Application Tips Series: The Ideal Candidate

Through the Application Tips Series, we aim to address frequently asked questions about applications, essay writing, and interviews. Our ultimate goal is to help prospective candidates of the MS in Marketing program put their best foot forward through the admission process.

December 22, 2017

Prospective applicants have a challenging task: not only must they confirm whether a graduate program is the right fit for them, they must also pull together a compelling application that tells their story to an admissions committee. To help you on this journey, we asked the M.S. in Marketing Program about their ideal candidate. What are the qualities that set applicants to this program apart?


1. The ideal candidate is passionate about marketing. 

USC Marshall M.S. Marketing students eat, sleep, and breathe marketing all day. On a typical day, they meet in groups to tackle marketing projects, spend time researching the latest developments in marketing, network with marketing professionals in the field, read and take notes for their marketing classes, and participate in class discussions. Most importantly, they are able to enjoy themselves while they are at it because of their passion for marketing and a deep curiosity to learn more. We look for this spark in every applicant. You must be able to articulate your passion for marketing when you apply.


Tip: If you feel you have any gaps in academics or work, tell us about it. Use the “Other” section of the application to address specific areas of your background and explain how your passion for marketing can help you overcome these gaps.


2. The ideal candidate has a strong academic background, reflected in their GPA and GMAT or GRE exam scores.

This program offers an intensive 30-unit curriculum in addition to extracurricular and career development activities. Full-time students complete the program over 3 semesters; part-time students complete the program over a longer period while working full-time. Classes are rigorous and demanding and we expect high academic standards from all students. We look carefully at your previous academic history and your exam scores to make sure you can succeed and thrive in this program.


Tip: Take a look at our Class Profile for average GPAs and exam scores of current and former students. Note that these are averages. We do not require minimum exam scores but you must have a GPA above 3.0 in order to be eligible for admission. If you feel you do not have a competitive GPA, consider focusing on your GMAT or GRE score; we will consider your highest score.


3. The ideal candidate has relevant work experience, preferably in marketing.

Most professors facilitate learning through the discussion of business case studies and students often weigh in with their past work experiences to make valuable contributions to these discussions. A class composed of students with diverse experiences, whether in professional roles or through long-term internships, enables an enriching learning experience for everyone. Not only will your experience help you offer interesting perspectives in the classroom, you will be able to relate to the subject matter much better.


Tip: If you lack direct experience in marketing, evaluate your prior roles and make connections to the duties and objectives of marketing. For instance, a consultant might share examples of creating solutions and pitching ideas to clients, much like a marketer. If you do not have any professional work experience in marketing, tell us about extended internships or extracurricular activities that helped you confirm your interest in a marketing career.


4. The ideal candidate has excellent communication skills.

Communication skills are an essential part of marketing. Your ability to write, speak and present effectively will take you far in this program and this career path. We evaluate every piece of your application for details about your communication skills.


Tip: You can never proofread enough. Make sure your application materials, including your essays and resume, represent you in the most professional way possible. Before submitting your application, try printing out your resume. How does it look? Is it clear and concise? Does it market you as a strong candidate for the M.S. in Marketing program?


5. The ideal candidate is a team player.

Collaboration and teamwork are consistent themes in the M.S. in Marketing program. Students often work together in groups for academic, extracurricular and professional projects. Being able to work successfully within a team is a required skill, not only in our program but in the professional working world. 


Tip: Consider your past experience. Do you enjoy working in teams and groups? Think about past projects or collaborations in which you were successful and find ways to highlight them in your application.


Last but not least, the ideal candidate is someone who has researched this program thoroughly and knows what it will take to succeed. If you are reading this post, you are taking one of many steps to understand this program and consider whether it is a fit for you. We look forward to reviewing your application.