Curriculum Structure

overviewWharton’s MBA curriculum offers depth, breadth, and options. The curriculum emphasizes an intensive, flexible core in general management, plus the depth of 18 majors and breadth of nearly 200 electives.

You will customize your learning by selecting a course pathway through content areas based on your education, career experience, and goals — not just through selection of your electives and majors, but through choices in the core.

Read a progress report on how Wharton is empowering students to choose their own pathway 


Offered as quarter- or semester-long courses, the core curriculum covers traditional management disciplines- with an emphasis on analytical rigor — accounting, finance, marketing, management, operations, statistics, and microeconomics — as well as the leadership, ethics, and communication skills necessary for leadership. This series of courses provides a rigorous grounding for the individualized coursework that follows.

Wharton’s core includes nine credit units, distributed in two parts:

  • Fixed Core: 3.5 credit units fixed with your cohort.
  • Flexible Core: 5.5 credit units you choose to define your own path.

Elective Curriculum

Wharton’s elective curriculum, 10 credit units, provides depth and breadth across traditional and nontraditional areas of management education.

  • Majors: Choose from 18 majors.
  • Electives: Choose among 200+ electives across 10 academic departments, or take courses in others of Penn’s 11 world-leading schools.

pre-termYour Wharton MBA begins with Pre-Term. With a three-week immersion, Pre-Term sets you up for a strong academic experience and ensures that everyone in your diverse incoming class begins from a common knowledge base. Pre-Term also provides the platform upon which you will develop your curriculum plan while bonding with new classmates and building your own sense of community and school pride.

Pre-Term is required. It includes coursework, a Learning Team experience, and the chance to explore Philadelphia and build relationships with your cluster and other classmates.

You will be introduced to your Learning Team at a Learning Team Retreat in an environment free of distraction. This initiates the process of strong team formation. The Teams complete the Management 610: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership course, and continue the collaboration throughout the fixed core.

Other elements of Pre-Term include MBA Convocation, International Student Orientation, and an Accelerated Corporate Finance Prep Course for students who need it.

year1The first year is intense. You will begin by moving through key courses with your learning team — a group of five or six classmates with whom you will work closely on projects. Then, you’ll select from many options as you branch out in the second half of First Year and beyond. You’ll have a choice of content areas for some core courses and will start to pick your electives. In addition, you will become involved in co-curricular and extracurricular activities that tie into the courses you choose.

Here is a Sample of a First Year Schedule


  • Begin Pre-Term
  • Meet and build relationships with your cluster
  • First Year Welcome and Convocation
  • Take part in a competition of ideas with your learning team
  • Core Course: Foundations of Leadership and Teamwork course


  • Join the Wharton Graduate Association
  • Consider which clubs to join
  • Start the groundwork for your degree with the core curriculum


  • Attend a conference: Investment Management, General Management, Wharton Women in Business, Energy
  • Participate in Wharton Community Service Day in West Philadelphia
  • First Year Q1 Salute
  • Go hog wild at Hog Fest, Wharton’s annual rugby tournament


  • Attend a conference: Consulting, Finance, Marketing, Whitney M. Young, or the Africa and Asia Global Business Forums
  • Participate in a Field Application Project
  • Work on your core and elective schedule for the spring session


  • Dress up for the Wharton Winter Ball
  • Participate in a Global Modular Course
  • Take part in a Global Immersion Program


  • Volunteer for Wharton Winter Welcome and meet and greet round-one accepted students
  • Take an elective
  • Attend a conference: Private Equity and Venture Capital


  • Attend a conference: Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Restructuring,Social Impact, Technology
  • Consider applying for the MBA Program Office Advisory Boards(Student Life or Academic Affairs)
  • Consider applying for the Leadership Lecture Series Committee


  • Run for WGA, club officers, conference co-chairs, and the Ethics Committee
  • Apply to be a second year Venture Fellow
  • Plan your spring break and travel with student groups, or go on a Leadership Venture
  • Return to the 70’s at Wharton 54


  • Work the runway in the annual Wharton Fashion Show
  • Star in the Follies
  • Volunteer with your cohort in Rebuilding Together’s efforts to renovate homes in West Philly
  • Volunteer for Wharton Spring Welcome
  • Celebrate the year at Spring Gala


  • Final Friday
  • First Year Brunch
  • Embark on a six-week summer session


  • Do an internship. Work at a new company or industry, or try a new function for 6 to 12 weeks, gaining exposure and building networks for a full-time position.
  • Go on a Career Trek in the U.S. or to Europe, Asia, or South America. Visit prominent companies, and meet with upper-level management and human resources representatives.
  • Join the Wharton International Volunteer Program. Go overseas for two to four weeks to assist an NGO or small business to develop a project.
  • Work at a non-profit with support of the Summer Public Interest Fund. The fund is financed by fellow students who pledge one percent of their summer salaries to encourage careers that serve the public good.

year2You will take any remaining core requirements, drill deeper within the wide range of electives, and develop one or more areas of expertise. For customized interests, students often partner with faculty and businesses on individual advanced student projects.

Pursuing More Stretch Experiences

  • Lead a student conference
    Each year, Wharton students plan conferences that attract influential international executives from the public and private sectors. These conferences help to make Wharton a vibrant international hub for the exchange of business knowledge.
  • Participate in a second-year networking expo
    Second-Year Networking Expos are open forums that offer employers early exposure to second-year students. Because second-year students often are more targeted in their job searches, the format of the Networking Expos focuses on direct student-employer interaction rather than broad informational presentations.
  • Attend employer information sessions
    Wharton typically hosts more than 150 employer information sessions each year. These sessions allow students to learn more about the cultures and opportunities of potential employers and specific industries through presentations by senior managers and recently hired associates.
  • Go on a career trek
    Career Treks are student-managed visits to companies in various U.S. and international cities for education and networking across all industries. Career Treks provide access to companies or divisions that may not recruit on campus, build industry knowledge, and foster a stronger job search network.