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USC collaborates on a three-continent degree program

The program will give students exposure to three academic, cultural and professional environments in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Milan.

The USC Marshall School of Business, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Bocconi University in Milan have launched the World Bachelor in Business (WBB) partnership, the first undergraduate program in which students will live and study on three continents and earn degrees from three universities, according to John Matsusaka, vice dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor at USC Marshall. The first cohort of 45 students will begin classes next fall.

“All of the partner universities have a commitment to innovation in global education, and the WBB represents a unique approach to undergraduate education that global executives have been demanding for years, an approach that will prepare a new generation of leaders for the opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world,” said Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC.

“The program will allow students to explore diverse cultures and challenge them to think and learn from broad perspectives,” she continued. “At the end of their four years of study, WBB graduates will truly become citizens of the world.”

During four years of study in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Milan, WBB students will learn from internationally renowned scholars at each of the universities as part of a program that will integrate rigorous classroom instruction, cultural immersion and real-world experiences.

The partnership calls for students to spend a full academic year on each campus, beginning at USC. Year two will find students attending the HKUST Business School, and in the third year, students will move to Milan to study at Bocconi University. In the fourth year, students will select from any of the three universities to complete their studies.

The three-continent learning experience is intended to cultivate a student’s understanding of the business practices, economies, cultures and societies of the different regions.

“Bringing together the strengths of the three partner universities, the program is carefully designed to equip students with the global language of business,” said Wei Shyy, provost of HKUST. “Upon their graduation, students will not only have in-depth understanding of professional knowledge and practices in each of the three regions but also language competence, cultural sensitivity, global vision, an international network and employment mobility — qualities that are required in the global business workplace.”

Integrating curricular and co-curricular learning, the WBB’s curriculum will provide a solid basis in business and economics while focusing on the distinctive strengths of each university. The program will give students exposure to three academic, cultural and professional environments. It will also offer business and legal courses with regional emphases to help students acquire an understanding of the nuances of doing business in different global environments.

For example, WBB students will explore the vibrant entrepreneurial culture in Los Angeles. Afterward, they will discuss the global banking industry with financial leaders in Hong Kong. And in Milan, they will consolidate their knowledge of economic and management as they study the complexities of integrating the many countries of the European Union.

All classroom instruction will be given in English, though students will have the opportunity to learn Chinese, Italian and another European language.

While the academic breadth and expertise of three universities is at the heart of the WBB, the advantage of studying in distinct, dynamic locations is also essential to the overall experience.

“Bocconi has for many years now worked on raising its international profile, and we are happy to participate in the launch of this global program, which bridges academic excellence with hands-on knowledge on how to live and operate in three different continents,” said Guido Tabellini, rector of Bocconi University. “As well as gaining three degrees, thanks to an intensive exposure to three major global economic and cultural centers, students will also earn a passport for the world.”

The application process for selecting the first 45 students is now open. The selection will be conducted by a committee comprised of representatives from each of the universities.

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