Apr 18, 2024  
Graduate Record 2005-2006 
Graduate Record 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Master of Business Administration

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M.B.A. Academic Program

The Darden School’s two-year program leading to a degree of Master of Business Administration prepares men and women of high promise to be leaders in the world of practical affairs. Darden M.B.A.s are taught to be action-oriented, take an enterprise perspective, and lead with integrity, vision, judgment, determination, and social responsibility. The Darden curriculum is an integrated program that provides an understanding of the fundamental areas of business while it develops the capacity to analyze managerial problems and present intelligent and resourceful solutions to these problems. The M.B.A. program compresses years of experience through the study of several hundred real business situations or cases involving a breadth and depth of analysis impossible to gain in years of on-the-job training.

The educational approach employed by the Darden School places significant responsibility for self-development on the individual student. Students are admitted not only for what they can learn, but also what they can teach their classmates in a discussion oriented setting. The curriculum is carefully planned and coordinated by the faculty, but the daily discussion revolves around student preparation and participation. This shared faculty and student responsibility for the classroom learning makes the Darden classroom experience highly dynamic and stimulating.

The Darden curriculum also emphasizes the ethical nature of leadership through required course work and broad integrated discussions of the role of the corporation and its leaders in business and society in general. The school’s concern with ethical values continues the tradition of the University of Virginia evident in the Honor System.

The Student Body The Darden School admits approximately 310 highly qualified individuals yearly. New students come from around the world and virtually every profession. These students are then organized into learning teams of five to six students and sections of 65 students. Each learning team and each section are designed to have a diversity of functional skills, demographics, and international background. Darden students quickly learn that one of the most important assets of their education is the network of relationships built among classmates from all over the world. The first year sections are shuffled at the beginning of the second semester in January to provide maximum opportunity to meet, learn from, and form long-term relationships with a wide range of classmates.

The Case Method The Darden School uses business problem oriented cases in the vast majority of classes. In case method, students learn in four steps: individual case reading, preparation and analysis; learning team discussion; section discussion; and post-class reflection and integration. Each case presents students with a real business situation and related decisions to make. Most cases require the student to decide and present extemporaneously what they would do in that situation. Students are expected to define the issues they identify in the case, use sound analytical techniques in applying their knowledge to the available data, evaluate the alternatives, make a reasonable decision, and recommend measures to implement their plan. This process simulates the function of modern managers in a wide variety of different industries, products, processes, and styles of management.

Case method is demanding. Potential students should be prepared to commit 60 to 80 hours each week to their academic endeavors. Darden School students will spend 3-5 hours a day on individual preparation, 2-3 hours in learning team meetings, 4.5 hours a day in class meetings with their section of 65 classmates, and 1-2 hours a day integrating the day’s learning into their business judgment base. Classroom time is spent largely in discussion, focusing on the definition, analysis, and a wide range of feasible approaches to a problem. To attain academic and personal growth in this environment, the student is required to participate in case discussions. Students’ grades are based in large part on the quality of their in-class contributions. Classes in the second year vary in size, but case discussion is still the chief learning experience.

While the following first year schedule is intended only as an example, it does indicate the degree of commitment expected of our students:


8:00 - 9:25              First class
9:25 - 10:00            Coffee
10:00 - 11:25          Second class
11:45 - 1:10            Third Class
Afternoon                Prepare cases for next day
Evening                   Meet with learning teams

While the case-method philosophy dominates the program, other methodologies (role-playing, simulations, field trips, guest lecturers, and exercises of various sorts) are used to augment students’ understanding of modern business practice. The Darden educational experience is a careful blending of theory and current practice designed to equip students to act confidently in a complex world.

Academic Regulations

Standards for the M.B.A. Degree The Darden School requires a minimum performance standard for its M.B.A. graduates. In addition, the school has performance standards for the first year program, each semester of the M.B.A. program, and each course.

An M.B.A. candidate must ordinarily take the equivalent of 20 course units, receiving grades below B- in no more than 4.5 course units and no grades of F (certain makeup procedures exist for F grades).

A course meeting 34-40 sessions (each of 85 minutes) in the first year or 30-34 sessions in the second year is defined as one course unit. A course meeting 16-20 sessions in the first year or 15-17 sessions in the second year constitutes one-half course unit. An interim grade given at the end of the first semester of the first year has the course equivalent units of the entire course for purposes of academic standards.

In administering these standards, the school uses six grades, defined by the faculty as follows: A, excellent; B+, very good; B, good or satisfactory graduate work; B-, minimum no-penalty grade; C, not satisfactory as general level of work but passing for a particular course; F, failure. In addition, occasions arise that necessitate assigning a grade that falls outside the standard range. The symbol IN (incomplete), assigned in such cases implies that, for reasons known to the individual faculty member, an enrolled student has not completed the work of the course at the end of a specified academic period.

An important element of student performance is classroom participation. Depending on the appraisal criteria of the instructor and course, classroom participation frequently accounts for up to 50 percent of a student’s grade. This proportion reflects the central role and importance of active engagement by the student in the learning process.

While assessments about classroom participation are incorporated into grades received by students at the end of each term, the first year program expects each student to be aware of, and responsible for, her or his participation on an ongoing basis. Although individual faculty, course faculty, or section faculty may find it appropriate to provide an assessment of student participation during a term, there is no requirement that they do so on a consistent basis. The responsibility for being informed of the impact one is having on others resides with the student. Consistent with this philosophy, a student who is uncertain about the value added by participation in class is expected to initiate discussions with faculty and students who can provide an independent perspective.

Session and Semester Grade Requirements

First Semester, First Year A student who, at the end of the first semester of work, receives final or interim grades below B- in three or more course units, or a grade of F in courses that have had at least 15 meetings, is required to submit an action plan for grade improvement. This plan must be submitted prior to registering for spring semester classes and must be acceptable to the Academic Standards Committee in order to continue in the program.

End of First Year A student who receives a grade of F or grades below B- in three or more course units will be notified by the Academic Standards Committee, acting on behalf of the faculty, that he or she has failed to meet the standards for continuing the M.B.A. program. The student may petition the Academic Standards Committee for readmission.

Second Year At the end of the third semester, a student who has received a grade of F or grades below B- in four or more course units shall be notified by the Academic Standards Committee, acting on behalf of the faculty, that he or she has failed to meet the standards for continuing the M.B.A. program, but may petition the Academic Standards Committee for readmission.

At the end of the fourth semester, a student who has received a grade of F or grades below B- in five or more course units will not be recommended for the M.B.A. degree.

In either semester of the second year, a student who receives grades below B- in three or more course units shall be notified by the Academic Standards Committee, acting on behalf of the faculty, that he or she has failed to meet the standards for continuing the M.B.A. program, but may petition the Academic Standards Committee for readmission.


The first three quarters of the first year of the M.B.A. program consist of a set of core courses required of all students. In addition, students must take three core electives during the fourth quarter (March and April). The second year program consists of 30 credits and has one required leadership course to be selected from a menu of options. The remainder of the second year program is comprised of electives. M.B.A. students may not opt out of courses they have previously taken. No courses may be waived. First year courses are fully coordinated into a single program that is more than the sum of its parts. While the courses are formally distinct, each one contributes more than the basic knowledge of a narrow specialty and provides an opportunity to use and expand on knowledge gained in each of the other courses. For example, quantitative analysis concepts are used in marketing, accounting, finance, operations, and country analysis. Leadership concepts introduced in Organizational Behavior are employed in all of the courses. First year faculty course heads plan the introduction of overlapping concepts so that all courses may benefit. The result is a comprehensive, integrated view of business.

As a result of this curriculum design, Darden graduates are well informed and conversant with current thinking in the traditional functional areas of business; they are able to use the quantitative methods of the modern business environment, they understand business applications of the behavioral sciences, they understand the ethical nature of all their decisions, and they have a command of oral and written communication skills essential to being an effective leader. Darden graduates repeatedly report that they are qualified to assume leadership in the world of practical affairs at a more rapid pace than many of their counterparts. Because they understand both the modern techniques and broad environment of business, nationally and internationally, Darden graduates are equipped to think analytically and imaginatively, to solve problems, and to make things happen.

The First Year

The emphasis during the first year program is on the fundamentals of managing a global business. The pedagogical focus during the first year is on integrated program. First year students learn about the essential business management issues in accounting, finance, marketing, operations, ethics, management communications, leadership and organizational behavior, strategy and business in a global political environment. This integrated program design gives students an experience that encompasses a knowledge of analytical techniques, an understanding of the functional demands of a global business and their interrelationships, and an appreciation of the environment in which business functions. The different courses are so integrated that the many skills and attributes of business management are developed simultaneously.

The course of study assumes little background in formal business education but does require baseline competency in foundational skills.

Class schedules at Darden do not follow the traditional university model. During weeks in which Quantitative Analysis and Operations meet frequently, Marketing may not meet at all. In later weeks all courses may meet. Still later the emphasis may be on Marketing and Organizational Behavior, with no class meetings in Accounting. Such flexibility in scheduling supports and emphasizes the conceptual flow of the first year program.

Grading at Darden is based on classroom contributions and written work, primarily course end exams. Most courses consist of two 15-session halves, so a final grade for each is not issued until both halves have been completed.

M.B.A. Requirements

The first year program consists of 30 credits:

  • Accounting (3.0)
  • Business and the Political Economy (3.0)
  • Ethics (1.5)
  • Finance (3.0)
  • Management Communications (1.5)
  • Marketing (3.0)
  • Operations (3.0)
  • Organizational Behavior (3.0)
  • Quantitative Analysis (3.0)
  • Strategy (1.5)
  • Three electives of 1.5 credits each
Second year students must take one course on leadership from among six approved courses. The rest of the second year is elective, adding up to a total of 45 credits.

The Second Year

The overarching objective of the second year is to strengthen students’ skills in their chosen career paths, specifically:

  • To build on the general management foundation of the first year by providing students with opportunities to pursue their chosen areas of interest in greater depth
  • To stimulate the design and offering of innovative and relevant leading-edge M.B.A.. courses
  • To develop leadership capabilities in students
  • To prepare students for lifelong learning and continued professional development
  • To support and facilitate the transition of students into the business community
  • To support and encourage activities outside the classroom that serve to enhance the Darden community, develop individual relationships, and foster a sense of social responsibility
While the second year curriculum is an extension and elaboration of the structurally integrated first year, it allows flexibility in the selection of elective courses. That flexibility can be used to develop depth in functional expertise or breadth in general management perspective.

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