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.

Before You Begin

From March until the start of the program in August, students will be expected to complete a set of onboarding tasks and assignments through Canvas, Penn State's online learning platform. This includes advanced career prep with our Career Services team, as well as course pre-work. To gain a better understanding of these assignments and the time frame within which they are completed, you can view the Onboarding Checklist used in Fall 2019 for the incoming MBA Class of 2021.

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. For descriptions of each core course, please see our list of core course descriptions.


Orientation: The first year begins with an intensive one-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
  • Communications
Module 2: Coursework includes:
  • Economics for Managers
  • Introduction to Finance
  • Risk and Decision
  • Communications

View the Fall set of courses through the Fall 2019 Core Course Schedule.


Module 3: Coursework includes:

  • Marketing
  • Strategic Management
  • Supply Chain Operations
  • Global Business Environment
  • Global Perspectives
  • Communications

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

View the Spring set of courses through the Spring 2020 Core Course Schedule

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. For more information about the courses you can take to obtain your concentrations and options, please see our list of elective course descriptions.


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. 

Fall 2019 Elective Course Schedule


Module 7: Elective coursework in concentrations and options.

Module 8: Elective coursework in concentrations and options.

Spring 2020 Elective Course Schedule