Executive MBA Program Core Curriculum

Wharton’s intensive, cross-functional core curriculum provides business fundamentals and the leadership, communication and analytical skills to help you develop and succeed in your career.

You move through the core with your learning team — a group of five to seven classmates with whom you work closely on projects and cases. By the end of the first year, you have the foundational skills on which to build a particular area of expertise through elective courses.

Read brief summaries of core courses below, or see the curriculum overview.

Leadership Essentials

Responsibility in Global Management

This course uses the global business context to introduce students to important legal and ethical challenges they will face as business leaders, with a particular focus on large, publicly traded, multinational corporations. Cases and materials will address how business leaders, constrained by law and motivated to act responsibly in a global context, should analyze relevant variables to make wise decisions. Topics will include an introduction to the basic theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of ethical issues, such as right-based, consequentialist-based, and virtue-based reasoning, and conflicting interpretations of corporate responsibility. The course will include materials that introduce students to basic legal (common law vs. civil law) and normative (human rights) regimes at work in the global economy as well as sensitize them to the role of local cultural traditions in global business activity.

Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership

At every level of an organization, teamwork and leadership are required for organizational success. Teamwork and leadership have always been critical to society, but they are particularly significant in this era of heightened uncertainty, restructuring, and change. The tenor of leadership has changed as well. Many organizations are flattening their hierarchies and building work teams, with “command and control” leadership giving way to facilitation and empowerment. This course focuses on developing your knowledge and skill set for teamwork and leadership.

Management Communication

In this seminar-style course, business leaders are prepared for the communication challenges of the workplace, regardless of current skill or managerial level. Students learn the essentials of persuasion, gain confidence in public speaking, and receive individualized feedback from instructors. The course enables students to develop and demonstrate effective, business-oriented communication skills, regardless of their skill level when they start the course.

Analytical Foundations

Microeconomics for Managers

How can microeconomics enhance decision making in an organization? This course teaches students both how to understand the economic environment in which a firm operates and how to think strategically within it. The first half of this course covers the foundations of microeconomics (supply, demand, market price and output, production, cost and simple competitive market equilibrium). The second half deals with applying microeconomic theory to more sophisticated pricing and competitive strategies.

Regression Analysis for Business

This course provides the fundamental methods of statistical analysis, the art and science of extracting information from data. The course will begin with a focus on the basic elements of exploratory data analysis, probability theory and statistic inference. With this as a foundation, it will proceed to explore the use of the key statistical methodology known as regression analysis for solving business problems, such as the prediction of future sales and the response of the market to price changes. The use of regression diagnostics and various graphical displays supplement the basic numerical summaries and provide insight into the validity of the models.

Business Fundamentals


Fundamentals of Financial Accounting
Financial accounting is the accumulation, analysis, and presentation of an enterprise’s relevant financial data for creditors, investors, and other external decision makers. This course introduces the basic concepts, standards, and practices of financial reporting, including basic financial statements, analysis and recording of transactions, and underlying concepts and procedures. It covers inventories, long-term productive assets, bonds and other liabilities, stockholders’ equity, and the statement of changes in financial position.

Managerial Accounting
This course emphasizes the use of accounting information for internal planning and control purposes. This orientation contrasts with financial accounting where the focus is on accounting disclosures for parties external to the firm. This course is intended as an introduction for individuals who will make business decisions and evaluate the performance of business units using data obtained from the accounting system. The course will cover the basic vocabulary and mechanics of cost accounting, basic issues involved in the design of a cost accounting system, and the role of management accounting in decisions concerning resource allocation and performance evaluation.


Corporate Finance
This course serves as an introduction to business finance (corporate financial management and investments) for both non-majors and majors preparing for upper-level course work. The primary objective is to provide a framework, concepts, and tools for analyzing financial decisions based on fundamental principles of modern financial theory. The approach is rigorous and analytical. Topics covered include discounted cash flow techniques, corporate capital budgeting and valuation, investment decisions under uncertainty, capital asset pricing, options, and market efficiency. The course will also analyze corporate financial policy, including capital structure, cost of capital, dividend policy, and related issues. Additional topics will differ, according to individual instructors.

Macroeconomics and the Global Economic Environment
The purpose of this course is to train the students to think systematically about the current state of the economy and macroeconomic policy, and to be able to evaluate the economic environment within which business and financial decisions are made. The course emphasizes the use of economic theory to understand the workings of financial markets and the operation and impact of government policies. Specifically, the course studies the determinants of the level of national income, employment, investment, interest rates, the supply of money, inflation, exchange rates, and the formulation and operation of stabilization policies.


Managing the Enterprise
The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multi-faceted challenges for the general manager. A general manager needs to understand the internal workings of a firm, how to assess and create a strategy, and how to take into account increasing globalization. While these issues are distinct, they are very much intertwined. As a result, this course will provide you with an integrated view of these challenges and show you that successful management in the 21st century requires a combination of insights drawn from economics, sociology, psychology and political economy.


Marketing Management
Students confront the challenge of designing and implementing a successful combination of marketing variables to carry out a firm’s strategy in its target markets. They learn to apply analytic perspectives, decision tools and concepts of marketing to such decisions as product offering, communications programs, distribution channels and pricing.

Marketing Strategy
This course introduces the concepts and theories underlying marketing decision making. Building on Marketing Management: Program Design, students weigh considerations behind each element of the marketing mix. A comprehensive computer simulation game helps highlight these issues and provides the class with a rich set of realistic examples for discussion and analysis.


Managing the Productive Core of the Firm: Quality and Productivity
Matching supply with demand is an enormous challenge for firms: excess supply is too costly, inadequate supply irritates customers. In the course, we will explore how firms can better organize their operations so that they more effectively align their supply with the demand for their products and services. Throughout the course, we illustrate mathematical analysis applied to real operational challenges — we seek rigor and relevance. Our aim is to provide both tactical knowledge and high-level insights needed by general managers and management consultants. We will demonstrate that companies can use (and have used) the principles from this course to significantly enhance their competitiveness.

Students must choose one or both of the following to complete the OPIM core course requirement:

Managing the Productive Core of the Firm: Operations Strategy
Matching supply to demand is easiest when a firm has a flexible supply process, but flexibility is generally expensive. In this course we will 1) learn how to assess the appropriate level of supply flexibility for a given industry and 2) explore strategies for economically increasing a firm’s supply flexibility. While tactical models and decisions are part of this course, the emphasis is on the qualitative insights needed by general managers or management consultants. We will demonstrate that companies can use (and have used) the principles from this course to significantly enhance their competitiveness.

Managing the Productive Core: Business Analytics
This is a course on business analytics tools and their application to management problems. Its main topics are optimization, decision making under uncertainty, and simulation. The emphasis is on business analytics tools that are widely used in diverse industries and functional areas, including operations, finance, accounting, and marketing. The course has a twofold purpose. First, it seeks to introduce you to simple business analytics models and ideas that provide powerful (and often surprising) qualitative insights about a large spectrum of managerial problems. Second, it aims to give you a feeling for the kinds of problems that can be tackled quantitatively, the methods and software available for doing so, and the difficulties involved in gathering the relevant data. Our ultimate ambition is to have an impact on the way you think about the surrounding world — even if you do not explicitly use any business analytics tools in the future!

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