MBA Electives That Go Beyond the Ordinary

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on January 12, 2012

Professors are offering more and more business school electives with a creative bent. Many of them buck traditional lectures and case studies in favor of experiential learning designed to give aspiring MBAs actual experience that will beef up their resumes—and to allow them to make use of the skills they already have.

In “MBA Electives Offer Hands-On Learning,” readers will learn about some of the most unexpected electives offered at top business schools. Still, the list in that story is far from complete. Here are a few more examples of unusual business school electives students might consider taking:

Gender Balance in Organizations
Offered at: IMD

This course has participants contemplating and discussing gender inequality. Although the subject seems like a tale as old as time, it is new and interesting when presented as a road map to the gender wars of the modern world, says Martha Maznevski, professor of organizational behavior and international management, and director of the MBA program at IMD. “We touch on a lot of politically incorrect topics,” she adds. “We talk about what to do in a real situation.” The advice they come up with isn’t always the standard. For example, Maznevski says that some students have concluded that women have to behave like men in certain situations. They also discuss, at length, what to do about pregnant women and those with families. “Men in the class,” says Maznevski, “are different with their female colleagues after completing this course.”

Social Media Marketing
Offered at: University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business

Although fall 2011 was the first time Haas offered this course to students, who usually seek well-tested faculty when creating their schedules, the subject was a big draw, says Julia Hwang, executive director of the Haas full-time MBA program. With emphasis on social networks, social media platforms, and online advertising, this elective's highlight is a simulation that has students split up into teams of four to six people managing the social media strategy of their imaginary firms. To do well, they must consider both short- and long-term implications of their strategies, budgets, and the transition from traditional to online advertising.

Energy Simulation
Offered at: Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

In a similar vein, students in this elective, which lasts only two days, are part of a fictitious country that is known for its instability and petroleum. The elective is open to full-time and part-time MBA and EMBA students. As part of this simulation, students must choose which oil companies they should work with and how to deal with government organizations and other groups. "It offers a unique approach to global energy," says Sean Ferguson, assistant dean of degree programs at Jones. "The condensed format adds to the intensity."

-Francesca Di Meglio

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