The success of business schools depends on the changing needs of graduate students
The scene of graduate courses offered by business schools today is probably one of the most competitive in the last two decades.
The MBA’s that have to be super competitive, makes schools face the challenge of not only staying relevant to the changing nature of the business world, but also keeping up with the changing needs of candidates, as well as demands from companies that hire professionals who are pursuing an MBA or have just completed it.
In the case of the United States, future MBA students, according to a report by the Graduate Management Admission Council, have specific preferences for their study plan, which include the most demanded topics related to leadership, change management, management in general, with data analysis and corporate finance.
These candidates also want to enrich their MBA experience with internships in companies.
From what we see, schools on both sides of the Atlantic must ensure that they continue to be innovative in these key areas to continue attracting the best candidates to their programs.
Two business schools, Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder and Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, are meeting this challenge head-on.
Both have recently redesigned their core full-time MBA curriculum, which will move their programs boldly forward in alignment with today’s changing graduate education market and rapidly evolving business world.
Among the changes introduced we find:
– It is improved in terms of the formation of leadership skills.
– Interest in what the collaboration processes between people in the same team imply is growing.
– More extensive quantitative content is created to take students from start to finish, in terms of identifying a challenge and then applying data and analysis to address that challenge.
– The study of the social and ethical contexts of business is intensified.
– it delves into the field of communication that is increasingly important and critical in our data-intensive business world.
At the same time, these schools, which have been making these adjustments to their programs, are focusing on two fundamental aspects from the methodological point of view:
a) Focus on leading teams.
b) Focus on discovering the unique leadership traits of each individual student.
Why is this division good?
Because students start with the team component and then they discover what kind of leadership style they have.
Of course, when talking about a complete and face-to-face program that lasts more than a year, it is not the same as one that takes place in ten months.
Therefore, the curricular adaptation in terms of the intensity of both leadership studies (team and personality of the leader) will depend on the time factor and not least, the mechanics that all current online procedures are demanding of us.
This could be done with various extra-curricular activities via zoom-type conferences and / or workshops, which complement the basic program that the students are developing.
Teach and enhance learning
A key element in postgraduate teaching is that the student believes that the program he/she has chosen is useful for the development of his/her career.
Therefore, those schools that show their candidates that in their search and according to their profile they have a special passion for developing their leadership skills, it is good to encourage these types of students to participate in leadership activities outside the classroom while they are taking the course.
This mainly requires coordination between the academic part and some collaborating companies with which there is an agreement on practice hours and other activities.
Regarding the curricular contents of analytical questions (quantitative methods, statistics, etc.), the orientation should be aimed at making data analysis compatible with the most advanced and sophisticated software.
In some schools, depending on the orientation you want to give the program, you would have to work on the subject of advanced data analysis.
Of course, the level of depth and intensity will depend on whether it is a conventional generalist MBA or one of financial specialty or in the field of marketing.
But an important issue that business schools must take into account is that after having been subjected to the effects of the pandemic and the impact it has had on all activities, all the more so they should take advantage of experiential learning activities within and outside the classroom, especially in areas such as entrepreneurship, natural and organic industry as well as transformative that has developed in recent years due to the imperative of the 2030 horizon of the carbon footprint, and especially those areas of knowledge and experiences that correspond to the industry and / or essential activity of a region.
This is a fundamental aspect that is not given due attention in terms of the participation of a school program in a given community and the direct linking of the results of the preparation of its graduates in matters of regional interest.