Faculty cut MBA requirements, open up room for electives

GW School of Business faculty voted Friday to shrink the core curriculum requirements for its master of business administration program, a move they said will free up students’ schedules for electives.

Professors said the more flexible curriculum, which will launch next fall, will make it easier for students to improve their job prospects by specializing in more than one area, such as finance and international business, or marketing and data analysis.

Students will also have fewer requirements, no longer forced to take classes in topics like sustainability, entrepreneurship and information technology.

The change will help students become more marketable after graduation, said James Bailey, a management professor who helped overhaul the curriculum.

“It’s very much student-oriented and market-oriented as well, because students need very specific skills when they go out there in the market. They need to have deep knowledge,” Bailey said.

He said the changes get GW’s No. 56-ranked business school aligned with business programs at peer universities like the No. 10 New York University Stern School of Business and No. 25 McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.

Faculty and staff members have spent more than a year mapping out the changes, interviewing students, alumni and recruiters to create a course load that will make students most successful in the business world.

Pradeep Rau, a professor of marketing, said the new curriculum caters to students who want to focus their time in the program on a specific topic. He added that the current curriculum has too many required courses and restricts students.

“Our students today, I think, come in here and want to explore some subject matter that they are interested in in greater depth,” he said.

It will also allow students who have already spent years in the workplaces to have more say in shaping their studies, Arthur Wilson, an associate professor of finance, said.

“You have confidence in your own judgement in terms of figuring out what you’re interested in, and I think most MBA students have that confidence when they’ve been out in the workplace about what work is like,” he said.

Business schools, including GW’s, have increasingly tried to transform and tailor their programs to match students’ demands. GW partnered with tech giant IBM this year to offer a degree through which students can analyze big data, a rising trend in research.

The school also created a finance degree for undergraduates last year that allows students to take 10 fewer course requirements, but mandates students pick a double major outside of the school.

Tuition for MBA programs has steadily increased across the country, prompting critics to say the degree is not a worthwhile investment. A group of MBA students met with GW administrators last week to call on them to solve issues with poor advising and scheduling this year.

MBA students reported their highest ever starting salaries last year, averaging a starting pay of $84,208 after leaving GW.

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