Electives: How to Choose Them

procBy Dr. Paulo Prochno, Clinical Professor, Department of Management and Organization

One of the strengths of the Smith School’s MBA program is our wide choice of elective courses. Among so many interesting options, it’s important to take a more strategic approach when choosing which courses to take. I bring here a few tips to help you in that process:

  1. Choosing between breadth and depth: one of the benefits of an MBA is the ability to develop a broad view about business. At the same time, your career prospects are enhanced if you know deeply about one area. The good news is that you can do both: you should choose one vertical and go really deep into that area, but at the same time take electives in other areas that will give you a broad strategic view about management. So my suggestion is: don’t try to go for depth in more than one area, so you can have enough credits to go for breadth as well. A balance of hard and soft skills is very important to make you a better professional.
  2. Asking for advice: ask your peers and faculty primarily about course content, so you can make a decision based on whether the content fits your desired career plans. Faculty teaching the core courses are a great resource to help you choose specific electives in their areas; PT MBA faculty directors can give you broader advice on how to approach the electives choice based on your career objectives, and can also direct more specific requests to other faculty.
  3. Increase your network: most participants in the PT program will remain in the area throughout their careers. Your years as an MBA student are a great opportunity to enhance your local network, so it makes a lot of sense to take at least one course in a different location. The extra commuting time is a small investment compared to the benefits of a broader network!