By Mackenzie Burckbuchler
Pursuing an MBA degree can help you stand out in the workplace and progress your career. An MBA curriculum equips professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed and add-value to their organizations. If you are considering enrolling in an MBA program, you may be wondering not just what you’ll learn, but how you’ll learn it. To find out, we spoke with MBA candidate Hunter Bingham and Professor for the Practice of Communication Kimberly Pace.
Class Format & MBA Curriculum
MBA students take a variety of courses, including leadership, marketing, management, and finance. Depending on the subject, the class format differs. As Bingham tells us, her leadership and management courses are group discussion heavy whereas finance classes are more lecture based. In other words, there is no one size fits all approach to instruction. Professors deliver content in creative ways to engage students and stimulate interest.
Pace describes her approach to instruction: “In Management Communication, I use a flipped-classroom format, where the in-person classroom time is more like a live-lab with presentations, videotaping, and peer feedback. The small class size allows students to build trust with peers and have time for each person to speak in multiple class sessions.”
MBA professors also often incorporate guest lecturers into their curriculum to expose students to other vantage points and connect them with current working professionals. “I’ve loved the willingness of professors to leverage their personal networks and bring in distinguished speakers to share their expertise,” says Bingham.
MBA courses focus on challenging students to apply concepts and frameworks and solve problems. As such, students often complete experiential learning projects and assignments that require critical thinking and rely less on rote memorization. Case study assignments, simulations, and group projects are commonplace. Again, depending on the specific course, the amount of work assigned to be completed out of the classroom will also differ.
“Some of the primary differences from undergrad courses I’ve experienced is the emphasis on group work and application of concepts. The entire first semester courses are heavy with projects, homework problem sets, and simulations to be completed as a group – this aims to replicate the future workplaces where most of us will be working on teams,” says Bingham.
As mentioned, group work is a major part of many MBA programs. MBA students rely on each other and learn from each other. Through the power of collaboration, MBA students often implement creative solutions and make break-throughs in knowledge. Classmates help each other develop and progress.
“My peers have challenged and sharpened my own skill sets. I have even learned organization and leadership skills through having group members who are great at keeping assignments on track,” says Bingham. “Overall, I’ve found the group work model to be valuable as it is preparing us to work with and manage others in our future roles.”
As students progress through MBA programs, elective courses enable them to hone in on areas of interest. However, across all courses, MBA students apply their concepts to projects, collaborate, and benefit from the help of their professors. Bingham sums up the value of MBA classes nicely: “The relationships I’ve made with my peers, employers, and faculty will not only be crucial parts of my business network but also help lay the groundwork for a networking approach I can continue into my career. Additionally, the emphasis on problem-solving and managing risks and stakeholders are frameworks that I am thankful to have in my tool box moving forward.” MBA classes add skills to your repertoire as you embark on your career.