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Wharton Overhauls MBA Program Curriculum

After an exhaustive review process, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced it will make enhancements to its MBA program. The changes, which will be fully implemented by 2012, were developed as part of the school's strategic planning process. Viewing this as a life-long knowledge partnership between the business school and graduates, the MBA review committee interviewed thousands of students, alumni, business leaders, recruiters, faculty, staff and Wharton board members as part of the process.

The revised curriculum will allow more customization and offer master's in business students flexibility based on their backgrounds and experience. In a statement from the school, Thomas S. Robertson, business school dean, says the architecture of the curriculum addresses the needs of a new global generation through flexibility, rigor and innovation.

"Our research shows that this generation of business leaders wants greater control over educational choices, continued exposure to peers with deep, global experience and more opportunity in their academic experience to self-analyze and self-reflect," he says. "As part of the design, we are introducing a series of global modular courses that will be offered in eight countries this year. Combined with the appointment of Vice Deans in Global Initiatives, Social Impact, and Innovation, we intend to retain our leadership position in business education."

Professor G. Richard Shell, chair of the MBA Review Committee, adds that the school wants to create a vibrant community of graduates who will return regularly to engage with faculty and alumni.

"Our world-class executive education capabilities place Wharton in the unique position of being able to offer every one of our new graduates a tuition-free experience providing specialized up-to-date executive education once every seven years through their working lives," he says. "Our goal is that all of our alumni will remain at the forefront of business knowledge and practice throughout their careers."

A faculty committee will oversee the design of new courses, the menus of choices available to students, and the programmatic elements. As part of the enhanced curriculum, students will be required to take these business degree courses:

• finance and the Global Economy
• Ethical and Legal Responsibility
• Managing the Global Enterprise
• Understanding and Serving Customers
• Corporate Reporting and Control
• Management of Operations, Innovation, Information, and Decisions under Uncertainty

Students will be able to customize their learning experience by selecting a course pathway through these content areas based on their educational and career experience.

Other highlights of the business program:

  • Tuition-free executive education training for new MBA graduates.
  • More course content in microeconomics and statistics to assure students have the tools needed to understand risk, markets, and the role of government when markets fail.
  • Integrated focus on ethical and legal responsibility in business to provide more challenging frameworks to guide students' managerial decisions upon returning to the work force.
  • Increased focus on oral and written communication.
  • Multiple new leadership development opportunities through learning simulation courses, a two-year coaching experience, and tools to offer self-analysis and self-reflection.
  • Faculty will have new latitude to design new course content quickly in response to an evolving global environment.

Wharton has campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and currently has about 1,600 students in its full-time MBA program and 400 students in its MBA Program for executives.