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First Cohort of Online MBA Students Met Face-to-Face in L.A. for Residential Intensive


After combing through all of the submitted applications, in August, the USC Marshall School of Business launched its online MBA program with an inaugural cohort of 16 meticulously-selected students.

Though nearly all of the program is online, it includes a required residential intensive: one week of classes and networking events that allow students to meet each other and faculty face-to-face, complete group projects, and further solidify their place in the Trojan family. Students and faculty from cities across California and the U.S. came together in Los Angeles and attended classes on topics ranging from leadership communication to management and strategy, as well as in-person and mobile gaming exercises.

The Marshall School is thrilled to bring a cohort of ambitious entrepreneurs and future business leaders with such diverse backgrounds into its family. The group consists of several managers from top companies, and the average work experience of each student is 7 years. The on-campus component of the program is important, as it prepares students for their future virtual relationships. As Phil Griego, the Director of Online Learning, stated, “It makes it that much easier to communicate and connect with each other in a virtual experience since they’ve already made those friendships ahead of time.”

Students also appreciated the value of kicking off the online program with an on-campus event:

“One of the great things about everyone coming together for this first week is the amount of diversity within the class. We have people involved with financing, pharmaceuticals, and some of them have multiple master’s degrees already. Several students are active duty or former military members. Everyone brings something to the table, so they can collaborate and share their ideas and experiences.” – Greg Sisa, Online MBA Student, U.S. Marine Diving Instructor, Naval Special Warfare

Although it may have been fun for the students to be on-campus—many for the first time—the week included serious coursework. After breakfast each morning, students participated in two seminars before breaking for lunch, which served as a networking opportunity for the newest members of the Trojan community. After lunch, three more sessions built on what was previously learned.

During the week, students were put into teams that were presented with a real challenge by a top 10 entertainment company in the Los Angeles area. Everyone visited the company to gain perspective on the task at hand and gave team presentations to company executives, who selected a winning group.

The faculty had an equally wonderful experience getting to know their students. Judith Blumenthal, professor of marketing and a former USC Chief Alumni officer, explained:

“I’ve just completed the first week of the online residential program, and the students that I met were terrific. And they are in the careers with serious jobs. Honestly, they would not be able to enroll in a program that does not have the flexibility that they require.”

USC Marshall just finished recruiting its next cohort for the Spring 2016 session, which began in early January. Though demand for the USC Online MBA has continued to grow as awareness of the program has spread, the plan is still to keep interactive class sessions small while selectively accepting more students into the program.


About the USC Marshall School of Business

USC Marshall is one of the premier business schools in the U.S. and internationally recognized as a home for path-breaking research that emphasizes entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and social responsibility. The USC Online MBA from the Marshall School of Business is built to help students succeed in the digitally driven business landscape, providing a curriculum focused on the practical skills expected of today’s global leaders. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Marshall brings undergraduate and graduate students a unique perspective on the world, including global opportunities for experiential learning. The vibrant and active Trojan alumni community includes more than 89,000 people in 92 countries.


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