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Curriculum

Overview

Strategic thinking, leadership, and global business are fundamental to the Foster MBA core. Relative to other programs, the Foster MBA Program spends more time on strategy and global business in the core—both directly, in components on competitive strategy, global strategic management, and macroeconomics; and indirectly, in the choice of cases and projects.

The MBA curriculum helps students develop knowledge and skills through working with award-winning faculty, industry leaders brought into the classroom, and learning from one another in team-driven assignments. Students acquire new expertise in intimate classroom settings, and practice their talents through a wide range of experiential learning opportunities in Seattle and around the world.

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Courses Leadership development Teamwork

Preparing for year one

Starting in July, Foster MBA Career Management provides valuable career workshops and webinars. With guidance from an academic coach, students create a personal plan for achieving their goals through courses, experiential learning, and career development opportunities. In early September, the program begins with an academic and career orientation. Students then prepare for a rigorous curriculum through intensive Jump Start courses in statistics, finance, accounting and mathematics, and end the month with a three-day leadership development course.

Year one curriculum

The first year of the MBA program offers an integrated core of fundamental business concepts, skills, and tools. A team of top-notch faculty work closely together to develop and deliver modules of varying length for a solid foundation in the individual subjects—accounting, finance, marketing, operations management, and strategy—and an understanding of how they interrelate.

Year two curriculum

During the second year, students can customize the program to focus on their personal career objectives, without being bound to a single career track. Electives allow students to develop greater expertise in the areas directly related to their post-MBA degree career, while increasing their capacity to take on cross-functional assignments. In addition to elective coursework, students complete final core classes in ethics and macroeconomics.

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Courses

The University of Washington operates on the quarter system, providing students with a greater degree of academic customization by taking a variety of elective courses.

Click on the headers below to learn more about program requirements, year one curriculum, year two curriculum, and electives.

Over 20 months, Full-time MBA students take integrated core coursework during their first year and choose from a wide variety of electives in the second year. The program requirements are:

  • 46 credits of core courses
  • 44 credits of elective courses
  • 7 additional required degree activities:
    • Foster Professional Development sequence
    • Summer internship/project (or equivalent)
    • MBA core case competition
    • 2 international perspective activities*
    • 2 practical experience activities*

*Experiential Learning and international activities may include courses and projects with actual businesses.

Course TitleTopics Covered

Financial Reporting and Analysis Financial statement
Accounting concepts and methods
Institutional and regulatory influences
Measurement and reporting issues
Managerial Finance Investments, diversification, portfolio theory
Capital budgeting
Capital structure
Leadership Development Leadership skill development
Fostering individual and group effectiveness
Integrative leadership modeling
Building Effective Teams Insuring adherence to work rules
Establishing shared commitment to a compelling purpose
Building interpersonal trust
Marketing Strategy Market definition
Customer analysis
Competitive analysis
Marketing planning
Micro-Economics of Competition and Strategy Analyzing competitive dynamics
Economics of competition
Strategy analysis for various competitive circumstances

Course TitleTopics Covered

Applied Strategy: Business Consulting Project Defining project scope
Customer relations
Project management
Presentation skills
Statistics for Business Decisions Statistical summaries of data
Forecasting models
Assessment of uncertainty
Inference and predictions
Methods of quality improvement
Leading Teams and Organizations Effective groups
Organization theory
Leadership in organizations
Human resource management
Delegation and empowerment
Implementing change
Competitive & Corporate Strategy Analyzing value creation
Strategic thinking and planning
Strategy implementation
Structure analysis of industries

Course TitleTopics Covered

Information for Decision Making and Performance Evaluation Relevant costs for decision-making
Management accounting systems
Budgeting and performance evaluation
Operations and Supply Chain Management Productivity and competitiveness,
Capacity planning
Just-in-time production systems
Inventory management
Decision Support Models Quantitative modeling
Linear programming
Decision theory
Simulation
The second year of your MBA program is mostly designed by you, but there are two required core classes.

Course Title Topics Covered
Ethical Leadership & Decision Making Ethical aspects of conducting business
Ethical decision-making
Stakeholder management
Corporate social responsibility
Sustainability and corporate governance
Course Title Topics Covered
Analysis of Global Economic Conditions Interaction of goods, labor and asset markets
International trade
Growth of output, inflation, unemployment
Interest and exchange rates
Monetary and fiscal policies
Choose the electives that meet your personal interests, career goals and development needs.

Course Title Details
Financial Statement Analysis Examine financial reporting from a user’s perspective, use tools to break apart financial reports into meaningful units for analysis, forecast financial statements, and value a firm. Understand how GAAP rules and managerial incentives affect the quality and interpretation of financial statements.
Examining Corporate Fraud Addresses concepts in fraud such as prevention and response techniques. Understand the varying types of fraud schemes, identify fraud prevention techniques, and manage the response necessary when a fraud occurs.
Course Title Details
Finding Your Voice Identify core values and use them to develop a leadership message. Then apply techniques to formulate and convey a leadership message in a business presentation.
TED Talks Identify ideas that could intrigue and change the world. Then apply techniques of “TED” speaking to formulate and convey those ideas in a TED Talk.
*Women at the Top Guest lectures by women business leaders, discussion on how and when to exert influence for change, developing authentic leadership, understanding how to lead a full life.

*may differ from UW Course Offering Title

Course Title Details
Competing in the Global Economy From the internationalization process to the operation of complex global operations. Learn to implement plans, mitigate risks, and solve problems — all in a global setting.
Foster Research Partners Partnered with Gates Foundation, hands-on experience with research and data analysis in a real-world setting.
Applied Global Macroeconomics Examine the key global macroeconomic concepts and theories. Understand how competitors, suppliers, and customers are changing and how the global economy impacts business outcomes and policies.
Course Title Details
Foundations of Entrepreneurship Develop understanding of the complexity of issues in startups, gain insight into how entrepreneurs create new enterprises.
Entrepreneurial Strategy Ideas and strategies around turning product or service ideas into self-sustaining businesses, alternative solutions to problems, analyzing trade-offs within complex choices.
Innovation Strategy Effective strategies and frameworks for new and emerging industries, develop innovation strategies, articulate and defend views using persuasion and analytics.
Software Entrepreneurship Develop understanding of complex issues surrounding technology businesses, gain insight into how entrepreneurs conceive, adapt, and execute strategies.
Business Plan Practicum How to start a business, what makes start-ups successful, applying real-world concepts to business formation and optional participation in the Dempsey Startup Competition.
Technology Commercialization Work with UW scientists and engineers, develop a business model around a technology from UW, analyze it, formalize it and develop a funding proposal.
Venture Capital Investment Practicum An overview of the venture capital world. Understand the necessary tools to evaluate early-stage investment opportunities.
Environmental Innovation Practicum Part speaker series, part business concept creation. Learn about cleantech and other environmental solutions and how to be part of those solutions.
Health Innovation Practicum Overview of the challenges for early stage businesses in healthcare or life sciences. Gain an awareness of the system of regulation of health technologies, the process of development for health technologies, and the economics of healthcare.
Entrepreneurial Marketing Strategic and tactical elements of successful entrepreneurial marketing campaigns including customer segmentation, strategic positioning, new technologies, and brand-building.
Entrepreneurial Finance Assess financial performance, financial planning, identify external financing needs and business valuation. Analyze and evaluate venture capital agreements. Examine the structure of venture capital organizations.
Angel Investing Three quarter course provides real world, hands-on learning on angel investing and raising capital for early stage companies.
Biomedical Entrepreneurship Overview of the landscape of biomedical commercialization.
Entrepreneurial Influence and the Pitch Learn the role that verbal communication, influence, and persuasion play in entrepreneurship. Learn how to create an effective pitch and how to influence key stakeholders.
Influencer Marketing: Profiting from Social Media Gain practical experience conducting social media marketing campaigns and understanding what an influencer is. Analyzing effectiveness of social media marketing, negotiation strategies, building relationships, and methods for measuring and building influence with your brand.
Intrapreneurship: Developing New Products within Organizations Holistic and practical view of working in corporate innovation groups and what it’s like to work in the innovation process.
Course Title Details
Problems in Business Finance Examine the corporate financing and investment decisions and related issues in financial strategy. Learn about short-term financial management, capital structure, capital budgeting, and firm valuation, and corporate restructuring.
Business Valuation and Investment Analysis Understanding the methods and drivers of valuation, building financial projections, navigating data, and valuing assets and firms.
Entrepreneurial Finance Assess financial performance, financial planning, identify external financing needs and business valuation. Analyze and evaluate venture capital agreements. Examine the structure of venture capital organizations.
Mergers and Acquisitions Understanding the economics of M&A, synergies from both buyer and seller perspectives, what creates or destroys value, how deals are structured, what challenges exists in executing M&A, and recognizing critical components and structures of a business.
Investments Learn how to manage your own investments and those of a company as well as many of the basics of becoming a CFA. Build quantitative, communication, and critical thinking skills to succeed in the investment profession.
Financial Futures & Options Markets Comprehensive overview of the futures markets and options markets including the practice of analyzing pricing, reviewing empirical evidence, and understanding risk management by hedging.
Alternative Investments: Hedge Funds & Private Equity Understand the risks of varied hedge fund strategies, the structure of private equity funds, evaluating opportunities, differentiate venture capital environments, and evaluate risks that fit into a broad portfolio.
Asian Capital Markets Frameworks to understanding capital markets and financial systems in the largest and fastest growing continent in the last 40 years, engaging as an investor in cross-border investments, greenfield investments, and M&A.
Data Analytics in Finance Learn new technical data analytics skills in three key areas: finance, microeconomics, and macroeconomics, specifically looking at time-series models, causal experiments, and textual analysis.
Game Theory & Other Topics in Microeconomics Strategic thinking and analysis of complex environments where there is mutual dependence, techniques of game theory to defend and critique busines decisions as applied to pricing, negotiation, business strategy, and other topics.
Behavioral Finance Examine the behavior of investors, relate it to biases and fallacies known from psychology, and inquire about its origins. Then think about whether and how “mistakes” by individual investors could affect prices in financial markets.
Enterprise Risk Management Management tools and frameworks presented to understand and identify risk. Emphasis placed on how to improve a firm’s risk position, and how to adapt an organization to deal with risk.
Institutional Investment Evaluating investment models, drivers of portfolio performance, manager selection, and asset allocation. Understanding investment approaches and market opportunities while using quantitative tools prevalent in the industry.
International Business Compliance Understanding the critical role of legal compliance in conducting international business. Topics include history of compliance, anti-corruption law, international tax, information security, and particular challenges related to operating in global markets.
International Finance Evaluate global trade and capital flows, identify frameworks in regard to currency risk, compare global finance and investment opportunities, and apply fundamental concepts to solve real-world problems.
Introduction to Real Estate Finance & Investment Gain a toolbox of fundamental concepts and analytical techniques for the purpose of making real estate investment decisions.
Course Title Details
Cases in Sustainability Examining concepts surrounding corporate sustainability in finance, environment, and communication. Includes research and critiques of strategic and execution from companies in modern challenges.
Global Business Forum A look at current trends in global business and discussions regarding international issues facing companies. Leaders from international businesses and other organizations, as well as, faculty members from various departments and specializations are invited to share their perspectives with seminar participants.
Short Term Study Abroad Tour The Global Business Center offers a variety of annual short-term study abroad options for MBAs, including academic programs and consulting projects. Programs are subject to change annually.
*Applied Global Consulting Global Consulting Projects allow MBA students to gain hands-on experience solving real-world business problems in a global setting. It is an opportunity to work on a small team with other Foster students, provide valuable solutions to clients from around the world, and develop cross-cultural competencies through a unique lens.

*may differ from UW Course Offering Title

Course Title Details
Managing in a Global Environment Discussion and analysis surrounding global trends in business, political systems, legal systems, economic systems, culture, and decision making. Exploring cases of foreign markets, differing entry modes, and global strategy that firms adopt.
Innovation Strategy Effective strategies and frameworks for new and emerging industries, develop innovation strategies, articulating and defending views using persuasion and analytics.
Leading & Managing High-Performing Organizations Enabling students to develop as leaders, gain clarity on values, practice skills that produce positive personal and professional results, and build frameworks surrounding growth and development.
Successful Negotiations Develop and refine negotiation skills and understand negotiations in useful analytic frameworks.
Deal-Making in High Velocity Ventures Improve your ability to negotiate effectively across multiple settings and complex situations. Topics include frameworks, strategies, self-awareness, assessment, and how to produce best possible outcomes involving many different stakeholders.
CEO & Board Governance Addressing key issues related to roles and relationships between CEO’s and their boards in the context of the modern regulatory environment. Topics include board characteristics, hiring and firing, strategy, risk oversight, corporate culture, and more.
Nonprofit Board Fellows Leadership Seminar *Enrollment limited to students accepted to Board Fellows Program. Attend real-world board meetings with regional businesses to learn about responsibilities, effective leadership, financial and ethical considerations, and practical strategic management of nonprofit businesses.
Developing Strategies for Social Impact The best thinking deployed to solve commercially more interesting problems is rarely put to use to solve social impact issues. Develop tools, techniques and sophisticated strategic thinking to solve some of society’s more challenging social problems.
Innovation and Design Thinking Better understand the dynamics of industries driven by innovation and provide a series of frameworks for managing technology-intensive businesses. Examine the development and application of conceptual models which clarify the interactions between competition, patterns of technological and market change, and the structure and development of organizational capabilities.
Mindful Decision Making Identify decision-making biases, discuss the role of identity and emotion in decision and behavior, apply mindfulness to complex business challenges, and learn about the psychology of managerial decisions under stress.
Strategic Consulting Practicum Experiential learning credits that can fulfill part of the practical degree requirements. Students work with regional businesses on a variety of project in different industries and gain insight into real-world business scenarios.
Course Title Details
Business-to-Business Marketing Students will learn how to differentiate markets, assess opportunities, develop marketing strategies, manage execution elements, and make data driven marketing decisions to deliver value for customers, businesses, and stakeholders.
Pricing Strategies & Tactics Evaluate differing pricing strategies, market and customer conditions, leverage organizational advantages, develop pricing plans, and increase profitability for specific product lines.
Consumer Marketing & Brand Management Learn a framework for cultivating and maximizing brand equity. Examine consumer psychology, frameworks for developing brand strategies, and tactics to strengthen brand equity and increase consumer engagement.
Strategic Product Management Learn how to identify problems that can be solved through product innovation, use data for decision making surrounding product prioritization, define success for product lines, and develop the important skills of a product manager including communication, adaptation, problem solving, and execution.
Entrepreneurial Marketing Strategic and tactical elements of successful entrepreneurial marketing campaigns including customer segmentation, strategic positioning, new technologies, and brand-building.
Advertising & Promotion Management Make advertising and communication strategy decisions, develop critical thinking skills surrounding advertising strategy, enhance oral and written communication skills, and learn how to define, analyze, and interpret market implications.
Consumer Insights Determine research strategies to answer consumer and marketing questions, develop data collection and research design strategies, provide and defend consumer insights, and critically evaluate others’ strategic recommendations.
Customer Analytics Customer Analytics addresses how to use data analytics to learn about and market to individual customers. Learn the scientific approach to marketing with hands-on use of technologies such as databases, analytics, and computing systems to collect, analyze, and act on customer information.
Analytics for Marketing Decisions Focus on the data analytics for building and communicating marketing decisions. You’ll learn the skills of a data-savvy manager including optimization strategies, descriptive and predictive models for marketing data, and the 4 Ps; Product, Pricing, Promotion, and Placement.
Digital Marketing Analytics Build the foundational skills for evaluating digital opportunities, analyzing marketing strategies, and creating online business models. This course is for geared for students considering careers in consulting or technology or plan to start their own companies.
Analytics Consulting Lab This team structured, project-based course will match students with clients to support real, complex business decisions working directly with businesses in the region, solving problems that revolve around marketing analytics.
*Digital Strategies & Systems Dive into major systems involving campaign optimization, lifecycle communications, strategies for driving business objectives, understanding what is possible through digital marketing communications.
*Go-to-Market Strategy Learn the key elements of building a go-to-market strategy and launching a professional sales organization. Topics covered include effective sales strategies, transitioning from product to sales, and the deploying a sales team.
*Influencer Marketing: Profiting from Social Media Gain practical experience conducting social media marketing campaigns and understanding what an influencer is. Analyzing effectiveness of social media marketing, negotiation strategies, building relationships, and methods for measuring and building influence with your brand.
Intrapreneurship: Developing New Products within Organizations Holistic and practical view of working in corporate innovation groups and what it’s like to work in the innovation process.

*may differ from UW Course Offering Title

Course Title Details
Project Management Learn the important aspects of project management (PM), how to successfully complete complex projects, selection and initiation strategies, scheduling and budgeting, contracts, and commercial PM software tools.
Supply Chain Management Develop modeling skills, learn concepts and problem-solving tools, design, and plan supply chains. The class includes presentations, negotiation games, simulations, and team assignments.
Business Analytics: Tools for Big Data Introduces data analytic techniques via quantitative tools and sophisticated software (R, Rattle and Tableau). Provides students the competency to interact with and manage a team of analytics professionals.
Enterprise Risk Management Management tools and frameworks presented to understand and identify risk. Emphasis placed on how to improve a firm’s risk position, and how to adapt an organization to deal with risk.
International Supply Chain Management Learn to make strategic and operational decisions to design and manage a global supply chain.
Course Title Details
Modeling with Spreadsheets Using spreadsheets for analyzing quantitative business problems. The course will discuss cash flow problems, portfolio organization, pricing and revenue management, project management, budget-constrained project selection, and other operations.

Faculty insights

Click on the stories below for some recent Full-time MBA faculty lectures, pannels, and research.

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Leadership development

Hard skills alone won’t make you effective in the complex sphere of modern business. Leadership, communication, presentation skills, networking, and teamwork will be critical to your career development. That’s why these skills are incorporated throughout the entire UW MBA Program.

During orientation and throughout the first year, you’ll be evaluated in a variety of professional skill areas. Communications faculty will assess your presentation and writing skills, and will work with you to develop a personal leadership skill development plan. Career coaches will give you feedback on mock interviews. You will receive ongoing training in leadership communication and conflict resolution. Your team will also receive guidance from a second-year MBA to help members reach optimal teamwork performance. As an individual and as a team member, you’ll have an opportunity to build your confidence through active participation in simulations and case competitions.
As a second-year MBA student, you will continue to hone your communication and leadership skills. Second-year students formally and informally mentor new students to enhance their team collaboration and continue to improve leadership communication skills—which are highly sought after by MBA recruiters.

If you need to fine-tune a given area in your second year, academic and career coaches work with you to tap the many resources of the Foster School of Business. Learn more about career coaches and MBA Career Management.

During the course of the program you’ll develop a professional skills portfolio. Your presentations, writing samples, work projects, and mock interview results will create a strong, cohesive record of your career potential. You will be prepared for confident interviews with tangible proof of your MBA performance.

Check out this sample leadership development lecture for Foster Alumni

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Teams

Immerse yourself in a collaborative learning environment

Collaboration is more than a buzzword in the Foster MBA Program. The ethic of interactive learning, teamwork, and peer support forms the foundation for every aspect of the Foster MBA experience. From the start of orientation, when you meet your first study team, to second-year team competitions, you will learn from your colleagues’ experiences, support one another’s job search, celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and develop professional relationships that last long after graduation.

Gain the skills to lead teams

Teamwork is an essential part of the workplace culture and many businesses make hiring and promotion decisions based on teamwork skills. In the Foster MBA Program, you’ll find out what it takes to become an adept team player by participating in and leading teams in an environment that mirrors the workplace. Learn to build teams that rise above personal differences and gain experience working with students in other functional disciplines to solve business problems. You’ll join forces with your MBA peers in:

  • Core and Elective Course Study Teams
  • Consulting Projects
  • Case and Dempsey Startup Competitions
  • Student Organizations and Clubs

Receive vital support from your study teams

Many MBA students say that one of the most rewarding aspects of the program is the camaraderie and professional relationships they develop with their MBA classmates. Team members tutor one another, collaborate on projects, refine each other’s work, and provide valuable contacts for career opportunities. During your first year in the program, you will also identify areas of growth and accomplishment through quarterly self and peer evaluations.

Core study teams are carefully selected to ensure a strong and diverse set of skills, experiences, and perspectives:

  • Required Leadership Development course — offers an opportunity to develop teamwork skills
  • Collaboration and Conflict Seminar — provides tools to promote success in teams and resolve issues that may arise
  • Leadership Fellows — second-year MBA students mentor first-year study teams to help them improve communication and working relationships
  • Case Competitions — develops team presentation, analysis and collaboration skills during required case competitions
You can take classes that focus on leadership and developing strong teamwork environments. Students also complete team projects in elective classes — in some cases, a significant portion of each student’s course grade hinges on the team project. Depending on the course, teams may be assigned by the course instructor or students may self-select their teams.