Program Structure

Overview of the structure, timeline, and curriculum of the Penn State Smeal MBA program.

The internationally ranked residential MBA program at the Penn State Smeal College of Business starts in August and spans two academic years on the Penn State University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania. Each MBA semester is divided into seven-week modules to provide an immersive study of course content.

Year One: The Core

During the first year of the Smeal MBA, each module includes a set of required courses that focuses on business fundamentals and functional depth to build core competencies.


Orientation: The first year begins with an intensive two-week orientation designed to help new Smeal MBAs prepare for the program. 

Concentration Intensive: Immediately following orientation, students complete a week-long, faculty-led Concentration Intensive with content highlights of each primary concentration, providing students with an early opportunity to identify concentrations of interest, begin the job search, and prepare for fast-approaching career fairs. 

Leadership Communications: As a signature hallmark of the Penn State Smeal MBA experience, "Communication Skills for Leaders" is a required course that spans the entire first year of the program. The course provides students with the tools to clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent themselves and their ideas within a business context.

Module 1: Coursework includes:

  • Business Statistics
  • Financial Accounting
  • Management
  • Team Process and Performance
Module 2: Coursework includes:
  • Economics for Managers
  • Introduction to Finance
  • Marketing Management


Module 3: Coursework includes:

  • Risk and Decision Analysis
  • Strategic Management
  • Supply Chain Operations
Global Business Environment Immersion: The week-long practicum provides an in depth exploration of global economic issues.

Module 4: 
Coursework includes:
  • Concentration Introduction Courses
  • Managerial Accounting

Year Two: Elective Coursework

The second year of the Smeal MBA features elective coursework within concentrations and options that align with each student's unique interests and career goals. A concentration is a specialization that provides a comprehensive study within a particular area of business, while options provide the opportunity for briefer, yet targeted, study in additional areas of focus.


Negotiations Intensive: The week-long, hands-on negotiations practicum provides students with the opportunity to discover, practice, and critique negotiation tactics.

Module 5: Elective coursework in concentration areas.

Module 6: Elective coursework in concentration areas.


Global Immersion: The Global Immersion experience allows students to visit pivotal global business regions in order to develop a critical awareness of international business practices and diverse cultures.

Module 7: Elective coursework in concentrations and options.

Module 8: Elective coursework in concentrations and options.

Leadership Immersion: The elective Leadership Immersion experience includes unique team-building challenges that focus on critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and leadership in times of stress.