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. Your essays should show how you will both fit in and contribute to this dynamic environment, and the questions provide interesting opportunities to do so. Taken together, the questions indicate that the adcom wants to see both a clear, practical career focus and to understand the person behind those goals – that means they care about your perspective, your values, and your ability to synthesize and prioritize.
USC Marshall 2022-2023 MBA application essays
Marshall MBA essay question #1
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. (100 word maximum)
The question specifies the information to include in the essay. Although only 100 words, it is deemed an “essay” by the adcom, and that means you should do more than provide facts. An essay moves – it goes somewhere, it has a starting point and ending point. And you will have room for a little more 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.
Marshall MBA essay question #2
Please draft a letter that begins with “Dear Admissions Committee” (word limit: 600). This letter is meant to be your personal statement that provides the Admissions Committee with an understanding of your candidacy for Marshall beyond what is evident in other parts of your application. This essay is purposely open-ended. You are free to express yourself in whatever way you see fit. Our goal is to have an appreciation for and an understanding of each candidate in ways that are not captured by test scores, grades, and resumes.
This essay question invites you to reveal and share something of yourself – and in doing so, you will necessarily reveal your perspective, what you value. After all, in deciding what to discuss and how to present it, you already, literally, are making a statement about these things!
As the question indicates, there is no one formula for making this essay great. The good news is, there are many ways to do so – as many ways potentially as there are applicants.
First, consider making most of the essay about non-work subjects – it’s a “personal statement.” There well may be work-related aspects that warrant discussing, but it should not be about the work issues as much as what they show about you as a person. And it’s fine not to discuss work at all if you’ve got other good things to talk about!
Possible topics to consider are formative experiences, cultural influences, interests and passions (community, religious, sports, artistic, hobbies, political….), etc. I’ve seen essays of this type work that discuss two or three things, or even just one – but more than three and you risk creating a “too much stuff” blur. Be thoughtful and selective and, to a certain extent, strategic – by this last point I mean show the adcom new, relevant, and interesting aspects of you; I don’t mean trying too hard to impress the adcom by striving for topics that are superficially dramatic or exotic. Have the confidence to dig into your real life even if it may seem mundane – I recently edited a great basketball essay that vividly portrayed the applicant’s deep insight, humanity, individuality, and resourcefulness. I have no doubt the adcom that reads it will be moved and unable to put it down. That leads to my last point: don’t just relate facts; have something to say about them – show a point of view, vision, insight.
Marshall MBA essay question #3
Please provide any additional information you would like the admissions committee to consider. (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). For the former, if you ask the adcom to read additional material, make sure that it truly illuminates and is germane to your candidacy – since you have the personal statement to work with, do not present material that could more appropriately be addressed there.
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USC Marshall 2022-2023 MBA application deadlines
|Round 1||October 15, 2022|
|Round 2||January 5, 2023|
|Round 3||March 1, 2023|
|Round 4||April 15, 2023|
|Round 5||Rolling Admissions*|
*Applications received after April 15, 2023 will be considered on a space-available basis.
Source: USC Marshall website
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***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
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