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New UC Davis MBA curriculum to integrate globalization, ethics and sustainability

February 10, 2011

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management will strengthen its internationally ranked MBA program this fall with a new, innovative curriculum that further integrates globalization, responsible business ethics and sustainability.

The curriculum renewal — the most fundamental in the school’s history — is designed to better prepare graduates with the real-world practice, analytical and technical skills and leadership training needed to succeed in the business world of today and tomorrow.

The changes to core coursework, coupled with new advanced leadership and career-development programs, are the result of more than 10 months of work by faculty, alumni and business leaders. The revisions were overwhelmingly approved by the school’s faculty.

The new curriculum will begin this fall for entering students in both the Daytime MBA program at the Davis campus and the Working Professional MBA programs at campuses in Sacramento and San Ramon.

“We’re building a bold business future for our students by developing one of the most innovative business school curricula in the world,” said Steven C. Currall, dean of the management school. “The enhancements reflect emerging trends in the business world and, at the same time, demonstrate our entrepreneurial drive to stay ahead of the curve in business education.

“These dramatic changes represent the marriage of an academic and practical approach to build a new framework informed by the business world’s needs,” Currall said. “The new curriculum is integrated with our tight-knit community culture that is the hallmark of the UC Davis MBA experience.”

AACSB International, the world’s premier business school accreditation body, has encouraged innovative curriculum changes for continuous improvement of MBA programs.

“Other leading schools such as Harvard, Wharton and UC Berkeley have also revamped their curricula," said Dan LeClair, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at AACSB International. “As exemplified by UC Davis, these exciting changes are motivated and guided by distinctive business school missions, contexts and competencies.”

Corporate offices become classrooms

The strengthened curriculum is anchored by a new, two-part capstone course: Integrated Management Project, Articulation and Critical Thinking (IMPACT). The course is designed to sharpen students’ writing, speaking and critical-thinking abilities and then put those collective business skills and knowledge to work on 20-week team projects for client companies.

“The corporate offices of multinational Fortune 500 firms and the ultra-fast-paced environments at Silicon Valley start-ups will become classrooms for our Daytime MBA students,” said James Stevens, assistant dean of student affairs.

“IMPACT will unleash teams of talented UC Davis MBA students — who have an average of five to seven years of high-level work experience — to tackle pressing business issues and develop innovative solutions for leading companies in the Sacramento-San Francisco Bay Area corridor.”

Stevens said the required consulting projects will give students more real-world experience while extending the school’s outreach and service to the business community.

In addition, there will be a stronger emphasis on oral and written communication, which is reflected in the Articulation and Critical Thinking course that all students will take during the first year of the program.

Currall emphasized that the team projects will be organized around industry sectors directly connected to UC Davis’ research strengths and location, including clean technology and energy; information technology; healthcare delivery; foods, nutrition and agribusiness; telemedicine; service sectors such as finance and consulting; and the intersection of human and animal medicine.

“No other business school in the world offers the breadth of opportunities for MBA students to work on compelling, hands-on projects for leading companies in the key sectors that intersect with UC Davis’ world-leading research and position as one of the nation’s top-10 public universities,” Currall said.

“I’m especially thrilled about UC Davis’ efforts to link with scientific research expertise across the campus,” said LeClair of AACSB.

In addition to the IMPACT course, the core curriculum will include a class called Managing for Operational Excellence, which will explore operations in manufacturing and service sectors from both inside and outside a company. Stevens said this course responds to corporate recruiters’ emphasis on candidates with exposure to global operations management.

The fundamentals of business, ranging from accounting and finance to marketing, organizational behavior and strategy, will remain the foundation of the UC Davis MBA core courses.

Also starting this fall, all entering UC Davis MBA students will complete an online math assessment. “This ensures that students with diverse, non-quantitative backgrounds will be well-prepared for success in all of our courses,” Stevens said.

Leadership and career accelerator

In tandem with the new curriculum, students will receive enhanced leadership and career development training that emphasizes self-evaluation to improve leadership skills and chart a career path.

The approach formalizes and expands the school’s Lam Research Leadership Skills Program, a series of workshops and seminars led by industry experts and patterned after similar programs for senior executives at the world’s top companies. The two-year skills and training program emphasizes responsible business practices and will provide professional coaching and feedback. Students also will receive a 360-degree peer leadership evaluation and prepare a personal leadership development plan.

“Coupled with the curriculum renewal, this more structured leadership and career development program will better prepare our students for immediate post-MBA success and position them for long-term achievement in their careers,” Stevens said.

View a video of Dean Currall and details of the new UC Davis MBA curriculum: http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu/IMPACT.

About the UC Davis Graduate School of Management

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management is consistently ranked among the premier business schools in the United States and internationally. The school has nearly 600 MBA students enrolled in Daytime MBA and Working Professional MBA programs on the UC Davis campus, in Sacramento and in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 15 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Davis among the top 10 percent of MBA programs in the nation. The Economist’s latest survey ranks the school’s faculty quality No. 3 in the world. For more information, visit http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Media contact(s):

  • Tim Akin, Graduate School of Management, (916) 402-9270, tmakin@ucdavis.edu
  • News Service, (530) 752-1930

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