Tuesday Tips – USC MBA Essay Tips

The USC MBA program offers a southern California location and strong local reputation, a variety of programs and the resources of a large and prestigious university.  USC MBA’s program is flexible and innovative, offering many joint degree programs and options for students to attend the program on a full or part-time basis.

Describe in a brief essay (do not exceed 250 words per section – 750 words maximum):
a) your post-MBA short-term goals (immediately after graduation)
Your short term goals should be a transition to your long term goals.
b) your post-MBA long-term goals (3-5 years after graduation)
c) how your professional experience, when combined with an MBA degree, will enable you to achieve these goals


This is a standard career goals essay along the lines of Wharton and Columbia. The major twist to this essay is that the USC MBA allocates specific space for each sub question, asking applicants to be brief and sure to answer each section.

Ideally this essay builds on itself, and you are able to discuss your short-term goals as a transition to your long-term goals, explain your long-term goals and then return to your background and how it has set the stage for your goals and your MBA degree. Though the USC MBA does not specifically ask why you want to attend Marshall, you should incorporate the reasons effectively within your short- and long-term goals discussion.

When discussing your career progress thus far focus on key focal points in your career that relate logically to your MBA and, ultimately, your goals.

2) Complete one of the following three statements. Do not exceed 250 words.
a) “My most significant accomplishment to date is”¦”
b) “People may be surprised to learn that I”¦”
c) “I am considered a leader because”¦”

If you choose to describe an accomplishment, think about the accomplishment you choose and what it says about your values and goals. Be sure to explain why this accomplishment is your most significant.

This USC MBA essay is an opportunity to choose the statement that fits best with your overall application strategy. You will have the opportunity to highlight the areas you most need to explain, whether your accomplishments, differentiating yourself, or describing your impact as a leader.

Option b) is clearly a way to tell the adcomm something about yourself that will set you apart from other applicants. If you are someone who has a standard career background and competition that may be similar, this is your opportunity to bring up something interesting or diverse in your background. Perhaps you have an unusual hobby, have made an impact on the community in a special way, or have an interesting family heritage.

Option c) is a great way to highlight your leadership skills. If you are someone who works as an individual contributor, or in a technical role, this is a great opportunity for you to tell a story that demonstrates that you lead in other informal ways. Think about how you may lead a group of peers, or lead in a community setting.

3) Answer two of the following questions. Do not exceed 500 words per question.
a) The USC MBA Prime Program prepares students for doing business in a global economy. Describe a cross-cultural experience that challenged you. How did you meet this challenge and what did you learn from this experience?
b) The USC MBA program has garnered national acclaim for its emphasis on community outreach and service. How have you impacted your community?
c) We all experience significant events or milestones that influence the course of our lives. Briefly describe such an event and how it affected you.

Think about how to answer the two remaining essay questions in the context of your overall application strategy. If you focused on a community service example in 2c, you may want to answer a) and c) in this case.

Choosing option a) is a great way to highlight any global experiences or perspective you have. Be sure to research the USC MBA Prime Program and be ready to explain why the program is appealing to you as part of the question. When you describe the experience that was a challenge, stay positive and clearly explain what you learned and why the experience was significant.

Essay choice b) is another opportunity to research the USC MBA while demonstrating your fit with the Marshall community and your own accomplishments in community service. When describing your community involvement focus on the impact you were able to make. An extra bonus would be to describe how you will make a similar impact at Marshall.  To learn more about the program you should visit the school, attend admissions events or interact with current or former students.

If you choose to answer c) remain positive and focus on the shift in perspective you may have experienced that has led to subsequent life choices. This is an ideal opportunity to show introspection and a point that may have led to greater maturity in your life.
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