My homemade MBA curriculum – a copy of HBS’ Required Curriculum

As I mentioned previously, I took a look at Harvard’s MBA curriculum to see what the key components of a good business school education are.  Why Harvard?  Easy – it’s the best.  Harvard Business School is not only the pioneer of business education, but consistently ranks as the #1 business school in both domestic and international business school rankings.  Unless you are an alumnus of the likes of Wharton or Stanford, I think we can all agree that HBS is the best business school to use for my curriculum benchmarking exercise.


For this project, I am focused on the core curriculum of the business school.  Most business schools have some kind of core coursework requirement.  At Harvard, it’s the first year – called the Required Curriculum.  The second year at Harvard is filled with electives that allow each student some freedom to customize their MBA.  For my purposes, I’m looking at just the core – the Required Curriculum.


As you can see from their website, the Required Curriculum looks like this:                              HBSRequiredCurriculum

Using this is my ideal curriculum, I set out to find free, online courses that cover the same fundamental material.  Again, my goal is to acquire the same knowledge and skills from my homemade MBA as I would have at a real brick and mortar MBA program.


I was shocked at how easy it was to build my homemade MBA curriculum.  In practically no time, I found free, online courses on Coursera that align almost perfectly with the HBS MBA Required Curriculum.  Here’s what my curriculum comparison looks like:


Insert “that was easy” button here.


I’m interested to hear what you think of this curriculum for a self study MBA?  What’s missing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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    • Paul on November 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm
    • Reply

    I like what you’re doing and documenting. Are the Coursera courses accredited?

    1. Thanks! If you meet all the requirements (homeworks, quizzes, exams, etc.) of the Coursera courses, you receive a “statement of accomplishment.” I don’t know of any credits being offered at the moment. I’ll post some of my Statements of accomplishment to the site soon so you can see what I’m talking about.

      1. Hi Paul, I added the Statements of Accomplishment here: so you can have a look.

    • Khirad Kargasov on December 2, 2013 at 11:58 am
    • Reply

    I love your idea of homemade MBA. Trying to do similar thing. Not to reinvent the wheel, I’ll try to follow your curriculum and your findings. I hope you don’t mind. By the way I found about your website from one of the course i am taking online at Coursera.

    Khirad K.

    1. Thanks, Khirad! I’m glad you find this useful – that’s the reason I made the site! Please keep in touch and let me know how your own homemade MBA is going througout the process. Good luck!

      P.S. – Which Coursera class are we taking together?

    • Adam Dow on December 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Homemade MBA,

    Like what your doing, similar to the Personal ( but you focus more on coursework than independent reading. I would recommend two additions:

    1) Introduction to Computational Finance and Econometrics (Eric Zivot at UW). This class is AWESOME and provides are really in-depth analytical approach to finance focusing more on application than theory. It really emphasizes R programming (Open Source) while requiring little knowledge of the language (essentially all codes are provided and you just run them). For example, we would learn the derivation of compounding returns, then write an Excel/R program to download Yahoo financial data and look at the actual APPLICATION of what we are talking about. Excellent class and the more programming you can spice in the better! (this helps you in a broader data analysis sense too)

    2) financial modeling class: This course is $300-$500 depending on the options you choose but it is far and above the most critical component in my outside education. Let’s be honest here, Excel knowledge is one of the most critical skills you need for career productivity and success. The course goes over fundamentals from the balance sheet/cash flow/income statement all the way to full IPO pricing models. Each week you are actually creating these models in Excel. I can’t emphasize how important Excel/VBA knowledge has been in my career so far (Nuclear Engineer at GE and now a Management Consultant in Nuclear Asset Management). Best $500 I’ve spent on my education and is probably equivalent in cost to 2 hours of an HBS class.

    1. Thanks for the advice! I’ll definitely look into the first class you mentioned, and, although I’m currently on the free courses bandwagon, I’ll take a look at the second one as well being that I also live in excel in my current job.

      Good luck with your studies, and keep in touch!

    • Bjarne Dreier on December 15, 2013 at 10:20 am
    • Reply

    Will you use the MBA title in your signature when you have finished all the courses?

    1. Hi Bjarne! Guessing by your name, is this comment coming to me from Scandinavia? (I’m in Norway at the moment!)

      To your point – no, I will not use MBA in my signature after this project. Although I think I will have comparable knowledge to most MBAs after I complete all the courses, I think it would be a misrepresentation (i.e. a lie) to claim MBA as a title.

      However, I do plan on figuring out a way to mention this project somehow on my resume.

      What do you think? Do you think it would be ok to call myself an “MBA” after finishing this project?

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