Graduation Requirements

The graduation requirements for the Master of Business Administration degree are:

COURSEWORK REQUIREMENTS (in credit units [CUs]*)

Fixed and Flexible Core 9 or 9.5CUs
Electives 10 or 9.5CUs
Total Required 19CUs
CU Limit – those who exceed this are subject to additional tuition charges 21CU

*See Course Load section for explanation of credit units.
†A student who does not waive out of or place into any core coursework can complete the core requirements in either 9 or 9.5CUs. See the Curriculum Snapshot for a list of fixed and flexible core courses.


Each student must also complete a major in order to graduate. Major requirements are discussed in greater detail in the “Majors” section of SPIKE’s Curriculum tab and are most clearly defined in the MBA Resource Guide.

Waiving Coursework

Students have the option to waive or place into accelerated elements of the core through the processes outlined in the Waiver Information Guide. The Waiver Information Guide is published annually and is unique to each incoming class (click here to view the Waiver Information Guide for the MBA Class of 2016). All petitions to waive or place must be completed by the deadlines prescribed in the Waiver Information Guide. Petitions to waive or place will not be considered after said dates which are unique to each incoming class. Students who waive or place must replace the waived CUs with elective coursework. The minimum requirement for graduation remains 19 credit units at the graduate level regardless of one’s waiver status.

The Fixed and Flexible Core

The Fixed Core consists of 3.5CUs (3.25CUs in the fall semester, 0.25CUs during the spring semester) that each student must either complete or waive during his or her first year. This coursework is comprised of:

  • MGMT610: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership; 0.5CU
  • MKTG611: Marketing Management; 0.5CU
  • STAT613/621: Regression Analysis for Business; 1.0/0.5CU
  • MGEC611: Microeconomics for Managers; 0.5CU
  • MGEC612: Advanced Microeconomics for Managers; 0.5CU
  • WHCP611: Management Communications; 0.25CU
  • WHCP612/615: Advanced Communications; 0.25CU (spring semester)

Flexible Core courses can be taken at any time during a student’s tenure with the understanding that: 1) not all courses are offered every term; and 2) some elective courses have core prerequisites. Flexible Core coursework gives students the opportunity to customize their academic experiences while studying foundational concepts.

The worksheet titled The Wharton MBA Curriculum: A Snapshot further outlines the differences between the fixed and flexible core, defining a student’s choices within the flexible core curriculum.

Full-time Program

The MBA program is designed for a two-year, full-time residency consisting of four academic terms. While it is possible to graduate in less time (for example, by attending three academic terms and the summer term), summer course offerings are quite limited and completing the requisite 19CUs and major in three semesters is quite ambitious. Summer study may also preclude an internship, which is seem by many as a valuable element of the MBA experience. Keep in mind also that finishing early is a tuition-neutral decision; you pay the same amount of tuition whether you finish in three or four semesters.

Non-Wharton Courses

Students may enroll in elective coursework at any of Penn’s schools provided they meet the requirements set forth by the school. Students may count up to 4CUs of non-Wharton, graduate-level coursework toward the MBA degree. Graduate-level coursework is usually defined as any course at or above the 500-level, however exceptions have been made for language courses designed for “advanced” students or “professionals.”

If you have a question as to whether or not a course taken at another school at Penn can count toward the MBA degree, please contact your academic advisor or email before choosing to register. Visit the electives tab to learn more about registration for non-Wharton courses.

Course Load

Course load in the MBA program is measured in credit units. A full-semester course, meeting twice a week in one-and-a-half-hour sessions over the entire semester, is counted as one credit unit (1.0 cu). A half-semester course, meeting twice a week in one-and-a-half-hour sessions over a six-week term is counted as one half of a credit unit (0.5 cu). The structure of the MBA program allows you to complete the core requirements in the first year.

However, the heavy workload in core courses and transition to the rapid pace of the academic program at Wharton often requires a period of adjustment and you may wish to carry less than the maximum load in the first year. To discuss your individual course plans, please make an appointment with an academic adviser in the MBA Program Office.

OVERLOAD POLICY: If you have a strong academic record, you may petition the MBA Program Office for permission to carry a course load above the maximum of 6.0cu. You must be in good academic standing and must demonstrate the ability to handle the extra workload. See the Financial Information section of the MBA Resource Guide for information on the additional costs associated with coursework overload and summer courses.