MBA Curriculum: What Subjects Would I Study in South Africa?
You might have wondered too, what exactly are the subjects included in an MBA curriculum, what modules would you have to study to acquire the Master of Business administration degree that is designed to thrust you into management and leadership positions?
Some have also asked: what are the best fields to focus on in an MBA syllabus, which elective would enhance my career better, do I need to submit a dissertation to qualify for the degree?
We’ve got all the answers to your MBA curriculum questions – and more.
Find out more: What is an MBA?
Why do I have to study so many modules to get an MBA degree?
The MBA degree is a robust and very comprehensive programme specifically created to impart on new entrants and experienced professionals in the corporate environment the skills and knowledge they need to manage and lead.
Managers like this have to work in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment where they would manage resources, lead people, and make long-term strategic plans and decisions.
Such business leaders are also tasked with designing daily operational procedures and as such, they require sound knowledge in multiple fields of study.
These knowledge and skills cover everything from the conception of a long-term vision to daily planning, project execution and monitoring, among others.
In effect, a potential MBA graduate is required to study a minimum of 12 courses which consists of ten compulsory modules and two electives.
The candidate is expected to study, pass summative and formative tests and exams, as well as submit a mini-research dissertation before he or she is awarded an NQF level-9 MBA qualification that carries 225 credits.
What are the core or compulsory MBA modules?
This subject is a crucial part of understanding how the world works; it is a critical component of knowing how to manage resources efficiently and leading people effectively.
Economics is concerned with the study of the production of goods and services and how they are consumed.
MBA students are also expected to know the means of distributing such goods, services, and wealth too.
Said otherwise, Economics is a science that deals with the transfer of wealth at a local, national, and global level.
Candidates pursuing an MBA degree are further expected to learn and understand human behaviour concerning scarce resources and the conflicts that arise when households businesses concerning and nations have to make choices daily.
Business Research is a vital module an MBA candidate is expected to have a full grasp of before getting the qualification.
A holistic view that focuses on researching and understanding a business is crucial if the manager must be able to identify and appreciate the risks involved as well as understand how to navigate the inevitable challenges the company would face along the way.
This class, like other MBA courses, revolves around lessons drawn from case studies of businesses that have succeeded – and why, as well as companies that failed to progress – and the reasons for their collapse.
Such lessons, alongside theoretical concepts, are used to teach the candidate how to scan and analyse the business environment, determine which goods and services are most profitable, maximise profit, reduce cost, and build a sustainable business outfit in the end.
The module speaks to the breakneck pace at which the business world is evolving; this change is the result of the insatiable nature of human wants.
Innovation, thus, focuses on how to evolve ideas, goods, and services quickly to satisfy that constantly changing taste and want.
This change-satisfaction conflict – and how to resolve it is the foundation on which this module revolves.
MBA candidates are expected to learn how to translate an idea or innovation into a valuable service or tangible goods that would meet the wants and create wealth for the innovators.
They are also required to know how to add value to existing businesses, products, and services while trying to cut cost and work more efficiently at the same time.
Alongside understanding the politics of trade, human wants, and translating new ideas and innovation into valuable goods and services, MBA candidates are instructed on the methods to sell and challenges that arise from attempting to sell such products.
Strategic Marketing deals with understanding demographics, taste, and changing trends on a long-term scale.
The course focuses on acquiring the skills to conduct proper market research, create advertising campaigns that speak to potential customers, and cost-effectively promoting the goods and services.
Operations and Supply Chain Management
The MBA curriculum would not be complete without this critical subject-matter that managers are expected to understand fully.
Supply Chain Management deals with the sourcing of materials for production as well as the logistics of distributing finished goods to the market.
Other vital components of the module include demand forecasting, order fulfilment, retail, among others.
Operations Management, on the other hand, deals with the internal processes the firm undergoes to manage planning and operations during production as it aims to create products and services for the market.
Strategic Financial Management
Since money is at the heart of business planning, operations, execution, and evaluation, this course becomes very crucial to get the degree!
A good manager must understand the intricacies of financial planning and budgeting, as well as how to get the best value for money spent.
An MBA class in Strategic Financial Management teaches candidates how to create and implement long-term financial plans in the quest to make a profit for the business.
While such plans are focused on the future, the MBA graduate is expected to be able to break down and implement the strategies while overseeing other professionals in the finance department at the same time.
Related: How Much Does an MBA Cost?
For an organisation to be successful and productive, it needs sound minds imbued with the right skills and temperament to lead people and manage financial resources efficiently and effectively.
In other words, a lack of strategic long-term plans and vision, a dearth of practical but cost-effective day-to-day operational methods, and such other critical leadership skills would mean the organisation cannot progress or meet its targets.
Conversely, a good understanding of Strategic Management – which an MBA programme provides – is an essential foundation for building sound management ethos, effective and efficient systems and processes, as well as meaningful monitoring and evaluation structures.
This importance explains why Strategic Management is one of the core modules a potential MBA graduate must study, understand, and pass before getting the degree.
Strategic Human Resource Management
While machines, financial resources, processes, and other assets are crucial for a business to produce and sell its goods and services effectively, the most critical factor that determines business failure or success is the human element.
This assertion makes the Strategic Human Resource Management course highly critical in the quest to acquire an MBA degree.
Candidates are expected to know how to find the best fit as well as have a full grasp of how to manage these talents when spotted and recruited.
Also, the class imparts the skills managers need to understand and navigate employment/labour disputes, get the best out of the staff and management, and reward or discipline high-performing or lazy/unruly employees, respectively.
Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence
Adding the Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence module to the list of core courses towards getting an MBA is one key factor that has separated the wheat from the chaff.
Understanding this key module makes for better, more compassionate, and more effective managers that put conscious leadership and care for the planet on the front burner when determining their corporate governance values.
A top MBA-awarding business school makes this course a priority, effectively dispelling the hitherto maxim in business which holds that “profit is everything.”
Thus, the next generation of leaders and managers in the corporate space should get a good grasp of this crucial module before graduating.
The MBA degree does not just teach candidates how to manage mega businesses and multinational conglomerates effectively and efficiently, it also trains the candidates in the art and science of starting a new business.
This module is all-embracing too and crucial for any student wishing to successfully complete an MBA curriculum.
Students pursuing an MBA degree are expected to know how to identify a niche market, design products or services the masses want/lack, and sell to them at a profit.
All the skills required for successfully building and managing startups of all kinds are discussed during the classes while theoretical frameworks help guide students on the right path to turning an idea into money.
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What electives can I choose?
A proper, NQF-9 level accreditated MBA curriculum in South Africa consists of the ten courses listed above which candidates are expected to study for and pass before graduating.
However, there is a list of electives from which individual candidates must choose two subjects.
Students are generally advised to select modules from this section that reflect the industry they work in or wish to work in as a career.
These courses are:
- Business Ethics and Corporate Governance
- International Management
- Mentoring and Coaching
- Mergers and Acquisition
- Organisational Development and Change
- Sales Management
- Strategic IT Management
- Strategic Performance Management
- Strategic Project Management
To add icing on the MBA curriculum cake, students are also expected to complete an MBA research project, technical project, or a series of smaller projects.
In most cases, submitting a mini-dissertation is required as one of the elements a candidate needs to fulfil before the degree is awarded.
This research component is what makes the NQF-level 9 MBA professional and the perfect certificate that signals the birth of a sound business manager and leader of people in the corporate environment.
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There you have it!
On completion of the ten compulsory modules and two elective courses as well as submission of a well-supervised research project, the candidate will be eligible for graduation.
The completion of the MBA curriculum means he/she will be awarded the second highest degree in the world (South Africa inclusive).