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 2020 for the incoming MBA Class of 2022.

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.

Fall

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.

Fall Semester

Module I

Duration: 7 weeks | Professors: Andy Gustafson, Ph.D. / Nancy Mahon, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills MBAs develop in business school is the ability to demonstrate the value of their experiences. This course provides students with targeted opportunities to develop this skill as they clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent ideas, opinions, and solutions. Students will participate in various oral, written, and graphic projects during the course.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Dan Givoly, Ph.D.

Business enterprises convey information to their present and potential investors and creditors through financial reports. This course focuses on these financial reports, the data they contain, how users should read and interpret financial statements, and how users can incorporate this information into their investment decision-making. It also examines how managers attempt to window dress these financial statements and how the numbers might affect managerial behavior.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: TBD

Gain the basic knowledge about predictable team dynamics and how to constructively deal with issues that arise in the first-year MBA teams. The course focuses on observation, diagnosis, and intervention skills for developing effective teams. Topics include diagnosing group dynamics, giving and receiving feedback to teammates, cross-cultural communication, and conflict management techniques.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Dennis Gioia, Ph.D.

This course is concerned with understanding and managing the behavior of people in organizations. Students will explore the concepts and skills that will help them to become more effective managers and organizational leaders. This course includes tools that help students diagnose, understand, and develop solutions to management problems. We will draw upon both the academic and practitioner literature to understand many facets of organizations and of the thoughts, feelings, and actions of people who work in them.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: John Liechty, Ph.D.

Designed to meet the entry statistical requirements for any course in the Smeal MBA Program, as well as to provide job applicable skills across the entire business portfolio.

Immersion Week

Duration: 4 days | Professor: Stephen Humphrey, Ph.D.

This course will give students an overview of the difference between traditional (distributive) bargaining and interest-based (or integrative) negotiations. Students will learn the rudiments of interest-based negotiating and practice it in several negotiation simulations. They will learn how to identify their own and others' interests, to create and claim value and to craft constructive agreements for all parties. The course will concentrate on two person and small group negotiations as well as to deal with difficult opponents.

Module II

Duration: 7 weeks (continuation from Module I) | Professors: Andy Gustafson, Ph.D. / Nancy Mahon, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills MBAs develop in business school is the ability to demonstrate the value of their experiences. This course provides students with targeted opportunities to develop this skill as they clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent ideas, opinions, and solutions. Students will participate in various oral, written, and graphic projects during the course.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Tony Kwasnica, Ph.D.

Construction and use of quantitative methods in business decision-making.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Lou Gattis, Ph.D

This course provides a foundation in finance from the perspective of the firm. The objective is to show students that basic financial principles can be useful no matter the type of job taken. The two main topics of the course are: (1) how managers can use financial techniques to help them do their jobs and (2) how firms can use financial markets to solve financial problems.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Keith Crocker, Ph.D.

An introduction to the tools of economic decision making and a consideration of firm, industry, and global economic influences on economic decision making.

Spring Semester

Module III

Duration: 7 weeks (continuation from Module II) | Professors: Andy Gustafson, Ph.D. / Nancy Mahon, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills MBAs develop in business school is the ability to demonstrate the value of their experiences. This course provides students with targeted opportunities to develop this skill as they clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent ideas, opinions, and solutions. Students will participate in various oral, written, and graphic projects during the course.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Nick Petruzzi, Ph.D.

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the role of operations in the organization, the kinds of decisions operations and supply chain managers make, and the impact of these decisions on the strategic and tactical position of the firm. Supply chain management is a particular focus in the course. The interaction of production, distribution and information resources plays a critical role in developing and sustaining a firm's competitive advantage.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Chloe Tergiman, Ph.D.

Changes in interest rates, swings in the business cycle, new international trade agreements: all are macroeconomic events, and all can dramatically impact business. Institutional constraints, as well as theory, and history guide present day macroeconomic analysis and policy. Accordingly, the class is a synthesis of institutional, theoretical, and historical perspectives. A wealth of macroeconomic information and data is now available on the web for those who know how to access and interpret it.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Terrence Guay, Ph.D.

This course starts with the reality that the United States is less influential in global trade, finance, economics, and business than it was in previous decades. Consequently, M.B.A. students need to be aware of the business environments of other countries, the influence of these countries in the global political economy, and new competitors emanating from other parts of the world. About two-thirds of the course is focused on understanding macroeconomic concepts, and analyzing the challenges and opportunities posed by some of the most important countries and regions and the companies headquartered there. Approximately one-third of the course examines global themes that affect virtually all companies, regardless of nationality.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Jeffrey Krug, Ph.D.

This course introduces students to the field of strategic management and the skills and tools used by general managers to make strategic decisions. Students learn to use frameworks and perspectives for analyzing industries, competitors, and companies with an overall objective of positioning the firm to attain and sustain competitive advantage.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Andrew Petersen, Ph.D.

This course introduces students to the field of strategic management and the skills and tools used by general managers to make strategic decisions. Students learn to use frameworks and perspectives for analyzing industries, competitors, and companies with an overall objective of positioning the firm to attain and sustain competitive advantage.

Global Immersion

Duration: 1 week | Professor: Lou Gattis, Ph.D.

All Penn State Smeal MBA students take part in a global immersion experience, with past trips to business hubs in countries such as the Czech Republic, Croatia, China, Turkey, and South Africa.

The Immersion includes visits to corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities as well as meetings with executives and government officials to learn about international business from those experiencing it firsthand in the country. Students also have the opportunity to tour the local area and take part in special cultural events.

Module IV

Duration: 7 weeks (continuation from Module III) | Professors: Andy Gustafson, Ph.D. / Nancy Mahon, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills MBAs develop in business school is the ability to demonstrate the value of their experiences. This course provides students with targeted opportunities to develop this skill as they clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent ideas, opinions, and solutions. Students will participate in various oral, written, and graphic projects during the course.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Terrence Guay, Ph.D.

This course starts with the reality that the United States is less influential in global trade, finance, economics, and business than it was in previous decades. Consequently, M.B.A. students need to be aware of the business environments of other countries, the influence of these countries in the global political economy, and new competitors emanating from other parts of the world. About two-thirds of the course is focused on understanding macroeconomic concepts, and analyzing the challenges and opportunities posed by some of the most important countries and regions and the companies headquartered there. Approximately one-third of the course examines global themes that affect virtually all companies, regardless of nationality.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Sajay Samuel, Ph.D.

Foundations in Management Accounting has two broad aims. First, it is designed to help students grasp the technical aspects of accounting for activities and processes within and between firms. Therefore, students will study methods of a) cost classification & estimation; b) cost measurement & allocation; c) profit planning; and d) evaluation and control of behavior. Second, the course emphasizes the context of 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.

Fall Semester

Immersion Week

Duration: 4 days | Professor: Stephen Humphrey, Ph.D.

This course will give students an overview of the difference between traditional (distributive) bargaining and interest-based (or integrative) negotiations. Students will learn the rudiments of interest-based negotiating and practice it in several negotiation simulations. They will learn how to identify their own and others' interests, to create and claim value and to craft constructive agreements for all parties. The course will concentrate on two person and small group negotiations as well as to deal with difficult opponents.

Module V

Duration: 7 weeks | Professors: Forrest Briscoe, Ph.D.

This course addresses the managerial challenge of strategy implementation, particularly by examining the organizational elements that must be drawn into line to support a strategy, as well as the immense difficulties of changing an organization. As such, the course relies on two overarching frameworks. The first is a model of organizational alignment; the second is a model for managing the change process.
Duration: 7 weeks (continuation from Module I) | Professors: Ralph Oliva, Ph.D.

Students will learn to how to identify and define organization problems, highlight pain points, map workflows, explore business models, investigate strategic alignment, develop recommendations, present business cases, and deliver prototype solutions. The course will also enable students to learn how to advise managers and present key points and recommendations in a direct, clear, and compelling manner.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Nick Petruzzi, Ph.D.

Develop your skills at understanding key issues in the strategy of manufacturing operations. A systems view is taken in this course. Mathematical tools including probability, queueing, simulation and optimization are employed to understand basic behavior of manufacturing processes, and to be able to assess traditional and new methods for manufacturing process design and control. Some of the work in this course is team-based.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Fariborz Ghadar, Ph.D.

Develop a toolkit of techniques to a) understand global market interconnectivity, b) value international financial instruments and c) analyze risk, hedging, and asset pricing strategies to secure strategic competitive advantage. Building on these insights students will gain a deep understanding of exchange rates, risk management, forecasting, and international capital flows. More specifically students will study foreign exchange markets, hedging strategies using forward and future instruments, purchasing power parity, the eurocurrency market, international portfolio management, and the overall financial management of the international firm.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Fariborz Ghadar, Ph.D.

Focus on the "strategic" challenges facing the multinational firm. The types of questions that we address are: Why do firms go abroad? What differentiates a "global" from a "multi-domestic" industry? What are the sources of competitive advantage in a global context? Why and when do/should companies engage in cross-border strategic alliances? What are the associated risks and how to guard against them? What potential roles can foreign subsidiaries play in an MNC's global strategy? How do companies choose an optimal global structure? How do companies ensure coordination between the center and the subsidiaries and among subsidiaries? How do companies manage strategic change from one type of global strategy to another?
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Charlene Zietsma, Ph.D.

The purpose of this course is to understand the theory and practice of negotiation in a variety of settings, with specific emphasis on multiparty contexts. A basic premise of the course is that while a manager needs analytical skills to discover optimal solutions to problems, a broad array of negotiation skills and an understanding of multiparty dynamics are needed in order for these solutions to be accepted and implemented. The course will allow students to develop these skills experientially and to understand negotiation in useful analytical frameworks.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Kimberly Cornaggia, Ph.D.

Intended to provide both depth and breadth to students' knowledge of corporate finance, this course gives an overview of the key concepts, tools, and principles of both strategy formulation and competitive analysis utilized by the successful corporate manager. Students will analyze the dynamic business environment that successful corporate financial managers must navigate to enhance organizational performance.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Chloe Tergiman, Ph.D.

Understand how macroeconomic events and policies affect the global economy and business decisions. Includes the following topics:

  • Exchange rate regimes: pegs, crawls, and the Euro
  • Unemployment, inflation, and growth
  • Trade: NAFTA & other trade agreements
  • Development and Growth
  • The financial crisis revisited

Module VI

Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Jiro Yoshida, Ph.D.

This course provides a modern framework for the valuation and analysis of real property using both theoretical and empirical approaches.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Johanna Slot, Ph.D.

This course students will learn and practice Logical Creative Thinking (LCT), a framework that brings logic (and regularities) into the creative process that includes a set of systematic and broadly applicable tools. While the term LCT may be new to students, it is built upon a long list of very successful thinking tools such as lateral thinking, theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ), systematic inventive thinking, and includes (although not limited to) the most widely used tools from extant inventive practices and taught in the business schools. At the end of this course, you will become a skilled LCT practitioner, comfortable when called upon to create new solutions for whatever tasks you will face, and an indispensable asset to your (future) employer on innovation.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Tim Simin, Ph.D.

This course explores tools used by corporate portfolio managers. Topics covered include a review of the structure of the asset markets, basic pricing formulas, fundamental and technical analysis, and the different models relating risk and return, as well as portfolio management and derivative pricing. Statistical concepts such as mean, variance, covariance, and regression analysis will be used extensively throughout the course. In particular, corporate portfolio management has become part of the DNA of the organization. Tactically, how does strategic management of corporate assets (both short- and long-term) i.e., the corporate portfolio, create shareholder value?
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: William Kracaw, Ph.D.

The purpose of this course is to introduce some of the important issues and problems encountered in recognizing exposures to risk in both financial and non-financial firms, and to provide students with a strategic decision-making perspective. Considerable importance will be placed on how exposures to risk affect the firm, and how risk exposures can be re-engineered to enhance firm value.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Vilmos Misangyi, Ph.D.

Power and influence are ever-present and necessary features of organizational life and they are required to get things get done within organizations. Effective leadership therefore depends upon both understanding and possessing power and being influential. This course provides a pragmatic and ethical framework, based upon social science theory and evidence, for systematically analyzing the organizational and individual sources of power and influence, and the circumstances that lead to their attainment and effective use. The concepts and principles covered in the course provide the foundation for the skills needed to diagnose power situations, to manage conflict, and to use political strategies in responsible and pragmatic ways to get things done in organizational settings.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Stephen Carpenter, MBA

This course is intended to increase students' ability to be successful in (1) starting a new venture aimed at social or environmental impact, and/or (2) being an effective social/environmental change agent while working in a traditional corporate career.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Frank Chelko, MS

This course is designed to prepare students with the statistical knowledge for Six Sigma Black Belt “Body of Knowledge” (BOK) Certification. The course will provide a general introduction of the statistical concepts and principles and will focus specifically on statistical tools and techniques directly relevant to the Six Sigma BOK. Since there is no established world standard for this certification, the course was designed using the criteria established by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), Motorola Corporation and Six Sigma Academy (recognized world leaders in this discipline) as the benchmark standards.

*Requires both SCM 597 Six Sigma Statistics and SCM 597 Six Sigma Management.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Steve Tracey, MBA

This course is an elective graduate (MBA) course in strategic sourcing and supply management. It takes an in-depth look at the procurement process and supply management. This includes decisions and structures within a particular firm, as well as inter-firm business relationships and processes. There will be opportunities to apply the concepts learned since applied learning improves critical analysis and thinking.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: David Lenze, MBA

Students will learn how to organize and manage work activities related to delivery of a collaborative venture that has unique objectives along with a beginning and an end. More specifically, students will learn and apply common project management tools and techniques used in various aspects of project management including but not limited to requirements gathering, stakeholder analysis, project definition/charter, project scheduling, project communication planning, risk mitigation planning, project budgeting & control, project metrics/assessment, project documentation planning, and project closeout assessment.

*This course is taught in a hybrid format

Spring Semester

Module VII

Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Forrest Briscoe, Ph.D.

The objective of the ethical leadership course is to raise awareness of the key role played as a manager and leader in creating and maintaining responsible business conduct in work groups and organizations. The course is also intended to enhance the student's ability to deal with the complexities of ethical decision making in today's dynamic business environment by clarifying and applying personal values.

*This course is required
Duration: 2 1/2 weeks | Professor: Albert Vicere

This course presents a senior executive perspective on the key opportunities and challenges faced by business leaders. Course content is based on extensive research on the experiences of senior leaders from major organizations around the world. The lessons from these experiences form the backbone of a series of discussions on the changing context for setting strategy and leading organizations in an evolving business environment. Students who complete the course will demonstrate the ability to think strategically about organizational issues and challenges, develop effective strategies for organizational performance and success, and shape organizational cultures that facilitate strategy implementation and organizational change.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Saurabh Bansal, Ph.D.

Supply Chain Modeling focuses on mathematical modeling techniques used to design, analyze, execute and integrate supply chains. Three primary methods will be studied: simulation, optimization and enterprise resource planning. Key conceptual and theoretical methods will be reviewed, along with the use of complementary, contemporary software in each of the three major areas.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Arvind Rangaswamy, Ph.D.

Using the Internet and related technologies to enhance and transform marketing functions and processes.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Anh Le, Ph.D.

This course provides a broad understanding of the pricing mechanism of the bond, equity, and foreign exchange markets. The course also gives students an overview of analytical methodologies that help market participants discern asset price from asset value. How can a market participant understand when they are "buying low and selling high"?
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: David Huff, Ph.D.

This course is designed to prepare students with the statistical knowledge for Six Sigma Black Belt “Body of Knowledge” (BOK) Certification. The course will provide a general introduction of the statistical concepts and principles and will focus specifically on statistical tools and techniques directly relevant to the Six Sigma BOK. Since there is no established world standard for this certification, the course was designed using the criteria established by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), Motorola Corporation and Six Sigma Academy (recognized world leaders in this discipline) as the benchmark standards.

*Requires both SCM 597 Six Sigma Statistics and SCM 597 Six Sigma Management.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: David Cather, Ph.D.

An introductory survey course examining the evolving field of corporate risk management. Risk management is a systematic approach used by firms to protect themselves from the adverse financial consequences of risky events. This class explores the risk management decisions facing firms, examining how they manage and protect themselves from loss.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Stefan Wuyts, Ph.D.

The creation, measurement and delivery of superior customer value in business markets is the focus of this course. Successful market-focused business-to-business (B2B) organizations know the importance of linking customer needs to the development of high value products throughout the value chain in a global, electronic environment. And those successful organizations require that marketing be viewed as an investment, with measurable results and not as an expense.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Raghu Garud, Ph.D.

Identify opportunities for growth and profitability through technological and organizational innovations and market independently or with strategic partners.

Module VIII

Duration: 16 weeks (continuation from Module III) | Professors: Jason Acimovic, Ph.D.

This course covers logistics and supply chain activities involved in the fulfillment of demand for both end-consumers and business trading partners. Activities from the receipt of a customer order to the satisfaction of that order will be covered. These activities include demand planning, inventory management and distribution operations. In addition, issues regarding effective coordination and collaboration with trading partners will be addressed.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Shawn Clark, Ph.D.

This course looks at the key issues, concepts, and methodologies associated with business transformation and management consulting. Students will explore the professional services industry, industry best practices, and a variety of client contexts where advisory services are needed. Additionally, students will learn common consulting methods and how to apply them in client organizations, particularly at the top management level. A consulting-oriented solution development life cycle is used as the organizing framework of the course.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Jason Lunn, Ph.D.

The course builds upon and reinforces the theoretical and institutional framework learned in introductory business finance courses, and primarily through the vehicle of case analyses, seeks to apply these concepts to real world situations. The topics covered include financial analysis, financial forecasting, working capital management, securities markets, and security valuation.
Duration: 7 weeks | Professor: Stefan Wuyts, Ph.D.

This course focuses on marketing strategy as it relates to customer management, where the philosophy is to view customers as assets of the firm and the goal is to use customer information to build customer loyalty and relationships. This involves, in part, applying differential attention to more valuable customers with the goal of improving customer satisfaction while optimizing the current and future value of the customer base. The course will focus primarily on firms in ‘data-rich’ environments – that is, firms with detailed data on individual customers and firms with many customers. However, we will also spend time discussing more traditional customer relationship strategies and tactics.