Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Help (new window)
Sign In

Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

Olin Business SchoolOlin Business School


The core gives you a comprehensive grounding in business fundamentals. It develops your critical-thinking skills, teaching you how to frame questions, weigh alternatives, manage risk, and solve complex problems.

The Olin MBA curriculum offers a comprehensive set of required and elective courses built upon a foundation of critical-thinking and leadership skills. The degree requires completion of 66 credit hours, nearly two-thirds of which are elective courses selected by the individual student. Olin MBAs, therefore, are able to shape the curriculum to meet their unique personal objectives.

The fall semester of year 1 focuses on critical thinking, leadership, career strategy, and the major functional areas of business. During the spring semester of year 1 and throughout year 2, students take mostly elective courses of their choosing, often pursuing a concentration (we call them Career Platforms) that help them navigate toward their career goals. Elective courses include semester-long (3-credit) courses, six-week “mini” (1.5-credit) courses, and experiential learning opportunities. Olin MBAs can also take up to nine credits of approved course work from other graduate programs at Washington University.

Transfer of Credit

Olin Business School will accept up to nine credits of graduate course work taken at another AACSB accredited institution, if the grades you earned are "B" or better, and the Academic Review Committee judges the courses to be equivalent to Olin MBA classes in quality and content. Submit the course syllabus and transcript to your business advisor. The review process usually takes at least two weeks to complete.

Fall Term

Spring Term


GO! Program





You complete online course work aimed at bringing all students to a consistent level of preparedness.

You start to build a foundation for learning. Course work begins while students learn about the Olin environment.

Faculty members introduce many key models and tools needed to frame and analyze the fundamental issues of management.

If you choose a Career Platform, you’ll start an industry seminar course.

Faculty members introduce the major functional areas of the firm: finance, marketing, and operations.

Platform industry seminar courses continue.

You begin to round out your curriculum with elective/Career Platform courses —including both mini (1.5 cr) and semester-long (3 cr) courses plus experiential learning programs.

Electives/Platform courses continue.


Fundamentals of Statistics
0.5 cr

Statistics Exam and Review

Managerial Economics
3 cr

Financial Accounting
2 cr

Marketing Management
3 cr

Financial Management
3 cr

Operations Management
3 cr

Strategic Cost Analysis
2 cr

Electives/Platform courses

Managerial Statistics
1.5 cr

Introduction to Management and Strategy
2 cr

Foundations for Leadership Effectiveness
1.5 cr

Electives/Platform courses
12-16.5 cr

Critical Thinking and Impactful Communication (CTIC)
2 cr

Platform Industry Seminar courses
0.5 cr


You reflect on professional development plans, and first-year-learning, and summer internship experiences. While the first year of the program builds team skills and a common body of knowledge, the second year builds individual confidence and competence. Electives/Career Platform courses continue.

You complete the final required course during the first spring term and round out studies with final electives and experiential-learning programs. Electives/Career Platform courses continue.

Leadership Development Workshop
1.5 cr

Electives/Platform courses
12-18 cr

Strategic Management
2 cr

Electives/Platform courses

Electives/Platform courses
12-16.5 cr

Core Courses

ACCT 5011. Financial Accounting

In this course, we will study the three fundamental financial accounting issues, including (1) recognition, (2) measurement/valuation, and (3) classification/disclosure, and consider how business transactions are reflected on the financial statements using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). We will cover the four primary financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, statement of stockholders’ equity, and statement of cash flows), the supporting footnotes to these statements, and several reports (annual reports, proxy statements, and press releases). The course incorporates both a preparer’s perspective (i.e., how to apply GAAP requirements for recording and presenting financial information) and a user’s perspective (i.e., how an investor or analyst can interpret and use financial statement information). 2 credits.

ACCT 5012. Strategic Cost Analysis

This course provides an introduction to cost concepts, cost behavior, and cost systems. Understand how strategy, technology and the environment affect a firm's choice of cost system type and system design alternatives. Discuss how cost system choices, in turn, influence tactical and strategic managerial decision-making. Tools such as cost-volume-profitability analysis, customer profitability, value chain analysis, and relevant-cost analysis are presented. Case discussions illustrate the application of course topics. Prerequisite: Fall A required MBA course work or equivalent. 2 credits.

FIN 5302. Financial Management

Students will learn in this class how the decisions of a company affect shareholder value and what decisions can increase it. To understand the perspectives of shareholders, we will study basic principles of investing: time value of money, valuation of debt and equity securities, discounted cash flow as a foundation for stock prices, the impacts of diversification and leverage on portfolio risk, the relationship between risk and expected return in securities markets, and capital market efficiency. We will use these principles to analyze capital investment decisions by estimating cash flows and discounting them at the appropriate cost of capital. We will also study how shareholder value is affected by a firm’s financing decisions, such as the choice of using debt or equity capital. Prerequisite: Fall A required MBA course work or equivalent. 3 credits.

MGT 5302. Strategic Management

This capstone course provides an opportunity for students to integrate concepts from prior functional courses (marketing, operations, finance, accounting, managerial economics) through the development and implementation of a business strategy. The centerpiece of this course is an intensive, global business simulation. The exercise requires students to acquire, operate, and develop strategy for a simulated firm within a high technology industry. The course is designed to deepen students understanding of strategy formulation, competitive advantage, rivalry and competition, negotiation, and global management. To prepare for the simulation game, the course will examine topics of strategy formulation, industry analysis, global strategy, and managing in technology-intensive industries. 2 credits.

MGT 5311. Introduction to Management and Strategy

This course focuses on the job, perspective, and skills of the general manager - an individual charged with developing and implementing the long-term strategy of a business organization. The course helps students develop skills in identifying and analyzing past and current strategies and with formulating and implementing new ones. During the course, students are introduced to concepts around strategy formulation, resource and capabilities assessment, and industry and competitor analysis. 2 credits.

MGT 5314 Critical Thinking and Impactful Communication (CTIC)

The objectives of this course are to help students better formulate, analyze, and communicate their ideas about unstructured business problems, some of which involve multiple functional areas of business (marketing, operations, finance, etc.). The kinds of competencies students will develop in this course include problem formulation, elimination of faulty reasoning, persuasive communication and impactful communication. A central premise of the course is that critical thinking and communication skills are best learned through repeated cycles of practice, feedback from instructors and peers, reflection prompted by that feedback, and more practice. To that end, many of the class sessions will involve students making presentations and practicing interviews, evaluating others, and receiving feedback on their own performances. 2 credits.

MEC 5200. Fundamentals of Statistics

In order to succeed in the fall semester Core classes, students must have a basic, yet solid, understanding of a number of statistical concepts. Students are required to complete an online course prior to starting the program, and are given an exam during the Gateway:Olin (GO)! Orientation Program. 0.5 credit.

MEC 5400. Managerial Economics

This course introduces the basic principles of economics and their applications to managerial decision-making. The course begins with the analysis of the decision-making of individual consumers and producers. The course then examines how consumers and producers interact with one another in a variety of market settings ranging from situations in which firms have many competitors and few tactical options to those in which there are a small number of firms competing vigorously along several strategic dimensions. Applications covered include decision-making in risky situations, pricing policies in firms, and the relationship between market structure and the strategic choices that are open to the firm. 3 credits.

MEC 5410. Managerial Statistics

Introduces the statistical methods for analysis of business and economic data. The role of probabilistic concepts such as independence, conditional probability, expectation, and variance, and probability models such as the Bernoulli, binomial, Poisson, and normal, are examined. Particular emphasis is placed on topics that relate to model formulation, estimation of model parameters, hypothesis testing, and simple and multiple regression. 1.5 credits.

MKT 5503. Marketing Management

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the foundational elements of marketing strategy and execution in various managerial contexts. Class sessions emphasize customer/market focus and competitor analysis to coordinate marketing tactics in a manner that drives growth in revenues and earnings. The course primarily uses case discussions, with lectures where appropriate. The cases provide students an opportunity to develop their oral and written skills in formulating and defending their marketing proposals. Recent developments in theory and practice are integrated into the course as appropriate. Prerequisite: Fall A required MBA course work or equivalent. 3 credits.

OB 5620. Foundations for Leadership Effectiveness

As part of the MBA Gate: Olin (GO) Program held prior to the start of the fall semester core courses, this course examines leadership from the perspective of how individuals add value to organizations through the distinctive assets they contribute. The course begins with assessments that offer students and accurate evaluation of their individual assets and liabilities in their "leadership portfolio." It then shifts to teams, introducing techniques to enhance collaborative problem-solving by applying rubrics for critical and creative thinking. Finally, the course includes four 1½-hour sessions interspersed throughout the fall semester of year 1 featuring a series of case-based workshops dealing with leadership issues in organizations. The emphasis is on enhancing collaborative problem-solving by applying rubrics for critical and creative thinking. 2 credits.

OB 5621. Leadership Development Workshop

Taught during the fall semester of year 2, participants complete leadership assessments and interpret the results in light of critical incidents in their summer internship experiences through peer coaching and leadership development. The course culminates in the preparation of a Leadership Development Portfolio. Prerequisite: OB 5620. 1 credit.

OMM 5704. Operations Management

This course discusses the main principles and concepts in managing operations for competitive success. Among the topics covered are operations strategy, capacity analysis and organization, queuing theory, service management, quality management, inventory management, and a brief introduction to supply chain management. Students learn the basics of how to manage the operations of a firm, and how operational issues affect and are affected by the many business decisions they will be called upon to make or recommend in their careers. Most sessions consist of in-depth case discussion, integrated with theory. Prerequisite: Fall A required MBA course work or equivalent. 3 credits.

Applied Learning

We were one of the first business schools to establish a Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) that links students with corporations, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs – from multinational firms to local startups. Organizations bring their strategic issues to the business school for discussion and analysis. Our MBAs provide cost-effective management and consulting expertise. MBA students, you write business plans, research products and services, investigate intellectual property, analyze marketing strategies, and evaluate the effectiveness of manufacturing processes. By selecting programs in their field of interest, or by using CEL courses to explore new career options, students gain industry and functional expertise that increases your value to prospective employers.

The Practicum

Student teams provide management expertise for local, national or international firms. An Olin faculty member serves as a mentor for each team. At the end of your project, your team makes a formal presentation that includes analyses, strategies and recommendations for change.

Investment Praxis

Students learn the day-to-day responsibilities of professional investment portfolio managers by managing a portion of the school’s endowment fund.

The Taylor Community Consulting Program

Students spend six weeks helping an organization perform more effectively by providing it with short-term, pro bono business counseling and expertise.

Global Management Studies (GMS)

Students travel abroad to get firsthand experience of international cultures and economies. In 2008, faculty-guided GMS student teams traveled to China, Peru, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates and explored the challenges and opportunities for U.S. firms in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. For more CEL information, visit Center for Experiential Learning.

Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (SCES)

SCES serves as an umbrella organization for a variety of entrepreneurial initiatives and offers numerous opportunities for our MBA students, such as The Hatchery and the Olin Cup Competition.