Letter from the Dean

Evaluating Our Curriculum

kumarAfter a long, cold Chicago winter, we welcome the arrival of spring. At Chicago Booth, that means changes in our faculty as we recruit new talent and in our students as we work to put together next year's classes. This year, it is also a time to take a fresh look at our MBA curriculum.

As I have written to you before, one of my priorities for the school is to support a broader set of student aspirations, expanding students' choices. This requires curricular innovation in both content and form. 

In order to evaluate the design and execution of our Full-Time, Evening, and Weekend MBA programs, we periodically conduct a review of the school's MBA curriculum. Given that it has been five years since the last one, we felt this year was an opportune time to conduct a review, and we formed a faculty committee to carry it out. The Curriculum Review Committee is chaired by Canice Prendergast and consists of Ayelet Fishbach, Rob Gertner (ex officio), John Heaton (ex officio), Erik Hurst, Steve Kaplan, Stacey Kole (ex officio), and Doug Skinner. While the curriculum review is concentrated on the Full-Time, Evening, and Weekend MBA programs, the committee will ensure consistency with the Executive MBA curriculum, which was last reviewed in 2012.

We launched this year's review not because of any specific concerns, but with the belief that the curriculum should always evolve. Keeping it fresh will ensure that the school can continue to deliver on its mission of producing successful future leaders. When we innovate, we ensure that the value of your Booth MBA continues to go up and that, years after our alumni have graduated, the degree and brand remain strong.

The committee is evaluating how well we are meeting the needs of all of our constituencies, with an eye on curricular innovation, rather than on requirements. It is looking at all aspects of what we teach, from the range of courses we offer to how we use technology in the classroom.

Among the issues the committee is tackling:

What we teach. The committee is considering a range of issues, from requirements and concentrations to the breadth of course offerings, including underserved areas, advanced courses, experience-based learning, and ethics. Another important issue being explored is how to further encourage curricular innovation among faculty.

How we teach. We are considering how we will teach five to 10 years from now, and we are excited about how technology will shape our curriculum going forward. The committee is considering technology in various forms of teaching: in the context of current classroom settings, remote synchronized learning, and asynchronous learning. Expanding technology in curriculum also allows us to extend learning to the broader community, including alumni. We also are considering the length of courses in this context.

Who teaches. We are investigating whether to do more coteaching with faculty among different areas within Booth as well as with faculty from other parts of the university. Also under consideration are in-class partnerships with leading-edge practitioners to blend theory and practice.

Course selection. We are considering how students gather information for course planning and we're developing better tools that will improve the selection process so that students can make more-informed curricular choices.

The committee has been soliciting input from a variety of sources, including students, recent graduates, and other alumni. Preliminary feedback has been positive. The committee also surveyed top employers to learn not only how we are doing in preparing our students, but also what skills recruiters would like to see in our graduates in the future.

In the last curriculum review, the committee found that overall, the "curriculum is strong and its underlying structure and philosophy are sound." However, a new academic concentration was added and the leadership (LEAD) course requirement was extended to the part-time programs.

We look forward to the current committee's report this year. Regardless of the recommendations, you can be assured of what won't change: the challenging, rigorous curriculum and the environment of honest inquiry, open debate, and respect for the individual that are timeless values of the school. 

Sunil Kumar
Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management

Photo by Matthew Gilson

Last Updated 4/21/14