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Information Sessions and Events

Our information sessions give you an insider’s look into our Online MBA program. By attending, you’ll learn more about our curriculum and admissions process, have opportunities to ask questions about the program and hear directly from our award-winning faculty.

Latest Information Session

Recorded Thursday, October 8, 2020

Moderated by:

  • David Kaiser, Enrollment Counselor, Online MBA

Presented by:

  • Philip Griego, Assistant Dean, Online Learning / Program Director, Online MBA
  • Miriam Burgos, Associate Professor of Clinical Marketing / Academic Director of the Online MBA program
  • Brittany Hawkins, Assistant Director, Online and Specialized Master’s Programs
  • Keturah Prowell, Student Services Advisor

Alumni Guest:

  • Antoine Harden

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USC MBA Info Session Questions and Answers: May 2020

Meeshie, how did you find working full time, parenting full time and going to school?

To be honest, it’s like I said before, it’s really important that you have really good time management skills. Working full time and then really utilizing and setting aside some time after the kids go to bed, depending on how old your kids are, I have a nine year old, he’s in seventh grade, so 8:30, soon as he was in bed, I was already getting on the computer, I’m looking at my classwork, on my lunch breaks at work. You can watch the canvas videos, which is really helpful, I can knock out some of the videos. It’s really bending your time as well as utilizing all of your technology. I have an iPad so I knew that I can download canvas on my iPad, even on my cell phone. If I wanted to had a break or wanted to catch, do a couple of videos, I had it right on my cell phone and my iPad.

I really kind of brought that around with me all the time. If I could find pockets to get some stuff done and then on the weekends if you have time, block up those times on your calendar and then make sure to also block out time for family time, time with your spouse because going through this program, I mean, it’s really going to have to be a group effort. I think that everyone’s employer has to find out that they know you’re going through grad school and then really your family kind of signing on to be really supportive. And I think if you can get those things kind of in line before you start, you’ll be successful.


Are there ways to connect one on one with current or past online MBA students? Most individuals say if they attend a campus program that the networking opportunities are more fruitful. So what have been your experiences and abilities to network within the online MBA program?

If you decide to go into the program, you know that that one-week intensive is great. Obviously we’re not going to be able to have it until we can all get back to being all in big groups. But the best way to deal with is through LinkedIn. And so that chats are really, really great. And then if you find someone in your industry that has gone through the program or is going to the program really reach out, because I want to say 90% of the alumni or people going through love sharing their experience and tips and tricks of how to get through certain things, canvas or work or professor. So really reaching out because everyone’s super responsive. So, you really need to take charge of your networking, even though we have on campus networking, if you don’t actually go, it’s the same thing, like not emailing or messaging someone. It’s really you taking charge of making that initial step, but it’s doable.


Question about the percentage of the work; synchronous versus asynchronous, or is there an estimated kind of hours per week that you find students are spending on each of these pieces and components of the program?

I think it really depends on where your strengths and weaknesses are. I’m in finance, I’m in spreadsheets all day. So during the core finance or the accounting classes, I’ll be able to do things a little bit more quickly. And you’re going to find classes that you’re like, this class is great and it’s easy because you just get it and you’re going to find classes that are a little more challenging because that’s not your industry or you don’t have as much exposure. And so that’s where really leaning on your group and your classmates is going to be super important because it’s kind of like a team effort. You’re only as good as your weakest link, you might be that weakest link in one class and you might be that leader in another. I would say, the hour spent offline, online is obviously where the classes take place, and then you’re going to have to get on Zoom with your group on the weekend sometimes. And I would say maybe one or two hours extra, maybe three hours a week, depending on how your group drives together on a project. But offline I would say if you could carve out maybe two hours at night and then maybe three or four hours a day on the weekend. And really when you’re carving out those hours, you’re focusing and doing the work I think you can do that and still have some time for having a life.

Also in regards to the amount of asynchronous versus synchronous, it really depends upon the course. It can run from 50/50 to 70% asynchronous and 30% synchronous. It really depends upon the course. So just to add onto what Meeshie is saying, you’re in grad school now and you’re also working full time and grad school is really taking on another part time job. Fortunately, this program is just a little under two years, so it’ll go by very quickly. But yeah, you’re going to have to put in some hours pretty much every day. Or at least build it around your other commitments that you have. I would budget just to be on the safe side, 20 to 30 hours a week. That won’t always be the case, again, it depends what the course is, what the topic is but yeah, it’s going to be a big commitment.


If an individual has already had part time and full time work experience within their undergrad program, does that count toward the minimum requirement needed to be eligible for the program?

If you’re a nontraditional student then yes, we’re going to take a look at some of the work that you’ve done prior and into your bachelor’s degree because you were probably working full time and you went back to school or you worked full time while you went to school. Part time work, we may or may not take a look at as much as a full time work. And it also has to be an applicable work experience. Sometimes students work while they’re in school and they may be working full time, but it’s not applicable to what we’re looking for in our program. So remember this is the MBA program. This is a competitive program that we want to make sure that whatever work experience that you have that it aligns with other students that we’re looking at or other backgrounds that we’re looking at, in some situations yes, and other situations no.


Can you still be competitive without the GMAT or GRE? Additionally, does the lack of submitting with these assessment scores, does it take you out of being considered for a scholarship?

Everyone will be considered even if they don’t have a GMAT or GRE score for admission, the best opportunity to get a scholarship is to have that high GMAT score or that high GRE score. But considering that most people aren’t testing, then we’re have to look at other factors to offer scholarships. GPA is another way that you get scholarship, typically you have over 3.6; you may be considered for a scholarship. Again, your work experience, your essay, the story that you tell us why you want to earn an MBA, how much you’re going to contribute, not just to Marshall but back to the business world, we’ll take a look at that. If you don’t test it’s okay, it’s better to test, it’s highly recommended, but we understand everything that’s happening. Some people just don’t have the bandwidth to test, so that’s okay. But we’ll still consider them for scholarships after we considered everyone that has tested first.


Is there an average range in between scholarship amounts that the recipients would be awarded?

Yes, we’ve had students receive from, as low as $5,000, $5,000 typically is the lowest, all the way up to about $20,000, we’re a forte member school, so any female that applies to the program, if we feel like she would be a good representation for the program and we may deem her as a forte fellow. And if we deem you as a forte fellow, the program gives you a $20,000 scholarship, the $20,000 is typically for the forte fellows, although that’s not to say that someone else can’t receive the $20,000. So the short answer to the question is it goes from $5,000 to $20,000.


Is the program geared toward professionals who are trying to advance within their current company? Or would you say that it’s more geared to professionals whom are looking to switch careers?

The key differentiator is really that our program is comprehensive and covering just about every business topic and we don’t offer elective courses. The way I would describe it is, it’s an amazing comprehensive MBA program that can help in either situation. I would say if you’re still exploring what areas of business interests you most, then probably a program that has electives or concentrations is probably the best way to go. So it can help you identify like what is your area of special interest, but otherwise, I would say our program would help in both of the scenarios you’ve described and we have examples of alumni who have benefited in both cases.


Can you speak to the international experiences and if so, how many are offered per year?

Right now, we do offer international experience that is optional. So it’s something we introduced this last year. Our hope is as soon as the university has given the all clear to international travel again, that we will offer it again this year. The time that seems to work best within the academic calendar for our program is the break between summer and fall, we’re probably looking around that time. So early September around Labor Day of 2021 most likely is when we will look at offering the next international trip. So again, this is, not required but it does include company visits and a faculty will be going on the trip as well. So it will be both of academic interest and also will be fun and a great way to spend time with your classmates.


How is the online MBA acknowledged by companies compared to an in-person or on-campus MBA?

It really depends upon the company’s attitude or perspective on online education. If you’d asked me this question 10 years ago, people had a lot of questions. But now it’s pretty much taken for granted that high quality online education can be achieved. It doesn’t have to be in person or face to face, especially since so much business is done, on platforms like Zoom now, so it really is not an issue as maybe it once was. But I don’t know if Meeshie or Brittany or anyone else has any other thoughts to add to that as far as their experience or attitudes towards an online education.

(Meeshie) I feel the USC Marshall program is really on the forefront. There’s no program like this. But the fact that, it’s not the online world, recorded video of your professor. So let’s say 10 years ago and you watched the recorded video and then you just do some work and you submit it, you’re interacting with professors, two hours, twice a week on Zoom. They’re asking you questions about what you’ve read, you’re raising your hand and participating in breakout sessions like you would in class. So that’s why it’s really a hybrid program. And so when I talk about the OMBA program, I rarely ever say online, I say it’s more like a hybrid program and Marshall’s Marshall, the way they’ve constructed the OMBA program, you’re getting such in depth. I think it’s even more of a tighter, with your professors, tighter group with your cohort, education experience that I don’t think I would have gotten if I would have gone to campus and spending half hour, 45 minutes, an hour to get there and back. All I’m doing is taking the drive time out and really getting on camera and having class on Zoom. That’s truly the only difference. Other than that, I mean you’re still having to do your group sessions, whether or not people can meet or that you would have done it on Zoom or on teams or something even if you were going to an in person program as, yeah. Anyway, my company being in finance and accounting, I think anyone in the industry knows that having your MBA or CPA is key.

I don’t have online MBA, OMBA on my resume, it says Marshall School of business MBA; even on my diploma it doesn’t say OMBA on it. It says Marshall School of business MBA, so that was a big one for me. I think I asked that question like four times. Are you sure it’s not going to say online because I still had that stigma of an online program from like back in the day, but it says Marshall, USC Marshall MBA program, boom, you’re done. And that’s really it, you’re just really taking the drive time out of going to class.

(Phil) Meeshie brings up a great point. On-campus, residential MBA programs, especially if they’re targeted towards working professionals, all have online components. So it really just comes down and students on their own are going to use tools like Zoom or WhatsApp or many other things just to communicate. So it just so happened, we’ve designed this program to be as flexible as possible. In fact, we’re open to changing the name of our degree program to take out the word online. So anyone have any great ideas? I think that there’s probably a better way to describe our program, emphasizing how flexible it is and again, to repeat what Meeshie said, the degree does not say online. There’s no mention of the mode of delivery, it just says USC Marshall, School of Business, Master of Business Administration.


Can online MBA students take advantage of the full time MBA applicants in terms of the intense recruitment rounds or the hands-on career services support, can an online student utilize that on campus? If not, how does that look for the OMBA students?

Unfortunately, the answer is no or it’s very limited and this isn’t just the online MBA program. This is generally across the industry. Recruiters are usually looking for kind of those entry level MBA programs or candidates, and those tend to be people who maybe have less experience than most of the students in our program. And usually you’re overqualified for those entry level positions, their focus is usually on the full time programs. Occasionally there may be some opportunities for students who are in the part time MBA programs or those who are full time working professionals. It’ll vary upon year to year and what’s going on, what I can say to our career services would be we offer two dedicated career coaches to create a customized plan just for you as far as developing what your career goals are, marketing yourself using LinkedIn and every other tool that is, using resumes, cover letters, all that. And also help you prepare for interviews and everything else you can think of.

Again, we do the customized individual approach. However, there is no access to recruiting rounds, but there may be some occasional on campus events offered through the full time MBA program that may invite other programs, so it really depends. If recruiting rounds are really important, then really a full time MBA programs is the way to go.


Does the bulk of the grade in the class come from answering prebuilt questions in the asynchronous content or is it more based on the interactive written discussion material through the synchronous tool?

It really varies from course to course. Again, each of our courses are team taught, most of them by four different faculty, and the percentage of the core of each subject matter varies within each course. So faculty will look individually at your specific deliverables your class participation, team assignments everything and calculating each subject strands portion of the course grade and then they all get together, all four faculty in the course to determine what the final grade should be. Unfortunately, it’s not such a clear-cut process as I think the way in your question, what would have to say is if you really have some specific grading questions, we can refer you to Professor Miriam Burgos who is the academic director, since she’s faculty, she may be able to offer a little more insight. But in general, I think it’s a conversation you have maybe at the start of each course. So you get up with the faculty to get the best answer you can as far as how to prioritize your life schedule to maximize the grade that you want to achieve.


There’s a couple of questions in different formats as it relates to the difference between online versus full time, versus the executive MBA program. So just kind of combining all of those, if someone could kind of summarize the difference between OMBA, full time and the MBA.

The full time program is really for people who are, I think they pretty much insist that you’re not working. Basically your life is going to school full time and it really isn’t a full experience with activities in classes all day long, all week long. So really that becomes like a big priority and you don’t have a job to worry about. They have required courses, most, most of them towards the beginning of the program and then gradually elective courses are brought in. There’s an expectation with the summer break that everyone goes off to get an internship. So, it’s kind of your typical full time graduate program experience. The executive MBA program has a lot of similarities to our online MBA program in that actually, there are no electives to my knowledge, and it’s all courses covering multiple different subjects. The difference is instead of meeting online twice a week like we do in our program, you meet for a Friday and a Saturday I believe, every other weekend, all day, so, there’s the in person requirement. They are introducing probably a little more online stuff as time goes on and I’m pretty sure that that’s going to be an ongoing discussion as how much of a hybrid program they are going to make it to make it more flexible. They probably attract people who are a little further on in their jobs or their careers than in our program, but not by much. The profiles are actually very similar. Those are the key differences. I don’t know Brittany, Kristen, if there’s anything I left out.


What is the diversity of the cohort makeup and is that taken into consideration?

As you guys saw, there was a breakdown of industries. The most common industries are going to be right now technology and engineering followed by healthcare. Healthcare kind of crept up there over the past couple of cohorts. In addition finance and banking is pretty prevalent. Nonprofits, I’d say in that ranking order, if you work in engineering technology, you’re going to be around some likeminded people. But in addition, you’re also going to have students that come from other backgrounds and all of that will kind of break down about maybe say, engineering technology taking about 20, 25%, and then everything else kind of falls down from that point. As for location, the majority of students come from California, Southern California to be exact. But we do have about 70% of the students come from the state of California, about 50 are from south Cal.

But we do have representation in over, I believe 17 or 18 different states. So there’s a lot of students from a lot of different areas. A lot of our student from New York, Chicago, some of the Southern states. So we definitely have a pretty good representation. Of course, the West coast and Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona. All of those that are near California, there’s their representation. And then for women in the program, in various cohort by cohort but typically provided all 30%. And we do take diversity into consideration. The last thing we want is a program that’s full of people that all think the same, looks the same, acts the same. So it’s definitely going to be a diverse group of students that are in our program. And I believe there was a question about residency; yes, residency can count because that is technically you working. So yeah, we definitely have a few physicians in the program and those physicians were a little bit more advanced. They typically had to working for like 10, 12 years. Some of them were running their particular departments, but if you’re a medical student and you’ve done your residency and you’ve maybe been practicing for a few years, we’ll definitely consider the residency as part of your work experience.


How many applicants typically get accepted and how many applicants go from interview to being admitted to the program?

Conversion rates, typically, right about 50% of the students that come through will get accepted. Maybe a little bit different now because there’s an increase in applications applying for fall. It’s still going to be probably as competitive as it has been in the past, but yeah, about 50%. As for the students to actually get interviews that turned into admission. If you receive an interview that made you a finalist for admission, so you have pretty good chances and pretty good shot of being admitted to that program, unless you totally bomb your interview. That has happened. So I’d say probably about 90, 95% of the students that receive an interview will receive admission, although sometimes you may be wait-listed. So interviews are really, really important to us. Sometimes we interview, just to get to know you a little bit more. Other times we have legitimate questions, so it can go either way.


An individual works in the evenings quite often, is their ability to be flexible with the synchronous times on a case by case basis?

Those sessions are required. So those live sessions are required. They’re an integral part of the program. Sometimes when students feel disconnected in an online program is because they don’t have those live sessions, live sessions are required. Now that’s not to say that students don’t miss a session here or there because they’re working or maybe they get sick or whatever happens. Maybe they’re traveling and they don’t have WIFI at that particular moment. If that happens, then you have to let your professors know in advance. Don’t email them on the day, let them know well in advance once you know that’s going to happen, let them know so that they can kind of plan accordingly. So yes, they can make concessions, but it should not be the norm. So if you work in evenings and you typically are on from like six to midnight or whatever in the evening, it may not be the best program because we want you to attend those sessions and you got to meet with your group members too, sometimes you do group sessions during those live sessions, so it would affect more than just you.


How many individuals are in each cohort? Due to the influx of applications for the Fall 2020 term, do you anticipate there’ll be additional cohorts created to accommodate the influx?

We typically have 50 students for fall, we have two cohorts of 50, so that would give us a hundred students. Well we have more students because there’s more applications, not necessarily to increase the number of sessions you have to increase faculty teaching level, it’s a whole extra procedure that you have to do. So not necessarily, it doesn’t mean that. If there’s an influx of applications and there is less spaces and that means it’s high demand, so you guys know supply and demand, you’re applying to a business programs.


Past Information Session Q&A's

If you’d like to be notified when we have an upcoming session, sign up for our next webinar. You can view recordings of previous sessions' question-and-answer portions below, as we also hold these events regularly: