Marshall unveils international degree

The USC Marshall School of Business announced Wednesday a new program that will allow a group of 45 undergraduates to earn degrees from three universities and study on three different continents over the course of four years.

Business · Bocconi University in Milan, above, is one of the schools participating in the World Bachelor in Business’ new degree program. – Photo courtesy of USC Media Relations

The World Bachelor in Business program was created through a partnership between USC, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Students will spend one full academic year at each of the three universities and may choose one of the schools to spend their fourth year. The program will be available to students who are applying for fall admission but not current students.

HKUST was named the top university in Asia by QS Asian University Rankings, and Bocconi University is internationally renowned for its business and economics programs. In general, the program will focus on world business and communication in multiple languages.

According to John Matsusaka, vice dean for faculty and academic affairs at Marshall, the WBB program is the first of its kind.

“There really is no one in the world doing anything like this, where you can go to three places and get three degrees in the three major economic and cultural zones of the world,” he said.

Matsusaka said the idea for the program was born out of a 2009 conversation about the future of higher education with a friend who worked at Bocconi. Each presented the idea to their own universities, and eventually, the two institutions came together to find an Asian partner.

Once all three schools were onboard, representatives from the universities participated in a series of meetings to outline the details of the program, including admission guidelines, scholarship awards and the process of transferring credits. All the schools have a similar “Western-style” of teaching, according to Matsusaka, which will allow for a seamless transition from school to school for students.

“Students will get three degrees, but no school is compromising,” Matsusaka said. “There is some flexibility, but the entire curriculum will fit together. Part of the reason we wanted to do this is that we wanted to experiment.”

Students who apply to enter the program before their freshman year must be simultaneously accepted to all three universities, which will jointly decide who is admitted to the program.

“There’s a big difference between treading about another country, visiting as a tourist, and actually living there,” Matsusaka said. “There is no substitute for being immersed in the culture, but this experience is not for every student. It’s for a student who’s a bit adventurous, forward-looking and ambitious.”