With so many MBAs out there, finding one that’s right for you can be difficult. Now, Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business is giving its MBA students the opportunity to actively design their MBA around their career goals, while providing curriculum and experiential opportunities that maximise their growth in the program.
This is just one part of a revamped MBA program that has been launched this year. A committee of faculty and staff spent almost 18 months redesigning the Fisher MBA, and collected input from students, alumni, recruiters, and executives so that the program could be designed with the needs of its graduates in mind.
“We started the redesign by asking the question, ‘What does an MBA graduate need to be successful?’” say Keely Croxton and Roger Bailey (pictured right), co-directors of the full-time MBA program at Fisher.
“Once we understood the answer, we set out to design the best program we could, that provided the knowledge and skills students need to do well on the job market and then to continue to be successful throughout their career.”
Fisher's new program focuses on three primary differentiators—offering more experiential opportunities, providing a personalized experience, and better integrating the curriculum so that students understand how the dots are connected between business concepts.
An MBA designed around you
A key part of the new MBA redesign is the ability for students to customize their course around their own career goals—and they do this with a unique coaching program.
Each student on the MBA at Fisher College of Business is provided with a coaching team made up of an academic advisor, a careers consultant, professional development coach, and a mentor. Roger and Keely hope that this will give students the chance to develop their own career goals.
“Students can then customize their curriculum to assure that they gain functional expertise and business acumen, while also allowing them to take advantage of the extensive course offerings across the Ohio State University campus.”
Students are able to choose a ‘pathway’ for their MBA studies, specializing in the area of business that is most useful for their future careers. Optional pathways include a variety of areas including sports management, international business, and consulting.
“We want to make sure our students are guided to coursework that relates to their interests, deepens their knowledge-base, and broadens their perspective,” say Keely and Roger.
A new focus on soft skills
Another area which Fisher has placed focus on is the development of students’ soft skills on the program—an area which the Financial Times found is lacking in MBA grads.
In particular, employers have found that most MBA graduates find it difficult to apply their learning to real-world, especially when case studies largely focus on large-scale companies.
And Fisher has incorporated this need straight into the new MBA program—“If this is what employers were looking for, this is what we wanted to deliver,” Keely and Roger avow.
For example, there are opportunities throughout the MBA for students to solve real-life problems with local companies in Columbus and central Ohio. “Add this to our existing global project opportunities, and our students will have a true portfolio of experiences that will both hone their skills and help build their resume,” Keely and Roger add.
They’ve also focused attention on key soft skills that are useful for any business career, including problem-solving, leadership, and accountability. To introduce these skills into the courses, Fisher College of Business has improved the integration of their curriculum.
“To advance your career in business, you need to think cross-functionally and understand how the pieces of the enterprise fit together.
“This will be accomplished in the core courses through weekly class meetings that are co-taught by faculty from different disciplines, who will emphasize connections between functional concepts.”
Fisher’s unique location in central Ohio—an area that’s home to the largest per capita concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the US—only enhances the innovations on the program.
“We are leveraging our small program size and corporate connections in central Ohio and overseas in ways that other MBA programs can’t,” Roger and Keely explain.
And the redesign is already receiving positive feedback within the student community. “As we talk to current and potential students about the redesign, the two things that seem to get them most excited are the coaching process and all the experiential opportunities in the program.
“Our program had been tweaked over the years, but had not been overhauled in a long time—we wanted to offer something that would get both students and recruiters excited.”