UCLA Anderson Gets New Curriculum

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on August 9, 2011

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management today unveiled a new curriculum design for its full-time MBA program in an effort to better prepare students for the needs of employers.

The new curriculum, effective September, is based on four components: leadership and communication skills, career goals, specialization tracks, and a 20-week real-world learning project. The curriculum’s structure is designed to better prepare students for entry into the workforce by allowing them to tailor the sequence of required courses. It offers students the ability to specialize in one of four optional career tracks — marketing, consulting, finance or custom — that allow students to pick electives to gain skill sets for the track they’ve chosen. The curriculum is bookended by specialized leadership courses at the start of the first year and a research project with a major company in the student’s career track during the last six months of the MBA program.

“At the moment there is much more hit-or-miss around how students are prepared,” said Judy Olian, dean of the school, in a telephone interview. “We address students’ needs to be prepared early on in the curriculum for their career track.”

The new career-oriented curriculum, the business school’s first since 2004, is the result of conversations with the school’s recruiters and the findings of reports commissioned from Deloitte Consulting Services. Anderson’s top recruiters include Walt Disney, Cisco Systems, IBM, and Google, according to data supplied by the school to Bloomberg Businessweek.

“General feedback is that MBA programs can do more to specifically align the curriculum and the developmental experiences that our students have to the needs of MBA careers,” Olian said. “We need people who, from day one, can add value, who are prepared.”

Anderson’s curriculum change is the latest in a new effort by business schools to restructure their teaching models for a world in need of innovative business leaders. Harvard Business School said in January it would make substantive changes to its curriculum by adding a required first-year course for leadership development and creating four half-terms to allow for more flexibility in the second-year elective classes.

The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School plans to gradually roll out a curriculum overhaul that would allow for more flexibility in course choices and increased expertise in subjects like ethics and analytics, the school said in December. And UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business announced in May 2010 that it would overhaul its MBA curriculum to emphasize analytical thinking, flexibility, and creativity.

"We're in an ever-changing world," Olian said. "If the schools don't change, we're going to be out of touch with how the market is changing globally and around the particular challenges that exist in business."

--Tori Stilwell

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