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New Business of Cinematic Arts Joint Degree

USC Marshall collaborates with the School of Cinematic Arts to offer first-of-its-kind 4-year joint degree program for incoming freshmen.

June 29, 2022
USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC's School of Cinematic Arts.

For the first time, students applying to the Marshall School of Business for Fall 2022 were able to choose the John H. Mitchell Business of Cinematic Arts (BCA) joint-degree program on the Common App. It is USC’s first true joint degree program created in partnership with the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA).

“It takes a shared vision and philosophy to create a joint degree,” said Ramandeep Randhawa, vice dean for undergraduate programs and professor of data sciences and operations. “The John H. Mitchell Business of Cinematic Arts degree exemplifies how we can innovate, collaborate, and build significant value for our students.”

A joint degree is fundamentally distinct from a double major; it’s a singular diploma with intentional curricular integration from two schools as a 128-unit four-year program. Students will be admitted as freshmen and complete the program as a cohort. Upon graduation, students earn a diploma that features both schools formalizing the dual credentials.

Marshall tapped Professor of Clinical Business Communication Marion Philadelphia to be the program’s academic director, working with her counterpart, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Business of Entertainment Programs at the School of Cinematic Arts Bonnie Chi to create a more integrated and seamless pathway for future cohorts.

“The BCA cohort model adds another dimension to becoming a member of the Trojan Family,” said Philadelphia. “BCA students take their courses at The School of Cinematic Arts lockstep as a group throughout the four years. This allows them to develop deep relationships that carry on into their professional lives.”

“The entertainment business thrives on a personal network base,” said Chi. “We tell our students that networking begins when your education begins.”

Business of Cinematic Arts

BCA students take classes designed just for them, including courses on marketing feature-length films and entertainment law and deal-negotiation. BCA students also work closely in teams with student filmmakers, producers, and writers. A typical cohort is capped at about 50 students. 

“The class size is small because this program is so high-touch,” said Chi.

In its prior iteration, as an undergraduate business emphasis, the BCA program has been offered since 1999. A $25 million gift in 2019 named the program for John H. Mitchell and helped raise its profile.

“We saw the potential and the opportunity to evolve the existing program into a true joint degree and add value to our students’ four-year experience. Students were doing serious coursework at SCA, but their diplomas didn’t reflect that coursework was done across both schools,” said Randhawa. “We asked the question: How can we do this better?”

Now that the joint degree program is listed on the Common App, the standard application used by millions of future college students, more than 800 students selected BCA as their first choice major. There are no plans to expand the program at this time, said administrators. "It's an exclusive program," said Chi.