing the online application under the "Documents & Essays" section. We do not review materials sent by postal mail.

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    May I submit more than three letters of recommendation?

    Each candidate is required to submit exactly three letters of recommendation; additional letters will not be reviewed. Quality bests quantity.

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    I am a re-applicant. Do I need to submit my scores and other application information again?

    Yes, our program requires that you must submit all your information again, such as unofficial transcripts, unofficial test scores, recommendation letters, etc.

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    What is my USC ID # and what is it used for?

    The University assigns each applicant a personal USC ID # upon receipt of any part of the application or its supporting materials. Your USC ID number will be automatically sent within seven days of submitting the online application. The USC ID should be referenced when sending additional information or checking on application status.

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    The Online Application

    Is there any way to apply without using the online application system?

    No, all applications are submitted online. Because our application process is 100% online, no application materials should be sent by mail. All supporting documents (test scores, recommendation letters, transcripts, essays, CV etc.) must be uploaded onto the online application system.

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    Do my recommenders have to submit their letters online?

    Yes, recommendations should be submitted via the online recommendation system. If it is impossible for your recommenders to submit online, email us at phd@marshall.usc.edu to explain the circumstances and request alternative accommodations.

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    Can I replace a recommender?

    Yes. Send an email to phd@marshall.usc.edu with the following information: (1) the name of the recommender to be deleted and (2) the new recommender's salutation, first name, last name, name of organization or institution, title/position, phone number and email address.

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    Can my application fee be waived?

    USC alumni, USC employees, McNair scholars, and Ph.D. Project participants are eligible for an application fee waiver. If you are eligible for a fee waiver, you will be able to request the waiver when you submit the application. Unfortunately, we cannot waive the application fee due to financial hardship.

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    GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL

    What standardized test should I take? Do I have to take the GMAT or GRE?

    The Ph.D. program requires applicants to submit either a GMAT or GRE scores. We do not have a preference between the two exams.

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    What are Marshall's institution codes for GRE & GMAT?

    Our code for the GMAT is 389-9C-89. Our institution code for the GRE is 4852. Applicants are not required to select a department code, however if prompted to enter a department code, applicants should select the code for graduate schools of management "02". Please refer to www.ets.org/gre or http://www.gmac.com/gmac/thegmat/ for additional information.

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    What exams do you accept to demonstrate English proficiency?

    We accept either the IELTS or TOEFL. Please see Application Requirements for minimum scores on each exam.

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    Do I have to take the TOEFL if I received a graduate degree from a university within the United States? What if I have been working in the U.S.?

    Yes, you still need to take the TOEFL or IELTS. A Master's, MBA, or Ph.D. degree from the United States DOES NOT exempt you from the TOEFL or IELTS. Work experience in the United States also DOES NOT exempt you from taking the TOEFL or IELTS.

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    Admissions Criteria

    What do faculty members look for in applicants?

    Marshall's faculty selects qualified students based on evidence of outstanding intellectual ability and commitment to a career in research. Standardized test scores, recommendation letters, academic record, and research fit will be evaluated along with intangible qualities like creativity and independence.

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    May I give you my qualifications and be pre-assessed for admission?

    No. It is difficult to assess any individual's case, as it will depend on the quality of the applicant pool. Therefore, it is our policy not to prejudge, pre-admit, or prescreen students, make subjective probability assessments or give private assurances to prospective applicants. Please see the above "what do faculty members look for in applicants" as well as the class profiles from previous years for an idea of how you compare to our prior applicant pool.

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    If I am denied admission, can I reapply?

    Yes, but you must submit all new application materials, including responses to the essay questions, letters of recommendation, the application fee, transcripts, and test scores.

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    After Applying

    What happens after my application is submitted?

    Your application will go through two stages of review. In the first stage, we will check your application for all required materials and send you an email informing you what, if any, additional materials you need submit. Depending on the volume of applications we receive, it can take 1-2 weeks from the time of submission for us to complete this initial review.

    In the second stage, your application will be forwarded to the admissions review committee to make the admissions decision. Applications are reviewed in the following order:

    1. Complete applications received by Priority Deadline
    2. Complete applications received by Final Deadline
    3. Applications submitted online by Final Deadline, but with late supplemental materials (recommendation letters, test scores, transcripts, etc.)

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    How can I find out the status of my application?

    After you submit your application, you can log back into the online system to check the status of your application and materials at any time.

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