USC Marshall MBA Application Essay Questions and Tips

University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business is one of the Top 25 business schools in the US.

Marshall, like other top schools, believes in the power of diversity. The admissions committee members at Marshall are looking for students that can bring diverse perspectives into the MBA class and help their classmates grow with a global mindset.

In the Dean’s Welcome, Dean Geoff Garrett talks about what is expected of Marshall students. He says:

Marshall students are equally resourceful and resilient, always looking to seize the moment with a well-honed entrepreneurial mindset.

These are just snippets of what an MBA applicant must keep in mind while answering the Marshall MBA essays. However, there is much more to answering MBA essay prompts that just knowing a few skills and values that the school resonates with.

Let’s dive in deeper.

USC Marshall MBA Application Essays

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. (word limit: 100)

This is your straightforward career goals essay. It is one of the most used essay prompts to evaluate an applicant.

To start off this essay, detail your short-term MBA goal. This is the immediate position you wish to hold once you graduate from Marshall’s MBA program. Don’t be afraid of getting into the specifics of your short-term goals. From the industry to the job role, to the company you plan to work at, tell the admissions committee about everything.

Also, explain your thought process behind your choice. Explain why a certain job role or industry interests you. What drew you to the organization you wish to work at post-MBA. A point to note would be to choose an organization from the list of recruiters that frequent Marshall.

List of recruiters at USC’s Marshall.

Follow up by writing about your transferrable skills from your past and current work experience. This, in no way, means repeat your MBA resume. All you really need to do is evaluate all the skills you have acquired up till the MBA, and how these skills will help you be effective in your post-MBA goal.

This is also known as the equation of employability. It talks about how your current skill-set with the knowledge and skillset you’ll acquire during your MBA would help you achieve your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals.

Essay 2 (Required) – 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.

As Marshall states in this essay prompt, the true essence of an applicant isn’t captured by their grades, test scores or resumes.

Don’t pick only professional experiences or anecdotes to share your personality with admissions committee members. Consider this your chance to show the admissions committee how good of a fit you are to Marshall’s community and values.

Since you don’t have another “Why Marshall?” essay, use this space to express the same.

Essay 3 (Optional) Please provide any additional information you would like the admissions committee to consider. (word limit: 250)

If there is a significant accomplishment that couldn’t be mentioned in any other space throughout your Marshall MBA application, use this space to mention it. Make sure you also explain why that accomplishment is significant enough for you to share it with the Marshall admissions committee.

The purpose of this space, however, is to allow students to explain the weak points of their MBA application essay.

Do you have a low GMAT score? Is your undergraduate GPA lower than the Marshall average? Did you have to approach a non-conventional recommender for your LoR?

Use this space to explain the circumstances behind these situations. Make sure you don’t simply paint yourself out to be a victim. Take responsibility for your weaknesses while explaining how a particular situation or decision might have affected you at that moment.

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