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How to Choose MBA Elective Courses

If selected properly, business school electives can help prepare students for their future careers.

When choosing MBA electives, students should consider their long-term goals, one b-school dean says.
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[See why some business schools require ethics courses.]

4. Nonprofit management: Even students who aren't necessarily considering nonprofit management can benefit from coursework in the area of fundraising and nonprofit finance, says Michael Montgomery, principal consultant of Montgomery Consulting in Detroit.

Nonprofit management training "equips people to do as much, if not more, with less," adds Montgomery, an adjunct management professor at Lawrence Technological University. "That's [a] great background to take into smaller companies or entrepreneurship."

5. Preparation for entrepreneurs: Efua Mensah-Brown, a 2011 MBA grad from University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, says she "accidentally" took taxes and business strategy as an elective. Although that's not generally considered a must-take class, it can help aspiring entrepreneurs better understand things like tax write-offs, says Brown, who is founding the clothing label, Proverbs By Efua, which she says will use its net profits to fight human trafficking.

Budding entrepreneurs might also consider enrolling in an elective course like "Founders' Dilemma," which Kaneisha Grayson took as a student at Harvard, where she earned her MBA as well as a graduate degree from the Kennedy School of Government.

Grayson, who runs the admissions consultancy Love & Achievement, says the course taught her everything about starting a company, from how to convince a significant other to support one's entrepreneurial ambitions to how to decide whether to launch a solo venture or a larger company.

"One of the most important lessons I learned is that as an entrepreneur, I care more about control than wealth," she says. "Most entrepreneurs hope to be able to do both, but by centering my decisions on one rather than trying to juggle both, I am able to run my business in a way that is in sync with my deepest motivations."

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