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Winter 2003 CalBusiness  
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New Core Curriculum Stresses Flexibility

First-year MBA students at the Haas School are experiencing a completely redesigned and up-to-date core curriculum that offers greater flexibility and freedom to customize their studies this fall.

The new MBA core curriculum will now make up about 40% of a typical student’s course of study, while the old required courses used to take up 57% of the program.

The newly condensed core courses, which are required of all first-year Berkeley MBA students, teach management fundamentals – from accounting to a course called “Global Business Citizenship,” which includes business ethics, environmental management, and corporate social responsibility. Because of the streamlining of the required courses, first-year MBA students may also now select at least two elective courses from among dozens of choices in the spring semester of their first year.

The redesigned core curriculum, which was planned over the past 18 months, is the first total overhaul of the required portion of the MBA program in nearly a decade. The new core was based on extensive study and in-depth discussions by Haas School faculty, staff, and MBA students, and considered the best practices of ten other top business schools as benchmarks.

“Not only do these changes represent a major improvement to the Haas School’s MBA curriculum, they were successfully achieved because of the extensive participation of students and faculty at every step of the way,” said Andy Shogan, associate dean for instruction at the Haas School.

The new curriculum is anchored by 11 required core courses that provide the analytical tools and essential knowledge to lead effectively. Students will now take all of these core courses in the first year, including finance, financial accounting, operations, microeconomics, macroeconomics in the global economy, strategy, organizational behavior, data and decisions, leadership speech, marketing, and global business citizenship.

The two semesters of the first year are divided into mini-semesters, with all but two of the core courses meeting for four hours per week over seven weeks. Students take only a limited number of core courses at a time, so they can intensively study their subjects.

The second semester of the first year includes four required courses, including the mandatory course in global business citizenship. In addition, students now will take at least two elective courses in the second semester of their first year. Elective courses now comprise 60% of the new Berkeley MBA curriculum, meaning that students begin to customize their own course of study very early in the program.

Two days of the fall semester will be devoted to an intensive career-planning program, consisting of a dynamic set of activities designed to prepare Berkeley MBA students for the job search. The required courses are now structured to teach the most essential management subjects in the fall semester, enabling students to do their best in interviews for their summer internships.

Faculty members who are also among the best teachers at the Haas School will teach the new required courses. Core faculty members meet weekly to discuss issues that arise in each course and to coordinate their syllabi.

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