Building Blocks of Business

Earn a Certificate of Completion.

Are you a high school student looking to get a head start on your business skills? If so, you should enroll in USC Marshall’s online certificate course, “The Building Blocks of Business.” This course explores various elements of business – including topics such as accounting, marketing, leadership, and finance, by looking at real businesses, and hearing from industry experts as well as USC Marshall instructors.

October 17 – November 18, 2022
December 19 – December 23, 2022

Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program. International applicants must demonstrate English proficiency.

$1990 USD
$35 application fee


Get excited to explore the interdisciplinary nature of business using the Business Model Canvas — a popular design and analysis tool that will help students visualize the nine major building blocks that businesses employ. In doing so, students will look at real businesses, hear from industry experts and Marshall instructors, and together reveal the secret sauce that makes businesses successful.

In the process of earning a certificate, students will engage in dynamic activities designed by an award-winning team. From immersive simulations to lively online discussions to interactive videos, the course investigates current perspectives on business. The optional “MarshallTalk” synchronous Zoom sessions, led by Marshall instructors, are highly recommended as a great way for students to get to know and work with their classmates and instructors, enabling students to maximize their business knowledge.

Finally, at the culmination of the course, students will assume the role of an investor and apply their knowledge by analyzing two business models to determine which has the potential to be most profitable and why.

In addition to learning important critical thinking skills and meeting new friends along the way, students will earn a certificate of completion that can set them apart when applying for college — all of this from USC’s world-renowned Marshall School of Business.

Featured Topics

  • Value Propositions and Business strategy
  • Customers and Marketing
  • Operations, Resources and Supply Chain
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Data analytics

Learning Outcomes

Though the course has many learning goals, they can be summarized simply by saying that at its completion, students will have a strong understanding of how different disciplines such as communications, accounting, strategy, leadership, marketing, data analytics, and finance work together to create and sustain successful businesses.

Following the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate and target a business’s customers
  • Identify resources and processes needed to drive growth
  • Measure a business’ success
  • Analyze a business’s desirability, feasibility, and viability

Each cohort of students will engage with business simulations, active learning modules, and video content. Facilitated live online discussions support each module and allow students to come together and delve deeper into the critical issues facing all businesses. Students will emerge with applied knowledge in the professional business world. Combined coursework is approximately 30-hours (including the “MarshallTalks”) to be completed over the course of the program dates. Other than the synchronous Zoom “MarshallTALK” sessions, the course can be completed at the student’s own pace during the program dates.


Dr. Arlene Warmack Williams
Dr. Arlene Warmack Williams Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
USC Marshall School of Business

Dr. Arlene Warmack Williams is the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the USC Marshall School of Business. In this role she develops relationships with business leaders, secures funding for specific initiatives, and recruits Fortune 500 companies to serve on leadership boards. Her expertise includes leading collaborative teams using participatory practices, applying a systems approach to managing complex projects and tasks, and building transformative relationships.

Dr. Williams is a former Assistant City Manager for Community Development at the City of Compton where she developed strategies for retaining and recruiting businesses. She also served as Vice President of Marketing for the Business Development Center of Southern California, a Minority Business Development Center. As a senior business consultant, she helped hundreds of new and growing companies to access capital, secure contracts and develop marketing and business plans. Dr. Williams is also the Executive Vice President of Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken, a critically acclaimed concept restaurant based in Culver City, California.

Dr. Williams holds an A.B. in Communication with Specialization in Journalism from Stanford University and a Doctor of Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California.

Kellee Scott
Kellee Scott Director of MBA.PM admissions
USC Marshall School of Business

Kellee received her BS in Marketing from Miami University (Oxford, OH) and her MBA from the University of Southern California. Prior to earning her MBA, she has worked in supply chain operations management for consumer packaged goods companies Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Quaker Oats. After earning her MBA, she worked in supply chain consulting for 4 years before joining USC Marshall in the MBA Admissions department.

At Marshall, Kellee has taken a variety of leadership roles with industry recruiting partners. She has been a Board of Trustee Member and Committee Chair with The Consortium and is currently on the school advisory board for the Forte Foundation. In addition, she taught new admissions officers from west coast schools as Faculty-in-Residence for the Graduate Management Admissions Council.