Wharton Changes Curriculum, Commits to Ongoing Alumni Education

MBA Admissions GuidesLast week the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School voted overwhelmingly in favor of approving the first overhaul to the school’s curriculum in 17 years. As reported by Bloomberg and Bloomberg’s Businessweek arm, Wharton will roll out parts of the new curriculum in the fall of 2011 before fully implementing it in 2012.

The new curriculum represents more than a shuffling of electives or tweaks to first-year requirements. Most significantly, Wharton announced that it will deliver executive education to its alumni free of charge. All MBA grads will be eligible to attend enrichment classes every seven years. The school provided few details about the new lifelong learning mode, but it will be interesting to see how other schools respond.

Many of the other changes announced, while still significant, sound more similar to those announced at other top business schools over the past several years. These include reducing the number of required courses for first-year students, placing more emphasis on ethics in coursework, opening more opportunities for global exposure, and requiring that every student participate in a leadership coaching program that spans the two-year curriculum. Wharton will also put more emphasis on oral and written communication, adding a required course in this area for first-year students.

We are especially excited about Wharton’s new commitment to continued executive education for its graduates. Not only is it smart for Wharton (because it keeps alumni more closely tied to the school), but it also shows that the school puts its money where its mouth is in terms of developing business leaders well beyond those students’ two years at Wharton. We hope that this is just the first such announcement from the world’s top MBA programs.

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