graduate versus undergraduate education

Hi, this is something that I have been wondering and debating with some of my friends who also have done undergrad business, and the general consensus is that graduate business school is tougher because the material is more in-depth and it requires more taking-decisions analysis while in undergrad it was mostly simply doing calculations and learning terms. One person even said the concept of “mitagating risks” is something he only truly learned while doing his MBA… Is this an accurate portrayal of what you may have noticed ? (to those who have done both a undergrad business degree and an MBA)

My impression is that the vast majority of MBA programs don’t teach one to distinguish his or her &%# from a hole in the ground, and undergraduate business programs much less so.

I didn’t go to a school that had an undergraduate business major, but I will say that my MBA classes are largely based on case studies / discussions, so it’s more than just purely academic stuff. However I think finance tends to be a bit more academic and theoretical. In general, I would say that most classes – even those based on accounting and statistics – will tend to link material to actual case studies. Thus the work is not just about doing calculations and memorization of theoretical frameworks, at least where I’m in school…

In undergrad, they taught me how to learn. In grad school, I learned how to think.

Yeah, I’d agree with bchadwick – he said it better than I could have. I know that oftentimes business school gets a reputation of having value primarily in networking, whereas the stuff you learn in class may be self-evident…but in my case, I’ve found the discussions to be generally thought-provoking and think that bchadwick’s assessment is right on point (even though I realize that bchadwick’s graduate school was in a more “serious” discipline than business which is where I’m at)

I’m torn. Curricula are much more rigorous and teachers are far superior (in MBA, versus BBA), but grades are less important.

A fellow student asked our prof. about this one night as class started. He said he’d show us and started lecturing (I think the topic was swaps). After a half hour he stopped and said, “This is what I expect my undergrads to know.” He went back to lecturing and two hours later ended class by saying, “This is what I expect you to know.”

Thanks for the feedback guys! And thanks fedge and brother bilo for the confirmation, I think I can safely say that the graduate business courses go more in depth then the undergrad classes… But I am also torn like you “brother bilo”, I notice that the average grades will be high even though the volume of material is a lot and the exams are not that easy, though this may be because the class as a whole is pretty smart. But the funny thing is…even though theses classes are more “in-depth”, every teacher I met doesn’t feel the classes are in-depth enough and its just fluff since its for “MBAs”… example: the stats professors will say “since you guys won’t become statisticians, you don’t have to study topics 5,6 and 8”, and the same thing with the accounting teacher, etc.

If you ever find yourself teaching a topic, you will be amazed at how difficult and time consuming it can be to cover something truly “in depth.” Mostly, what happens is that one forgets what it is like to be basically intelligent but simply not know anything about a topic. Every principle that you think is “easy and straightforward” actually takes about 4x the time to cover, because you have to get through preliminary stuff to define what you are doing and why it’s important. By the time you’ve gotten there, time’s run out. If you don’t go through the setup stuff, you get a whole bunch of students who are confused and staring at you like you’re from Mars and/or panicked about how you’re going to test them on this. Actually, you might get it anyway, depending on the students.

Hi bchad, Yup, I definetely agree that teaching is a time intensive activity and requires a lot of skill. And one thing I can conclude is that an MBA is definetely an “advanced business education” compared to a BBA even if teachers seem to be skipping several chapters of a book, since you are dealing with more material, business cases, presentations. Though this is only comparing core BBA coureses with an MBA, obviously some who studies marketing, finance, accounting does a ton more courses and learns that particular aspect of business more in-depth then an MBA would.

In my somewhat dated experience, the first year of an MBA program basically consists of all undergraduate core business classes with not much additional depth or material. The second year is where critical thinking and more in-depth material comes into play. MBA is a general business degree though, so it can’t possibly get into the depths of a master in finance or economics or statistics, etc. The most important differences though are that MBA students generally want to be there and bring real-life experience to the classroom. Some of the most valuable classes are where the students do most of the talking.

bchadwick Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > In undergrad, they taught me how to learn. In > grad school, I learned how to think. numi Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Yeah, I’d agree with bchadwick – he said it > better than I could have. I can’t take credit for coining that quote (and don’t recall who did), but I will take credit for remembering it.

Hi higgmond, did you also do a bachelor’s degree in business ? If yes, you find that the first year MBA classes match evenly with the undergrad business “core” classes ?

I got my BS in Finance and am pursuing Analytic Finance for my MBA. The MBA core materials are substantially tougher than the BS core materials. My program only has a few required classes though–it’s not a typical MBA curriculum, so take my experience for what it’s worth.