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What to Look For in a Modern MBA Curriculum: Student Perspectives

An online Master of Business Administration (OMBA) curriculum shouldn’t just be about textbook chapters and teacher-led lectures. A great MBA curriculum is designed around exposing students to a wide range of global views and diverse perspectives.

At the core are learning experiences that provide business professionals with practical skills and real-world knowledge. But what does that look like? In this article, hear directly from online MBA students about the key aspects of a modern MBA that make the difference in their learning experience.

An Integrated Curriculum: ‘Where everything comes together’

A traditional MBA curriculum tends to be made up of separate MBA courses focused on different business disciplines as though they are distinct and disconnected. For curricula that feature many electives, the first year might offer a course in human resources here, a course in corporate finance there. In the second year, programs with MBA concentrations add in an additional specialization, with elective courses that focus explicitly on certain sectors, like healthcare, or job-specific skills, like financial accounting.

But business doesn’t work in silos, so why should an MBA curriculum? An integrated approach helps students study business the way they experience it in the real world and to better understand the interdependent nature of these core business disciplines.

A good example of an integrated curriculum is Boston University’s Questrom Online MBA program. At Questrom, students spend their first “module” or semester-long course focused on core business courses, where they learn business fundamentals and foundational concepts in areas such as microeconomics, accounting, marketing, data and more. Students then explore emerging ideas of information economics that dominate digital business models. Finally, through experiential learning, students apply their knowledge in a capstone project.

Gopi Gopalakrishnan, a data evangelist for a Canadian bank in New York, said the integrated nature of Questrom’s online MBA module design is what drew him to the program. A seasoned information systems pro with experience in strategic management, business analytics, and international business, Gopalakrishnan’s career goals are to become a business leader, such as a chief information officer.

“I like the integrated curriculum where everything comes together and there are three professors who teach a module,” said Gopalakrishnan, who was part of Questrom’s online MBA first cohort. “This is something unique and I was looking instinctively for that.”

Learner Centered: ‘I want to learn to be a better leader’

Another cornerstone of an innovative MBA curriculum is that it is organized around helping students learn skills that will accelerate their career goals. The workplace is changing, and so are professionals' attitudes about jobs. Job titles are still important, but professionals increasingly see the value of entrepreneurship and developing transferable skills and knowledge.

Aaron Sneed, who has an engineering background and a master’s degree in project management, was looking for an online MBA program that would develop his decision-making and leadership skills.

“I have a lot of real-world experience working in the business sector, but what I really want is a structured learning environment that will confirm my experience and help me understand some of the underlying principles,” Sneed said. “I want to learn to be a better leader.” With Questrom’s online MBA, Sneed is learning about social responsibility, sustainability, and leadership through modules such as “Leading With Integrity” and “Fostering an Innovative Mindset,” which he can use in any business field.

layer “I have a lot of real-world experience working in the business sector, but what I really want is a structured learning environment that will confirm my experience and help me understand some of the underlying principles.”

The online learning design is also optimal for developing entrepreneurship and innovative thinking than the traditional, class-based lecture format.

Online Learning tip

In an online program, if you have a light-bulb moment and you want to share that moment, you can do that instantaneously. If something comes up that coincides with that week's readings, I can say, ‘Hey guys, what do you think about X, Y, Z?’ I can type something out and click send, and I’ll get a response right back, and that will create a waterfall of discussions,” Sneed said.

Flexible and Cohesive: ‘A Program that Puts the Future First’

When it comes to working professionals considering MBA degree programs, most don’t want to put their careers on hold for a traditional, full-time MBA program. They seek a flexible curriculum that will allow them to work through modules at times that are most convenient for them, like after the kids are in bed.

For example, when Matoula Serafeim was looking to take the next step in her career, she knew that not just any MBA program would work with her busy schedule.

“I am a senior chemical engineer with a full-time job in the oil and gas industry and a mother of two sons. Therefore, my goal is to advance my career, evolve as an ethical leader, and create value for my company while still working and maintaining a work-life balance!” she said, explaining why Questrom’s online MBA is providing her with a pathway to her future.

Anand Sathiyamurthy, whose 20 years of experience include financial management, marketing management, running a startup, and even teaching in a school of business, knows innovation when he sees it. That’s what drew him to want to become an MBA student himself through Questrom’s online MBA program. What he saw, specifically, is that Questrom’s MBA curriculum wasn’t focused on specializations or electives. One module, such as Managing Performance With Data, covers aspects of managerial accounting and managerial economics. Another module, Leveraging Global Opportunities, covers aspects of operations management and supply chain management, all without requiring students to concentrate in any one area.

layer “The future is going to be digital. If you can conceptualize something, you can probably digitize it.”

“Most offer a bunch of core courses, and then you specialize in something like finance or marketing, etc.,” Sathiyamurthy said. “This model, I think, is outdated. The future is going to be digital. If you can conceptualize something, you can probably digitize it. Disruption is coming in many fields (energy, transportation, food, finance - you name it) and it is not going to be linear.” He continued, “Of all the B-schools, Questrom has executed a bold idea to disrupt higher education with a radically new program. A program that puts the future first and builds around that vision.”

Take the Next Step: Explore a Top Program

Whatever your career goals are as a business professional, you owe it to yourself to find out if graduate school, such as an MBA program, can help you achieve them.

The Questrom OMBA program is a rapidly growing AACSB-Accredited Online MBA Program with an ambitious alumni network committed to helping fellow MBA grads advance in their career.

Visit the program page and fill out a Request for Information Form to learn more about Questrom’s rigorous OMBA program, including application dates and details about GMAT/GRE scores.

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