This blog will outline the foundational core MBA subjects taught in each semester of MBA programs to develop broad business expertise across multiple disciplines. We will explore popular electives that enable further specialization aligned with your career goals.
Table of Contents:
Learn How to Choose MBA Specialization through this video
Core Subjects in MBA: Semester Wise
As you may know, an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) is typically a 2-year graduate-level degree program designed to prepare students for leadership and managerial roles across various business sectors. Throughout the course duration, the MBA curriculum aims to equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of foundational business principles while also developing analytical and problem-solving abilities.
While the exact sequence of MBA subjects varies between universities and MBA specializations, the core curriculum is usually structured around fundamental courses covered over multiple semesters:
To learn more about general management, check out Intellipaat’s General Management course.
Core MBA Subjects in First Year
The first year of an MBA program lays a solid foundation for students in the core concepts and principles of business. Through a comprehensive curriculum, students gain a holistic understanding of various business functions, and these subjects equip students with the essential skills and knowledge to effectively manage and lead organizations in today’s dynamic business environment.
|Semester – 1
|Semester – 2
|Human Resource Management
|Optimization and Project Research
Core MBA Subjects in the Second Year
Building on the broad foundation established in the first year, the second year of an MBA curriculum provides the opportunity to develop specialized expertise through elective choices and hands-on projects.
|Semester – 3
|Semester – 4
|Electives & Project Study
|Legal Aspects of Business
|Corporate Governance and Business Ethics
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List of Elective Subjects in MBA
Electives play an important role in MBA programs by enabling customization aligned to individual interests and career aspirations. Students can often take elective courses in the latter part of MBA programs to gain deeper knowledge in specialized areas, building on the foundational core covered earlier in the first year of MBA. Students get to handpick subjects, creating their own unique learning roadmap based on not just their strengths but also the sector or role they want to pursue after their MBA.
These are some of the elective subjects offered during MBA:
|Auditing and Taxation
|Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Analytics
|Banking and Financial Services
|Hospital and Health Care Management
|Energy and Environment Management
|Human Resource Management
|Oil and Gas Management
MBA Subjects Based on Specializations
The MBA program provides various specializations, each with specific core subjects designed to deepen student’s knowledge in those domains. Let’s explore some of these specializations, their key subjects, and recommended books to delve further into each area:
MBA in Finance
So our first specialization is an MBA in Finance where we have been providing various core subjects related to it with its recommended books for the students:
|Financial Accounting and Reporting
|“Financial Accounting and Reporting” by Warren Buffett
|“Financial Management” by Eugene F. Brigham and Joel F. Houston
|“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, “Security Analysis” by Benjamin Graham
|“Investment Banking” by Steven M. Bainbridge
|“International Financial Management” by Cheol Eun and Bruce Resnick
MBA in Marketing
Now you can take a look at the core subjects related to an MBA in Marketing that are given in the tabular format:
|“Marketing Management” by Philip Kotler, Kevin Lane Keller
|“Marketing Management” by Kotler, Keller, and Armstrong
|“Marketing Research” by Naresh K. Malhotra
|“Marketing Research: A Practical Approach” by Naresh K. Malhotra
|Advertising and sales promotion
|“Advertising & Sales Promotion” by Michael R. Solomon
MBA in Human Resource Management
If you are willing to start your career in HRM, then take a glimpse at the below table consisting of various subjects and recommended books that are as follows:
|Human Resource Management
|“Human Resource Management” by Gary Dessler
|“Organizational Behavior” by Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge
|Compensation and Benefits
|“Compensation and Benefits Management” by C. William Thomas, Jr. and Theresa M. Welbourne
|“Employee Relations” by Thomas A. DeCotiis and Arthur W. Nickels
|“Labor Relations” by Thomas A. Kochan, Bruce E. Kaufman, and Robert B. McKersie
MBA in Information Technology (IT)
Below we have provided the list of core subjects and books for the candidates who are thinking of pursuing an MBA in Information Technology:
|Information Systems Management
|“Information Systems Management” by Ralph M. Stair and George W. Reynolds
|“Database Management Systems” by Ramez Elmasri and Shamkant B. Navathe
|Networking and Telecommunications
|“Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach” by James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross
|“Cybersecurity: A Beginner’s Guide” by Raef Meeuwisse
|Business Intelligence and Analytics
|“Business Intelligence and Analytics” by O’Brien, James A.
MBA in Operations Management
Students who are thinking of pursuing MBA in operations management can refer to the below table as we have listed the core subjects that they are going to study and the recommended books for particular subject:
|“Operations Management” by R. Dan Reid and Nada Sanders
|Supply Chain Management
|“Supply Chain Management” by Sunil Chopra and Peter Meindl
|“Total Quality Management” by Dale H. Besterfield, Donald D. DeVor, and Stanley E. Blanchard
|“Project Management” by Harold Kerzner
|Business Process Improvement
|“Business Process Improvement” by Paul Harmon
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Is it possible to pursue an MBA in finance after opting for an MBA in marketing? What would be the procedure?
While pursuing an MBA with a chosen specialization in marketing, you still have the option to take up finance-related electives and projects based on your interest area. You can choose courses in corporate finance, investment banking, equity research, and more that clarify concepts from a finance lens. Further, you can align your capstone projects, research assignments, and case competitions with finance-driven business problems.
How many electives can be taken by a student?
The number of electives an MBA student can choose varies across business schools and programs. Typically, the full-time MBA curriculum allows students to select 2-3 electives, beyond the core compulsory subjects. Some universities also offer interdisciplinary electives enabling students to explore an area unrelated to their specialization.
Is there any specialization that covers all subjects?
Yes, MBA programs typically provide a general management specialization option, which offers core and elective subjects covering major business disciplines rather than focusing deeply on a single domain. Students pursue a wide array of foundational subjects in the first year, such as marketing, finance, HR, and operations and then customize further learning through electives. Instead of advanced specialization, the emphasis is on cross-functional learning and developing integrated perspectives across departments within an organization.
What happens if I don't score passing marks in any subject?
If an MBA student is unable to secure passing marks in a particular subject, most institutes provide an opportunity for re-examination or re-taking the course based on the internal academic policies. Typically, one or two re-attempts may be allowed if the student has genuinely underperformed. However, consistently failing in multiple core subjects or failing after re-attempts can lead to detention, where the student has to repeat the entire academic year.
Are core subjects compulsory?
Yes, the core MBA subjects that provide foundational business knowledge are compulsory for students. Students must complete subjects like accounting & finance, marketing management, operations, economics, and organization behavior to pursue advanced-level electives.