NextGen MBA Curriculum

  • Background & Research

    In 2018, the Cox School of Business formed a committee comprised of senior faculty and administration to develop our NextGen Cox Curriculum.  As leaders and educators, we have a profound responsibility to make certain that our students are not just “job ready” upon graduation but to ensure they are “future prepared” for their third and fourth job in a dynamic and ever-changing work environment. After two years of deliberate and thoughtful planning, moving forward all MBA students will immerse in the STEM-designated MBA curriculum.


    To inform the development of the NextGen Cox Curriculum, we conducted numerous structured interviews with corporate partners across a variety of sectors. We sought to understand better the knowledge, skills and abilities that they believe are critical for their employees to succeed in the future at their organizations. The overwhelming consensus among employers is that too many business school graduates lack critical-thinking skills to solve unstructured problems creatively, the ability to communicate effectively, work collaboratively and adapt to changing priorities.


    The NextGen Cox Curriculum integrates the three foundational pillars to develop business school graduates who are “future prepared”. Cox graduates demonstrate both technical skills, and people skills to confidently navigate any business environment. Cox graduates are equipped with a curriculum anchored in analytical rigor, refined leadership skills to support complex problem solving, and knowledge with practical application gained through hands-on experiential learning.


  • Foundational Pillars

    Regardless of where you work or what you do, you must be able to lead diverse, globalized teams with authenticity and vision; harness data and technology to transform processes and products; and master ambiguity and the risk of failure to solve unstructured problems. Leveraging that insight, we grounded the NextGen Cox Curriculum in three foundational pillars—Leadership, Analytics and Experiential Learning. To help students build knowledge and strength in these three areas, our expert faculty have expanded and enriched our MBA coursework.

  • Leadership

    Today's leaders are confronted with challenges and opportunities that have never been more dynamic or complex. At the Cox School of Business, we have defined “leadership” as a set of behaviors and competencies that leaders exercise to inspire the members of an organization in achieving mutually affirmed objectives.   Our focus on leadership is about identifying, developing, and practicing these key leadership components, rather than espousing overly simplistic frameworks and categorizations of people and personalities.  In collaboration with our corporate partners and recruiting executives, the Cox Leadership Council, which includes scholars and practitioners, to coordinate the leadership initiatives across the various constituencies and groups at Cox identified the following IMPACTful aspects of leadership that are core to our NextGen Curriculum:


    Master creative processes and execute teamwork-based innovative problem-solving

    Moral Character

    Refine your inner person to instill trust in others by practicing benevolence through altruism, empathy, and humility, and showing integrity by doing the right thing


    Develop self and team to have a strong sense of vision and direction to make a difference


    Drive change and manage ambiguity through a growth mindset

    Critical Thinking

    Develop intellectual curiosity and practice sound decision-making strategies


    Embrace, respond, and learn from failure through GRIT and perseverance

    We also increased the number of leadership courses provided by the Business Leadership Center, and we redesigned the curriculum to address the changing business environment to include additional required leadership courses, such as Leading Teams and Organizations and Managing and Leading People

  • Analytics

    Data and analytics are dramatically changing the business environment. Today, organizations have immeasurable raw data combined with powerful and sophisticated analytics tools to gain insights that can improve operational performance and create new market opportunities. More importantly, their decisions no longer have to be made in the dark or based on gut instinct; they can be based on evidence, experiments, and more accurate forecasts.

    SMU Cox amplified the data and analytical rigor in our courses.  We increased the required credit hours of our foundation courses Data Analytics I and II and added a course in Complex and Ambiguous Problem Solving

  • Experiential Learning

    Whether it is a simulation, a consultative experience, or a real-life business case, in experiential learning scenarios, we thrust our students into an environment where the challenges they face are ambiguous and unstructured, and the outcomes are based upon real circumstances. In our Unbridled Venture Project, Full-Time MBA students work on a team to bring a minimum viable “product or service” to market. Teams present to entrepreneurs and investors to compete for funding.


    Through international experiences like our Global Leadership Program or Global Immersions, our graduate students learn a methodology for attacking unstructured, ambiguous challenges. Students employ that methodology in performing consulting for organizations around the world. And, as part of our Brierley Institute for Customer Engagement, MBA students conduct market research and lead consulting projects on current customer engagement challenges.

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    Our course curriculum is just one singular facet of the SMU Cox experience; keep exploring all of our programs to find out the other benefits.

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