MBA Curriculum: Preparing to Lead
Drive toward smart, principled decision-making.
Before you dive into the MBA core curriculum, you’ll be “on the road,” gaining a better understanding of the context in which businesses operate and how businesses adapt to these differences. This immersive experience takes you from the inner halls of the US government in Washington, DC, to Barcelona, Spain, a hub of business, trade, and manufacturing for centuries, to Shanghai, China’s commercial center and home to many of the country’s largest businesses. By the end of this unique summer semester, you will have completed 16 credit hours of the required 67 hours for the MBA—about 40 percent of the required 41.5 core hours.
Orientation and Global Immersion
St. Louis (13 days)
Week one begins with three days of orientation focused on building strong connections among students and planning for career success. Students then launch into a foundational course introducing them to Olin’s values-based, data-driven approach to decision-making, which will be reinforced throughout the program. Students also participate in an “Amazing Race”-style competition that will expose them to the diversity of the city of St. Louis and allow them to practice the problem formulation, delegation, and coordination that underpins all impactful teamwork.
Washington, DC (7 days)
In week three, you and your classmates begin the second residency, in Washington, DC, where Olin leverages its one-of-a-kind connection with the Brookings Institution, the world-renowned government and business policy think-tank. There, faculty will lead an exploration of the global economy, institutions, and cultures; an introduction to the culture and political economy of the United States, China, and the European Union; additional career preparation with Olin alumni and opportunities for corporate engagement; and further work on effective and impactful teamwork.
Barcelona (14 days)
Week four begins a two-week residency in Barcelona—a world leader in startup innovation, tech investment, social enterprise development, and investment capital. Partnering with companies and corporate leaders on the ground, Olin professors introduce students to the core analytical techniques of managers, using real-world, on-site problems at European-based businesses. These hands-on opportunities create an integrated experience for you to develop functional breadth across the firm while beginning to create depth in specific management disciplines.
Shanghai (17 days)
The fourth residency takes you to Shanghai, a hub for global commerce, manufacturing, healthcare, and banking. The two-and-a-half week residency in this diverse economy exposes you to early- and late-stage capitalism as well as the complexities of state-run businesses. Context affects strategy. And the Chinese economy is brimming with opportunities to view business problems from a variety of perspectives, value systems, and cultures. That strategic focus becomes the core of your work in Shanghai as faculty lead you through foundational courses in interpreting business models and operational strategy while, again, providing experiential learning opportunities with real-world problems, on site at Chinese corporate headquarters.
Back to St. Louis
After your five-week immersive global experience, you return to St. Louis to begin the fall semester. You’ll dive head-first into the program's core classes, now framed by the knowledge and experiences you gained while abroad.
Core-Required and Elective Courses
The majority of your core classes—41.5 of the 67 credit hours required to graduate—are completed in your first year, primarily in the summer and fall.
- Summer semester 1 (16 credits)
- Fall semester 1 (16 credits)
- Spring semester 1 (14 credits)
- Summer semester 2 (internship)
- Fall semester 2 (15 credits)
- Spring semester 2 (6 or more credits)
In addition to regular three-credit-hour courses, we offer many electives in compressed one-half- to two-credit-hour courses that we call “minis.” These short-format classes cater to your individual interests and requirements and expose you to a variety of topics.
Two of our most popular electives center on values-based leadership (Read more about leadership courses on the Bauer Leadership Center website):
- Most successful leaders are able to point to a handful of defining moments in their careers—instances that defined the trajectory of their career and their company. Olin’s graduate-level course Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top examines these situations by bringing in notable leaders who exemplify both business excellence and personal character. Past speakers have included Dave Peacock, former president of Anheuser-Busch, and Bob Chapman, chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller.
- A new course, Women & Leadership, co-taught by Professor Hillary Anger Elfenbein and Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, is taking a multi-faceted approach to learning about women and leadership that includes a lineup of top executive guest speakers, including Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, and Jill Barad, former chairman and CEO, Mattel.
In your final two semesters, you take the required Leadership Development and Business & Government capstone courses.
The Masters in Business Administration degree requires completion of 67 credit hours, 25.5 of which are electives. This allows you to shape your masters in business administration curriculum to align with your personal and professional goals. Our career platforms guide your preparation in a specific area. You can select classes that will hone your skills and start you on the path to becoming an expert in your field.