First-Year Curriculum

In your first year of the MBA Program, you’ll build your general and functional management knowledge, develop leadership skills, and gain global experience.

Autumn Quarter classes will give you insight into the perspective of a senior manager or leader. You will enhance your leadership style through practical experience and receive detailed feedback from your classmates and leadership coaches. You’ll begin to understand the larger context of management, and to recognize your own strengths and areas for development.

Autumn Quarter: Core Courses

Ethics in Management

With leadership comes responsibility. This course explores ethical issues faced by managers and organizations, and provides analytical frameworks to inform ethical decisions and strategies. Students will clarify their ethical stances and think through ethical dilemmas. They will practice sharing recommendations compellingly, discover the diversity of ethical viewpoints, and find out how to avoid the social and cognitive pitfalls that come with ethical leadership.

Finance I

Finance I courses cover the foundations of finance with an emphasis on applications that are vital for corporate managers. We will consider the major financial decisions made by corporate managers both within the firm and in their interactions with investors. Essential in most of these decisions is the process of valuation, which will be an important emphasis of the course. Topics include criteria for making investment decisions, valuation of financial assets and liabilities, relationships between risk and return, and capital structure choice.

Financial Accounting

Financial accounting is the measurement of economic activity for decision making. Financial statements are a key product of this measurement process and an important component of firms’ financial reporting activities. The objective of the base- and accelerated-level courses is to develop students into informed users of financial statement information. These courses focus on understanding the mapping between underlying economic events and financial statements, and on understanding how this mapping affects inferences about future profitability and liquidity. The advanced-level course assumes an understanding of concepts covered in the base-level course and is designed to enhance students’ understanding of financial statement information within the global financial reporting environment.

Leadership Labs

“Why would someone follow me?” In Leadership Laboratory students consider the kind of leader they are, the kind of leader they want to be, and how to align leadership behavior with leadership goals. The course is experiential. Students are thrown into situations such as role plays and class exercises, in which they must lead. Students receive feedback about their approach to leadership, and have the opportunity to try out new skills and tools. Rather than offer a single model of leadership, this course entails a set of experiences from which students derive their own model of leadership.

Managerial Skills

In Managerial Skills, students examine several common managerial challenges faced by executives. Together with faculty, students explore these topics using five case examples, each asking students to evaluate a series of situations, develop alternatives for their resolution, and ultimately recommend and implement a course of action from the point of view of the company’s owner/manager. The course focuses on small- to mid-sized businesses as the context for these discussions to highlight the impact that key decisions and their implementation can have on the broader organization.

Managing Groups and Teams

Managing Groups and Teams examines the theory and practice of making teams work. The first goal of the course is to provide students with a conceptual framework for understanding group dynamics and their effects on team performance. The second goal is to help students develop practical skills for building and managing effective groups and teams. Topics include choosing and implementing team structures that are best for accomplishing specific goals, diagnosing team performance problems, and designing appropriate interventions. Students can apply this learning while at Stanford GSB in study groups, project teams, and extracurricular groups, as well as in the business world.

Optimization and Simulation Modeling

Disciplined thought is often based on analytical models: simplified, quantitative depictions of a complex reality that allow you to focus attention on a few key issues. Management runs on numbers and models. Whatever is your current level of modeling skills, improving those skills is a key to success. Even if you never construct models yourself, as a manager you will be a consumer of them; to be an intelligent consumer, you must know from experience the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative models.

Organizational Behavior

Organizational Behavior provides tools that help students learn to successfully lead individuals, groups, and organizations. In essence, the material serves as a practical guide to managing workplace behavior — your own and that of your coworkers. To explain key concepts, the course draws on robust social science research that highlights obstacles to leadership effectiveness. These include the challenges of making sound decisions, motivating employees to implement your vision, influencing others to support your ideas, and dealing with difficult personalities.

In the winter and spring quarters, students take courses from a menu of course areas, to allow for interests and flexibility.

Winter/Spring Quarters: Core Courses

Data Analysis and Decision Making

General managers require a sophisticated understanding of what one can (and cannot) infer from data, and how to use those inferences to make good decisions. Our courses in data analysis provide the analytical tools/ techniques for using data to make appropriate inferences and good decisions.

Finance II

Designed to follow Finance I, Finance II includes courses in three different areas of focus. Corporate Finance will develop and extend standard tools and techniques of financial analysis, valuation, and model-building, and apply these methods to a wide range of cases. Capital Markets and Institutional Investing will focus on applications using live data related to asset allocation and hedging, as well as factor investing, delegated assets management, and manager selection. Corporations, Finance and Governance in the Global Economy will focus on concise real-world situations around the globe to provide skills and tools for navigating issues related to valuation of cash flows and control; capital structure, governance and ownership of both mature and entrepreneurial firms; restructuring; the role of venture capital, private equity and activists; and objectives of the firms, including social responsibility.

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management introduces frameworks and analytical tools for organizational design, hiring, promotion, and human resource management processes. The course offerings address startup, growing, and global organizations in a range of industries.

Information Management

Knowledge of technology (computing, networks, software applications, etc.) is a prerequisite for a successful manager. Understanding the implications of technology for management, strategy, and organization is even more important. So rather than just look at a snapshot of the current status of different technologies (which will obviously change over time), the Information Management courses focus on management issues such as: How do information technologies create value? How do you implement them? How do they affect the structure of competition?


This course gives students the background they need to understand the broad movements in the global economy. Key topics include long-run economic growth, technological change, wage inequality, international trade, interest rates, inflation, exchange rates, and monetary policy. By the end of the course, students should be able to read and understand the discussions of economic issues in The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or the Congressional Budget Office.

Managerial Accounting

To evaluate business strategies and outcomes, you must understand the many ways that firms account for, control, and manage costs. Courses in this area explore alternative costing methods and how the resulting cost information can be used for decision making, planning, and performance measurement.


These courses introduce you to the substantive and procedural aspects of marketing management. You’ll learn about analyzing the needs and wants of potential customers, and creating and delivering goods and services profitably.


The discipline of microeconomics is the foundation of much of what you study in business school, as well as being a tool of analysis of specific market and non-market interactions. The Base-level course provides you with the essential frameworks and concepts to study market equilibrium, firm and consumer behavior, and competitive interactions through the lens of microeconomics. The Advanced-level option spends less time on the basics and instead applies those basics to specific contexts, such as auctions, price discrimination, and business strategy.


This area explores basic managerial issues arising in the operations of both manufacturing and service industries. You will learn about the challenges confronting operations managers and gain language, conceptual models, and analytical techniques that are useful in confronting such problems.

Strategic Leadership

These course options examine fundamental issues of general management and leadership within an organization. You will learn about setting an organization’s strategic direction, aligning structure to implement strategy, and leading individuals within the firm. You will study the interplay among formal structure, informal networks, and culture in shaping organizational performance.

Strategy Beyond Markets

Markets and the business environment are increasingly interrelated; conversely, the profit-maximizing activities of firms often give rise to issues that involve governments and the public. As a business leader, you will need to participate in complex decision making that involves the legal, political, and social environments of business. This course considers the strategic interactions of firms with important constituents, organizations, and institutions outside of markets.

Last Updated 26 Jul 2019