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Harvard Business School Approves Changes to MBA Program

Faculty members at the Harvard Business School (HBS) recently approved significant changes to the school's MBA program. The changes, which will impact both the required and the elective business school curricula, will be effective beginning next fall for incoming business school students.

In addition to the required curriculum, first-year master's in business students will also be required to take a yearlong Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development course offering small-group learning experiences. This new MBA course will contain three modules: leadership, globalization, and integrative learning. A ten-member faculty team from the business school has been named to design and deliver the course.

Another change that will affect incoming students is that the second-year business degree curriculum will be redesigned to split the current two terms into four half-terms. This change will allow business school faculty more freedom and creativity in developing innovative courses and students more flexibility in building their schedules. Presently, a course consists of 20 to 30 class sessions of 80 minutes each. The new curriculum will be comprised of 14 sessions, some extending to 120 minutes.

Business school Dean Nitin Nohria told the school's HBS Alumni Bulletin that the school "has always been a pioneer in the field of management education," having introduced the discussion-based case method of instruction more than 90 years ago.

"The case method will always be a central part of what we do, but we're now at a point in history when we can do some really interesting things in the field. Both methodologies--case and field--are absolute complements," he said in the interview discussing these changes.

The changes to the business program are the result of faculty research, wide-ranging discussions, and curricular experimentation that begin during the business school's 100th Anniversary celebration in 2008. That year, HBS hosted two colloquia for business school deans, corporate recruiters, and executives on the future of the school's MBA program. Faculty committees were later created to evaluate proposals. Curriculum proposals were reviewed and refined until the faculty vote in late January.

According to the HBS Alumni Bulletin, professor Youngme Moon, senior associate dean and chair of the MBA Program, said, "We don't do anything without a lot of thought and care. That's what makes us who we are."

Moon added that unifying the three content areas in the Field Immersion Experiences course is a set of defining process skills: self-reflection, hands-on learning, and teamwork.

"Everything will happen in teams with the goal of helping students develop listening, communication, and feedback skills," she said.