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Credit: Luke Chen

As Wharton is poised to begin a review of its undergraduate curriculum, student leaders have differing opinions on what can be improved, though there seems to be a consensus on the value of business fundamentals and other required courses.

Matthew DeGagne, a Wharton senior who is the co-president of Wharton Ambassadors, praised the core curriculum, which includes introductory management, accounting, statistics, finance, marketing and operations and information management.

“The core is a really fundamental preparation for classes later on and for professional development. It allows for a lot of flexibility, which is something that I’ve definitely appreciated throughout my time here,” DeGagne said, noting that he did not speak on behalf of all Wharton Ambassadors.

Though he likes the flexibility allowed when navigating the core, DeGagne isn’t sure that all students are aware of the alternate pathways to fulfill requirements. He would like to see increased promotion of these opportunities — such as a qualitative path, a quantitative path or a custom one of students’ own choosing.

DeGagne also suggested adding a technology or entrepreneurship requirement to the curriculum, as well as expanding opportunities for business breadth courses and better integrating research into Wharton courses.

After serving as TAs for several courses together, Wharton seniors Frank Ragusa and Nathan Barzideh have spent a significant amount of time evaluating the Wharton curriculum. While they agree about the importance of the core, they strongly feel that the curriculum structure needs increased flexibility. Ragusa and Barzideh point to the Wharton MBA curriculum review, led by legal studies professor G. Richard Shell and implemented throughout 2011 and 2012, as a good example for the undergraduate review to follow.

“Going forward, there should be a focus on enhancing flexibility in the curriculum, which is something they did at the MBA level,” Barzideh said. “Mirroring that closely at the undergraduate level would be fantastic.”

Ragusa added that repetition between courses should be addressed, with courses like Management 101 and Management 104 having too much overlap.

“There tends to be a little bit of redundancy in courses, so sometimes students find themselves learning the same thing two or three times which creates a little bit of frustration,” Ragusa said.

Both Barzideh and Ragusa believe in the importance of liberal arts to the Wharton experience and feel that it should be further incorporated into the core curriculum. The opportunity to take courses outside of Wharton contributes to a balanced student experience, they said.

“[Billionaire investor] Carl Icahn was a philosophy major at Princeton because it taught him how to think critically. Some successful hedge fund and private equity fund managers took English because they’re able to communicate ideas to investors and their colleagues,” Ragusa said. “If the core took these things into account, that would add tremendous value for the curriculum.”

With the beginning of Geoffrey Garrett’s deanship, Ragusa and Barzideh are optimistic for the outcome of the review. But they stressed that student representation is crucial during the review process.

“It is absolutely imperative that there be a strong student voice at the table,” Barzideh said. “If you really want a curriculum re-evaluation that makes a meaningful impact, it’s so important to have the people that are the beneficiaries of the changes to communicate their views to other stakeholders.”

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