Exploring Electives in the Executive MBA Curriculum

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electives courses

We are steadfast believers in the merits of studying business foundations. As senior leaders, you need to understand the basics of accounting, microeconomics, and statistics to manage the essential goals of the firm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture and develop other interests as a student at Chicago Booth. We offer a wide variety of challenging, exciting electives courses to Executive MBA students during their second year in the program. It’s up to you to determine which four classes will broaden your experience and bring out new strengths and capabilities. And if there’s one on the list that you missed, don’t worry – we welcome alumni to return for electives courses at any point after graduation.

Our electives courses change year-to-year and are reflective of the current business landscape. Below, we explore two dynamic offerings where students are challenged to finesse their persuasive skills and overcome technical hurdles by learning to code. 

Persuasion: Effective Business Communication

How effective are you at getting your ideas across? As a former reporter and editor at the Financial Times and current editor-in-chief of the Chicago Booth Review, Hal Weitzman has spent his career translating ideas. He developed this course to help managers and executives craft compelling arguments and effectively deliver them. “People typically don’t prepare enough or in the smartest way possible,” he observes. “The most basic lesson about persuasion is to analyze your audience and practice the presentation. You can craft a great argument but lose it in the delivery.” During the course, Weitzman challenges students to do stuff – this is not theoretical work. They practice public speaking, are interviewed on a mock TV show, and film their own selfie video pitches. The class offers students insightful ways to learn more about communication styles and analyze what works and what doesn’t from their perspective and through feedback from peers. “As a leader in your organization, you have a responsibility to change and improve the way your organization communicates,” Weitzman says. “Because of their seniority, Executive MBA students can typically start to make that change immediately.”

Application Development for Executives

Many view coding as a skill reserved for mathematical or technical types, but that just isn’t true. In today’s world, every company is designing software at some level. Raghu Betina, Clinical Assistant Professor of Operations Management and Entrepreneurship, learned to code as a non-technical entrepreneur. “It’s very frustrating when you don’t know what to ask or what’s going on,” he says. “You are entirely dependent on developers to do a good job.” He created the Application Development course as a pragmatic introduction to coding that gives business leaders the lexicon to speak confidently about it. Students learn database design, programming, and deployment to understand how applications work, communicate meaningfully with developers, and problem solve using technology. The Executive MBA students in his class have been eager to pick up the language of coding because they don’t want to be out of touch with the future. “Managers need some basic fluency in this,” he says. “As you learn more you become more able to judge what is doable and possible. It opens your eyes and you start to see opportunities everywhere.”