Business school officials considering changes to undergraduate, MBA curriculum

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Business School Dean Anuj Mehrotra said he wants to make undergraduate and graduate programs more multidisciplinary based on student and faculty feedback.

Updated: Nov. 14, 2019 at 12:13 p.m.

GW School of Business officials are considering changes to the undergraduate and master’s degree curricula after receiving feedback from the school’s community.

Business school Dean Anuj Mehrotra said officials in the school have received input from students and faculty reflecting a demand for skills that the business school’s curriculum does not extensively cover and teach students. He said officials want to allow students to craft a plan that meets their career interests in a changing market that demands more technical and communication skills and experiential learning.

Dean Anuj Mehrotra said alumni, school recruiters and members of the Board of Advisors and the Dean’s Corporate Council – two committees composed of alumni and parents and of local business leaders, respectively, that advise the dean on school affairs – told officials that they should examine the school’s curriculum and co-curricular programming, including mentoring and career development, to further enhance “already strong” programs.

“Enhancements that continue to put students’ interests first are being discussed and developed by faculty who are keen on prioritizing the quality of student experience,” he said in an email.

Mehrotra said administrators are examining ways to make it easier for students from other schools to take classes within the business school to increase the diversity of fields represented in the classroom. He added that they are looking into “enhancements” that would allow more students to double major in a non-business program to address demand for a multidisciplinary education.

Mehrotra said officials have convened a master’s in business administration curriculum committee, which includes faculty representatives and staff members from the school’s departments and graduate programs to gather data and create programming. He said officials also consulted with current graduate students to gather their input on the curriculum based on their experiences in classes.

“As we reimagine the GWSB student experience, we are building on our overall reimagination philosophy for graduate programs,” he said.

Business school officials have been working to expand the school’s graduate certificate offerings, and students currently can combine two graduate certificates with 12 core classes to earn a full MBA.

Mehrotra declined to say when the changes will be finalized and take effect.

Business school officials at other universities said schools commonly reevaluate and update curricula, adding that officials should re-examine their current programs’ weaknesses to determine areas of improvement.

Eugene Anderson, the dean of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, said increasing experiential learning is a way for students to better apply what they learn in class to “hit the ground running” at internships and jobs.

“That being said, there needs to be proper balance with liberal arts and sciences, so that students can fully develop the critical thinking, interdisciplinary and social perspective and communication skills they will need to be successful both in business and as citizens in the communities in which they work,” he said in an email.

The business school currently offers experiential learning programs like the Mentoring and Immersion Program for Consulting and the F. David Fowler Career Center’s Consulting Community of Practice.

Anderson said the goal of including students from all fields of study in business programs opens students up to perspectives from a wide range of backgrounds. He said the move should appeal to both students and professors because they make classes more “dynamic” for students and allow the professor to connect their expertise to other fields.

“Students develop an understanding that is more holistic and connected with other disciplines and brings out issues that connect business with the political, environmental, social and technological world which organizations must navigate and understand,” he said.

Laurance Alvarado, a professor of strategy, management and operations at the Catholic University of America, said business schools must update their programs and degrees to teach students how to work with clients, instead of focusing solely on “skill-building.”

“Business isn’t the aggregation of finance, accounting, marketing, but the ability to positively affect outcomes, to become a force for good for the individual, the client, customer and the business entity,” he said in an email.

Alvarado said business school mentorship programs are “essential” but added that officials should have a “fundamental” understanding of the best ways to implement the program.

In addition to the MIPC, students in the business school can take advantage of the school’s Real Estate and Finance Alliance Mentorship Program, which pairs participants with alumni in the two fields.

“If it’s merely an ‘experienced person matched with a student’ to enhance a job search, it will fail miserably,” he said.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
An earlier version of this post incorrectly named the Board of Advisors and the Dean’s Corporate Council. Those names have been updated. We regret this error.

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