Columbia Business School’s core curriculum consists of two full-term courses and eight half-term courses.
A staple of the Columbia experience, the core curriculum is designed to give students an in-depth mastery of the academic disciplines and applied functional areas necessary to every business leader’s success. Taught by both full-time professors and practitioners, the core leaves students with more than just practical knowledge; case-based lessons and collaborative learning models train students to analyze, decide, and lead — rather than merely know — while creating a common student experience that fosters a deep and tenacious community.
Before each term, exemption exams are offered, allowing students already deeply versed in a particular subject area the opportunity to replace core courses with electives.
First-Term Core Courses
Lead: People, Teams, Organizations
This course is designed to get students to the next level in their careers. The assumption is that their careers have peaked at the point where their technical expertise and IQ can take them; their future success requires getting the ordinary people around them to do extraordinary things. Students will take away practical tools for improving their ability in influencing, negotiating and leading changes in their organizations. Emphasis is on the practical. Many of the principles are demonstrated using classroom experiments. The final project requires students to apply course concepts to an ongoing challenge in their current work environment.
Designed to develop an understanding of accounting principles for users of accounting information. The course looks at how users of financial information interpret accounting reports when making business decisions. The emphasis is on profitability concepts and performance evaluation. Coverage is not restricted to the existing U.S. model but includes a broad discussion of measurement issues and alternative country practices.
The main objective of the course is to develop insight into the process by which firms can create value for their shareholders by formulating strategies in which finance is a crucial competitive weapon. Topics include discounted cash flow models, risk and return, capital asset pricing model, capital market efficiency, capital structure and the cost of capital, dividend policy, and leasing.
Introduces students to basic concepts in probability and statistics of relevance to managerial decision making. Topics include basic data analysis, random variables and probability distributions, sampling distributions, interval estimation, hypothesis testing and regression. Numerous examples are chosen from quality-control applications, finance, marketing and management.
This course is about the determinants of firm performance. It develops an explanation for why some firms perform better than others, and presents the analytical tools required to formulate successful strategies. Students will learn to analyze firms' competitive environments and to design a strategy that specifies appropriate long-term goals for a corporation, the businesses in which it will compete, how it will serve customers better than its competitors, and the capabilities that will be required in the service of these objectives. Learning is primarily through discussion of cases and articles with supporting short lectures and written assignments.
This course’s objective is to give you insight into how markets function. The decisions made by individual managers and consumers generate the fundamentals of market supply and demand, governing the prices and quantities sold in all economic transactions. As a manager seeking to maximize firm value, understanding your market(s) is crucial to achieving your goals. The first part of the course examines how managers make day-to-day decisions about running their businesses when their product is sold in a market that works efficiently. It will also address what types of industries are most likely to be efficient, either by default (commodities such as wheat and copper) or by design (electricity markets).
The second part of the course examines the decision making process when, for various reasons, a firm has market power. This refers to all situations where an individual firm has a direct influence on the market price of the product. We will discuss how managers can use this influence to generate firm value and set out situations in which managers can try to increase their market power. We will also use the tools developed along the way to understand the implications of market failure and some public policy solutions to economic inefficiency. Managerial economics is an important component of the MBA program. Its focus on how individuals make optimal decisions in different circumstances underpins much of both the core and elective curriculum. Our experience in prior years is that much of the material is intuitive, but much is not. The generality of the frameworks – combined with practical industry applications – will help you think about all the different kinds of markets you will encounter throughout your careers.
This course is about modeling and how computer models can support managerial decision making. A model is a simplified representation of a real situation and modeling is the process of developing, analyzing and interpreting a model in order to help make better decisions. Models can be invaluable tools in managing and understanding the complexity and risk inherent in many business problems. As a result, models have become an increasingly important part of business at all levels from daily operations to strategic decision making.
Our emphasis is on models that are widely used in diverse industries and functional areas, including finance, operations and marketing. Applications include advertising planning, revenue management, asset-liability management, environmental policy modeling, portfolio optimization, public health planning and corporate risk management, among others. We use spreadsheets and the tools Solver and Crystal Ball to implement, solve and analyze the models that we develop.
The aim of the course is to help students become intelligent users and consumers of these models. To this end, the course will cover the basic elements of modeling – how to formulate a model and how to use and interpret the information a model produces. The course emphasizes “learning by doing” so that students will be expected to formulate, solve, and interpret a number of different optimization and simulation models using Excel spreadsheets. An important theme in the course is to understand the appropriate use of models in business and the potential pitfalls from using models incorrectly or inappropriately.
Marketing activity is the engine that creates value in a business. It provides the focus for interfacing with customers and the source of intelligence about customers, competitors and the general environment. Further, marketing focuses on the long-run relationship of a company to its customers as well as on short-run sales. Thus marketing is critical to the revenue and profit streams for a company. This course emphasizes the role of marketing in creating value for customers, which in turn creates value for owners, shareholders and employees.
Global Economic Environment
These courses explore the fundamentals of national competitiveness, productivity and growth. It studies the forces that determine production, consumption, savings and investment. It introduces the problem of variable foreign exchange rates and their impact on policy, performance and finance. It explores the complex relationships among government policies and private-sector performance in a global setting.
Second-Term Core Courses
In the second term of student’s first year, they'll have the option to select three full-term elective classes.
In the first half of the second term of student’s first year, they'll have the option to select two half-term elective classes.
In the second half of the second term of student’s first year, they'll have the option to select one half-term elective classes in addition to Operations Management.
This course provides a fundamental understanding of manufacturing and service operations and their role in the organization. Surveys a wide range of operations topics, including process flow analysis, supply chain management, capacity planning, facilities location, and total quality management. Deals with these topics through a managerial, applications-oriented perspective. The course is integrative in nature, emphasizing the fit and relationship of operations with other functions of the firm.