MBA courses and curriculum

MBA courses and curriculum

The MBA curriculum is typically divided into two parts:

Core MBA courses cover the foundations of general management. Core courses typical of MBA programs include:

  • Accounting
  • Business Communication
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Strategy
  • Data Analytics
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Elective MBA courses give you the opportunity to select courses that best match your individual career goals. You usually study the core MBA syllabus before choosing electives in the second half of the program.


There are a wide variety of elective courses covering anything from HR management, nonprofit management, entrepreneurship, sustainability and CSR, to cutting-edge topics like artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Most MBA courses are taught using the case study method, made famous by Harvard Business School, which sees students analyze case studies of business successes or failures before discussing them in class.

You learn the business theory during an MBA before applying your learnings in group project work or even real-world consulting projects. Outside class, you can immerse yourself in all aspects of business school life: MBA clubs, extracurriculars, networking events, conferences, competitions, company visits, and exciting international immersions.

What’s it like being an MBA student? “The irony of the MBA is that it’s usually pursued in an effort to stand out, but during the experience your interaction with so many interesting, driven, and stimulating people is both humbling and inspiring,” says Pascal Michels, former MBA student and MBA admissions director at IESE Business School, now a director and consultant at MBA admissions consulting firm Menlo Coaching.

“Beyond the academics, an MBA is really about the people you meet; the friendships forged in heated classroom discussions and late-night team meetings—that’s what triggers much of the personal growth.”

MBA jobs: What can you do with an MBA?

What can you do with an MBA degree? Pretty much anything you set your mind to. An MBA prepares you for jobs in a variety of industries and roles. Typical MBA jobs include:


  • Finance Manager
  • Financial Advisor
  • HR Manager
  • Investment Banker
  • IT Manager
  • Management Analyst
  • Management Consultant
  • Marketing Manager
  • Operations Manager

Employers love hiring MBA graduates and many recruit on campus. According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey, 91 percent of global employers plan to hire MBAs in 2021 despite the impact of COVID-19.


Increasingly, MBA graduates can be found in industries ranging from healthcare to nonprofits working for both multinationals and startups, and many start businesses of their own. In 2020, 18 percent of Stanford Graduate School of Business graduates dedicated themselves to entrepreneurship and launched their own ventures.

Companies that hire the most MBAs include the Big Three management consulting firms, Bain, BCG, and McKinsey; Big Tech firms like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft; and accounting firms like Accenture, Deloitte, and EY.

Several years after graduation, MBAs progress to senior, executive-level jobs. Many Fortune 500 CEOs—including the CEOs of Apple, JP Morgan, Microsoft, and Walmart—have MBAs.

“When we hire an MBA grad, the global perspective and diversity of experiences they have allows them to plug right into Bain, and any of our capability areas, and start helping our clients succeed in their industries,” says Keith Bevans, global head of consultant recruiting at Bain & Company.

MBA salary: What can you earn?

Getting an MBA degree will boost your salary prospects. MBA students from top-ranked business schools in the United States can expect to earn starting salaries of between US$120k and US$160k on average after graduation, as well as lucrative signing and performance bonuses.

Three years after graduation, MBA salaries can increase by well over 100 percent. Across the top 10 MBA programs ranked by the Financial Times in 2021, students increased their salaries by more than 118 percent on average three years after their MBA.