FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics

Topics addressed in Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to be a current USC student to apply for admission to this program?

No. Anyone who has the necessary qualifications is welcome to apply.

Is this program STEM certified?

Yes, Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics is a STEM program, but be aware that Graduate Certificate programs do not qualify for extended OPT.

I really want to get into the Marshall MBA program. Can I start with the certificate and then transfer to the MBA?

No. You have to apply for admission to the MBA program. Admission to the Graduate Certificate program will not change your chances of getting into the MBA program. You should apply to the MBA program instead. You will get a much broader education, and you can do the Graduate Certificate in conjunction with the electives portion of your MBA.

Can I start with the certificate and then apply my certificate units to the Master of Science in Business Analytics degree?

Admission to the Graduate Certificate program will not change your chances of getting into the MS degree program and could create curricular overlap problems that could be expensive. You should apply to the MS program instead. Anyone in the certificate program who is subsequently admitted to the MS program will not be allowed to earn both diplomas, but instead will be required to drop out of the certificate program. Whether or not courses taken for the certificate will be applied to the MS degree is at the discretion of the MS program.

I already hold a master's degree. Do I have to submit test scores?

Yes. Holding a prior master’s degree does not exempt applicants from submitting the required test scores. 

What if I took the required course with a degree I completed already?

Coursework credited to a degree previously awarded by USC cannot be applied to the Graduate Certificate. Likewise, coursework taken at another university cannot be applied to the Graduate Certificate and should not be repeated at USC. Individuals who completed the equivalent of introductory graduate/master’s-level Managerial Statistics - prior to admission will be required to complete an alternate 3-unit course selected from the list of electives.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The length of time needed to complete the program varies from student to student.

  • For individuals who have already taken a course equivalent to the Managerial Statistics requirement, it  is possible to complete the certificate in one semester, although most students choose to complete the program over two or more semesters.
  • Individuals who have not previously completed a master’s level introductory marketing course must begin the program in the fall semester and may complete the program in one or more semesters.
  • International students must complete the program within two semesters.
  • Domestic students and permanent residents may complete the program over several years.

How many people will be in my class?

All classes are taken with other Marshall graduate students. Most of your classes will include a large proportion of MBAs and MS Business Analytics students. Students from other Marshall graduate programs and other programs at USC will also be in class with you.

Cost - Tuition and Fees

For those who are not already graduate students at USC, the cost of the program is around $31,000 plus books, fees, insurance, and living expenses. Fees and insurance can total more than $2,000 per year. Living expenses (housing, food, transportation, etc.) run about $20,000 per year. Current USC tuition and fee information is available at Select the next future semester and then the 'Tuition and Fees' tab on the left side of the screen. Tuition rates do increase each year.

Can I get a scholarship? How about financial aid?

The Graduate Certificate program is not funded for program-specific scholarships.  Other scholarship programs might be available. Visit the USC Awards Database for more information.

This certificate is eligible for federal financial aid. To apply for federal financial aid, please click here.

Career Development and Placement Services

Certificate-only students are provided career-related services through the USC Career Center. Certificate students are encouraged to join graduate student clubs and organizations in their field of interest as well.

Note: The Graduate Certificate is an excellent means to improving an existing skill set. For those who seek to change careers, the Master of Science would be a better choice. That program provides a more robust curriculum and includes career development services focused on Marshall business students.


Current USC Students - Creating a New Application

Q: I'm a student at USC. What do I have to do to apply?

A: You will need to submit a new application to apply for admission to this program.

Applications to the Graduate Certificate are submitted on-line via

  • Start by applying for an application fee waiver. (First year students must wait until they have completed their first semester to apply for an application fee waiver.) Follow the instructions under
    step 3 at or
    step 4 at
    Processing of application fee waivers usually takes 2-3 working days.
    When you try to submit your application, if the system asks for a credit card number, do NOT give it a credit card number. Contact USC Admissions to follow up on the status of your waiver.
  • If you have not used this system before, you will need to create a login and password. If you have applied to USC using this system before, use your existing login and password to retrieve your file.
  • Under the "Add Program" tab search for "Program Level" = Certificate, find the Marshall School of Business on the list, locate the semester you want to start the program, and select the Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics from the list.
  • Return to the "My Application" tab and complete the required portions of the application. Test scores and transcripts submitted to USC with your prior application should be on file in the USC admissions system, so you should not have to submit new official scores or new official transcripts, but do fill in the requested fields and upload scanned copies as requested to your application.
  • In the "Academic Background" section don't forget to add your current USC degree program to your education history and upload a copy of your current STARS report in lieu of a USC transcript.
  • In the "Program Materials" quadrant, the "Questions" are required.
  • Don't forget to "Submit Application."

Application of Graduate Certificate Coursework to master's degree requirements

A Graduate Certificate may be completed in conjunction with course work required for the program in which the student is already enrolled. Applicability of these courses to the student's primary degree program is determined by the student's home department. Current USC MBA students may apply all 15 units of the graduate certificate program to their MBA degree. (Note: conferral of the certificate and documentation on the transcript requires that the individual formally apply to the program and be admitted. See the Admissions page for more information about this process.)


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