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Harvard Business School Faculty Votes for Enhancements to MBA Program

The Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty voted last week in favor of two changes to the MBA program, according to a letter sent yesterday to newly admitted MBA students from Dean Nitin Nohria and Senior Associate Dean Youngme Moon. The first is the creation of a new required experiential leadership course for first-year students, and the second is new flexibility in the elective curriculum.

The new course, called FIELD (Field Immersion Experience for Leadership Development), is designed to advance HBS’s mission of developing leaders who make a difference in the world by providing small-group learning experiences throughout the first year, Nohria and Moon wrote. Created and delivered by a faculty teaching group, the course will consist of three modules. “The first will center on leadership, the second on globalization (including a required global immersion experience during the RC January term), and the final will integrate learning across the year,” according to the deans’ letter.

HBS faculty also voted in favor of a second change that “modularizes” the HBS calendar to give faculty and students more flexibility and choice in how they mold their courses and build their schedules.

Officers of the HBS MBA Student Association met with Nohria and Moon about the changes to the MBA program and sent a memo to current MBA students providing greater detail about what’s ahead, PoetsandQuants reports.
“The faculty agreed that in order to present more opportunities to ECs, the current restriction of 20-30 class sessions in 80-minute time slots was prohibiting innovation,” the memo said of the decision to add flexibility to the HBS calendar. Under the faculty-approved changes, the new EC schedule will be modular in format, consisting of four half-terms of 14 sessions each, with some class slots extending to 120 minutes, the memo continued. Students can still elect to follow a traditional schedule, or they can arrange a 14-session term of case-study followed by a 14-session term of experiential learning, for example. “Not only does this open up creativity for professors, but it also gives students more control over the amount of time and effort they want to expend on certain topics,” read the memo.

The officers of the HBS Student Association called the changes “bold, new ideas to increase the value of our MBA education” in their memo. But the PandQ article questions whether the enhancements – the first major changes undertaken by Nohria since he took over last July – live up to the promise he made in an interview with the HBS Alumni Bulletin “to pursue bold, brave things that will set the course for the entire field of management education.” Many other schools already have both modular scheduling and experiential learning in place, PandQ notes.

“Nonetheless, this is Harvard–and everyone watches what the number one business school in the world does,” writes PandQ’s John Byrne. So now it’s time to wait and see.

Posted in: MBA News

Schools: Harvard Business School

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