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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.

Introduction to 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 both of these objectives at the same time. The course also helps students to develop a repertoire of negotiation strategies and skills. There are several opportunities to negotiate with classmates in a simulated environment.

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.

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.

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.

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

Core Courses: Organizational Perspectives

The Competitor

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

Takes 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 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.  

The Executive

Merges 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 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.

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

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 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.

Advanced Management Courses

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.

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.

Entrepreneurship & New Ventures

Entrepreneurship and New Ventures (ENV) is the introductory course in entrepreneurship. In this course, we will not only rigorously study and discuss the attitudes, frameworks, knowledge, and skills necessary to create a new venture but we will also apply these frameworks and become entrepreneurs. During this course, students will form teams around an idea for a new venture, and the main deliverable will be a pitch deck for this venture. Each week we will cover core concepts related to entrepreneurship, such as idea generation and evaluation, forming and testing key hypotheses, founding teams, customers, market research, financial projections, hiring and growth, and some of the general issues that new ventures face. The material in this course is designed to generalize to a variety of entrepreneurial ventures—it is not specific to region, industry, venture scalability, or profit/non-profit orientation.

Although a primary goal of ENV is to serve students interested in creating a new venture at some point in their career, ENV is designed to be beneficial to students with a variety of career intentions. Undoubtedly, many of you will work with entrepreneurs/startups in some capacity in your careers: as their customers, employees, funders, or suppliers; therefore, a knowledge of these frameworks and going through the process of creating a new venture will also be beneficial for these pursuits. More generally, this course will be helpful to those of you who want to be more entrepreneurial in your career, even if you are unsure if you will become an entrepreneur in the narrow sense.

Informed Business Decisions: Tax and Financial Perspective

Description forthcoming.

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.

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.

Leadership Development

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.

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