what classes do you take for MBA programs


Pursuing a master's in business administration (MBA) is a significant professional milestone for many individuals aiming to pursue leadership positions or realize their entrepreneurial goals.

MBA graduate programs are designed to equip students with a diverse set of new skills and a comprehensive understanding of various business functions.

If you are considering pursuing an MBA degree, one key aspect to better understand is the curriculum, which typically consists of core and elective courses. The core classes provide a foundation in essential business subjects, while elective courses allow students to specialize in specific areas of interest.


The Courses of a Standard MBA Curriculum

A standard MBA program provides students a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of business management. While a program almost always entails a combination of core courses and elective courses, it also provides practical learning experiences such as internships or consulting projects for most students.

The core courses in a MBA curriculum cover business fundamentals such as:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • Operations management

These courses of a core curriculum provide students with a broad knowledgebase and help build a strong foundation in business principles. For example, in an accounting course, students learn about financial statements, budgeting, and cost analysis. Understanding these topics is crucial to making informed business decisions and managing financial resources effectively.

While schools may change their MBA core classes and elective courses from time to time, the overall program remains similar from one business school to another. This similarity occurs because innovations in MBA curriculum are often modeled after leading institutions such as the Harvard Business School, known for its case study method and emphasis on leadership. By integrating similar teaching methodologies, MBA programs aim to prepare students for the challenges of modern business leadership.

Note: Admission to an MBA program often requires scores from standardized tests, such as the GMAT, which is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council. This council ensures that candidates meet the rigorous academic standards of MBA programs.



Accounting is a key component of any business, and understanding financial statements and principles is crucial for effective decision-making. Accounting courses provide MBA students with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze financial data, interpret financial statements, and make informed business decisions. These courses cover topics such as financial reporting, managerial accounting, and cost analysis.

Accounting courses also often emphasize the practical application of accounting principles in real-world situations. Students learn how to use financial data to assess the financial health of a company, analyze investment opportunities, and evaluate business performance. This knowledge is essential for professionals who aspire to hold managerial or executive positions, as it enables them to contribute to strategic decision-making and the overall financial success of an organization.


Finance plays a critical role in the success of any business. An MBA program’s core curriculum offers courses in finance to equip students with the necessary skills to effectively manage financial resources. These courses generally cover topics such as corporate finance, investment analysis, financial markets, and risk management.

Studying finance in an MBA program provides students with an understanding of the principles and techniques used to evaluate investment opportunities, estimate the value of a business, and manage financial risk. This knowledge is valuable for students pursuing a career path such as investment banking, corporate finance, or financial consulting.

In addition, finance courses often focus on the ethical considerations and legal frameworks relevant to financial decision-making. Knowledge of these topics helps to ensure that learners have a well-rounded understanding of the finance industry.


A successful marketing strategy is crucial for the growth and sustainability of a business. Master of business administration programs usually offer courses in marketing that delve into topics such as market analysis, branding, and digital marketing. These courses provide students with the skills to develop and implement effective marketing strategies that resonate with target audiences and affect consumer behavior.

Students also learn how to analyze business competitors and identify marketing opportunities. By understanding consumer preferences and market trends, graduates can make data-driven marketing decisions that contribute to an organization’s success.

In addition, marketing classes often explore the ethical considerations associated with marketing practices, ensuring that students understand how to use responsible marketing strategies.

Human Resources

Human resources (HR) is a vital function within any organization, responsible for attracting, developing, and retaining talent. Courses in human resource management cover business sector topics such as recruitment, employee development, performance management, and organizational behavior.

By studying HR, students gain insights into effective talent management strategies and learn how to create a positive work environment that ensures employee engagement and productivity. The knowledge and skills acquired in HR courses are valuable for professionals aspiring to work in HR departments or assume leadership roles within organizations.

Additionally, HR classes often explore the legal and ethical considerations associated with managing employees. Knowledge of these topics enables students to have a comprehensive understanding of employment laws, business ethics, and best practices.

Operational Management

Operational management focuses on maximizing efficiency and improving processes within an organization. MBA programs offer key courses in operations management that cover topics such as supply chain management, project management, quality control, and process improvement.

Through these classes, students develop the skills to identify company bottlenecks, streamline processes, and optimize resource allocation. This knowledge is crucial for professionals who are involved in logistics, production, or project management roles and desire to improve their managerial skills.

Operations management courses often explore the latest trends and technologies in the field, so that students will be aware of the tools used solve complex operational challenges.


Microeconomics is a branch of economics that examines the behavior of individual consumers, firms, and markets. MBA programs often include core coursework in microeconomics to provide students with a better understanding of market dynamics, pricing strategies, and various factors influencing supply and demand.

Microeconomics classes help students develop analytical and critical thinking skills. With these skills, they are better equipped to assess market conditions, understand competitive dynamics, and make strategic business decisions.

This knowledge is valuable for professionals who seek a more comprehensive understanding of various fields, including strategic planning, market research, and business development.


Choosing the Right Electives for an MBA Program

While taking the required core courses is mandatory for all students hoping to graduate, elective courses allow learners to tailor their MBA experience to their intended career paths and interests.

Elective courses may vary between institutions. Most of them, however, provide an opportunity for in-depth study in specialized areas such as entrepreneurship, international business, healthcare management, or business analytics.


An elective class in entrepreneurship may cover topics such as business plan development, venture capital funding, and startup management. This knowledge is valuable for individuals interested in starting their own business or working in a startup environment.

International Business

International business courses explore topics such as global market entry strategies, cross-cultural management, and international trade regulations. Through these classes, MBA graduates gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of conducting business in a globalized world and develop the skills necessary for managing international operations.

Healthcare Management

Healthcare management classes focus on the unique challenges and opportunities within the healthcare industry. For instance, students learn about healthcare policy, healthcare delivery systems, and healthcare finance. This knowledge is valuable for individuals interested in pursuing careers in healthcare administration or healthcare consulting.

Business Analytics

Business analytics classes help students to understand how to analyze and interpret large sets of data to drive business decisions. For example, MBA students study statistical analysis, data visualization, and predictive modeling. This knowledge is valuable for individuals interested in pursuing careers in business intelligence, data science, or consulting.


Practical Learning Experiences

In addition to MBA coursework, MBA programs frequently provide practical learning experiences involving the business world, such as internships or consulting projects. These educational experiences allow students to apply analytical concepts and other foundational knowledge to real-world scenarios and gain hands-on business experience.

Internships provide MBA students with an opportunity to work in a specific industry or company, gain industry-specific knowledge, acquire interpersonal skills, and build professional networks. Consulting projects involve working with real clients to solve business problems and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Consider Earning Your MBA Degree at American Public University

Pursuing an advanced degree program such as a master of business administration offers a wealth of opportunities to explore core courses and elective courses that align with your interests and career goals. By understanding the core curriculum and other offerings of a standard master of business administration program, you can make informed decisions about the classes that will best support your professional aspirations and are applicable to several different career paths.

The demand for advanced business education is evident in the job market as well. Many employers prefer MBA graduates for their critical thinking, leadership, and comprehensive business knowledge.

Whether you are interested in accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, operations management, or microeconomics, the online master of business administration program at APU provides a comprehensive education that equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary for the ever-evolving world of business.

This MBA program offers flexibility without sacrificing quality. It’s perfect for working professionals seeking to gain the knowledge to pursue more advanced roles and improve their real-world skills while working.

Taught by seasoned faculty, the MBA program combines theoretical insights with practical skills, preparing students for diverse business challenges. Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP®), the MBA program enhances key competencies like leadership, strategic thinking, and problem-solving.

Explore how APU's MBA program can develop your knowledge by visiting our website and applying today.

ACBSP is a registered trademark of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

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