UCLA Anderson School Unveils New Curriculum Design

Earlier this week, the UCLA Anderson School of Management announced a new curriculum for its full-time MBA program, effective September 2011.  After much research and discussions with employers about how they develop their leadership pipeline, UCLA Anderson explains that the revised core curriculum, as well as elective courses, were designed with to better prepare MBA students for their chosen career tracks.

“Employers expect MBA graduates to be ready, from day one, to add value to their organizations,” Judy Olian, Dean of UCLA Anderson, says in a statement.  “They want to avoid investing time and resources to retrain new MBA hires.  With the new curriculum customized around their career needs, UCLA Anderson graduates will be ready to enter the market with deep expertise in their chosen fields when they finish their MBA.”

“One size does not fit all,” Olian adds.”The program is designed to give our students the flexibility they want, and the critical preparation they need.”    

The new curriculum is built around four key components:

  • A customizable core course sequence;
  • Tracks that enable students to deepen their knowledge in marketing, finance or consulting, while adding certificate programs in areas of interest;
  • Development of leadership and communication skills through specialized  courses at the start of the first year;
  • Team-based Applied Management Research (AMR) projects conducted over 6 months, in organizations in the US and globally.


New flexibility means students will be able to design their MBA program in a sequence that best accommodates their career objectives.  It is a novel approach, the school says, intended to give MBAs the most expedient and comprehensive means of preparing for employment opportunities by accelerating preparation for the summer internship interviews in students’ chosen career track, and later, by enabling certificate completion in areas of particular interest.

The academic experience opens with two separate classes in leadership and communication, each led by thought leaders in their fields.  Next, students can choose when to take Marketing, Finance and Strategy in the first year, which the school says will ensure that they accelerate their learning in the field that most interests them.

During their second year they may take tracks in Marketing, Consulting or Finance, or a Custom track for students with unique interests. The tracks are complemented by a suite of certificates currently under consideration in areas such as real estate, entertainment, entrepreneurship, global management, business analytics, business of healthcare, sustainability, or technology leadership.

Students also undertake a 20-week client project, under the Applied Management Research (AMR) program, the nation’s longest running field study program among b-schools, as the school points out.   Teams of students serve as strategic consultants to major companies in the US and abroad, addressing organizational and competitive challenges and providing recommendations for action.  Projects can range from exploring new business opportunities and developing pricing strategies, to improving managerial effectiveness and creating effective marketing campaigns.

“When a student chooses to spend two years with us, it’s a huge investment of their time and energy, says Andrew Ainslie, Senior Associate Dean of the MBA  program and Associate Professor of Marketing, who appears in the video above.  “Our new curriculum puts them in charge of their learning experience; gives them the classes they need when they need them; gives them the deep preparation they need for their chosen career; and directly ties their academic experience to the corporate world.”

Adds Olian, “We wanted our curriculum to be tightly aligned with our students’ career interests,  and employers’ expectations.  That’s why we call it market-facing.”

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