Helping MBA Students Work & Live Smarter

Improving MBA Business Acumen or Prerequisites

Business acumen, prerequisites, or foundation skills, typically include topics that MBA program designers believe are necessary for an applicant to be successful in their program. Topics usually include Accounting, Business Math, Calculus, Economics, Finance, and Statistics. MBA programs assess business acumen and prerequisites in many ways. MyeEMBA provides information on the various methods MBA programs use to address business acumen and prerequisites as well as resources and tools that will improve your skills in these areas.

Boot Camps


A boot camp is 3-days or more of intensive classroom work that attempts to provide all of the content knowledge of a topical area that an individual needs to be successful in an MBA program. Faculty and students alike often describe this approach as "drinking from a fire hose." Mastery of a topic is seldom achieved. 

Admission Standards

The admission standards approach is when individuals that have completed all prerequisite courses, either while earning their undergraduate degree or by enrolling in courses after completing their degree, will be admitted to the MBA program. Some programs place a time limit on the completion date of the coursework. For example, the coursework must have been complete within the past five years. This approach ignores the mastery and retention of the course content and it assumes that, if a course was completed, then prerequisite knowledge exists and will benefit the student and classmates throughout the program. 

Post Admission Course Requirements

From a learning, subject mastery, and confidence standpoint, this is the soundest approach. However, this approach does add to the coursework requirements and the amount of time required for completing the MBA degree.

Proficiency Testing

This type of testing is usually done prior to the first class and is used to determine which students will need to attend a boot camp or participate in some other form of remediation to improve business acumen and prerequisite knowledge.  One example is the BYU Marriott School's Executive MBA Program.  
 
Integrating Content Into the Curriculum

This approach is often referred to as 'just in time learning', which means that prerequisite knowledge and skills are taught just before they are needed in the program. This approach assumes that all participants have the same needs and, when the sessions are completed, all participants have gained the same amount of knowledge and everyone in the class now has equal knowledge.

    The approaches used to address the business acumen and prerequisite issue varies by program. It is important to understand how the program you selected addresses this issue so you can determine the extent to which it will prepare you for competing. Each approach is usually identified on the program's web site. 

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