As a result, UIUC introduced several core courses last fall that are being integrated as well into the full-time MBA program, including entrepreneurship and corporate renewal, in which teams develop business plans for new ventures and compete for university seed grants, and strategic innovation management, where students analyze innovation success stories across industries and countries.
Student Scott Rylko, a vice president of a foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturer, says the most valuable takeaway so far has been instruction on the importance of "disruptive innovation" in setting a course for businesses, as digital photography and online periodicals have done for publishing, for example.
"Instead of waiting for someone else to disrupt your business through technology," he says, the goal is to figure out how to disrupt yourself.
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Full-time candidates traditionally haven't had the advantage of immediately applying what they learn in the classroom. That's changing rapidly as programs build in experiential learning.
Each year, students at University of Iowa's Henry B. Tippie College of Business form teams from across business specialties to consult for companies in different industries. Students have helped Goodwill of the Heartland move into the baked goods business, for instance, and worked with Stihl to analyze a lithium ion versus a gas engine for its power tools.
Some b-schools are borrowing a page from the corporate book to build skills through outdoor experiences, where instructors teach basic survival skills, but leave most of the decisionmaking to the expeditioners, to instill confidence in their ability to lead. At the same time, educators are realizing that a simple field trip is not the answer to understanding global business.
At TCU, for example, students who wanted a global perspective used to get a 10-day trip to Munich and London. Now, everyone takes a new first-semester course on global business and can choose from several electives such as international marketing, international finance, and a global supply chain course, plus 5 additional 10-day trips (including to South Africa and China), in the second and third semester.
Educators agree that there's no end to change in sight. "The next five years will be the biggest time of change in education that we're ever seen," says Kellogg Dean Sally Blount, who thinks getting an MBA online for little or no money will become a reality in the near future.
Says UIUC's Echambadi: "The world was very different 10 years ago, but reasonably predictable, like chess." Now, he says, the game is more like poker.
This story is excerpted from the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools 2014 guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings, and data.