The Real Impact of Booth’s Flexible Curriculum


Kurt AhlmOur next application deadline is around the corner and I know a lot of applicants are critically considering their MBA options at this time. As you think about this decision it’s important to understand the true impact of Chicago Booth’s flexible curriculum on your time at Booth and the rest of your life.

We live in a world that changes by the day, the hour, the moment. It’s a global marketplace that is connected instantaneously by the Internet. Decisions need to be made all the time, one after another. Chicago Booth’s unique interpretation of flexibility, coupled with our discipline-based approach, grounds you in sound decision-making with the ability to adapt and react in an analytical way, using our frameworks as your compass and your passions as your guide.

We talk about flexible curriculum—and it’s true, you can map out your coursework at Booth however you want—but it goes far beyond selecting your own classes. We want you to think bigger. We have flexibility so that you get the absolute most out of your MBA opportunities and entire experience, from which courses you take, to the student groups you participate in, to where you live, to the friends you make… Nothing is prescribed, you are not confined. It is an ethos.

It goes back to the University of Chicago, and a fundamental thread that knowledge is not given to you, you must earn it. Nothing is spoon-fed here—this is an opportunity to be curious, explore, and test new ideas. By giving you flexibility, what we really mean is freedom. Academic freedom, freedom of self, freedom of choice and decision. We give you the space to make choices on your own and challenge yourself to make informed discoveries. It is practice that will make you better at navigating the choice-rich world of today.

What you find when you are in a classroom of people with that kind of freedom, is that the type of engagement is elevated to a level where learning skyrockets. No one is in that class because they have to be. Every single student is there because they chose to be. A regular classroom is transformed from passive absorption to active fascination. And that is an environment where discussions thrive and ideas emerge unimpeded.

Such freedom also allows for a more dynamic education. You have the ability to explore and pivot throughout your experience. The curriculum is not predetermined. Instead it adjusts with your strengths and gaps; and where you want to be in a year’s time, upon graduation, and in the future. Frontload courses to prepare for your internship in the first year. Then dive deeper to build on those career interests in the second year. Or redirect to delve into another side you’ve discovered along the way. Even as an alumnus, the curriculum continues with opportunities to come back and build on your growing expertise.

Because of how you can craft your education to exactly your purposes at Booth, the return on your time and investment is unrivaled. It essentially maximizes every moment of your MBA. You don’t have to retake classes or revisit content you already know. Every minute is applied to new wisdom and to building on your existing academic and professional background.

So when asked, what is the real impact of Booth’s curriculum? I hope now your mind will automatically broaden the scope beyond flexibility, to a better understanding of why academic freedom allows you to take full advantage of your time and to truly get the most out of your MBA experience.