Top b-Schools Get Curriculum Refreshes

It’s summertime, and while that means sun and beaches (or internships) for students, it is also a good time for business schools to make changes to their MBA programs and update their curriculums. With huge changes afloat in the global economy, top schools are using this summer as a chance to implement major updates that they hope will better adapt students for the shifts in business and ultimately land jobs.

Take Harvard Business School, for example. The top-rated school, which last year recruited a new dean, has just introduced some radical changes to its teaching methodology. Most significantly, the program is starting to move away from the tried-and-true case study method of teaching, which the school has been relying on since the 1920s. Dean Nitin Nohria had this to say to US News & World Report:

“The case method will always be a central part of what we do, but we’re now at a point in history when we can do some really interesting things in the field. Both methodologies—case and field—are absolute complements.”

UCLA Anderson School of Management has also just announced some significant curriculum changes to its MBA program. Its new approach, while more traditional than Harvard’s, also aims to better prepare students for the shifting realities of today’s business world. The key word in UCLA’s new program is “flexibility:” the school now offers a robust selection of electives to suit students’ individual goal, and offers specialized career tracks in marketing, consulting, finance, or “custom.”

Perhaps the biggest curriculum redesign news so far this summer is the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s launch of its online MBA program in July. This is significant because, aside from being the first distance learning offering from a top 20 US business school, it is not exactly new curriculum, but a modified version of its well-regarded class-based program. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Students spend two years working through essentially the same core curriculum as their on-campus counterparts, though sometimes through documentary-style lectures posted online. The first crop of online students, the class of 2013, will take 20 courses, but they won’t be able to pick electives or concentrations as on-campus students.”

However, students hoping to save money by pursuing the online version of UNC’s MBA program won’t exactly get a huge break: its total cost is $89,000 – compared to $98,000 for its class-based program for non-residents.


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