In 1908, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration established the world's first MBA program. The programs first-year curriculum was based on Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management. In the decades that followed, other prestigious schools took the MBA to the next level. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business introduced the first Executive MBA (EMBA) in 1943 and in 1946, the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University introduced the first MBA to focus on global management. Between 1950 and 1963, MBA programs made their way to Canada (the first outside of the U.S.), Pakistan (in collaboration with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), Europe, and Korea.
Today, just about every business school in the U.S. offers an MBA along with many schools overseas—particularly in Europe. Not only is the MBA one of the most popular degrees in the world today, there are so many delivery options, focus areas, and electives you’ll lose count. Today’s MBA students are not limited the traditional on-campus, daytime general MBA. Students can earn their degree entirely online, through a combination of online and on-campus instruction (hybrid), evenings, weekends, and even on Saturdays only. Students can specialize in an endless number of areas from accounting and information systems to operations management, or take a variety of electives to match their goals—and the times.
This flexibility is especially important for budding entrepreneurs who must understand every aspect of business (and how it relates to the world we live in) to become successful. Keep in mind that the general MBA curriculum, along with global experiences and internships, provides a strong base, of course, so electives chosen from areas such as entrepreneurship, innovation, and strategy will help round out the program and allow students to reach their specific goals.
A good example of a solid collection of electives in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, and strategy is offered at Darden School of Business of the University of Virginia where 70 percent of MBA students take entrepreneurship courses. Take a look:
- Acquisition of Closely-Held Enterprises
- Competitive Dynamics
- Corporate Innovation and Design Experience
- Creative Capitalism
- Creativity and Design Thinking
- Developing New Products & Services
- Emerging Medical Technologies
- Entrepreneur as Change Agent
- Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity
- Entrepreneurial Thinking
- Entrepreneurs Taking Action
- Global Business Experience: Strategy as Design
- Innovation and Design Experience
- Introduction to Business Law
- Investigations into the Nature of Strategy
- Leadership & Theatre: Ethics, Innovation and Creativity
- Management of Smaller Enterprises
- Managing Turnarounds and Workouts
- Markets in Human Hope
- Organic Growth: A Challenge for Public Companies
- Post-Merger Integration
- Small Enterprise Finance
- Social Responsibility and Entrepreneurship
- Starting New Ventures
- Strategic Thinking: Integrating East and West
- Strategy Seminar
- Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Technology Accelerator
- The Consulting Process
- Venture Capital
Other innovative and timely courses to consider include Entrepreneurial Leadership in Turbulent Times, Technology Commercialization, Investing in New Ventures, Feasibility Analysis, and CEO/Founder Cases in New Venture Management. And because small businesses are the backbone of the American economy (some 28 million small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s), consider courses tailored to this vital sector. A few examples include Managing a Sustainable Small Business, Mergers and Acquisitions for Small Firms, and Buying a Small Business.
Many schools even allow students to take electives across academic disciplines. For example, The Wharton School at UPenn allows students to take up to four courses at other Penn Schools. Students can choose to focus on a foreign language at the Penn Language Center or supplement such interests as Intellectual Property, Nonprofit Management, or Public Governance at the Law School, Fels Center of Government, or the School of Social Policy and Practice. Again, most schools allow students to tailor at least part of the curriculum to their specific interests, whether it’s technology, health care, engineering, sustainability, design, communication, education, or other industry.
An MBA can be a bit pricey, we know, but if your program offers the opportunity to specialize or take more electives, go for it. The choice to go that extra mile and take the courses you want instead of just the courses you need will pay off in the long run.
"About: History." Harvard Business School. President & Fellows of Harvard College, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.
"Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Strategy." Darden School of Business. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.
Fusfeld, Adam. "The 10 MBA Courses Entrepreneurs Must Take." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc., 02 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 July 2016.
"Master of Business Administration." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 2013 thru July 16, 2016. Web. 18 July 2016.
"Small Business Trends | The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov." SBA.gov. U.S. Small Business Administration, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.