Wharton School Plans Curriculum Overhaul

The University of Pennsylvania‘s highly ranked Wharton School has announced plans to overhaul its MBA curriculum and offer MBA graduates one free executive education course every seven years, Bloomberg Businessweek reported Friday.

It’s been 17 years since the Wharton School last made major changes to its curriculum, and these modifications will affect the structure of required classes; include a focus on ethics and on oral and written communication; and place a greater emphasis on global business education as well as statistics and microeconomics.

“Wharton’s new curriculum design offers our students a framework for success in a rapidly changing world,” Dean Thomas Robertson said in a statement to the media. “Business schools must equip the next generation of leaders with the knowledge, skills and perspective they need to meet the global economic, environmental, humanitarian and policy challenges of the future.”

How Will the Curriculum Change?

  • Already, the Wharton School has introduced eight global classes students can take in India, China, Brazil, and South Africa.
  • Students will take four required courses in analytics and leadership skills and will have more flexibility regarding other requirements.
  • There will be a stronger emphasis on leadership and self-evaluation.
  • Students will participate in a two-year leadership coaching program that provides professional feedback coaching three or four times a year on what they’ve accomplished in their MBA program, as well as complete 360-degree leadership evaluations.
  • There will be a stronger emphasis on so-called soft skills such as oral and written communication; all students will be required to take a class in this area during the first year of the program.
  • Students will take required course work in microeconomics and statistics.

The other prime component of the overhaul, a commitment to offer an executive education course to MBA graduates free of charge once every seven years—the first top-tier school to do so—shows the Wharton School’s lifelong pledge to its graduates, Robertson said.

“We can educate our students for today but that doesn’t mean that 20 or 30 years from now””or even less””they won’t need skills in another area,” he added. “We think that is a breakthrough. We’re making a major commitment to our students.”

The curriculum change, which the Wharton School plans to roll out partially in the fall of 2011 and have fully executed in the fall of 2012, was approved by approximately 87% of the faculty in a vote Friday.

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