As one of the top business schools in the world, Yale School of Management takes a slightly different approach than most. At Evans Hall, you’ll find students from a wide array of backgrounds, all attracted by SOM’s mission of educating “Leaders for Business and Society”. This is because SOMers believe that, at its core, business is about people, connections, empathy. To quote our esteemed and beloved professor Barry Nalebuff: “It’s not about how you split the pie - it’s about finding a way to bake a bigger pie.”
If you are an aspiring MBA looking to learn more about Yale SOM, you’re in the right place – I’m here to share with you my two cents as an alum on why I chose Yale SOM, as well as some insights into what the academics are like.
Why I Chose Yale SOM
When I was applying to business school, there were three main points that persuaded me to go with SOM that rang true for me throughout my entire MBA experience:
No point skirting around the topic - Yale is Yale. The name works. Eyebrows will raise and heads will nod. The Yale brand has universal appeal, and it will gain you recognition both within and outside of business circles. If you’re looking to expand your long-term career beyond the confines of a single region or industry, Yale can help in ways that few other brands can.
When looking at a school’s alumni network, it’s important to keep in mind both its size and its accessibility. Yale SOM tends to attract and accept people with a strong sense of social responsibility, and as such, SOM students tend to offer aid and assistance whenever possible. Alumni from both SOM and the broader Yale community are always down for a coffee chat, and professors love keeping in touch with past students, often inviting their former students back for classroom lectures and lunchtime guest panels. During their time at Yale, SOM students are trained to take on a wide array of different perspectives in their approach to problem-solving, and the breadth and depth of the SOM alumni network is a perfect testament to this success of this approach.
Yale SOM likes international students, and it does everything it can to attract top talent from across the globe. To support international students seeking employment in the US, Yale SOM has even introduced a Concentration in Management Science, which international students can pursue (by taking specific electives) during their MBA for an opportunity to qualify for a two-year STEM OPT extension. Over 40% of each year’s class consists of international passport holders who grew up in different countries, and it shows – as a non-international student with an international background, I found the frequent deviations from US-centric thinking quite refreshing, both in class and during social events.
A breakdown of SOM academics
During your 1st year, you’ll mostly be taking Core Courses that give you a rounded understanding. While many MBA programs choose to focus on an orthodox selection of topics, Yale SOM takes a unique role-oriented approach to build upon the basic MBA curriculum. Over half of SOM’s core classes put you into the shoes of key stakeholders, teaching you how to think and make decisions from a wide array of perspectives. These courses are appropriately titled: The Customer, The Competitor, The Investor, The CFO, Operations Engine, The Workforce, The Executive, The Innovator, and State & Society. Some are case-oriented while some are not, and the diversity of teaching styles mirrors the myriad of viewpoints you’ll learn to adopt in your leadership training.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the Consulting Club is widely considered by many SOM students to be a secret part of the SOM 1st Year Core Curriculum. I won’t go into details here, but even if you aren’t looking to go into consulting, the skills and methodology you’ll get from this student-run crash course are 100% worth picking up.
During your 2nd year, as well as the last quarter of your first year, you’ll get to build a personalized curriculum for yourself through Electives. These are classes that you need to bid for, which are generally considered the most fun and rewarding given their personal relevance. On average, students take 4-5 electives each quarter, and for the early birds used to front-loading their work, SOM has a policy that allows students to take a lighter workload during their very last quarter so they can focus on recruiting.
If you’re looking for ideas, here are the electives that I thoroughly enjoyed during my time at SOM, in the order I took them:
- Advanced Negotiations by Barry Nalebuff and Daylian Cain
- Social Media Analytics by Tauhid Zaman
- Human Capital Strategy by Jim Barron
- How to Design and Run Business Experiments by Shane Frederick
- Competitive Strategy by Fiona Scott Morton
- Mastering Influence and Persuasion by Zoe Chance
- Managing Software Development by Kyle Jensen
- Strategy, Tech, and War by Paul Bracken
- Behavioral Econ by Florian Ederer and Shane Frederick
- Strategy Leadership Across Sectors by Jeff Sonnenfeld
- Interpersonal Dynamics by Heidi Brooks
Of course, to make sure that students get a well-rounded education, Yale SOM has a set of leadership course requirements (which a good range of electives can satisfy) and a global study requirement (a Yale-sponsored trip abroad) that aspiring MBAs need to fulfill. These are not hard to check off at all, and mostly serve as guideposts for building a balanced personal curriculum.
Given how MBA students tend to be returning to school after a few years of work, it’s understandable that some might be concerned about achieving academic success. If that sounds like you, no need to worry – there’s a lot.