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MBA Programs

Harvard Begins MBA Curriculum Overhaul

Harvard Begins MBA Curriculum Overhaul

Photograph by Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Harvard Business School is overhauling its MBA curriculum, a three-year process that’s expected to result in new second-year electives, case studies, and other changes at the world’s most closely watched business school.

The move comes less than two years after HBS overhauled its first-year curriculum, introducing a three-module course called the Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, or Field. The coming changes to the second-year curriculum will be designed to work in concert with the Field curriculum.

HBS described the curriculum overhaul in an announcement of a $10 million gift that will provide a “significant portion of the funding for this major undertaking.” The gift is from the family of the late William Connell, a 1963 HBS graduate who was the founding chairman and chief executive officer of Boston-based Connell LP, a group of companies doing business in automotive, energy, mining, and other sectors.

“This new donation … provides us with the financial support we need to enhance our second-year curriculum and make it a deeper, more cohesive, and more innovative experience that will have a life-long impact on our students,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria in the announcement.

In 2011, HBS introduced the first curriculum changes since Nohria took over as dean, focusing on the first year of the two-year program. The new Field course includes a trip to a developing country to work with a company to develop a new product or service, as well as a team-based effort to create and launch a “micro business” in just 15 weeks. In interviews, Nohria has described one of the goals of the course as “translating knowing into doing.”

The second-year overhaul will build on those changes and “provide MBA candidates with an expanded array of learning opportunities, offering them more engagement in practice and promoting greater integration between the two years of the program,” according to the announcement. Developing the new curriculum will entail creating new courses and cases, new technology, and increased faculty development. HBS spokesman Jim Aisner says no additional details are available.

Several top business schools have made major renovations to their MBA curricula in recent years, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and Columbia Business School.

Join the discussion on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Forum, visit us on Facebook, and follow @BWbschools on Twitter.

Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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