MBA Curriculum: Preparing to Lead
Drive toward smart, principled decision-making.
Our full-time MBA program starts in June. 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. The standard five-semester format includes a summer internship after Spring 1. You graduate in May, after Spring 2.
The six-week global 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 39.5 core hours.
2 credits Develop a framework and skills to: (1) identify and critically evaluate the personal, organizational and societal values that play into a business decision (2) use descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics tools to understand a problem, forecast decision outcomes and optimize actions, and (3) navigate the tensions that can arise between a data- and a values-based perspective on a business decision.
2.5 credits Gain a solid grounding in the cultures, political systems and economies of the leading and emerging countries of the world through a combination of visits with key institutions, seminars with Brookings Institution thought-leaders and experiential learning projects. Provides first-hand experience applying the frameworks learned in Values-Based, Data-Driven Decision-Making.
3 credits Beginning in St. Louis and continuing through the residencies in Washington, DC, Barcelona and Shanghai, you’ll work on a series of difficult, team-based challenges and receive candid feedback on your performance as an individual contributor, as a leader and as a team.
2.5 credits Learn how effective general managers create and exploit opportunities for growth and commercial gain. Delivered in Barcelona, Spain, using an international business problem as a focus, this integrative, experiential course develops a holistic, hands-on view of the general manager’s role in understanding a business, developing an actionable strategic plan and aligning the organization’s efforts with that strategy.
2.5 credits By comparing and contrasting business models in multiple locations, you’ll learn to (1) quickly identify the key elements of a business model and see the connection and coherence among these elements, (2) perform what-if analyses to evaluate the consequences of changing the elements of the business models, and (3) adapt to address both differences in cultures and economic systems and radically new technologies that are disrupting businesses.
2.5 creditsA business model comes alive through a company’s operations. In Shanghai, you’ll (1) assess the alignment between key operational choices and the company’s business model, (2) understand the influence of trade and macroeconomic policies, local demand characteristics and differences in labor cost and capabilities, and (3) learn how new technologies are affecting operations strategy.
1.5 credit Develop your communication expertise through repeated cycles of practice, feedback, reflection, and more practice. Close collaboration on assignments maximizes your learning as a decision-maker and communicator simultaneously. Focus on competencies recognized by the marketplace as critical contributors to long-term career success: demonstrating respect, active listening, relationship building, and exercising emotional intelligence.
3 creditsThis course will introduce you to the basic principles of economics and their applications to managerial decision making. Begin by analyzing the decision making of individual consumers and producers; then, examine how the two interact in a variety of settings. Also learn about making strategic decisions in risky situations.
2 creditsStudy the three fundamental areas of financial accounting: recognition, measurement/valuation, and classification/disclosure. You’ll consider how business transactions are reflected in the four primary financial statements using generally accepted accounting principles.
2 creditsThis course focuses on the job of general managers and their perspectives and skills. You’ll develop the skills needed to identify and analyze past and current strategies and to formulate and implement new ones. This course serves as an introduction to strategy formulation, resource and capabilities assessment, and industry and competitor analysis.
3 creditsThis course will familiarize you with the foundational elements of marketing strategy and execution, with an emphasis on customer focus and competitor analysis to drive revenue growth through marketing tactics.
3 creditsExamine how the decisions of a company affect shareholder value and what decisions can increase value. To understand this, you’ll study basic principles of investing: time value of money, valuation of debt and equity securities, capital market efficiency, the relationship between risk and expected return in securities markets, and more.
3 creditsThis course provides an overview of the principles and concepts of managing an organization. Topics include overall operations strategy, capacity analysis and organization, queuing theory, quality control, and inventory management. Gain an understanding of how your decisions affect, and are affected by, operational issues.
.5 creditsExplore Olin’s five career platforms. These courses are designed to introduce you to each of our career platforms. Industry experts introduce the job responsibilities, challenges, and rewards of their chosen field. Whether you know where you want to go in the business world or need some guidance, these courses will help you decide which track is right for you and your specific career goals.
2 creditsAn introduction to cost concepts, behavior, and systems, this course will teach you how strategy, technology, and the environment affect a firm’s cost system. You’ll also discuss how cost-system choices influence tactical and strategic managerial decision making. Get introduced to cost-volume-profitability, value chain, cost analysis, and customer profitability.
3 credits Using examples from HR, operations, marketing and finance, this course covers both the canonical topics of probability, hypothesis testing, and regression as well as more contemporary topics such as machine learning algorithms and data visualization. Throughout the course, you’ll focus on the managerial application of these techniques to create competitive advantage.
Our broad range of electives provides a wealth of subjects to choose from. Electives begin in the second semester and carry through the rest of the program. If you have chosen to enroll in a platform, you’ll begin taking its foundational courses. Click the bar to the right to learn more about each of our platforms.
Put your knowledge and skills to the test in the real world. By participating in a summer internship between your first and second year, you gain valuable hands-on experience and develop expertise in your chosen field. Meet working professionals and open the door to full-time positions.
1.5 creditsThis course is designed to assess your leadership skills, integrating experiences and lessons learned from your summer internship. You’ll gain an understanding of the advantages and limitations of perspectives on how leaders impact and create value in organizations. Identify an approach that best fits the strategy, structure and culture of an organization.
Either guided by your career platform or designs of your own, select elective courses that dive deeper into your areas of interest.
3 creditsDevelop your understanding of how business interacts with political, social, technological, financial and other institutions through examination of three questions: (1) How do institutions and government policy affect competitiveness and business opportunities around the globe? (2) How do firms and institutions interact? (3) What is the role of business leaders as stewards of global institutions and resources? The course includes a 2-day residency at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
Either guided by your career platform or designed on your own, select elective courses that dive deeper into your areas of interest.
At Olin, we let you drive your curriculum. Base your curriculum on your platform. Select classes you're passionate about. Each of our platforms gives you breadth and depth into a career. And our concentrations help put you on the path to becoming an expert in your field.
Gain in-depth insight into how consultants solve problems. Learn how to look for solutions across a range of functional areas.
Specific concentrations within this platform include:
- General Management and Internal Consulting
- Business of Healthcare
- International Management
- Strategy Consulting
- Human Capital Consulting
Corporate Finance & Investments
Get in deep as a specialist in an institution or firm that acts as a provider of capital or as a user of capital. Concentrations within this platform include:
- Financial Management
- Investment Banking - Corporate Finance
- Private Equity and Venture Capital
- Investment Banking - Capital Markets and Trading
- Asset Management
Develop your skills in market research and product development, distribution, pricing, advertising and promotion, and business and sales analysis. Concentrations within this platform include:
- Brand Management
- Product Management
Operations & Supply Chain Management
Learn how to manage the process from sourcing to delivery, assessing risks and taking advantage of opportunities. Concentrations within this platform include:
- Operations/Supply Chain Management
- Supply Chain Consulting
Get the confidence and know-how to start your own venture or take on a leadership role in a startup. Concentrations within this platform include:
- Commercial Entrepreneurship
- Social Entrepreneurship
Potential Program Options
In addition to our traditional two-year program where you graduate in May, we have other potential program format options. Reach out to our admissions team for more information.
- Accelerated (14 months): take courses continuously in a four-semester format with no internship, and graduate in August (Summer 1 through Summer 2)
- December graduation (18 months): graduate early in a four-semester format with summer internship (Summer 1 through Fall 2)
- Dual degree: earn an MBA and a specialized master’s degree in the same amount of time as the five-semester standard format (Summer 1 through Spring 2)
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. 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:
- 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. Read more about leadership courses on the Bauer Leadership Center website.
The Master in Business Administration degree requires completion of 67 credit hours, 25.5 of which are electives. This allows you to shape your MBA 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.