After 14 months of discussion among faculty, students and advisory boards from firms around Los Angeles, the Marshall School of Business has adopted a new curriculum that has received praise from many at USC.
Thirty faculty members led by Marshall’s Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs John Matsusaka spearheaded the changes to the school’s curriculum, which, according to Matsusaka, had been in place for at least 20 years.
The new curriculum reduces the number of required entry-level classes and leaves students with more space to take electives and pursue a second major or minor. It will be in place for all incoming Marshall students, and current students will have the option of switching.
“We didn’t change it because we thought it was a bad program. We changed it because we didn’t want to stand still,” Matsusaka said. “We have to keep innovating and thinking about what our students need for the future.”
According to Matsusaka, globalization is important, and students must have a global mind-set to move across disciplinary boundaries. The new curriculum increases elective space by 60 percent to allow students to do just that.
With the current curriculum, if students did not declare additional majors or minors their freshman year, many found it difficult to do so and graduate in four-years.
“I wanted to pursue a computer science minor last semester, but it would have delayed my graduation by two semesters, so I’m not even taking those classes anymore,” said Gabe Paul, a sophomore majoring in business administration.
According to Tyrone Callahan, academic director of Undergraduate Programs for Marshall, many of the foundation classes were reduced by two units to allow students to pursue interests outside of business.
“We took a hard look at the curriculum to see how efficiently we could deliver the information,” Callahan said. “It’s not entirely accurate to say that this class has been added or eliminated but that the material that is being delivered has been repackaged.”
Some students question whether the curriculum will be more difficult because fundamental classes have been condensed.
“By combining two business classes into one, it seems like there will be a lot more information to cover. I wonder if students will even have time to study for another major or minor,” said Vivek Shah, a freshman majoring in business administration.
Callahan said, however, that the new classes will not simply combine all of the material from the previous courses.
“We are eliminating some of the introductory material that isn’t relevant to our students’ future studies. We want our students to learn exactly what is essential,” Callahan said.
For incoming freshman who have interests outside of Marshall, the new curriculum is especially attractive.
“I’m actually really excited about this because I know that a lot of students, including myself, don’t know exactly what we want to do after college, and this gives us a lot of wiggle room to pursue our interests,” said Sam Simmons, an incoming freshman who will be majoring in business administration.
Courtney Rava, an incoming freshman who will be majoring in business administration, agreed.
“It’s great that the business school will better allow students to minor because I want to get everything that I can out of school,” Rava said.
Though current students may switch to the new curriculum next semester, Callahan said the change would not be convenient for rising seniors and juniors who would need to take additional classes to fulfill the requirements. For rising sophomores, however, Callahan said that they should meet with their advisers to determine which course plan works best.
Since upperclassmen most likely will not utilize the new curriculum, some said they find the program bittersweet.
“It’s nice to know that the university is taking steps to change, but it leaves a sour taste for some students who wish they could have minored or taken more advantage of other classes offered at USC,” said Mario Portugal, a senior majoring in business administration.
Other students agreed.
“[The new curriculum] will definitely be great for the school if it yields better students from USC and increases the value of a USC degree,” said Alex Noon, a junior majoring in business administration. “Even though I won’t have this new curriculum, I still gain some benefit by going here. Maybe not tomorrow or the next couple of years, but the curriculum will make [all Marshall graduates] look better.”
Though Marshall has recently been ranked in the top 10 for its undergraduate program by U.S. News & World Report, Matsusaka said it was important for the school to continue improving and that the new curriculum will be a selling point for USC.
“Ultimately, our students will have a very strong grounding in business and strong depth in some area outside of business, which will create what we feel is important for creating the business person of the future,” Matsusaka said.