Columbia’s MBA Program curriculum prepares students to lead, build, and manage enterprises that create value for stakeholders and constituencies in a dynamic, global economy. It also instills an awareness of ethical issues and the societal effects of business decisions.
In the first year, the intensive core curriculum provides the foundation of broad management skills necessary to succeed in any industry. In the second year, students shape their own program of study, selecting courses most pertinent to their specific career goals from a wide range of Business School electives and optional graduate-level classes taught at one of the University’s 12 graduate and professional schools.
Columbia Business School’s core curriculum is a required series of courses designed to give students a solid foundation in the academic disciplines and applied function areas necessary to compete in a global economy. The two full courses and twelve half-term courses that make up the core represent about 40 percent of the degree requirement and are taken during the first two terms.
There is no course selection procedure for incoming students. Instead, they are divided randomly into clusters of approximately 65 students who attend all first-year core courses together. These clusters, which reflect the heterogeneity of the School, foster a teamwork ethos, as well as a long-term network.
In addition, student learning teams, each composed of four or five students, are assigned at the beginning of the first term. Assignments are made to reflect the diversity of the class as represented by gender, ethnicity, country of origin, and previous work experience. Many faculty members teaching core courses make use of these teams for assignments and projects in their courses for first-term students.
By the end of the second term, students typically will have completed all core courses, except those from which they were specifically exempted. First-term core courses are offered only in the fall and spring terms; second-term core courses are offered only in the spring and summer terms.
Please visit the Student Guide to view a list of core courses and their descriptions.
Students may choose from more than 200 elective courses at Columbia Business School and supplement them with up to six credits of graduate-level classes at 12 of the University’s other schools, including the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; International and Public Affairs; Journalism; Law; and Social Work.
Students take at least 11 electives. Those who exempt out of core courses replace them with electives to fulfill the MBA requirement of 60 credits taken over four terms. Electives options also include an independent study under the guidance of a faculty member and Field Studies, through which students can gain academic credit for internships. MBA students choose Business School electives through an innovative bidding system, in which each student is given an initial endowment of points to bid for seats in our wide selection of courses.
Please visit the Student Guide for more information about electives.
The Individual, Business and Society: Tradeoffs, Choices, and Accountability
The new IBS curriculum helps Columbia Business School students develop frameworks and tools to think critically about the conflicts and tradeoffs inherent in balancing business conduct with the concerns of individuals and society. Every MBA core course includes cases and discussions regarding these issues. Panels featuring faculty members and business leaders, many of them alumni, complement the classroom experience.
For more information, visit the IBS website or the Student Guide.
Program on Social Intelligence
The School has launched a program of courses and extracurricular activities to enhance students’ abilities as leaders throughout their careers. The Program on Social Intelligence (PSI) imparts techniques and frameworks for managing individuals, teams, organizations, and networks adaptively in dynamic, global business contexts.
This program draws on the School’s growing expertise in psychology and related social sciences. PSI activities are grounded in proven combinations of empirical assessment, experiential learning, and executive coaching to help students sharpen their self-awareness, judgment, and decision making and expand their practical capabilities in solving problems. These activities have been integrated around research-based frameworks that underlie the management core courses Creating Effective Organizations and Leadership.
Master Classes are hands-on, project-based electives designed to challenge students to creatively integrate concepts learned across the core curriculum and apply them to contemporary business problems. Master Classes are integrally tied to external organizations that evaluate and consider students’ recommendations.
Each Master Class focuses on a specific industry context (e.g. media, real estate, consulting) and draws significant input from the professional community via group projects and alumni involvement, both as guest speakers and adjunct faculty. With substantial projects and practitioner involvement, Master Classes provide students with a unique exposure to the current realities of the business world.