Business School Teaching Methods

Business School Case
Lecture Experiential
Simulations Other
Carnegie Mellon 30% 60%     10%
Chicago 25% 50%   5% 20%
Columbia 40% 40%     20%
Cornell (Johnson) 40% 25%     35%
Dartmouth (Tuck) 40% 30% 10% 10% 10%
Duke (Fuqua) 40% 45%   15%  
Harvard 80% 15%     5%
Indiana (Kelley) 40% 30%     30%
Michigan 40% 40% 20%    
MIT (Sloan) 45% 30%   10% 15%
Northwestern (Kellogg) 33% 33%     34%
NYU (Stern) 37% 38%     25%
Purdue (Krannert) 50% 25% 25%    
Rochester (Simon) 30% 50%     20%
Stanford 55% 30%   10% 5%
Texas — Austin (McCombs) 35% 45%   5% 15%
U. of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 55% 30% 15%    
UC — Berkeley (Haas) 50% 30%     20%
UCLA (Anderson) 30% 50%     20%
UNC — Chapel Hill 40% 35%   10% 15%
USC (Marshall) 30% 50% 20%    
Vanderbilt (Owen) 30% 50%     20%
Virginia (Darden) 70% 15%   5% 10%
Washington U. (Olin) 45% 25% 10% 10% 10%
Yale 35% 60% 5%    


These teaching methods are self reported. Obviously, Wharton will get you to do a lot of group study with your Learning Team. Schools with flexible curriculums such as Chicago Booth will obviously give you more flexibility to custom tailor the teaching methods to your individual preferences.

Here are our thoughts on some of these teaching methods:

Case Study

The cases will likely be assigned ahead of time to allow the students a chance to read through the materials and be prepared with their analyses for the class discussion. The professor will then lead the class discussion and encourage debate between the students. This method is heavily emphasized at Harvard Business School and there is a large following of MBA students and graduates who believe this is the best way to learn in business school.


The professor simply stands in front of the class and does the majority of the talking. This method is self reported as being used in the majority of the teaching at only two schools: Carnegie Mellon Tepper and the Yale School of Management.

Proponents of the lecture method point out that business school case studies do not present a realistic picture of a “real world” case study. Hence, they argue, MBA programs should stick to their traditional strengths of teaching the theories and concepts that students can apply when they re-enter the work force. They also point out the very limited opportunities for students to gain the theory and concepts explanations in the business sector.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning involves the application of theory to a real-world business problem. Proponents of this approach believe that it gives the students a “nuts and bolts” training approach to management as well as invaluable networking amongst the management of the company where they are applying their knowledge.

Group Projects

Do you remember how bad group projects were in undergrad when you and maybe one or two other group members carried the rest of the team? Well, the good news is that, particularly at the top schools, you will encounter a significantly smaller number of slackers.

When you are able to form your own study groups:

Embrace diversity. You don’t want a group full of accountants or bankers. One banker, one accountant, one engineer, etc. makes the strongest group.

Back to top