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 effective leadership. 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.

Executive Challenge 2018
2018 Be Tested
Follow students and judges during the 2018 Executive Challenge to hear about their expectations, experiences, and takeaways.


Student Spotlight

As an international student, I was overwhelmed by the GSB’s spirit of personal reflection. Here giving and receiving feedback is pervasive – both inside and outside of the classroom. GSB is the most diverse community I have ever belonged to, and connecting with my fellow classmates is absolutely invaluable.


Ellery Berk MBA '19
Student Spotlight

Leadership Labs was one of my two favorite fall quarter classes. I loved that it helped me get to know a small group of my classmates really well, in an environment unique from the rest of the GSB. Through this class, I learned about how others perceive my leadership style and how to deal with conflict constructively. The Executive Challenge was a fun finale to a great course — my squad and I had a ton of fun working together to solve the executive-level challenges facing us.

Last Updated 13 Jun 2020