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Our Integrated Core Curriculum

Our integrated core curriculum is unique in how it ties together the pieces of a business school education into a meaningful whole. Built around a series of stakeholder perspectives, courses traverse traditional business functions to explore the distinct points of view of multiple stakeholders across private and public realms. Core courses include: Customer, Competitor, Innovator, Workforce, Investor, and State & Society. 

The core curriculum is carefully planned to cover all the business fundamentals, while expanding your understanding of the whole organization, eventually building to complex decisions at an organizational level. The core is followed by a set of advanced management courses and courses in your chosen area of focus. In addition, you have the opportunity to complete a self-directed project supervised by a Yale professor, making the program uniquely valuable to you and your organization.

A graphic showing the curriculum over two years

Year 1: Core

The series of first-year courses are carefully planned to build your understanding of the whole organization, eventually building to big questions of business’s impact on society. Orientation to Management gives you the tools and the frameworks that you’ll need for the remainder of your MBA career. In the Organizational Perspectives courses, you’ll learn to rigorously apply those tools and draw on a variety of disciplines to illuminate the perspectives of various stakeholders.

Year 2: Focus Area

The challenges faced by global and ambitious organizations exceed the abilities of any individual. In Year 2, you will take a set of courses within your focus area and engage in a series of leadership development courses. The Advanced Management courses will come together in The Executive, which teaches you to take a CEO’s view of the entire organization and tackle major challenges.

Orientation To Management

Basics of Accounting

The objective of this course is to help students acquire an extremely useful understanding of accounting basics. Accounting systems provide important financial information for all types of organizations across the globe. Despite their many differences, all accounting systems are built on a common foundation. Economic concepts, such as assets, liabilities, and income, are used to organize information into a fairly standard set of financial statements. Bookkeeping mechanics compile financial information with the double-entry system of debits and credits. Accounting conventions help guide the application of the concepts through the mechanics. This course provides these fundamentals of accounting and more. It looks at how US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) report transactions and events. The methodology will always be the same: understand the underlying economics of the transaction, and then understand GAAP. A key goal of the course is to have students develop the ability to infer the economic events and transactions that underlie corporate financial reports. The institutional context within which financial reports are produced and used also plays a vital role in extracting and interpreting the information in those reports. The cases students study is invariably embedded in some context, and students will explore important elements of this context as they arise.

Basics of Economics (Game Theory)

This course concentrates on the role of market processes in determining the opportunities facing individuals and business firms, the policy issues facing public officials, and the patterns of resource allocation in the economic system. It is intended to be accessible to students with little or no prior exposure to economics but also to provide new, more managerial material for students with more background. The aim of the course is to provide you with analytical tools to help you tackle economic problems. Economic problems arise whenever agents must make economic trade-offs or engage in trade. Thus, the techniques, concepts, and results that students will develop in this course will prove useful later in the first-year curriculum as well as in a wide range of courses in finances, accounting, marketing, operations, public policy, and competitive strategy. While students will cover a range of topics in microeconomics, the emphasis throughout the course will be on learning how to approach and tackle economic problems—a skill that will be useful to students in making managerial decisions.

Managing Groups and Teams

This is a short course on the theory and practice of leading, managing, and functioning in task-performing groups and teams. It has two primary goals: first, to provide students with a conceptual framework for analyzing group dynamics, diagnosing performance problems, and designing appropriate interventions, and second, to help students develop practical skills for building effective groups and teams. Both of these objectives are important to students’ effectiveness in study groups at SOM and in organizational teams they will join or lead after graduation. The design of the course is based on the belief that conceptual understanding of the principles of team effectiveness is of little use without a more direct experiential understanding of group dynamics (or process) and the behavioral skills required to implement this knowledge.

Probability Modeling and Statistics

The ability to understand and apply probability concepts and statistical methods is fundamental to management education. This course introduces you to these subjects in two parts. The first group of sessions introduces probability modeling and simulation. The second group of sessions cover statistical estimation, hypothesis testing, and regression, and uses STATA—a data analysis and statistics program. Applications of these methods will surface in your perspectives and courses at SOM and will prove useful for decision-making applications in financial analysis, marketing, operations management, policy modeling, strategy, and other areas. Overall, the concepts covered in this course include probability, simulation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and applied regression modeling.

Core Courses: Organizational Perspectives

The Competitor

This course enables students to be better managers by equipping them to (1) identify key players in the environment both from a competitive and a cooperative perspective, (2) identify the objectives and constraints of those players given the environment in which a manager’s own organization and competing organizations are embedded, (3) anticipate the likely actions that competitors will take given their objectives and constraints, and (4) recognize and deal with the feedback between their own actions and the actions of other agents. The course explicitly recognizes that relevant players in the environment include government and nonprofit organizations as well as corporations and that these players act both cooperatively and competitively. Thus an important premise of this course is that the environment within which organizations compete is multi-layered, encompassing not only the market but political, cultural, and legal dimensions. Finally, the course explicitly draws attention to the fact that the objectives and constraints arise not only from the external forces of the environment but from the internal features of the organization. The course draws from the disciplines of economics, marketing, organizational behavior, and politics.

The Customer

Take the viewpoint that the best way to create and keep a customer is to develop a deep understanding of customer behavior, integrate that understanding across the organization, and align the organizational structure to both satisfy current customer needs and adapt to changes in customer needs better than competitors. To be truly customer-focused and market-driven, a company (profit or nonprofit) should develop the capability to sense and respond to the changing needs of customers in the market. An important element of the course is the idea that customer focus must extend to the entire organization across all its major functions for it to be successful. The course consists of two main modules: (1) Understanding Customers and Creating a Superior Value Proposition and (2) Creating and Maintaining a Customer-Aligned Organization. The first module focuses on understanding customer needs in consumer and industrial markets from a multidisciplinary perspective (economics, psychology, and sociology) to create a superior value proposition; the second highlights how creating a customer-aligned organization requires functional perspectives that span marketing, operations, accounting, finance, and human resource management.

The Executive

Merge perspectives in a series of interdisciplinary cases structured to describe challenges faced by leaders of organizations of differing size, scope, and sector. This course asks students to bring together skills learned throughout the core curriculum by working through a series of cases about organizations of different scales. All of the cases involve current situations, and much of the class material is “raw,” consisting of financial filings, data sets, news reports, company material, and other primary source data. The course is organized into four parts. The first part focuses on organizations that are just beginning. Students examine how ideas are generated from existing holes in the market and how leaders think about positioning and developing their organizations to fill those holes. The second phase focuses on the leadership challenges associated with organizations in transition. Students examine how organizations handle the challenges of raising new capital, finding new partners, expanding geographically, and growing through acquisition. The third phase focuses on mature organizations and also gives students the opportunity to step back from the cases and think about the broader ways in which leadership styles and organizational challenges connect. The course concludes with high-level, modern management challenges bridging the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The Global Macroeconomy

This course develops a framework for understanding the causes and consequences of macroeconomic events in real-time, a useful input to the management of any enterprise, local or global, profit or non-profit. We begin by defining basic national accounting identities and using these identities to compare countries’ economic structure and performance over time. We then consider models in which the choices of private and public agents interact to produce aggregate outcomes in response to policy or economic shocks. In developing and using these models, we will rely on numerous historical and contemporary examples, paying particular attention to current events.

Global Virtual Teams (GVT)

The performance of virtually every modern organization depends on the effectiveness of   groups and teams within it. Hence, those who lead and manage organizations need to be  able to design high-performing teams and create the conditions that enable them to   produce creative or innovative solutions to problems, make good decisions, and deliver  high-quality products, services, or experiences—all in a timely, efficient, and sustainable  fashion. Moreover, the organizational context and design of the teams must also enhance  the capabilities of the team and its members for future assignments. This course has two basic objectives: to introduce student to the core knowledge that will help them to effectively lead, manage, and function in task-performing groups and teams. These include conceptual frameworks for understanding group dynamics, diagnosing performance problems, and designing appropriate interventions. Second, to help  students develop the practical skills needed to apply the conceptual frameworks in their own teams and organizations. An intellectual understanding of theories of team effectiveness is of little use without a visceral understanding of group dynamics and the skills necessary to put these ideas into action. A manager’s knowledge of principles of groups and teams must be paired with opportunities to apply these concepts concretely the practical experience of “doing.” 

The Innovator

This course uses the Innovator’s Perspective to study issues of idea generation, idea evaluation and development, creative projects, and fostering and sustaining innovation in organizations. Students are exposed both to the ways of thinking of innovators and to the promises and perils of interacting with and managing innovators. Students generate ideas in a number of contexts and evaluate ideas that they and others have generated in terms of customer adoption (the market) and feasibility. They analyze innovation in a set of companies across sectors. Students also engage in a role-playing exercise to get a sense of how the innovator’s perspective interacts with a managerial perspective. Ultimately, this course seeks to provide students with a deeper understanding of the barriers to and dynamics of innovation so that, regardless of the profession they embark on, they can become a more effective conduit for the innovation that all organizations require to survive.

The Investor

Investment Management is a broad, half-semester, course that covers the financial basics from the point of view of the investor, whether individual or institutional, taxable or non-taxable, domestic or global. Topics include valuation, returns, asset allocation, stocks, and bonds. You will need a working knowledge of accounting, economics, statistics, and spreadsheets.

Modeling Managerial Decisions

Students will learn how to approach, analyze and solve complex problems in a structured way. Specifically, students will learn to: i) View problems through multiple lenses and think across disciplines to clarify and define problems. ii) Extract important information from a complex situation. iii) Develop the ability to model these problems in a quantitative manner using tools in Excel. iv) Learn linear programming optimization techniques for problems with multiple decisions and constraints. v) Find out how to examine assumptions and biases that often distort decisions and understand risk in uncertain decision-making environments. vi) Learn how to use decision trees to inform the analysis of situations with uncertainty.

The course will survey a variety of management decision problems arising from finance, marketing, microeconomics, and operations. A particular emphasis will be placed on examples involving setting up financial models of discounted cash flows.

Negotiation

The course objective is to learn a conceptual framework for analyzing and shaping negotiation processes and outcomes. Negotiation can be broken down into two basic activities: creating value and capturing value. Creating value is about making the pie bigger while capturing value is about getting the largest possible slice for yourself. The course presents strategies for achieving negotiation strategies and skills. There are several opportunities to negotiate with classmates in a simulated environment.

Operations Engine

Operations Management is the systematic design and control of the processes that transform inputs into finished goods and services. Through operations, managers implement and execute a strategy. Managing these processes can be very complex, and it is a big challenge to design the steps that ensure timely and cost-effective delivery of products. Although efficiency is the focus of many operational decisions, as we demonstrate in this course, well-designed operations create strategic value that leads to competitive advantage. To achieve this, a fundamental understanding of the scientific principles of Operations Management is important; these principles will enable managers to make informed decisions. At the completion of this course, each student should be able to: (a) Understand how to measure process performances and evaluate improvement options; (b) Identify the key trade-offs in making operational decisions; (c) Construct simple quantitative models that help bring managerial insights; (d) Make informed decisions by applying the quantitative methods introduced in the course

Power and Politics

Organizations are fundamentally political entities, and power and influence are keys to getting things done. This course is designed for individuals interested in learning more about the art and science of influence in organizations. For aspiring leaders, it is important to be able to diagnose organizational politics in order to form and implement new strategies. An astute leader knows how to navigate critical conversations, anticipate moves that others will make, block or avoid others’ actions when they have undesirable consequences, and help those whose actions have beneficial outcomes. After taking this course, you will be able to:

(1) Diagnose the true distribution of power in organizations.

(2) Implement skills that build cooperative networks, influence others, and expand your sources of power.

(3) Understand your unique leadership strengths and points of improvement.

(4) Contend with the fundamental ethical challenges of leadership. The knowledge and skills you build in this course will be invaluable throughout your career.

Sourcing and Managing Funds

This course considers groups within the firm tasked to raise money from different sources as well as manage different aspects of those funds within the organization. Many of these functions are concentrated within the office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), split between the Treasurer and the Controller. But many other functions are spread across the organization, principally in the hands of strategy groups and product managers. Topics include capital structure decisions (e.g., equity funding and debt funding); capital budgeting (e.g., cash flow analysis and incorporating risk and taxes); the planning process; inputs for decision making; performance evaluation; transfer pricing; and corporate risk management.

State and Society

This course explores the complex two-way interactions of firms and a broad range of “nonmarket” actors in a variety of settings. Successful corporate strategy aligns the firm’s capabilities with the demands of both its market and nonmarket environment. Participants learn how to analyze and proactively manage the nonmarket environment through integrated market- and nonmarket strategies. Not only is effective nonmarket management conducive to business success (“doing well”), it also provides a solid foundation for deliberately enhancing the firm’s social and environmental contribution (“doing good”).

The course is deliberately global in focus. There are significant differences across countries when it comes to the nonmarket environment, both in terms of the formal rules and laws governing competition and when it comes to expectations regarding the role and business in society. Successful managers must develop sensitivity to these differences. Successful leaders go even further and understand how to turn an understanding of social and political dynamics across countries into a source of competitive advantage. Our cases cover a number of jurisdictions and several sessions will deliberately examine cross-national dynamics.

The Workforce

This course is about the strategic management of a workforce. On a daily basis, employees are confronted with opportunities to take (or not take) actions that support an organization’s goals and objectives. The focus of this course is on crafting and managing employment relationships in order to maximally align employees’ aspirations and capabilities with the organization’s needs. This includes an in‐depth analysis of specific policies surrounding human resource management (hiring, performance management, compensation, and retention) but also how these policies interact with each other, with the general business strategy environment, and with organizational change.  

A wise firm fosters an environment where workers choose to make the “right” choices, simply by following the incentives put before them.  

Advanced Management Courses

Advanced Negotiations

This course follows the first-year “Core Negotiations” course, both of which  help students better negotiate with investors, clients, bosses, and perhaps most formidable of all, friends and family. Through practice cases, students will obtain a set of tools (e.g., how to discover and execute efficient trade-offs) to improve the ways in which they create and claim value.  

Business Ethics

Business is an activity in which parties exchange goods or services for valuable consideration. This course examines the ethical dimensions of such activities. We will give little focus to empirical questions (such as, “Does ethical business pay?”) or descriptive questions (such as, “Why do people engage in unethical behavior?”). Rather, most of the focus will be on learning tools for reasoning about what is ethical and unethical in business. Questions addressed include “In whose interests should firms be managed?”, “What rules guide firms’ engagement with customers?”, and “Should firms try to solve social problems?” We will discover the tools we use for reasoning about right and wrong through discussion and debate about the readings.

Competitive Strategy

In this course, we will develop a broad approach for evaluating the prospects for firm profits. We will look at many firms across a broad range of markets. We will spend some time on managerial and behavioral issues and/or institutional details – but keep in mind that the more granular we get, the more the information applies only in restrictive scenarios. We will derive the principles we apply mainly from microeconomic theory. As such, potential answers to questions posed in class will be subjected to the rigor of economic analysis to test their validity and applicability.

It is important to recognize upfront that this class cannot be as perfectly organized as the outline suggests. This is not accounting or statistics that begin with core, universally accepted principles, and then build to harder problems and applications.  Instead, strategy is “messy” throughout, and we will be applying new tools and concepts to answer questions that arise throughout the course.  A clean linear approach would deliver the false promise that this material works like a tool.  This material is a lens that improves your analytical reasoning skills – you will be able to describe business situations in a more comprehensive, logical, and structured way.  However, in strategy, there is no equivalent of the option pricing formula.  Strategic analysis is ambiguous, and to present it any other way is disingenuous.

Corporate Finance

This course focuses on financial decision-making from the perspective of inside the corporation or operating entity. Using both lectures and cases, the class provides a framework for applying corporate financial theory to applications that involve capital budgeting, valuation, capital structure, raising capital, mergers, and financial restructuring. The course focus then shifts to outside of the corporation to explore issues related to corporate governance and compensation.

The course builds on the basic tools and theory from Sourcing and Managing Funds and extends them to address more complex (and practical) issues in valuation, capital structure, and financial transactions.

Managerial Controls

Building on the concepts and material from several core courses, Managerial Controls focuses on the use of internal accounting information for planning, controlling, and evaluating firms' operational decisions and personnel. The course integrates accounting with ideas from microeconomics, data analysis, decision analysis, finance, operations management, and organizational behavior.

The vocabulary and skills developed in the course are essential for managers (or their consultants) seeking to better understand organizations' internal operations. During the course, students will learn to identify and synthesize relevant information from internal accounting systems to make decisions and evaluate performance. These skills are valuable and applicable in many settings, including consulting, finance, marketing, operations, and strategy.

Leadership Development Practicum

This course is designed for students committed to actively and intentionally engaging in leadership development. The goal is to increase your capacity to lead others through the practical, hands-on application of leadership concepts both inside and outside of the classroom. 

The course has two parts. In part one, students will learn foundational concepts that facilitate leadership development for themselves and others. These include creating an environment that supports development, giving and receiving feedback for goal setting, using coaching as an action-oriented approach to achieving goals, and exploring effective and innovative ways to overcome barriers to growth and development. Part two will focus on building specific leadership capacities to further deepen your ability to lead. Topics include resilient leadership, communication, and conflict competence. Additionally, students will partner with a peer and professional coach to build on in-class learning and work toward achieving leadership development goals.

Electives

Big Data and Customer Analytics

In the age of Big Data, companies have access to data about markets, products, customers, and much more. When deciding on strategic issues such as pricing, advertising or targeting these data can be very valuable to companies if used correctly. This course will provide you with the tools and methods that will allow you to leverage such a rich data to help shape a marketing strategy from a quantitative perspective. While students will employ quantitative methods in the course, the goal is not to produce experts in statistics; rather, students will gain the competency to interact with and manage a data scientist team. In other words, we aim to develop working knowledge of data analysis, which is necessary for managers & executives in the age of Big Data. The course uses a combination of lectures, cases, and some data analytic exercises to learn the material.

Designing & Leading Organizations

Organizations aggregate individual efforts towards a goal. Organizations may take multiple shapes and forms to coordinate and motivate individuals. In this course, we overview the major forms in which organizations are designed. Besides analyzing the classic forms of organization design, this course puts an emphasis on novel opportunities and challenges that have emerged due to recent processes such as globalization, network economies, the Internet, big data, or crowdsourcing. The class will be highly interactive, with case discussions and in-class debates.

Game Theory

This course builds on the mini-course of game theory taught in the core. The goal is to further enhance our ability to think strategically and use game theory to analyze real-life business situations. In the first part of the course, we will briefly review and further develop the basic concepts such as Nash equilibrium and backward induction, and then introduce new concepts to study repeated games and cooperation, games with asymmetric information (including information disclosure, reputation, social learning and herding, etc.), and games with boundedly rational players. In the second part of the course, we will apply game theory to study market design such as matching systems, auctions, and online platforms. Class sessions will be a combination of lectures, in-class games, and case studies.

Informed Business Decisions: Tax and Financial Perspective

The aim is to improve decision making by considering relevant concepts and rules from two areas: taxation and financial reporting. The first half is focuses on firms' operations from the perspective of taxes and business strategy. This part is designed to give you the tools to identify, understand, and evaluate tax issues related to firm operations and tax planning opportunities. The second half focuses on financial reporting. The emphasis is less on rules, more on concepts and building a framework.  The discussion for each topic will begin with the financial economics that influence decisions, then describe the reporting rules, and conclude with ways to read financial reports to infer the underlying events.

Leading Small and Medium Enterprises

This course provides students with an opportunity to explore being a CEO, owner, and/or entrepreneur of an emerging small or medium enterprise.  The course will examine operational, organizational and financial issues that are prevalent in developing small and medium businesses.  Cases will examine startups, acquired companies, family businesses and sponsored businesses (private equity owned).  Not-for-profits will also be considered.  The course will focus on the developing and adolescent stages of the business– beyond start up and prior to maturity or exit.  The size of the businesses will roughly be $2m to $100m in annual revenue.  Students will discover that organizations of this size can be resource constrained, lack infrastructure and will require innovative and creative solutions and strategies to grow and create value. The general nature of the course will give students a complete view of the enterprise and an understanding of what choices can be made to grow the enterprise, improve the enterprise, finance the business and create value.  The course will generally consist of three modules: The first will focus on leaders fixing and repairing troubled enterprises. The second will center on growing and developing the business.  The final module will explore the leader and CEO’s role in the business and the leader’s development and style.

Legal Context of Management

This course will enhance the legal competency of EMBA students through a survey of critical legal and regulatory issues affecting organizations. The course aims to sharpen legal instincts and to provide students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to ascertain and avoid legal risks, identify competitive opportunities, and contribute to long-term organizational performance. Over the course of the semester, we will study the basic legal framework applicable to several significant subject matters and apply what we learn to real-world cases. No prior legal training will be assumed and an effort will be made to include legal subject matters beyond those covered in other parts of the management curriculum.

This list represents current and planned program content. Exact course lineup and/or titles may change.