Nuts & Bolts
Teaching approach. Chicago Booth takes a varied approach to learning. Lectures, case studies, and team projects are determined by the nature of coursework and personal teaching styles of individual faculty members. Full-time students can also engage in labs that deal with real-world business problems. In some courses, experiential learning is utilized to strengthen the connection between theory and practice. Students who are averse to class participation would find the program daunting, given Chicago Booth’s strong focus on dialogue and intellectual curiosity in the classroom. Students are encouraged to openly challenge assumptions, even those of fellow classmates or professors. But beware: Expect your classmates and professors to challenge you in return.
Coursework. Chicago Booth places an emphasis on analyzing problems, generating insights, and implementing creative solutions. The highly flexible curriculum means that more than half of a student’s courses are chosen from electives. (The rest of the classes are chosen from Foundations and Functions, Management, and Business Environment courses.) The electives can be taken in other programs at the University or in other countries in conjunction with the International Business Exchange Program (IBEP).
Core classes. Chicago Booth students have mandatory areas of study but do not have specific “required courses.” Chicago Booth students in both the full-time and part-time programs must take three foundation courses in the areas of financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics. Students then select six additional courses from a list of seven categories that includes finance, marketing, operations, management, organizational behavior, strategy, and business environment. The only course full-time students are required to take is LEAD, which focuses on leadership and team-building skills, as discussed above.
Though other courses may not be “required,” many still serve as prerequisites to higher-level course offerings. Students are permitted to waive course prerequisites at the discretion of the professors, and Chicago Booth also provides a petition process for students to count other courses or previous experience to fulfill requirements. Chicago Booth students can petition to take courses from other schools at the University of Chicago or from a list of affiliate schools located globally.
Research centers. Chicago Booth offers a variety of research centers that engage both students and faculty members in key areas of study. Although many of the centers may not seem to impact the MBA student experience directly, their existence helps prospective students to know where the school is investing resources to understand if there’s a good fit with their interests.
Research and learning centers include:
- Accounting Research Center
- Applied Theory Initiative
- Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics
- Center for Decision Research
- Center for Population Economics
- Center for Research in Security Prices
- Fama-Miller Center for Research in Finance
- George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State
- Initiative on Global Markets
- James M. Kilts Center for Marketing
- Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI)
Grading policies. In keeping with its reputation as a rigorous program, Chicago Booth does enforce a GPA curve with a mean of 3.33. That means faculty members are limited in the number of high grades they can assign in their classes. Booth’s grade non-disclosure policy was adopted by students in 2002, is not an official policy, and therefore is not enforced. Though many students likely don’t disclose their grades, it would seem irrational not to expect high-honor students to share their GPAs and their accomplishments with potential employers.
Graduate-Student-at-Large. Unusual at the University of Chicago is the ability for the general public to take courses at the business school without being formally enrolled in a degree program. This is called the Graduate-Student-at-Large program, available through the Graham School of General Studies. Offerings include a variety of finance, accounting, and economics courses. The University of Chicago department of mathematics also offers a one-year master’s degree in Financial Mathematics for those wanting to build investing models or start a career in derivatives. Chicago Booth does not have a short-term or accelerated MBA track.