B-School Curriculums Made Over for Post-Crisis Era

Last Updated Aug 12, 2009 11:05 PM EDT

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that MBA programs have taken a drubbing since the economic crisis. Many have wondered: why would students want to pursue an MBA when the programs have produced unethical leaders who helped get us into this mess in the first place? Others point to the debt most MBAs take on, and now do so without the promise of a high-salaried job awaiting them upon graduation.

Don't think MBA programs are unaware of this criticism. Most are emerging with their dukes up, ready to fight for their relevance. BusinessWeek reports that many are revamping their curriculums for the coming school year, and that the changes "amount to the beginning of what may be the most significant rethinking of the B-school curriculum since the spate of curriculum overhauls that followed the collapse of Enron."

BusinessWeek noted some new offerings at a few MBA programs:

  • More ethics: Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business had added an ethics and social responsibility requirement. The Sloan School of Management at MIT is going one better, adding an ethics component to many of its existing business classes.
  • Crisis management: The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago will introduce a class this fall called "The Analytics of Financial Crisis," which will allow students to study in depth the current financial meltdown along with past crisis examples.
  • Improved risk management: The Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is adding a new course on quantitative investment strategies, which aims to teach students the ins and outs of risk management in large investment portfolios.
Green MBAs on the rise, too
USA Today recently reported on another trend in the b-school world: MBAs in sustainable business practices have quickly caught on, and many schools are stepping up to fill this need. The University of Pennsylvania offers students the chance to earn a joint MBA and master's in environmental studies, Wharton has an Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership program and plenty of other schools offer green MBA options.

While these new courses probably won't quell all the criticism pointed at MBA programs, they do show the schools' commitment to giving their students the tools they need to navigate the post-crisis world. That seems like a good start to me.

Campus image courtesy of Flickr user tillwe, CC 2.0

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.