First Cohort of Online MBA – Students Met Face to Face in LA

First Cohort Online MBA Program

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 MBA Online Programs 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.

  • Thinking like an entrepreneur to drive business growth
  • Communicating with international team members
  • Interpreting and acting on digital analytics and metrics
  • Managing remote employees and other long-distance teams
  • Developing a global perspective
  • Using social media to strengthen brands

Each course has been designed by USC Marshall faculty members specifically for our online learning platform. The program combines self-paced, asynchronous coursework with real-time, interactive class sessions via webcam. As a result, the curriculum provides an opportunity to gain practical skills in virtual collaboration and working with remote teams that can help graduates distinguish themselves in a competitive job market. Graduates exit the program with a compiled e-portfolio highlighting the work they have completed as a student – a valuable resource for future professional opportunities.

Throughout the program, students also gain hands-on practice working with the latest analytics and metrics technologies to make informed decisions and improve existing processes. This provides students with a multifaceted perspective on business leadership and prepares them to examine challenges from all angles.

Courses explore business fundamentals – topics like finance, accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship – as they relate specifically to the overall theme of the course. Individual topics are taught by different faculty members with focused expertise in the subject matter, meaning students will engage with several top-level instructors as they work through each course. This gives students the opportunity to actively engage their critical thinking and communication skills while considering all aspects and perspectives when solving business problems.

The program blends USC’s heritage of academic excellence with the flexibility of online learning and provides access to the renowned Trojan alumni network. This allows students to benefit from a top online MBA experience that can help them explore new opportunities for growth.