Columbia Launches Revamped MBA Curriculum

Students at Columbia Business School Photograph by James Leynse/Corbis

Columbia Business School on Wednesday announced a revamped MBA core curriculum for the incoming class, shifting some course content online to free up classroom time for discussion. Other changes include moving a credit-bearing leadership course from the first semester to orientation, increasing the number of electives that first-year students can take from 12 to 13.5, overhauling Decision Models course to emphasize the use of big data, and infusing more courses with “entrepreneurial thinking.”

Dean Glenn Hubbard said the changes, which are described in a series of 12 videos the business school released, are designed to respond to global business and economic changes with a curriculum that helps graduates “recognize opportunity and approach challenges with an entrepreneurial mindset” during their careers.

The use of online content will be tested on accounting and statistics courses and rolled out to additional courses based on the success of that pilot project, said Chris Cashman, a Columbia spokesman.

The “flipped classroom,” as the idea is commonly known, is a relatively new approach. Texas A&M’s Mays Business School has experimented with it. Some faculty members at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School now require students to watch an online lecture before class and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business is employing the flipped classroom for economics, statistics, finance, and operations courses.

As Hubbard explained in an interview last year: “The method for calculating free cash flow can be learned online, but the problem-solving skills required to develop and execute a strategy based on that cash flow will come from the ideas, network, and collaboration that are the essence of the classroom experience.”

Columbia MBA students got their first taste of the new curriculum during orientation, which started on Aug. 18. The new core curriculum is Columbia’s first since 2009. The school discussed some aspects of the plan with Bloomberg Businessweek in February.

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