The Anti-MBA Business School: Johns Hopkins

Everything about the school is different. The school occupies four floors in a modern skyscraper overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The building serves as the corporate headquarters for Legg Mason, the investment management firm. It is five miles away from the university’s bucolic Homewood campus, where parts of the movie, The Social Network, were filmed. The goal is to eventually move the business school there, but that may take as long as ten years.

In building a school inside an office tower, isolated from the university’s main campus, Gupta smartly leveraged the Johns Hopkins name in recruiting both faculty and students. Four of the 15 full-time, tenure-track faculty gave up endowed chairs at other universities for the chance to help Gutpa shape the culture of the school. “I couldn’t resist the Hopkins brand name,” says Christian Kim, who left Baruch College to join Carey as an assistant professor of marketing. “To me, it is a better brand than Cornell or the University of Pennsylvania. And Yash is a great marketer. I was so drawn to his vision for the school that I hardly ate when we first met over breakfast.”

Adds Federico Bandi, a finance professor who left the University of Chicago’s Booth School to teach at Carey, “I got a very good vibe from the leadership of the school. I had the impression that this would be an extremely dynamic place where things could get done quickly.” Because of the university’s reputation, Bandi thought, “this was a very low-risk enterprise. The place cannot fail.”

TEAM-TEACHING IS THE NORM FOR ALL THE CORE COURSES.

At Carey, all the core courses are team taught by two professors from different disciplines in classes that are no larger than 44 students each. Instead of courses in such basic MBA subjects as marketing and finance, Carey features integrated courses with such titles as “Managerial Decision Behavior” or “People and Markets.” Says Gupta with a certain level of pride, “We have a module on decisions being taught by a quant person and a behaviorist. We have a human expression module and it’s taught by a business person and a drama professor.”

A so-called “Innovation for Humanity” experience requires teams of students to travel to one of four countries–Rwanda, Kenya, Peru or India–for three weeks to work on pressing social issues. A “Discovery to Market” project enlists five-student teams in trying to commercialize science and technology developed in such university schools in medicine, public health, and bio-technology, as well as the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technologies Research Center in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Moreover, roughly 80% of the curriculum is required, compared with less than half at most other business schools. In the second-year, students can choose from four “verticals,” each composed of four electives in health, life sciences, energy, or environment—rather than more traditional MBA concentrations in strategy, marketing, or finance.

The school’s slick brochures even feature a highly enthusiastic endorsement from Russell Palmer, the former dean of The Wharton School. “This is the future, an incredible curriculum and opportunity,” Palmer is quoted saying. “The world needs people with broad apertures through which they can apply a business knowledge base. The Carey Business School is ahead of the pack.”

In truth, other business schools have tried out pieces of Carey’s approach over the years. Yale’s School of Management does interdisciplinary team teaching in its core classes. The University of Michigan’s Ross School makes consulting projects a core part of its MBA curriculum, though most of them are in the for-profit sector. But makes Carey truly different is putting all these different initiatives together at the same time as well as recruiting to the school largely non-traditional students who don’t want to beat a path to the typical MBA jobs.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.