Going back to school to get an MBA degree is a huge investment. It can cost anywhere from $40,000 to upwards of $100,000 and takes meaningful time away from your career and family life.
If you’re going to invest in your education, you want to make sure that it’s going to make a meaningful impact on your future career. A great MBA program should always be thinking ahead and preparing students for a business landscape that is fluid and ever-changing. To help get the most out of your investment, here are some of the most innovative MBA programs available to students today.
1. Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
Stanford is considered one of the premier business schools in the United States. Their MBA is a two-year, full-time program that focuses on an innovative and collaborative curriculum.
Stanford offers the fundamentals, but also has a large variety of concentrations so students can gain practical experience that will further their career. These concentrations include up-and-coming fields like e-commerce, sports business, technology, and entrepreneurship.
Students are encouraged to actively learn with their peers through programs like the Executive Challenge, simulations, and the View from the Top speaker series, which brings in thought leaders and high-performing executives to share their experiences with students. Entrepreneurial students can also access resources, contacts, and funding from Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation.
2. Harvard Business School, Harvard University
As one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Harvard University has remained committed to offering students an innovative, cutting-edge curriculum. Their MBA program seeks students who are focused on making a difference and teaches them a “general management curriculum with a focus on real-world practice.”
Students start by focusing on their own personal leadership skills, then take their newfound confidence and knowledge into small team projects before moving on to a process that Harvard calls the “global immersion.” In their second year, students choose from elective courses like Developing Mindsets for Innovative Problem Solving, Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism, and Globalization and Emerging Markets. Harvard also gives students the opportunity to participate in an immersive field course, where they can apply their knowledge in a real work environment.
3. Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has three campuses around the United States, which allows them to accept a larger class than the average school. They offer a variety of full-time and part-time options for their MBA program and boast that over 80 percent of graduates are employed full-time after graduation.
In addition to their regular course offerings in fundamentals like accounting, marketing, and organizational behavior, students can choose to concurrently pursue a master’s degree in design innovation or a J.D from a partnered school. These dual programs exemplify the school’s interdisciplinary focus. Kellogg also offers its MBA students a variety of different research centers so they can put their knowledge into practice before graduation.
4. Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame
Mendoza College of Business runs the University of Notre Dame’s MBA program. Mendoza is an unusual school that emphasizes both integrity and flexibility. They offer both one and two-year MBA programs, executive MBAs, and dual MBAs that can be combined with an engineering or law program. Around two-thirds of their MBA candidates are “career changers”, people who don’t have a business undergraduate but are interested in pursuing an executive position within their own field.
The Mendoza MBA program is focused on analytics — teaching their students how to use data to make excellent business decisions. In addition to their in-school work, students are encouraged to put their knowledge to the test through practical learning partnerships with NGOs in places like Bosnia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Uganda.
5. School of Management, Antioch University New England
Not all schools put a focus on their students’ ethics as well as their knowledge. Antioch University New England (AUNE), located in New Hampshire, offers a unique MBA in Sustainability.
The school’s goal is to educate leaders who want to make their organizations more sustainable, while still achieving economic objectives. The two-year program runs classes on weekends and only requires students to come to the campus four weekends per semester. They’ve de-emphasized traditional teaching methods and instead encourage students to focus on practical education opportunities like field experience and consulting projects. Students develop competency in the areas of Leadership and Change, Sustainability and Systems Thinking, and Business Fundamentals, then demonstrate their understanding with a final Capstone Course which also includes a practicum.
6. MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
At the MIT Sloan School of Management, students are taught core business principles with a global focus. When they arrive for their first semester, students are sorted into six carefully chosen cohorts that are designed to give the student support while also exposing them to new viewpoints and experiences.
Instead of calling them concentrations, students are asked to follow a “track.” Some of their most popular tracks include Finance, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Enterprise Management. In addition to their degree, students can also concurrently work towards a certification in a field like Sustainability or Analytics, which helps them further refine their skills.
7. Daniels College of Business, University of Denver
The Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver has earned a reputation for being a pioneer in the field of business ethics. They offer a two-year full-time program as well as part-time and online MBAs.
In addition to their classes, students take on different “challenges” each semester, which are designed as a practical way for students to try out core concepts. Different challenges include the Social Good Challenge and the Global Challenge, which involves hands-on experience on a project in a developing country. Concentrations at Daniels include unique offerings like Real Estate and the Built Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility. Throughout their program, students are encouraged to take part in individualized coaching sessions so they can plan their developmental goals and measure their progress along the way.
8. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
As the oldest business school in America, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has continued to put their focus on research since the school’s founding in 1881. They’ve been the most productive research school since 1986 and have used all of this knowledge to offer students a wealth of different courses and concentrations. Students can choose between 19 majors and almost 200 elective courses.
The 20-month program includes a summer internship and the opportunity to enroll in the Global Immersive Program, a high-level survey of the various economic and social factors behind a specific global economic region. Students then travel to that region with their classmates to take part in hands-on learning opportunities.
9. Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University
The Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University wants its students to have a strong foundation in business, family, and religious life. The school is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). As such, Mormon students make up 98.5 percent of the student body.
Despite the school’s religious focus, their MBA is well-regarded and offers students the chance to concentrate in a field like global supply chain management, marketing, or entrepreneurship. Students get practical, hands-on learning experience through courses like Cougar Capital, donation-based venture capital and private equity fund that gives out real funding to start-ups.
10. Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley
Located in beautiful Berkeley, California, the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley fosters an interdisciplinary approach to innovation in their students. Their proximity to Silicon Valley allows them to offer internships and learning opportunities with exciting new ventures in a growing industry.
Each student needs to take an Applied Innovation course in order to graduate. These courses are undertaken with a small group of peers and offer experiential learning in a variety of different sectors, including start-ups, non-profit, and e-commerce. Haas also offers global learning opportunities with partner schools and organization around the world, and students can opt to further their education with an MA in Global Studies after they finish their MBA.
There are many reasons to pursue an MBA degree. Increased earning potential, opportunities for advancement into senior-level positions, and high-level network connection are just some of the most compelling reasons.
An MBA can bring your career to new levels, but only if the curriculum covers the most cutting-edge material. The knowledge and experience you gain in these innovative programs will help you feel confident stepping into new roles and dealing with new challenges for the rest of your career.
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