Emory Report
September 15, 2008
Volume 61, Number 4



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15, 2008
Theory meets reality in redesigned MBA

By Victor Rogers

This fall Full-Time MBA students at Goizueta Business School began classes two weeks earlier than in previous years. The early start is just one of several changes under the school’s new Full-Time MBA curriculum, designed to better equip students for a lifetime of success.

“Our new curriculum actively integrates classroom theory and business reality,” says J.B. Kurish, associate dean of the Full-Time MBA Program and associate professor of finance. “In a new course, Management Practice, faculty and business leaders guide students as they embrace the complexity of current business challenges. This practice of navigating through complex issues ensures Goizueta graduates are well-prepared to address today’s challenges and capitalize on tomorrow’s opportunities.”

Last fall Goizueta faculty approved key structural changes to the Full-Time MBA curriculum, including more links between management theory and practice, greater degrees of freedom for students to pursue a concentration earlier in their studies, and better integration of courses, career planning and leadership development.

Why change the curriculum?

Corporations are demanding more from their newly hired MBAs — and sooner. In addition, there are new realities of business including globalization; heightened complexity of business environments; an acceleration in the pace of change; and an increased focus on data-driven decision-making. These factors combined make curriculum reform a key competitive tool among top business schools.

Before designing the new curriculum, the MBA Curriculum Committee conducted extensive research that included surveying Goizueta alumni and current students, employers, and deans of other leading
business schools, as well as benchmarking Goizueta’s curriculum with other top MBA programs.

The revamped curriculum provides students with greater degrees of flexibility — the ability to pursue greater depth of study in a chosen concentration earlier in their plan of study. Students will complete all but one of their core courses by the end of the first semester; and will complete twice as many elective courses before going into their summer internships.

The new curriculum is better integrated, with broad recommendations about core course content and its timing. The committee’s research highlighted the need for enhanced rigor, and continued emphasis on building analytical skills.

The core class structure is reengineered to improve the sequencing of courses and their content, eliminate duplication of material across classes, and to achieve better integration. There also is explicit structure to better integrate career planning and leadership into the curriculum.

“The experience has surpassed my expectations,” says Korey White, a first-year MBA student who was an engineer and collegiate basketball coach. “The learning has been tremendous. It is transforming my thought process on how to analyze situations, work with people, and control my emotional intelligence.”

The new curriculum will help students like first-year MBA Juliette Feld, who has a liberal arts background, worked in public relations, and wants to broaden her skill set and gain a better understanding of overall business functions.

“The curriculum is most appealing because students now have more electives open,” Feld says. “Also, for career switchers, it provides some self-selection in terms of which classes are most interesting, and an understanding of one’s own strengths before getting too far along in the program.”

First-year MBA Daniel Graham is looking at the long-term gains provided by the new curriculum.
“If [the faculty and administration] are committed to building a better experience and better institution, I will benefit from that mindset for years to come — not just for the two years I am in school,” says Graham.