Mendoza Means Businessand Football

Notre Dame's MBA program is newly revamped to offer more flexibility. Students also get guaranteed Fighting Irish tickets

After the first-round deadline, admissions director Brian Lohr says application volume at Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business is up by a third over last year, a possible sign that the MBA program's new curriculum is resonating with applicants. Or perhaps it's a reflection of a promising season for Fighting Irish football. (MBA students are guaranteed a ticket to every home game.)

Lohr spoke recently with reporter Kerry Miller about the type of student he's looking for at Mendoza. An edited portion of their conversation follows.

Mendoza has recently implemented a new curriculum. Would you explain it?

It's been on the books for about a year now, and essentially the way it works is we've got a seven-week module broken up by two weeks and then an additional seven weeks, and that gives us a lot of flexibility in what we do. One of the things it allows us to do is put together a program we call Inter-term Intensives. The intensives allow students to use the skills that they learned during that first module and put them to practical use.

It's a great way for students to try things out.We have case studies where companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM (IBM), and Boeing (BA) have come in and given our students real-life problems and sent them off. They then come back and our students make a presentation on what they feel the solutions would be.

They also have a chance to pursue other academic initiatives—Six Sigma training, supply chain management training, Excel training, introduction to communications, those types of things.

Also during those inter-term breaks, many of our one-year and second-year students will pursue a study abroad opportunity in Brussels, Belgium, in China, or in Santiago, Chile. Essentially, you're taking four classes per module and those classes are 100 minutes in duration, so they're longer than what they were traditionally, which was a little over an hour.

The contact time equals out to be a little bit more than what it was under the semester setup, where they would take four to five classes for the entire semester. Essentially they are taking the same amount of core courses, but it gets them into the elective courses more quickly so they have more choices in the process.

A lot of students who responded to BusinessWeek's survey noted that there's a big focus on ethics at Mendoza. How are ethics integrated into the program?

We have an inter-term course called Values and Decision-Making, and then we have an ethics elective in the the spring semester of the second year. Then during the very first module, they have a course called Conceptual Foundations of Business Ethics.

And really, every single class that you're involved in has the potential, and I think does incorporate ethics into the discussion. So whether you're talking about accounting or marketing, the topics can cross over to ethical dilemmas that are faced in every single field. The nice thing about being a private school and a religious-based school is that we can talk about these tough problems and not have to worry about it, so that our students can think through difficult situations now prior to heading out into the workforce for real.

Who is the ideal Mendoza student?

There are five characteristics that we look for in a candidate. The most important are...

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