USC Marshall MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines

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Along with academic excellence, the USC Marshall MBA program is characterized by a powerful global network with special emphasis on the Pacific Rim, a close-knit and passionate community, and a strong regional presence. Together, your essays should address these qualities directly or indirectly, and the questions provide interesting opportunities to do so. In answering these two essay questions, try to create a holistic picture. It’s not necessarily easy, as the essays are very different in character – one abrupt and focused, one more expansive, reflective.


Essay #1 (Required): What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (500 word maximum)

The question itself directs you in what specific information to provide in the essay. Although only 100 words, it is deemed an “essay” by the adcom, and that means you need to do more than provide info. An essay moves – it goes somewhere, it has a starting point and ending point. And you will have room for a little more input than the bare facts, so compose your answer in a way that includes some motivation or vision for your short-term career goal; clarify what animates it. It may be just a sentence, even a phrase. But it can make all the difference. It will make this short piece of writing an essay – and will engage the reader.

Essay #2 (Required): At Marshall, we take pride in the fact that our students work collaboratively, both inside and outside the classroom, to create a culture, a community, and an environment that truly defines what we call the Trojan Family. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates during your time at USC. How will they benefit from your presence in the program? (500 word maximum)

“Contributions” come in many forms: cultural perspectives, special skills and/or knowledge, unique personal or professional experiences, in-depth knowledge of industries or functions, social and community involvements, artistic endeavors…  Did I miss anything? Most people will do best to discuss some different types of contributions, though occasionally someone may appropriately focus the whole essay on one, in-depth, if it’s compelling and she has much insight to share. 

DO NOT list all the possible ways you might contribute.  DO (a) study the Trojan Family, (b) study yourself, and (c) identify 2-4 special things about you that will have meaning to the Trojan Family. As Linda Abraham wisely says, in MBA applications, you should show both that you fit in and that you stand out, and this essay invites you to do exactly that. After you identify your topics, write about them with detail and if possible anecdote, and articulate why you think it is valuable to your future classmates – it’s your insight and willingness to share that create your contribution, not the fact of having done or experienced something, regardless of how dramatic or rare.

Essay #3 (Optional): Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (250 word maximum)

This question allows you to both discuss points that will enhance your application and explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a dip in grades etc.). For the former, if you ask the adcom to read additional material, make sure that it truly illuminates and is germane to your candidacy.  

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***


*We will continue to accept applications after April 15, 2017. Applications received after this date will be considered on a first-come, first-served and space-available basis.

Cindy TokumitsuCindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!


Related Resources:

9 Secrets to Standing Out in Your MBA Application
• Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application
• The Goals Essay: Writing Nitty-Gritty

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