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Business School Unveils New Curriculum

November 17, 1999

Mark Miester

In the most significant revamping in more than a decade, the Freeman School will roll out a new MBA curriculum in the fall of 1999. The new curriculum is a placement-driven program designed to give students the skills and experience most sought after by employers.

“Looking at our product from a student’s point of view and a corporate recruiter’s point of view, we decided there were some major issues we had to address,” says James McFarland, dean of the Freeman School. “We had to design our product from an outcome point of view in terms of getting jobs and internships for our students.”

“It’s really the hiring practice of employers that’s driving us,” adds Russ Robins, associate dean for academic programs. “There was a consensus among administration and faculty that it was time for a major change, and that was due to market forces. The market wants students with exposure to their major concentration earlier to prepare them for summer internships and the market wants a greater breadth of experience upon graduation. That’s what these changes do.”

The most noticeable change is the conversion of most courses to modular formats. Of the 46 graduate courses offered to full-time MBA students in the fall, 31 will be offered as seven-week 1.5 or 2 credit “semi-semester” courses.

To accommodate the seven-week courses, the semester will comprise two sessions, Aug. 30 to Oct. 14 and Oct. 20 to Dec. 9. Taking a cue from the Freeman School’s executive MBA program, which delivers courses in shortened, intensive sessions, the modular format will enable students to complete most of their required “core” courses in the first semester of their first year. Previously, students finished core requirements in the first semester of their second year.

“The new curriculum will allow students to take a greater breadth of courses in their electives, and it will also allow them to take more courses in their area of concentration earlier,” Robins says. “They’ll actually be able to take three semester-long-or six half-semester-electives in the spring of their first year.”

Under the current curriculum, MBAs were limited to two electives in the spring semester of their first year. Robins adds that modules have become an increasingly popular format in MBA programs across the country.

“We’re trying to be much more creative in the curriculum we’re offering and provide the students much greater flexibility with the curriculum,” says McFarland.

In addition to the format changes, McFarland says the school is also streamlining its major concentration areas. Next year, the school will offer three major areas of concentration-finance, management and marketing-along with four supporting fields-accounting, entrepreneurship, information systems and international business.

Last year, the Freeman School offered concentrations in accounting, finance, general management, marketing, organizational behavior and operations management. Considering the scope of the changes, the revision process moved at a fast pace, says Robins.

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