Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Certificate in Optimization and Supply Chain Management


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.

Will this program help me get a job in Supply Chain Management?

If you are hoping that the certificate will help you change careers, you should instead consider the Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management. The certificate will help someone already in the industry improve their skills and possibly earn a promotion, but to compete with individuals entering the job market, the Master of Science degree is more competitive.

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 Global Supply Chain Management 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 one of the courses in the curriculum 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. 15 unique units are required.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The length of time it takes to complete the program depends on how many classes the student takes each semester. International students who are not concurrently completing a master's degree at USC must complete the program in no more than two semesters. High achievers may complete the program in one semester. Part-Time domestic students and permanent residents usually choose to take 1-2 courses each semester and may complete the program over several years.

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. Additionally, certificate students are encouraged to join graduate student clubs and organizations in their field of interest. The Graduate Certificate is an excellent means to improving an existing skill set. For those who seek to change careers, the Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management 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 and Alumni - Creating a New Application

In order to earn the Graduate Certificate you must first submit an application 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 obtain 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 "Marshall School of Business" and select the Graduate Certificate in Optimization and Supply Chain Management from the list for the appropriate semester.
  • 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. Feel free to upload a copy of your STARS report instead of a USC transcript.
  • In the "Program Materials" quadrant, the "Questions" are required.
  • Don't forget to "Submit Application" after you have received your application fee waiver.


What did we miss?

For more information, write to or call (213) 740-3198.

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