While different programs offer different variations of electives that allow you to specialize, the core MBA syllabus remains the same.
MBA programs cover subjects including marketing, finance, accounting, and human resources (HR), helping you develop a strong business acumen.
If you’re enrolled in a two-year MBA, you’ll likely spend your first year covering core modules before moving into an elective period, while an accelerated one-year MBA will cover this over half of the year.
Here’s a breakdown of the core MBA syllabus.
MBA Finance Syllabus
The finance portion of the MBA syllabus gives you an introduction to financial theories and analysis.
You’ll learn useful information detailing the everyday financial operations of a business. This includes asset valuation, investment risk dynamics, and capital budgeting. You’ll also become capable of reading a company’s profit and loss statement (P&L).
An MBA finance syllabus will also give you the ability to look at issues in a wider financial context. You’ll learn about capital markets and funding sources, as well as develop an understanding of the key financial concepts and terms used in everyday business management.
“This knowledge equips managers with the same language of their peers and helps them understand their views and challenges,” says Sofia Ramos, academic director of the ESSEC Business School MBA.
MBA HR Syllabus
MBA HR subjects—often referred to under the term organizational behavior—teach you to maximize the potential of a company’s most valuable asset: its people.
Classes teach you how to direct, manage, and motivate employees, while also supporting their skill and leadership development. This is done using social science tools, including reward system design, negotiation, and team building.
The MBA HR syllabus will develop your understanding of how to best lead an organization using academic theories and practical tools. It’ll also prime you to successfully execute strategic changes across a business while at the same time getting the most out of a company’s human capital.
MBA Marketing Syllabus
As one of your core, first-year MBA subjects, the marketing syllabus helps you identify and resolve marketing problems across a range of different organization types.
Lessons teach you how to lead marketing strategies while incorporating various issues into your decision making. This includes external factors like marketplace analysis and the marketing environment, and internal elements such as the Four P’s of Marketing—product, price, place, and promotion.
With a focus on influencing consumer decisions, by the end of the MBA marketing syllabus you’ll be able to align a marketing strategy with a business’s overall strategic goals.
MBA Operations Management Syllabus
Another core course that teaches you to make key business decisions, your MBA operations management syllabus will prepare you to run the daily operations and processes of a business.
This includes management of areas such as quality, capacity, and supply chain and logistics. You’ll learn how to maximize a company’s resources across each business unit to gain a competitive advantage, using theories, strategies, skills, and practical tools.
“It’s key that managers grasp the decision-making in different areas of the firm,” says Sofia, “and more importantly, what their role and contribution to firm performance is.”
MBA Strategy Syllabus
The core MBA syllabus also includes a focus on strategy, where you’re taught how to effectively take decisions based on an organization’s resources and objectives, while directing it towards its goals. Becoming a strategy expert can be a good way to launch a career in consulting.
Classes teach the fundamentals involved in a strategic plan, including the economics of an industry, a company’s strategic placement in relation to its competitors, and the capabilities of its resources.
By the end of the MBA strategy syllabus, you’ll know how to evaluate the strategy of a business, and how to formulate your own to gain a competitive market advantage.
MBA IT Syllabus
A section of the MBA syllabus which grows ever more important each year, Information Technology (IT) covers the various technologies organizations use in daily operations. Tech companies are also hiring more MBAs, so tech skills are becoming a vital part of an MBA grad's acumen.
Lessons teach you things like product and change management, as well as product innovation. You’re given an understanding of how technology can be managed to lead business decisions and gain an advantage over competitors.
The MBA IT syllabus also touches on data analytics, something future business managers need to be able to grasp.
Taken as a whole, the core MBA syllabus provides you with a holistic view of a business, giving you the fundamental knowledge to progress through the remainder of an MBA program.
“The core curriculum provides a foundation to understand how organizations work and to manage within them,” explains Xavier Duran, director of the MBA program at University of Manchester Alliance Business School.
“It provides a general view of business, upon which students build as they customize and specialize their MBA journeys through electives.”
Your general business understanding also means that, whichever industry you choose to work in after graduation, you’re equipped with the skills and the knowledge to hit the ground running.