What Are My Spring Semester MBA Courses Like?

Back in September, I published a post describing the two CSUF MBA courses I was taking during the fall semester.  Now that I am almost two months into my spring semester, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my observations and advice about both of my current classes.

ISDS 514 – Decision Models for Business and Economics is taught by Dr. Pasternack.  Considering my current work experience is in the public sector, I’m finding the material in this course to be extremely relevant to business situations (time will tell if I end up needed it in a work setting, as we are learning specific decision models).  The majority of course time is spent taking notes and practicing problems for a variety of topics including linear programming, PERT and CPM analysis, decision trees, and later we will even be getting into forecasting.  Dr. Pasternack details the underlying concepts behind these models, but we learn how to do all the calculations in Excel (using Solver).  The amount of reading can vary from week to week, but chapters are assigned one at a time and can average around 25 pages or more.  The material in the textbook is a little dry to me, but there are numerous examples that help illustrate the homework problems and prepare me for the exams.  Homework is not graded, and the final course grade consists mainly of exams and a couple of group projects.  So far, I’ve especially enjoyed learning how to maximize production output and project schedules using Excel, and this course has been one of the first I’ve taken that begins to demonstrate how powerful a business tool Excel really can be when utilized correctly.

The instructor for MGMT 515 – Management of Information in the Corporate Environment is Professor Fraser.  This is easily my favorite course this semester, and that’s because of the case studies we do in class.  These case studies tie real-world business situations into the concepts we read in the chapters, which makes the class both extremely challenging and rewarding.  I haven’t ever experienced a course that required me to apply so many analysis tools to a specific problem (Porter’s Five Forces, business models, sustainable advantages, etc.).  On top of that requirement, the concepts we cover in the textbook must also be used to support any arguments we make during the discussions.  I find that if I don’t prepare enough, I feel lost and have a hard time keeping with my classmates’ back-and-forth discussions.  The final course grade will be determined by oral and written case study performance, in addition to attendance and a final exam.  I feel that Professor Fraser does a great job moving discussions along, and makes sure the students don’t get too bogged down on one single idea.  We explore multiple sides of each case, and I am finding it difficult to tackle a problem that seems to have so many solutions.  The case studies are teaching me how to apply the concepts learned in the textbook, develop arguments (and support them) using limited information, and then stand by my statements during discussions with classmates.  I think this course may end up being one of my favorites as CSUF even though I still have 3 more semesters to complete.

I’ve also been thinking about adding a new page to the Orange County MBA blog that provides some objective information about each course I’ve taken so far.  That information would include the average amount of reading per week, elements that make up the final grade, and the professor’s classroom teaching style, major concepts covered in the class, etc.  If you feel like this would be useful, or have a suggestion about how to tweak the idea and make it better, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here is an article I read this week that I found interesting:

“Would You Invest in This Kid?” – This Harvard Business Review article explores the importance of intellectual property right protection in business investment and growth, and in particular why it will be important in developing nations (particularly those in Africa).

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3 Responses to “What Are My Spring Semester MBA Courses Like?”


  1. 1 JB May 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    The New Page is a great idea!!! I’ve been a loyal fan of your blog. Keep up the great work!

    • 2 orangecountymba May 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog! Now that I’ve got a year of posts under my belt, I’m trying to determine what topics people found useful and other areas I can add new content. I really appreciate your feedback because it helps me decide which directions I to pursue.

      Also, did you end up applying to CSUF? If so, how did the application process go?


  1. 1 Doing Consulting Work While Earning My MBA « Orange County MBA Trackback on September 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

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