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Tips to Choose MBA Elective Classes

January 8, 2013 6:09 pm0 commentsViews: 1776
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Many MBA programs take the ‘bigger is better’ approach to promoting elective classes. At the University of Pennsylvania, the MBA school offers almost 200 elective classes, which it claims is greater than any other traditional business school in the US. Columbia Business School also heralds more than 200 elective courses.

While having plenty of choice is a good thing, MBA students have to remember that they only have a few opportunities to take elective classes. While there is some degree of variation, most business schools have a number of required classes in your first semester and sometimes the second semester. Then, you can choose several electives often in your second year.

It is a good idea to think very carefully before choosing electives. You might think that taking finance electives are good for your career, and it can be, at least in the short term. But as you move up the corporate ladder, you can find that you are no longer going to be dealing with technical issues as much. It will be a good idea to have some elective classes under your belt in leadership and management so that you have the business management skills to be a leader in your organization.

Many MBA graduates, after they have been in the working world for many years, end up wishing that they had thought more about leadership skills and organizational change when they were in graduate school. One of the reasons you should consider such classes is that you can learn many technical skills on the job, but learning how to deal with people and practice effective leadership really needs a good foundational base while you are still in school.

Some of the other areas you may want to focus on as you choose your online MBA school electives are:

  1. Globalization: Many MBA programs in the United States always look at business from the American perspective. So, it may be a good idea to take electives that give you the perspective of business as it is in other parts of the world. Some of the electives you may want to consider include global management, global technology management, and international regulatory compliance.
  2. Presentation and communication skills: You can have the best technical business skills in the world, but if you cannot give a coherent presentation, you really can stunt your career growth. Strongly consider taking classes that teach you how to give effective presentations and how to interact effectively with groups. Taking these types of classes in school gives you the chance to learn these important skills in a lower risk environment. Also, you can really make yourself stand out in the business world by learning superb presentation skills; most businesspeople are poor to mediocre at giving presentations.
  3. Ethics: It is surprising, but there are still many MBA programs that do not aggressively address business ethics. It is a good idea to take electives in ethics. It is no longer enough in the business world for just the shareholders to be happy and no laws were broken so all is well.
  4. Nonprofit management: Even if you are not going to go into the nonprofit world, you can benefit a lot from learning how to do fundraising and learning about nonprofit finances. When you are a nonprofit manager, you often have to do more with less. This can be a very helpful mindset to have when you are working at a smaller company or as an entrepreneur.

By keeping these subjects in mind when you are choosing your electives, you can graduate from MBA school with a much better rounded skillset. You will be able to make a difference in your organization and in your career in ways you never dreamed possible.