Yale School of Management

Yale SOM’s Foundational Courses Offer Business Skills and Theory to Students Across Yale

In 2013, Rick Antle, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Accounting, began teaching a new kind of course at the Yale School of Management—one for Yale College students, not for MBA or MAM candidates. The course, Foundations of Accounting and Valuation, was the first of SOM’s Foundational Courses, a set of classes on fundamental business disciplines and theory developed exclusively for non-SOM students at Yale.

The course was part of a broader effort by Yale SOM Dean Ted Snyder and his leadership team to make the school a hub for talent from across Yale. “The Foundational Courses represent SOM’s commitment to share its expertise with students across Yale in a way that complements their home programs and fits with Yale’s overall culture and educational philosophy,” Antle says.

The course immediately found an audience among undergraduates, Antle says. “They were preparing for internships and thinking about their futures, and more of them were realizing that accounting skills would be very useful,” he says.

In 2014, a second course, Introduction to Marketing, was added to the Foundational Courses roster, and in fall 2015, a third: Problem Framing, which teaches students how to make sense of complex situations and choose the tools to define and solve problems.

Antle’s accounting course is offered through Yale College, and is intentionally different from his courses created for masters students. “We design the Foundational Courses for students who are taking liberal arts, science, and humanities courses, not other business courses,” Antle says. “We make them accessible and meaningful, and strive to do so in a way that is synergistic with the students’ overall Yale experience. For example, in my course we discuss the role of accounting in society and in facilitating economic activity as well as the mechanics of how accounting works.”

Jason Brown YC ’16 took Foundations of Accounting and Valuation in fall 2014, and says it was an excellent complement to his undergraduate coursework. “I’m interested in a career in finance, and I wanted to gain some practical skills,” Brown says. “I had some interviews coming up, and I knew my accounting knowledge might be tested.”

Brown says that the course helped him secure an internship at Goldman Sachs this past summer. He appreciated that the course gave him a broad view of markets and finance. “We learned about bond pricing and interest rates, portfolio management, as well as accounting fundamentals. Professor Antle was great,” he says.

Everett Johnson YC ’15 took Antle’s course last spring before graduating and beginning a job in the investment banking division at UBS. “The class was an excellent experience,” Johnson says. “It truly instills the basic fundamental properties of both accounting and asset valuation by establishing an initial conceptual framework instead of just laying out the rules, so you build a strong basis for applying these concepts in practice.”

In addition to these Foundational Courses, SOM electives often include Yale students from outside the School of Management, adding a richness of perspectives to in-class discussions and group project work. Florian Ederer, assistant professor of economics at SOM, teaches two courses that reserve seats for students from Yale College: Behavioral Economics and Competitive Strategy.

The Foundational Courses represent SOM’s commitment to share its expertise with students across Yale in a way that complements their home programs and fits with Yale’s overall culture and educational philosophy.

“Yale College students who enroll typically are juniors or seniors with a strong foundation in economics and/or psychology who want to deepen their knowledge of economics,” Ederer says. “In particular, they often enjoy the application of abstract economic ideas to real-world business situations and current economic policy debates.” 

Jon Cleary ’16 says that the presence of students from Yale College and around the university enriched the discussion in a real estate elective course that he took last year.

“Having students with backgrounds in finance, architecture, development, and politics working on the same problem gives you the ability to break down issues and understand them in a way that’s only possible when you bring together people with different skills and expertise,” Cleary says. “It’s a dynamic that I feel truly distinguishes the classroom experience at SOM.”

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