Columbia Unveils New MBA Core

Columbia Business School leadership professor Katherine Phillips is in a new video on the school's core curriculum

Columbia Business School leadership professor Katherine Phillips is in a new video on the school’s core curriculum

Leadership. Innovation. Entrepreneurship.

All popular buzzwords in MBA programs, for sure, and three of the key ingredients in a newly redesigned core curriculum announced today (Aug. 28) by the Columbia Business School. The school said it will roll out its revamped core this fall for the incoming Class of 2015.

The school’s curriculum was last redesigned in 2009 to respond to the changing business environment wrought by the financial collapse. The new core comes on top of a highly successful fundraising campaign that has raised $500 million toward the $600 million cost of a new campus for the school in early 2018.

Among the latest changes, Columbia will now teach some technical components of courses online to free up more classroom time for deeper dives and discussions. The school also will increase the number of electives students can take in the first year to allow them to make a stronger impression on employers during their summer internships.

This latter alteration had been successfully adopted by Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business a few years ago and helped to drive up the number of students returning to school for the second year of the MBA program with full-time job offers (see Anatomy Of A Turnaround Few Knew Was Needed). Indeed, in the second half of the second term, MBA students at Columbia will have no core courses at all but five different elective courses.

Columbia’s new core is made up of two full-term courses–Financial Accounting and Finance– and nine half-term courses that range from Business Analytics to Strategy Formulation. Incoming students at Columbia are assigned to clusters of 65 to 70 students who take all of the first-year core classes together. Before each term, students can opt out of a core course by exam and replace it with an elective.

Befitting the times and the increased competitiveness in the market, Columbia made the announcement with a series of highly produced videos along with the customary news release. The slick 2.21-minute video introducing the changes features interviews with several faculty members and flattering images of both the university and New York City.

Two professors–Katherine Phillips and Costis Maglaras–are featured in shorter videos describing their core courses, respectively Lead: People, Teams, Organizations and Managerial Economics. Those videos are stark, black-and-white shoots.

According to the school, the most significant changes to the new core curriculum are:

  • The inclusion of the core’s credit-bearing leadership course during student orientation rather than in the first semester;
  • Increasing the number of electives that first year students may take, providing greater opportunity to tailor courses to align with career goals, and better prepare for summer internships;
  • Placing some technical components of course content online, allowing for more in-depth and robust classroom discussion between professors and students; and,
  • Revamping the Decision Models core course to emphasize big data, recognition of the importance big data is now playing in the business ecosystem.

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