The Cluster System
Community building begins right at the start of the MBA program, as admitted students are assigned to clusters of 65 to 70 fellow students who take most of the first-year core classes together. As diverse as the class itself, each cluster is made up of people from all over the world, with a wealth of different skills, ideas, leadership styles, and backgrounds. By sharing so much of the academic experience together, clusters become especially close, and this closeness invites a richer learning environment, one where students are more comfortable challenging ideas — and each other — while working together to become transformative business leaders.
Clusters are the building blocks of a Columbia Business School student’s lifelong network. Outside of class, clusters gather for dinners, trips, and other social events, and even compete against rival clusters in activities ranging from basketball to karaoke. These strong connections continue well after graduation, and many alumni continue to organize cluster gatherings and keep in touch through cluster newsletters.
Each cluster is divided into learning teams, groups of about five students from diverse professional and personal backgrounds who complete assignments for most core courses as a team. Not only do learning teams offer insights into other areas of expertise and styles of learning, working intimately with the same people across a range of subjects helps students connect the dots between the different areas of study in the core, creating a more holistic, real-world, and lasting education. Columbia CaseWorks’ new integrated case, a series of materials focused on a single company used in several core courses simultaneously, offers learning teams tangible connections across disciplines, further infusing students with the collaborative, versatile approach to problem-solving that Columbia MBAs are known for.