IBEAR students arriving in Chengdu

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the USC IBEAR MBA?

The USC Marshall IBEAR MBA is a one-year, full-time international MBA program designed for mid-career professionals. Established in 1978, the program has over 1,800 alumni from 60 countries.

The typical IBEAR class is comprised of 55 participants from 12 to 15 countries. On average, participants are 36 years old and have 12 years of work experience; 80% are in the 32 to 40 age range. One-third of participants are sponsored by companies and family-owned businesses and two-thirds are self-sponsored.

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What is the difference between the IBEAR MBA and most two-year MBA programs?

IBEAR participants are mid-career professionals being trained to assume leadership roles in global organizations. They are approximately 5 years older on average than students in two-year MBA programs. Thus, many IBEAR participants seek to re-enter the job market at a more senior level than the average two-year MBA. The opportunity cost of attending a one-year program as opposed to a two-year program is more attractive to mid-career professionals looking to return to the job market as soon as possible.

Participants of the IBEAR MBA program tend to be more diverse than those in other MBA programs. A typical class consists of 55 participants from 15 countries, and has a very strong international focus. 75% of the class comes from outside the US. Many of our participants have families. They are also required to participate in an intense 17-week long client commissioned International Business Consulting Project (IBCP) that includes international travel.

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When does the IBEAR MBA start and end?

It begins in late June of one year and ends in mid June of the next. Some participants are required or encouraged to arrive in April to take supplemental English language lessons at USC’s Language Academy.

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Does The IBEAR MBA Program offer GRE/GMAT Test Waivers

Test Waiver Requests

Are you allowing the option for standardized test waivers requests?

For the 2021-22 admissions cycle, the IBEAR MBA Program is providing candidates the option of submitting a standardized test (GMAT or GRE) waiver request.

What is the basis upon which Marshall will decide on test waivers?

Standardized tests provide the Admissions Committee with some evidence of a candidate’s ability (quantitative, verbal, and analytical) to perform academically in the MBA core curriculum. Test scores also serve to provide an indication of English language capability. The basis for your waiver request should be grounded in a record of exceptional academic achievement that includes demonstrated mathematical preparedness. While professional experience can be included as a component of the waiver request, the Admissions Committee will most strongly consider two elements: 1) overall academic achievement; and 2) performance in quantitative coursework.

How should I determine whether or not to submit a test waiver request?

It is our belief that most applicants should submit a standardized test score as part of the application process. That said, some candidates may be able to demonstrate exceptional academic proficiency (quantitative, verbal, and analytical) in other ways. It is important that you review the most recent class profile to get an understanding of the competitiveness of the application process.

How do I submit a test waiver request?

Only candidates who have applied to the program can submit a waiver request. The process requires two steps:

Step #1 – Submit a complete application that includes a résumé, all academic transcripts, and a response to the Test Waiver Request Essay (included in the application). In addition, you should respond affirmatively to the question in the application that asks if you are submitting a test waiver request.

Step #2 – Once you have submitted your application, please email ibearmba@marshall.usc.edu to alert us of your submission. The subject line should read “Test Waiver Request – Application Submitted.” Please include your First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, and USC CAS ID# (located in the top right corner of your online application) in the email, so that we can easily locate your file.

When and how will I be notified of the test waiver decision?

Within 10 business days of our receipt of your email (see Step #2 in the preceding question), you will receive an email from the Admissions Office to let you know if the test waiver has been granted or not.

If granted a test waiver, what happens next?

If you are granted a test waiver, we will proceed with the review of your application and provide you with a decision within the notification dates published on the admissions website.

If my test waiver request is not granted, what happens next?

If you are not granted a test waiver, you must submit either the GMAT or GRE before the Admissions Committee will review your application for a final decision. The email that you receive from us will provide you with additional details. You will have the option to withdraw from consideration or continue in the process, subject to receipt of test scores. Since your application will be fully assessed only after you have submitted test scores, this may alter the admissions round in which you are considered.

If my test waiver request is not granted, can I appeal or reapply for a waiver in a subsequent round?

No. All test waiver decisions are final and not subject to an appeals process. In addition, a test waiver can only be requested once per admissions cycle.

Will my chances for admission be negatively impacted if I do not submit test scores?

If you receive a test waiver, your chances for admission will not be negatively impacted. Keep in mind, however, that your candidacy is assessed against all other applicants to the program. Standardized tests provide the Admissions Committee with relevant information. A lack of a standardized test score means that all other elements of your application will take on a heightened significance.

Will I still be eligible for scholarships if I am admitted without test scores?

Yes. All admitted students will be reviewed for scholarship opportunities at the point of admission. While standardized test score serve as one additional data point in our admissions and scholarship decisions, if you receive a test waiver, your chances for a scholarship will not be negatively impacted.

If a test waiver is not granted, should I take this as an indication of the final admissions decision?

No. The test waiver request process is treated independently of the admissions decision. Denial of a waiver request simply means that we require a standardized test to make a full assessment of your candidacy for the program. All applications are reviewed holistically, and there are a multitude of factors that play a role in the ultimate admissions decision.

If a test waiver is granted, should I take this as an indication of the final admissions decision?

No. The test waiver request process is treated independently of the admissions decision. A test waiver simply means that we do not require that data point to make an assessment of your candidacy for the program. All applications are reviewed holistically, and there are a multitude of factors that play a role in the ultimate admissions decision.

How will employers view the lack of standardized test score?

A small number of employers may request standardized test scores as part of their recruiting process.







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What are the average GMAT and TOEFL scores of participants?

IBEAR’s GMAT average is about 630.

IBEAR’s TOEFL average normally approximates 100 IBT or 250 CBT. Some participants are required to arrive early for additional English study, based on their scores and their background.


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How may I apply?

Applicants must apply directly on-line at https://usc.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login

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When is the application deadline?

IBEAR uses a rolling admissions process. Applicants are encouraged to open their application file as early as possible by completing the on-line application form and submitting transcripts.

We start evaluating and admitting applications on October 15th of each year. We urge that applicants complete the application process no later than April 15th of the following year, as the class starts to get full by this date. From time to time, we do make exceptions for strong candidates beyond April 15th. Applicants are not required to wait for test results before submitting applications.

We will start accepting applications for IBEAR 45 2022 - 2023 on August 1, 2021. The IBEAR MBA Program offers 4 deadline-based application rounds and a final 'rolling round' comprising of rolling admissions. International applicants are encouraged to apply in one of the early rounds.
                   Application Deadlines          Notification By
Round 1    October 18, 2021                December 20, 2021

Round 2    January 3, 2022                    Feb 28 , 2022

Round 3    February 28, 2022             April 11, 2022

Round 4    March 28, 2022                       May 9, 2022

Round 5    Rolling Round

Please contact us at ibearmba@marshall.usc.edu if you are impacted by testing center closures.

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How long does it take for an admissions decision?

Files are reviewed as soon as they are complete, beginning in November. After you have completed your application file and interviewed, it will take us approximately three weeks to evaluate your application and make a decision. If you are a foreign national it may take somewhat longer for an official USC decision because your file must also be reviewed by USC International Admissions. Admitted applicants are informed immediately by phone or via email.


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What qualifications are considered in the admissions process?

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and at least six years of full-time work experience after college graduation. IBEAR staff or alumni will interview potential candidates.

Admission decisions are based upon the quality and length of the applicant's work experience, as well as the experience and quality of the applicant’s educational background, test scores, interviews, application essays, and recommendations.

International students are required to take the USC International Student English (ISE) exam on arrival at USC, unless they submit either a TOEFL score of 90 or more (IBT) with no less than 20 on each section, or an IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6 on each band score. Depending on the test scores (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS), IBEAR may recommend or require additional English work before or after the IBEAR MBA program begins.

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Do you require an interview?

Yes, an interview is required. It will be arranged by IBEAR staff upon completion of the application file. Interviews will be conducted by staff or alumni either in person or through Skype. Though not mandatory, applicants are strongly encouraged to visit USC, see our beautiful campus, sit in classes, and meet current IBEAR participants.

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Does my undergraduate degree or work experience need to be in business?

No. IBEAR admits individuals from a broad spectrum of academic and work experience backgrounds.

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What is the typical IBEAR class profile?

Class size

Countries represented        




Average Age


Age Range


Average Work Experience

Experience Range           



GMAT Average



Undergraduate Major

Business / Economics


Science and Engineering


Liberal Arts




Computer Science



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How much does the program cost?

Tuition & Fees for 2021-2022 (IBEAR MBA 44) is $126,552.

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Do you offer scholarships and/or loans?

IBEAR provides merit scholarships for highly-qualified international and U.S. applicants. Scholarship decisions are based on academic and leadership potential. Scholarship recipients demonstrate very strong academic performance, consistently high test scores, as well as a strong career trajectory. They are expected to be leaders in the IBEAR program. You may indicate in your application that you wish to be considered for a scholarship. The amount awarded is contingent on the qualifications of the applicant. Only self-sponsored applicants are eligible.

IBEAR Global Business Fellow awards tuition scholarships  to high potential self-sponsored international and U.S. Candidates.

Hanjin/Korean Air Scholarship: One partial tuition award to a Korean national or Korean-American or to a self-sponsored participant focused on a career in global supply chain/logistics. 

Honjo Foundation/Jack G. Lewis Scholarship: One partial tuition award to a self-sponsored participant of Japanese heritage.

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How may I obtain a scholarship?

Scholarship decisions are based on academic and leadership potential. Scholarship recipients demonstrate very strong academic performance, consistently high test scores, as well as a strong career trajectory. They are expected to be leaders in the IBEAR program. You may indicate in your application that you wish to be considered for a scholarship.

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How about course waivers and electives?

The following core courses may be waived by taking a waiver challenge exam in August.

  • GSBA 511 - Managerial Economics
  • GSBA 510 - Accounting Concepts and Financial Reporting
  • GSBA 518 - Accounting Control Systems
  • GSBA 524 - Applied Managerial Statistics
  • GSBA 528 - Marketing Management
  • GSBA 548 - Corporate Finance
  • GSBA 549 - The Firm in the National and International Economy


Waiver exams are similar to a final exam in these courses. A waived course must be replaced by a Marshall elective in the same semester in which a waived course is offered. IBEAR MBA participants must complete 56 units to receive the Marshall MBA degree.

IBEAR participants may also replace three optional courses offered by the IBEAR program with Marshall elective courses offered to all MBA students. Two replacement electives may be taken in Spring Semester. One may be taken in Summer Term.

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What is IBCP?

IBCP or International Business Consulting Project is a 17-week long client sponsored real-world consulting engagement with a global corporate entity with a business problem. Participants apply their leadership and analytical skills as they focus on real challenges faced by an international firm. Collaborating with peers in small teams, candidates work directly with clients to build strategies and develop solutions to issues of pressing concern. Projects often require travel for research. Past clients have ranged from Fortune 500 companies to smaller innovative companies with a global outlook.

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What kind of career services do you provide?

Career development is an integral part of the IBEAR experience. Participants receive highly-personalized coaching and unparalleled access to a dedicated Associate Director of Career Development with extensive cross-industry, cross-functional international experience. Tuned-in to the unique needs of mid-career professionals, the Associate Director of Career Development works closely with each participant to identify and accomplish their career objectives. Candidates are encouraged to contact the career development officer at the beginning of the program and work closely with him during the entire year. The Marshall School's Graduate Career Services Office (GCSO) provides support to all Marshall MBA students, including IBEAR self-sponsored participants. IBEAR provides additional career support in the form of frequent networking opportunities and access to IBEAR’s vast global alumni network.

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Are there options for further study after completing the MBA?

In addition to Optional Practical Training (OPT), qualified self sponsored participants may apply to several one-year graduate study and certificate programs offered at USC Marshall School. You are encouraged to look at graduate and certificate programs offered by other schools at USC. Please refer to the following websites to see some of the graduate study options available to you:

Master Degree Programs

Certificate Programs

Contact Us

USC Marshall School of Business
837 Downey Way, STO 302
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1145
Phone: 213-740-7140
E-mail: ibearmba@marshall.usc.edu
IBEAR Home Page

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