How Innovation is Changing Modern Business Schools

Innovation in B-Schools

Steve Jobs once said that “Innovation is what distinguishes a leader from a follower.” This holds absolutely true for all the top business schools that strive to be continually innovative. Even the MBA curricula and format and delivery of their management specializations has not remained untouched from this innovative evolution. One might wonder, How Business Schools Bring Innovation to their Classrooms? Read on to know How and Why.

For the years gone by, top-ranking business schools have battled it out for the best and innovative business ideas. Just like the MIT Sloan pioneered theories and innovative ideas for the real world,  Harvard Business School fostered entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab, for the Health Care Initiative.

Apart from this, the race for the best MBA specializations in innovation is on. As per the QS Top MBA’s Innovation MBA Rankings (2014), INSEAD, Singapore; IE Business School, Spain; London Business School, UK; IMD, Switzerland; IESE Business School, Spain; the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad; and IIM, Bangalore have made it onto the list due to their continuous innovation-centrist moves. Now, let’s see what these innovation policies and tactci

1- Illinois

The Illinois School initiated the first massive open online course-based (MOOC-based) MBA, or the iMBA course with the Coursera initiative. Coursera is California-based online learning company. The full-time MBA study material was restructured to suit and match the online program. On Coursera, the student can take up any course at any time and pay only if he or she wants a certificate for completing that course. For this, the college credit would cost $1,000 per course or $3,000 for the entire specialization. The total fee for the MBA degree will be $22,000—Illinois’ own two-year residential program costs $100,000.

In this way, people from all over the globe join the online classroom and study and learn. Real-time conversations are encouraged among the participants.


Apart from Illinois, even the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School launched MOOC courses. Wharton launched over 18 MOOCs with two specializations headed by 30 professors. Most of these courses are priced at $95 and specializations at $595. But, one would start to wonder as to what is the essential difference between a full degree course and the online, open-enrollment course? The answer to this is that while an online course is shorter and focus on critical skills, the full course engages on a deeper level and much more into the subject for deeper exploration of topics and career management.

3- Berkeley Haas

Philanthropy University launched by UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business chose to initiate the idea of the MOOC space. This was done with the objective to develop quality leaders for the social sector. Under this, the leading professors would teach a group of five students for a good five to eight weeks. This would be done in an experiential learning environment such as that of the NovoEd. Berkeley Haas awards a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership to all successful students. The foundation courses currently on offer are:

  1. Essentials of nonprofit strategy,
  2. Global social entrepreneurship,
  3. Organizational Capacity,
  4. Leadership,
  5. Social Impact Scaling and
  6. Fundraising.

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4- Kellogg

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management targeted seven courses on the growth and scaling theme. Many executives are interested to take up this program as there is a sense that not only do they want people who can do it, but they find this to be enduring challenges throughout their career, and they’re looking for really rigorous and thoughtful guidance on how to that. 

5- Yale SOM

Yale students, after an innovative program session work on a project with member schools from Yale’s Global Network for Advanced Management that emphasizes upon across time zones, languages, and cultures. They introduced the idea of Global Virtual Teams, to inculcate the importance of team dynamics. It is a required course in the core curriculum and came from students themselves.

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6- Carlson School

TheCarlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, has an innovative MBA course specially made for Congressional staffers. It proved to be a benefit for about 13,000 people. This one year course costs $75000. The course is made flexible to two years. The difficult courses in topics of accounting and finance are kept for the summer months making it easy for staffers to work with lesser pressure.

7- Questrom School

The famous Master of Science in Management Studies program of the Boston University, under the  Questrom School of Business, a program for undergraduates with no officially prescribed syllabus or curriculum to say. The learning process at Questrom’s is entirely driven by the students and their experiential projects in three companies, where senior executives with a stake in the teaching guide them.

8- Harvard

HBS has introduced HBX Live that permits the schools to recreate case-study classes anywhere and everywhere in the world. However, all of it operates from a leased studio in Boston. At any given time, over sixty students can participate in this classroom much like HBS’ amphitheater-style ambiance.

9- W. P. Carey School

Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business chose to introduce a free MBA in the year 2015. In addition, it expanded the class size by 40 percent to a huge 120.

10- Mason School

How should the topnotch management school’s professors go ahead with the revamping process of their MBA courses? Obviously, one would suggest that they can go either the alumni or the employers, and work on their suggestions and possible recommendations. Yes, this definitely is the case for most of the colleges. However, at the William and Mary Mason School of Business, Virginia, there is a unique ideology being followed. Reportedly, the management professors and curriculum-construction team chose to go crowd-sourcing for information. In addition, they over received 200 ideas and 2,000 unique visitors from over 50 countries. Ken White, Associate Dean of MBA Department at Mason’s, refers to this exercise as the need of the school to find out the requirements of the the users of MBA, or the so-called the employers of school graduates.

But, What do the Students Feel?

All of this might seem interesting to the program designing teams and authorities. But do students feel the same about it? What is their response to these innovative ideas? The Philanthropy University of Berkeley Haas enrolled 220,000 students, natives of 180 countries and admitted to 455,000 courses. After all, this calls for a gigantic response. But unfortunately, the number of certificates did not complement thee response received.

Along similar lines and in context of the growth and scaling evolution,

Professor Jones at Kellogg says,“I think the kinds of students who are super interested in these courses can be divided into three types: someone who is past the initiation point of an entrepreneurial venture and wants to scale it, someone who is interested in private equity and entrepreneurship by acquisition (where you’re hoping to try to find established companies that you think have much higher potential returns than they currently have, buy them, grow them, or manage them better, and then probably sell). And then the third group are members of family businesses. The response has been widely positive from all across the board from these groups. Students who take part in these courses immediately come away with ideas to put into place at work. Before taking the courses, students looked at market demand and external drivers without fully appreciating the internal perspective on how to grow a business. The courses have helped them learn how to grow and scale a business from an interlocking set of perspectives.”

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This is how B-Schools are bringing innovation in the course and impacting the lives of many students. What are your thoughts on these innovation in B-Schools? Do share in the comments section below. Also, do mention your suggestions and feedback.

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About the Author

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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