The Scoop on Wharton School’s Curriculum Revamp

Last week, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School announced a major overhaul of the Wharton MBA program””the first of this scope in 17 years. Today, The Wharton Journal provided further details of the curriculum redesign for current and future students left wondering about the essential components of the revamp.

Changes to MBA Core Courses

  • Change from 10 credit unit requirements to 9 credit units
  • Statistics and MGEC will shift from quarter courses to full semester courses
  • Communications requirement will be expanded from 6 classes to 12 classes with a writing component
  • Ethics and Legal Studies courses will be condensed into one course held over 6 weeks
  • Courses required to be taken with cohort will be reduced to about 3.5 credits

In addition, students will have two ways to meet core requirements within six possible pathways or subject areas, namely:

  1. Corporate Reporting and Control (Accounting), 1 credit unit (cu)
  2. Microeconomics: Markets, Strategies, and Government Policy (Applied Economics Department), 1 cu
  3. Finance and Global Economy (Finance Department), 1.5 cu
  4. Managing the Global Enterprise (Management), 2 cu
  5. Understanding and Serving Customers (Marketing Department), 1 cu
  6. Management of Operations, Innovation, Information, and Decisions under Uncertainty (OPIM), 1 cu

One credit unit in statistics, 0.5 credit units in Communications, and 0.5 cu in Ethical and Legal responsibility round out the 9 credit units required under the new core program.

Change Brings Greater Flexibility

The key aspect of the change to the core curriculum allows students greater flexibility in determining the content and timing of meeting requirements. As mentioned, students will have at least two options to mix-and-match classes to meet core requirements under each department.

Students will also have leeway on when to take the core requirements; they can take courses during their first year or shift them to their second year. Stakeholder surveys have shown that students greatly appreciate having the ability to tailor their MBA experience, noted Professor G. Richard Shell, Chair of the MBA Review Committee that created the new design.

Other Key Changes to MBA Program

Other changes that accompany this reframing of the core curriculum architecture include:

A greater emphasis on individualized leadership building and coaching

  • Personalized website for each student that will hold feedback received from leadership sessions and experiences
  • Students will meet 2-3 times over the course of their time at Wharton with a personal leadership coach

More offerings of 3-5 day international modular courses

  • Already being tested with offerings over winter break, Wharton will seek to expand its offerings of condensed courses in international locations

Offering of free executive education to alumni starting with the current 2nd year class

  • Alumni will receive free executive education every 7 years following graduation

Entire Faculty Vote No longer Needed for Curriculum Change

While students are most concerned about what the changes mean to the core curriculum, The Wharton Journal points out that the most significant change going forward is the curriculum review process itself.

Amending the curriculum will no longer require a vote by the entire faculty body. Now, each department within the school will be able to decide amongst themselves on changes they want to see within their department’s offering and requirements.

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