2021 Curriculum Benchmarking Survey Results - Summary Report

Graduate Business Schools Deliver A Diversity Of Content And Student Experiences In A Diversity Of Ways
The MBA Roundtable, a global association of business schools whose mission is to advance graduate management education through curricular and co-curricular innovation, today released a new report, The Graduate Business School Curriculum.  More than 300 graduate business programs from 104 business schools shared details of their graduate business school curriculum across 48 areas of study and provided insight into the student’s experience.
The graduate business schools responding to the biennial survey serve more than 80,000 students with 809 graduate business degree programs. The students are instructed by 6,736 FTE faculty. Most of the business schools in this year’s survey are in the United States (n = 96). Schools in the United States are relatively equally distributed between 5 US Census regions, including the Northeast, South Atlantic, South Central (East & West), Midwest, and West.  Furthermore, a majority (62%) of schools are public institutions and 38 percent are private, non-profit institutions. 
A plurality of graduate business school undergoes major curriculum changes in what appears to be ten-year cycle (44%). About a third (35%) undertake major changes in five-year cycles. The apparent focus of the 53 percent of programs that underwent major changes in the past five years was on the core curriculum, specifically analytics, management, and leadership. The expected changes in the next five years among the 61 percent that are planning curriculum updates appear to focus on both the core and elective curriculum with a continued emphasis on analytics. 
The curriculum decision makers at the business schools tend to be some combination of faculty committees (54% of schools), academic directors (47%), deans (40%), and curricular chairs (26%). Most business school programs obtain input from students (77%) and employers (81%), but they are not at the decision-making table. 
MBA and Master’s in management programs offer a greater breadth of study compared with specialized business master’s degree programs, such as finance, accounting, and analytics. The top 3 areas of study for all MBA program types are marketing, finance, and strategy. Other areas of study in the top 10 common to all MBA program types are accounting (both finance and management), micro-economics, and organizational behavior. Negotiations is unique to the top ten list for executive MBA programs. Master’s in management programs share 8 of the top ten areas of study with MBA programs. Career management and ethics are the two exceptions, which are included in the Master’s in management programs top ten list. 
Overall, 69 percent of the graduate business school curriculum is required, and 31 percent is elective, on average. The core curriculum is a much greater share of executive MBA (93%) and Master’s in management (87%) programs compared with other programs, such as full-time MBA (59%) and master’s of finance (66%) programs. The average class size for a core course at a graduate business program is 34 students and ranges from 29 students in a Master’s in accounting core course to 44 in a full-time MBA core course, on average.  
Most programs require a capstone course or project to complete the program (68%). A majority of full-time MBA, executive MBA, master in management, and master of business analytics require students to engage in experiential
learning or action-based learning opportunities. Notably, 93 percent of executive MBA programs require international experience compared with full-time MBA (31%) programs, which is more than other programs. 
Overall, 16 percent of graduate business programs require a concentration or specialization. Another 40 percent of programs offer an opportunity to specialize, but do not require it. Graduate business programs offer 5 specializations, on average. While finance and marketing are the top two concentrations across the US Census regions, the third most common specialization offered in the Northeast and Midwest is business analytics. Entrepreneurship is the third most common specialization in the other US regions. 
Overall, 35 percent of the graduate business programs in the United States have STEM designation for the program or concentrations. Master’s of business analytics (96%), Master’s of finance (63%), and full-time MBA (51%) programs are more likely to have STEM designation compared with other programs. 
“Our bi-annual curriculum survey is one of our most in-demand surveys from our members.  As innovation in graduate management curriculum design becomes more important every year, we hope these results help our member schools as well as the GME industry as a whole continue to drive critical and relevant changes to their programs.” Jeff Bieganek, Executive Director, MBA Roundtable.

To download the summary report, click here.

About the MBA Roundtable:
The MBA Roundtable is a collaborative, nonprofit organization that facilitates the exchange of information and resources on graduate management education curricular innovation. More than 120 business schools from across the world are members of the MBA Roundtable, which was founded in 1995.  For more information, visit www.mbaroundtable.org.