Wharton revamps MBA curriculum

· December 10, 2010, 3:19 am   ·  Updated December 10, 2010, 12:00 am

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Last week, the Wharton School announced an extensive reformation of its masters of business administration curriculum.

The new program will allow increased flexibility for students in the core curriculum, as well as a shift away from the cohort system MBA students participate in their first year, where students travel to tightly scheduled classes in groups.

In addition, there will be six “content areas” required as a core for all Wharton MBAs. Unlike previous years, students will be able to choose from at least two courses in order to fulfill these requirements.

According to G. Richard Shell, chairman of the MBA Review Committee that designed the new curriculum, the last time such an extensive renovation took place was in the early 1990s.

Shell emphasized the curriculum change was not a result of any flaws in the current curriculum.

“It’s just a matter of being a responsible educator, and trying to make sure that the program is suiting and meeting the needs of the current students,” he said. “You can’t have a curriculum [from] 1990 and let it run for the rest of time.”

Shell further added that Wharton’s role as a prominent business school was another reason for its desire to stay ahead of the curve.

Students have much to look forward to under this new plan, according to Vice Dean of the MBA program, Howard Kaufold.

“What we are seeing on the part of our students is a greater desire to tailor their program to their career aspirations, to their academic interests,” he said, adding that the new curriculum will give students “more leeway to do what they want to do when they want to do it.”

This year’s redesign was preceeded by the appointment of Vice Deans in three new areas — Global Initiatives, Social Impact and Innovation.

Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation, is looking forward to the role his office will play in the new curriculum.

“There is a role for our group to play in facilitating innovation across the curriculum, in both the MBA and the undergraduate program,” he said, adding that he had specific projects in mind to improve course materials.

Harbir Singh, Vice Dean of Global Initiatives, is pleased with Wharton’s recent addition of eight global modular courses — MBA classes that will be taught in partnership with other business schools abroad.

Singh added he would like to see these courses offered to both undergraduates and MBA students on campus in the future.

Leonard Lodish, Vice Dean of Social Impact, believes his department is another example of Wharton leading the way in innovation.

“One of the missions we will probably be involved in is to help both the faculty and [the] student body understand that social impact is now where globalization was 25 years ago,” he said, referring to the prevalence of globalization in recent decades.

The MBA curriculum enhancements come alongside a new commitment to provide short courses for MBA students every seven years after graduation.

“Wharton is trying to attract people who want to keep learning throughout the years,” Kaufold said. “We think it’s worth the investment because it will attract the sort of students we are looking for.”

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