The One-Semester Core

The One-Semester Core at MIT Sloan MBA

Through the powerful, shared experience of the first-semester Core, students build the foundation of their MIT Sloan education. Students gain fundamental skills through required coursework in economics, accounting, leadership communication, business statistics, and organizational processes. Students may also choose one elective from the following list: marketing management, finance, operations management, or competitive strategy. Teamwork is an integral part of the Core experience. Students are assigned to cohorts and work closely within diverse teams of 6-7 classmates.

The MBA Core curriculum consists of the following five required courses:

Economic Analysis for Business Decisions

Introduces students to the principles of microeconomic analysis used in managerial decision making. Topics include demand analysis, cost and production functions, the behavior of competitive and noncompetitive markets, sources and uses of market power, and game theory and competitive strategy, with applications to various business and public policy decisions. Antitrust policy and other government regulations also are discussed.

Data, Models, and Decisions

Introduces students to the basic tools in using data to make informed management decisions. Covers introductory probability, decision analysis, basic statistics, regression, simulation, linear and nonlinear optimization, and discrete optimization. Computer spreadsheet exercises, cases, and examples are drawn from marketing, finance, operations management, and other management functions. 

Communication for Leaders

Focuses on the writing and speaking skills necessary for a career in management. Students polish communication strategies and methods through discussion, examples, and practice. Several written and oral assignments, most based on material from other subjects and from career development activities. Schedule and curriculum coordinated with Organizational Processes class. 

Leadership and Personal Effectiveness Coaching acts as a lab component to Communication for Leaders, and provides students additional opportunities to hone their communication skills through a variety of in-class exercises. Emphasis is on both individual and team communication.

Organizational Processes

Designed to enhance students’ ability to take effective action in complex organizational settings by providing the analytic tools needed to analyze, manage, and lead the organizations of the future. Emphasis is on the importance of the organizational context in influencing which individual styles and skills are effective. Employs a wide variety of learning tools, from experiential learning to the more conventional discussion of written cases. Subject centers on three complementary perspectives on organizations: the strategic design, political, and cultural “lenses” of organizations. This course culminates in a team project around current topics related to organization studies.

Financial Accounting

An intensive introduction to the preparation and interpretation of financial information. Adopts a decision-maker perspective of accounting by emphasizing the relationship between accounting data and the underlying economic events generating them. Class sessions are a mixture of lectures and case discussion. Assignments include textbook problems, analysis of financial statements, and cases. 

Students may also choose one of the following electives:

Finance Theory I (elective)

Core theory of modern financial economics and financial management, concentrating on capital markets and investments. Required prerequisite for most finance electives and for the Financial Management and Financial Engineering tracks. Topics: functions of capital markets and financial intermediaries; fixed income investments; diversification and portfolio selection; valuation theory and equilibrium pricing of risky assets; the theory of efficient markets; and an introduction to derivatives.

Intro to Operations Management (elective)

In depth introduction to the fundamental concepts and techniques related to the design, planning, control, and improvement of manufacturing and service operations. Covers a broad range of applications and industries such as high-tech, financial services, insurance, automotive, health care, fashion, and more. Emphasizes the role of uncertainty in operational decision making, which is a key aspect of almost any management position. Useful to anyone considering job opportunities in operations and related activities. Topics covered include process description, flow diagrams, capacity analysis, capacity ROI, cycle time analysis, inventory management, delayed postponement, production control, work coordination, risk pooling, quality management, process design, and reengineering.

Marketing Management (elective)

A first year MBA Course that introduces students to both the “art” and “science” of marketing. It is targeted to those who want to develop a strong foundation of marketing tools and concepts that will be useful in their career. The focus is on the core themes of how to best satisfy the needs of your customers. We will discuss tactics of the marketing mix (product strategy, pricing, promotion and placement- the four Ps) as well as related topics such as research, targeting, segmentation, and branding. 

Competitive Strategy (elective)

This course introduces a wide variety of modern strategy frameworks and methodologies in order to help you develop the skills needed to be a  successful manager with responsibility for the performance of a firm or business unit within a firm.  We use cases and readings to explore a wide range of strategic problems, focusing particularly on the sources of competitive advantage and the interaction between industry structure and organizational capabilities.

S-LAB: JAKARTA WATERSHED Combating a clean water crisis

“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”

Ian Lavery
RETAIL AND CONSUMER GOODS Luxury beauty and the multicultural consumer
"The goal of the Retail and Consumer Goods Club is to provide networking opportunities for students at MIT Sloan, and to educate students about different functions within the retail and CPG space. We bring in executive-level speakers to educate our community on this topic."
Nga Phan
MBA, co-president of Retail and Consumer Goods Club
SLOAN FELLOW Getting serious about going global
"This year we were so fortunate to have 26 nationalities. So it was amazing exposure. I feel much more well rounded as a global business maker than I was before."
Abner Oliviera
G-LAB: WARMBATHS HOSPITAL, SOUTH AFRICA Improving staffing at a maternity ward

“I can honestly say that when I was planning on coming to business school I never thought that witnessing the birth of a child would be included in the education. It was definitely an experience.”

Kelsey McCarty
G-LAB: PRIVATE HEALTH CARE IN AFRICA Defining growth at a for-profit clinic

“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”

Anne Reilly
MIT LEADERSHIP CENTER Changing views of leadership

“Our mission, along with the mission of MIT Sloan, is to both develop leaders who make a difference in the world, and also to make a contribution to thinking about the topic of leadership.”

Deborah Ancona
Faculty Director, MIT Leadership Center
G-LAB: MERCY CORPS, INDONESIA Using business principles to address malnutrition

“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”

Libby Putman
COURAGE AND STRENGTH Supporting a student with breast cancer
"The Sloan community really rallied around me in a way that I totally didn’t anticipate. … It was just really nice to be a part of a community that I was totally comfortable in and felt completely supported by."
Kyle Maner
SLOAN FELLOW Merging disciplines for climate change
"I needed to get a better understanding of the interaction of management and technology. And I think MIT is an obvious place for that. There’s probably no better place in the world [for learning] how technology and management interact."
Pascal Marmier
G-LAB: AIDS IN TANZANIA Striving for economic empowerment

“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”

Krishna Venugopalan
G-LAB: INTERGRUPO, COLOMBIA Growing a business by cultivating relationships

"After we gave our recommendations, the great part was that the very next day the CEO was in the boardroom implementing them with his top vice presidents."

Ramy Hakim
INSTITUTE FOR WORK AND EMPLOYMENT RESEARCH Adapting to the changing nature of work

“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”

Thomas Kochan
Co-director, IWER
G-LAB, RAS RESORT, INDIA Marketing in Mumbai
"The project was really interesting because the scope changed a lot. We started focusing in one goal, then we changed to another, then we changed to another, all before we even left Cambridge."
Gerardo Guzman
G-LAB: NAM MEE BOOKS, THAILAND Helping a book publisher mature

“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”

Lia Cavalcante
$100K WINNERS: C-CRETE TECHNOLOGIES Reducing the environmental impact of concrete

“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”

Natanel Barookhian
INDIA LAB: EDUCATIONAL ENHANCEMENT Creating employable workers to boost the economy

“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”

Ted Chan
INDIA LAB: BANGALORE Working toward market expansion

“[The India Lab] program is one of the reasons I came to Sloan. ... The hands-on learning that MIT offers was a huge differentiator.”

Katie Baron
LEADERS FOR GLOBAL OPERATIONS Connecting management and technology
“We are preparing leaders to run the world’s operations companies. And those leaders are at the cutting edge of both management and technology.”
Don Rosenfield
senior lecturer and director of the Leaders for Global Operations
SWITZER FELLOWSHIP WINNER JASON JAY Focusing on environmental research and leadership

 “I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”

Jason Jay
Lecturer, Sustainability, MIT Sloan
CENTER FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH Bringing people and machines together

“The concept behind enterprise architecture is that you have all these machines, you have all these business processes, you have all these people doing things, how do you make sure they all come together and achieve business objectives that make you more competitive.”

Jeanne W. Ross
Director and Principal Research Scientist, CISR
G-LAB, KUALA LUMPUR Assessing the future of the Smart Card
"You have to manage what you can deliver for the company and what the company is expecting. The bottom line is that the CEOs of those companies want results. Even though we have to work five months in a row with the project, we have to deliver. This experience is more pragmatic than academic. It's a good opportunity to match those two worlds."
Camilo Syllos

“It has made an enormous difference to have so many other wonderful women here, students and faculty.”

- Lotte Bailyn
T. Wilson (1953) Professor of Management, Emerita