University of California Los Angeles

UCLA's B-school revamp: It's all about jobs

August 11, 2011: 10:18 AM ET

UCLA's Anderson school has completed a sweeping curriculum overhaul in the hopes to get their students to develop a specialty early on so they are more attractive to job recruiters. But can they get their students to commit?

By John A. Byrne, contributor

UCLA's Anderson School of Management

UCLA's Anderson School of Management

(poetsandquants.com) -- In the past four years, UCLA's Anderson School of Business  hired Deloitte Consulting twice to study the best practices of several top business schools, interview corporate recruiters of MBAs, and do a deep dive into the competitive landscape of graduate business education.

The outcome of that spadework resulted in a simple but crucial insight: All too often, many first-year students show up on campus unsure of what they want out of the degree. They have yet to set their sights on a specific field of study or industry. And if and when they finally do, corporate recruiters see less of a straight line to their industries and more of a zigzag that leads to questions about commitment and desire.

That primary finding has been the driving force in Anderson's sweeping curriculum overhaul announced on August 8. The changes are part of an effort to more quickly get students to commit to a specific track of study and channel them into a more productive internship, which should, in turn, set them up for the best possible job offers in their chosen field.

Many schools, of course, have "majors" or "concentrations" of study. But Anderson is rearranging its first year curriculum so that MBA candidates can make these choices as early as possible. And as a clever inducement for students to make an early commitment, the school will offer a suite of certificates in as many as a dozen specific areas of study. Each certificate lays out a set menu of courses required for the additional credential.

From the start of the new curriculum this fall, the school will offer certificates in real estate, the management of technology, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. Subject to university approval, Anderson also hopes to roll out certificates in branding, healthcare, and entertainment. Ultimately, say school officials, they expect to have three or four in finance, at least three in marketing, and one in human resources. More

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