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Review the Curriculum and Registration Process

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Ask questions now to avoid surprises at registration.  

When you’re reviewing a graduate business program, look closely at each school’s curriculum (core courses and electives), registration process, and course selection, and be sure to contact the school if you have any questions.


  • Does the school balance large classes with smaller student work groups?
  • How much access will you have to faculty?
  • Can you be exempt from any required courses? If so, how will exemptions affect your program options?
  • How much input will you have in how your courses are sequenced? Because core courses are generally prerequisites to other courses, sequencing has major implications for how quickly you can develop a specialty and compete for internships.
  • Is there one or more specialty areas in which the program is well known?

Core courses

Core courses provide a solid foundation in key business functions and are typically taken at the start of your MBA studies. They include a wide selection of disciplines, from accounting to operations to strategy.

Elective courses

Electives allow you to develop a specialty, or concentration, and sharpen your area of expertise. As you look at electives, consider:

  • How many electives are offered in your desired field of study?
  • What is the average number of students enrolled in electives?
  • How are electives structured?
  • Under what circumstances are courses canceled? How often does that occur?
  • What are your options for concentrations of study?
  • Do you need to declare a concentration? Can you have more than one?
  • Can you do an independent study? Can you take a course outside the business school but within the larger university and receive MBA credit?

Registration and Course Selection

To make sure you get the classes you want, ask admissions officers the following questions:

  • How does class scheduling and registration work? What are your chances of getting into a class when you need to take it?
  • When are course schedules finalized? Can you change your schedule?
  • What is a typical course load? What is the credit-hour limit per term, semester, and year?
  • Is there an academic advising system?
  • Are course syllabi available before course registration deadlines?

Video: How should I prepare for graduate school after being out for several years?

Full Video Transcript

Regardless of how long you've been out of school, I advise candidates to, as best they can, make a list of priorities before coming into the program. Oftentimes students can get overwhelmed by the number of opportunities, whether they are social, professional development, career focus, and academic extended. And it's helpful to have a list of priorities to go back to, so it allows you to focus and make the most of your academic experience.