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.
Documents and Essays
All applicants -- even current USC students -- are required to respond to the short-answer questions included in the Program Materials section of the online application.
I already hold a master's degree. Do I have to submit test scores?
Holding a prior master’s degree does not exempt applicants from submitting the required test scores. You may choose to submit an application without test scores. The committee will review the content of your graduate degree transcript to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence that you are qualified for admission. The quality of the institution at which the master’s degree was earned and the individual’s GPA will be taken into consideration. If you attended an institution that does not issue grades or distinguishing evaluative marks, test scores are required. If the your performance in the graduate program was marginal, test scores will be requested. Failing to submit test scores could jeopardize your admission if the committee asks for scores and the applicant is not able to take the test in time for admission.
What if I took some of the courses 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 a course equivalent to MOR 557 Strategy and Management Consulting prior to admission will be required to complete alternate course work chosen from the list of electives.
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. High achievers may complete the program in one semester, depending on course availability. Working students usually take 1-2 classes each semester. Part-Time domestic students and permanent residents may choose to complete the program over several years.
How many people will be in my class?
You can expect an average of 40 students in your classes. All classes are taken with other Marshall graduate students. Most of your classes will include a large proportion of MBAs. 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 $29,000 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 in the USC Schedule of Classes . 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.
I really want to get into the Marshall MBA program. Can I start with the certificate and then transfer to the MBA?
No. 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, including an introductory strategy course, and you can do the Graduate Certificate in conjunction with the electives portion of your MBA.
Can I get a scholarship? How about financial aid?
The Graduate Certificate program is not funded for program-specific scholarships. Graduate Certificates are not eligible for federal financial aid. Other scholarship programs might be available. Visit the USC Awards Database for more information.
Career Development and Placement Services
Certificate-only students are provided career transition services through the USC Career Center. Certificate students are encouraged to join graduate student clubs and organizations in their field of interest as well.
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 below page for more information about this process.)
Current USC Students and Alumni - 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 gradadm.usc.edu/apply/.
- Start by applying for an application fee waiver. Follow the instructions under
step 3 at http://gradadm.usc.edu/apply/us-students/ready-to-apply/ or
step 4 at http://gradadm.usc.edu/apply/international-students/ready-to-apply/
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 and select the Graduate Certificate in Strategy and Management Consulting 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. Current students: 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."
What did we miss?
For more information, write to GCRT.SMC@marshall.usc.edu or call (213) 740-3198.