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What does an MBA teach?

The MBA, the well-known acronym, stands for much more than a degree in business. The MBA is a post-graduate programme designed to prepare professionals to deal with all aspects of the complex and competitive world of business today. What is taught in an MBA programme? How is an MBA taught?

Contrary to the specialised Masters, the MBA is a generic degree. The basis of all MBA programmes is the core content of corporate service projects which are taught to guarantee that essential basic management knowledge is known before students select additional subjects (electives). Competence consists of the core subjects:

  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Strategy
  • Information Management and Technology
  • Ethics
  • Company Structure and Organisational Management
  • Law

Electives
In addition to compulsory subjects, MBA programmes offer electives. The idea is that through elective courses, students may adapt the MBA to their practical learning needs. The student who is interested in a career in finance may focus on electives in the field of finance etc. There is no start up menu of electives - that depends on each MBA programme. The most typical electives are:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • E-Commerce & Technology
  • Consulting
  • General Management
  • Logistics
  • Leadership
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Business Ethics
  • Economic and Financial Affairs
  • Small Business Management
  • Management of Human Resources in Small Business
  • Administration and Ecology

Pedagogical methods
In an open and flexible environment, academic excellence and practical experience, the content of the curriculum in an MBA programme is balanced between formal business education and real-life problem solving. It mixes teamwork with competition and teaches the skill that will enable the students to grasp new ideas and seize new opportunities. MBA programmes combine the theoretical and practical approach. The practical approach relies on real-life business cases, by which students debate informally with their professors. The theoretical basis relies on seminars and lectures. Schools use a mix of the two in various percentages.

English, the official MBA language
The MBA, being an international management degree and originating from the United States, is usually taught in English. This is the case in all English-speaking countries (South Africa, US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore). Therefore, you should have a good mastery of the English language before entering an MBA programme.

The faculty members
Many faculty members at MBA programmes are top-fliers. In addition to providing a high level of education, most of the professors of the MBA have a PhD and experience at a top management level. Many professors also consult to top companies and their management, applying academic theory and the practical lessons they learned in the management ranks as well as applying their research done in the academic field.

Teamwork
Most MBA programmes develop teamwork. Usually at the beginning of the year, they ask you to create a team of 3-4 participants that will give back records. On most occasions, teams are formed by the MBA itself and include people of diverse backgrounds and interests. The idea is that through teamwork and interaction, MBA participants will share their experience to provide a more global view.

Practice vs. Theory
Here again, there is no rule. Some programmes leave a large place to research papers and even short theses. Others prefer class participation. In order to develop a more practical understanding of business, MBA programmes have developed compulsory consulting projects that are part of the curriculum and grading.

Technological approach
MBA programmes tend to offer the highest possible level of service to their clients, including: IT classrooms, completely wired buildings, the most up-to-date information technologies, large libraries, all sorts of business databases etc. Most MBA programmes offer comprehensive resources to allow their students to work in the best conditions. Of course, the laptop has been compulsory for 10 years now, and you will see students all over campus carrying their virtual desk.

Adaptation to modern business challenges
In the last 10 years, we have seen much change in the programme content of the MBA. MBA programmes had to follow suit after dramatic changes in business practice such as globalisation and the development of new technology. As a result of these changes, new subjects have appeared such as international finance, supply chain management, total quality management, e-commerce and information technology. The pedagogical method is also evolving. Students have less theoretical courses, and an ever-increasing amount of teamwork and practical studies courses. New disciplines have also been introduced such as politics, religion, history, ethics and communication. Furthermore, there are more and more guest speakers who come to class and bring a practical point of view to the courses taught by faculty members.

Source: MBA Center, www.mba-center.net

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