Our Core Curriculum

Theory to Practice

A cornerstone of the Columbia experience, the core curriculum is designed to give students an in-depth mastery of academic disciplines and the practical tools to intersect business with a broad set of industries. Taught by full-time professors and practitioners, the core prepares students to analyze, decide, and lead both in the classroom and beyond. Our case-based lessons and collaborative learning models prime students to succeed through creative problem solving, inclusive topics, and a forward thinking approach to business.


How many terms are in the MBA program?

Our MBA Program is designed to be completed over four terms (two academic years). The curriculum consists of 18 credits of required core coursework, and a minimum of 42 credits of elective courses.

How many credits can students take per term?

While students generally register for 15 credits per term, full-time residence at the Business School is strictly defined as a minimum of 12 credits. Students are permitted to take up to 18 credits per term, and may graduate with more than 60 credits.

Can I apply transfer credits to my MBA?

No, transfer credits from other institutions may not be applied toward the MBA degree.

Can I include credits from other, non-core offerings?

Yes. Students may count a combined maximum of six credits of Independent Study, Cross-Cultural Seminar, and graduate-level courses from other Columbia schools toward the MBA.

Can students be exempt from some core courses?

Yes. Students with considerable background in any of the core courses (excluding Lead and Strategy), can attempt an exemption exam for each core course, which is comparable to a final exam in a given subject. This grants students the flexibility to take additional electives in place of fixed core courses whose content they have already mastered, to fulfill the MBA requirement of 60 credits of graduate-level courses taken in residence at the School in four terms of study. Fifty-four of these credits must consist of in-classroom business courses.

Do I need to repeat a course that I didn’t pass?

Yes. A failed core course must be repeated; a failed elective must either be repeated or replaced by another elective.