As the global business landscape shifts and changes, M.B.A. programs are following suit.

As the global business landscape shifts and changes, M.B.A. programs are following suit. This is quickly creating increasingly diverse M.B.A. courses of study that feature a heightened international focus and an emphasis on teamwork.

Increased Student and Faculty Diversity Benefit Top M.B.A. Programs

Business schools have realized that the best way to teach tomorrow's managers is to tap into the talents of an increasingly diverse workforce is to surround students with a heterogeneous student body. The schools are also recruiting more faculty members who reflect out-of-the-box thinking and come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Students from diverse cultures are viewed as a resource that complements what faculty members know and what other students bring to the program. Almost across the board, graduate-level business programs in the U.S. are placing greater emphasis on international studies. The result is a rich exchange of students and faculty with partner schools in other parts of the world. Female students are swelling the ranks of M.B.A. graduates, as well. Not to be forgotten are the dynamics offered by a good online M.B.A. program or a top M.B.A. programs with online elements to them.

Global Perspectives Help M.B.A. Courses Look Outward

Part of the globalization of graduate-level business studies is the proliferation of super alliances among institutions in different countries. Developments in top M.B.A. programs include the OneM.B.A. degree attained through a 21-month program designed by 5 schools on 4 continents: Kenan-Flagler (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Rotterdam School of Management (Netherlands), Monterrey Tech (Mexico), Fundação Getulio Vargas (São Paulo, Brazil), and Chinese University of Hong Kong. Core courses are designed by faculty members from the universities. Students attend classes at the institution that is nearest to them and also participate in regional courses. Students are expected to have at least 7 years of managerial experience before entering the program.

Another example, the Trium Global Executive M.B.A., is offered in conjunction with New York University, London School of Economics, and HEC Paris. In the course of the 16-month program, students who have already acquired several years' work experience travel to the schools for 2-week periods.

The interM.B.A. is a full-time, year-long program offered across three European schools: University of Strathclyde (Scotland), Universiteit Nyenrode (Netherlands), and Euro-Méditerranée (France). Students split into groups and spend 4 months at each of the 3 schools while earning an M.B.A. degree.

Teamwork, Teamwork, and More Teamwork—A Common Trait in Today's M.B.A. Program

In addition to  an international emphasis, schools are working hard to encourage the same environment of teamwork that graduates will experience in the working world. Cohort structures, for example, have gained in popularity. In a cohort structure, you are placed with a specified number of fellow students—deliberately chosen for their diversity—either for the first few weeks of class or for the entire first year. Together with other members of your cohort, you'll solve problems as a team, resolve conflicts, sustain morale, achieve accountability, and learn to reach your goals by becoming interdependent, just as you would in a corporate setting.

Reinvented graduate-level business programs are learning to "pit students against the curriculum and not against one another," says Sam Lundquist, chief of staff in the dean's office at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford says its cooperative learning environment is a significant factor in the program's "joy coefficient," as George Parker, professor of finance, describes it.

At MIT's Sloan School of Management, students working toward an M.B.A. degree learn to work together from the beginning when they are put into "core teams" in their first semester. Even the facilities in which students are taught increasingly reflect the teamwork needed in today's business environment. Many now offer breakout rooms for team sessions and have re-configured their classrooms so that students face each other rather than the front of the room.