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Darla Moore School of Business

One-Year MBA

Functional Specializations and Graduate Certificates

MBA students may choose from a selection of functional specializations or graduate certificates that align with their interests and career goals. By completing course work in a chosen area, students are able to customize their MBA to their needs and preferred area of career focus. Taking electives beyond the functional specialization or graduate certificate can further customize course work to align with personal interests and career goals.

Functional Specializations

Focus on one of two highly specialized paths of financial management expertise.

The Finance functional specialization starts with two required courses: Advanced Financial Management and Investment Management. Students may then select one of two elective paths in their functional specialization based on their area of interest.

Corporate Finance: Professionals in this area are responsible for managing liquidity, monitoring corporate performance via financial statements and evaluating capital budgeting projects. They also manage risk and perform a multitude of additional tasks that are vital to ensuring that the productive engines of the global economy operate at maximum efficiency.

Investments: In the investments world, the primary question is “what is it worth?” To answer this question, investment industry professionals must be intimately familiar with the details of numerous securities such as stocks, bonds, options, futures, swaps and structured products like mortgage-backed securities. Moreover, successful investment professionals must be well versed in a wide array of quantitative valuation methodologies. 

Finance Functional Specialization 

Required Courses

  • FINA 761: Advanced Financial Management
  • FINA 762: Investment Management 

Corporate Path

  • FINA 746: Risk Management
  • FINA 756: Financial Statement Analysis
  • IBUS 711: Global Valuation

Investment Path

  • FINA 737: Derivative Securities  
  • FINA 770: Fixed Income Securities  
  • FINA 772: Portfolio Management  

Course descriptions can be found in the USC Academic Bulletin.

Earn an industry-validated Six Sigma Green Belt along with your MBA. 

The Operations and Supply Chain functional specialization produces graduates with knowledge and practical applied experiences in the twin competencies of operations and business process improvement and global supply chain design, analysis and improvement. Students are prepared for specific careers in global manufacturing firms in production, purchasing, quality control, distribution and supply chain management; in service firms for general operations management and logistics/supply chain management; and in consulting firms as business process and quality improvement consultants.

Consisting of cutting-edge courses in lean systems, six-sigma methodologies, business re-engineering process improvement approaches, project management, strategic sourcing, logistics and distribution, and supply chain modeling and optimization, the program focuses on not just learning but applying these skills through a capstone consulting project course. Student teams tackle a “live” operations, business process or supply chain improvement project with an actual organization, thus preparing them for Six-Sigma Green Belt certifications. The capstone course class can potentially lead to a Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

Candidates pursuing this functional specialization and aspiring to earn the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification are required to complete five courses (15 credit hours) beyond the core requirements; four of these courses are required and one may be chosen from the list of provided electives.

As one of their electives, candidates are encouraged to complete MGSC 875 (“APICS” class). It delivers a curriculum used to educate professionals on essential terminology, concepts and strategies related to demand management, procurement and supplier planning, material requirements planning, capacity requirements planning, sales and operations planning, master scheduling, performance measurements, supplier relationships, quality control and continuous improvement. This class is designed to prepare students for the first four of five module exams of the APICS CPIM certification.

Global Supply Chain and Operations Management functional specialization

Required Courses

  • MGSC 871: Global Sourcing: Strategies and Applications
  • MGSC 876: Models in Supply Chain Management
  • MGSC 893: Business Process Analysis, Design and Implementation
  • MGSC 897: Graduate Capstone Consulting Project

Additional Courses

  • MGSC 777: Advanced Quantitative Methods in Business
  • MGSC 872: Project Management
  • MGSC 875: Supply Chain Coordination and Control (covers the topical material required by four modules of the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management CPIM)

Course descriptions can be found in the USC Academic Bulletin.

Marketing’s role in every company is to develop profitable relationships with customers.

The Marketing functional specialization is focused on developing the student’s ability to successfully create and manage these customer relationships on a global basis. Today’s marketers also have access to more information than ever before. While research and data are important, this information only becomes valuable when used to develop new marketing strategies that help companies attract, retain and grow their customers. This specialization accomplishes this objective by delivering a comprehensive understanding of fundamental marketing functions and an in-depth exploration of the various marketing metrics, marketing tools and market intelligence elements required to successfully create and execute an impactful marketing strategy. Each course in the program integrates the use of customer, consumer and competitor insights into the coursework resulting in a strong understanding of the data-driven decision-making that is required for successful global marketing today and in the future. Candidates pursuing this functional specialization are expected to complete four courses (12 credit hours) beyond the core requirements; two of them are required and two may be chosen from the list of provided electives.

Of the electives offered, candidates are encouraged to take MKTG 750, which is a project-focused class that allows students to apply their marketing knowledge to a real-world consulting opportunity. Students have recently had the opportunity to work on projects with such companies as Coca-Cola, ESPN, FedEx, Sonoco and Textron.  

Marketing functional specialization

Required Courses

  • MKTG 702: Advanced Marketing Research
  • MKTG 750: Marketing Consulting Project

Brand and Product Management Path 

  • MKTG 705: Marketing Communications
  • MKTG 707: Product/Brand Policies
  • MKTG 718: Social and Digital Media Strategy
  • MKTG 704: Consumer Behavior
  • MKTG 715: Pricing Strategy and Analysis

Marketing Analytics Path

  • MKTG 708: CRM/Data Mining
  • MKTG 717: Fundamentals of Marketing Analytics
  • MKTG 740: Social Media Analytics
  • MKTG 715: Pricing Strategy and Analysis

Course descriptions can be found in the USC Academic Bulletin.

For those who prefer a general management perspective or have interest in pursuing a unique functional specialization for consulting, we also offer a Strategic Management option.

Students who pursue the Strategic Management option will choose from a broad array of electives offered within our portfolio of MBA electives to create their own specialization. Frequently chosen topics of interest include:

  • Consulting
  • Innovation
  • International Business
  • Economic Development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Sustainability

Students pursuing this customized option are required to consult with the MBA program adviser in regards to the combination of courses they plan to take. It is also suggested that students pursue the Global Strategy Certificate to enhance this specialization.

A functional specialization is NOT noted in the graduate’s diploma or transcript. It solely serves as a recommendation from the department as the best course of action to earn the desired knowledge to develop a career in a specific functional area of business.


Graduate Certificates

The Business Analytics Graduate Certificate is a STEM-designated program designed to train data-savvy managers, which today’s marketplace demands, based on extensive benchmarking across academia and industry. Students pursuing this certificate are required to complete four courses (12 credit hours) beyond the MBA core coursework.

The Cybersecurity Management Certificate employs a multidisciplinary approach designed to meet the growing demand for leaders who understand and manage cybersecurity and information assurance professionals. The curriculum draws from programming in both international business and risk management, which provides students with a global approach to cybersecurity management.

The Enterprise Resource Planning Systems Graduate Certificate is designed to provide students with the ability to demonstrate an overall understanding and working knowledge of the function, design, control and use of enterprise resource planning systems. Candidates pursuing this graduate certificate are required to complete three courses (nine credit hours) beyond the MBA core coursework.

The Global Strategy Graduate Certificate provides a strong foundation in critical thinking and problem solving with the opportunity to customize electives to suit future goals. Students will learn how to utilize global opportunities, assess risks and benefits of varying investment and locational choices and effectively manage company activities when an organization wants to grow beyond its current borders.

The Strategic Innovation Certificate is designed to address this demand by preparing students to successfully navigate an increasingly complex technological environment and develop the skills needed to strategically manage science, technology and innovation in the workforce.

Graduate certificates are noted in the graduate’s transcript. Graduates also receive a separate diploma awarding a “Post-Bachelor Certificate” in the specific area of knowledge.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.