5 Practical Skills You Can Expect to Learn in Your Baylor MBA
Discover some of the fundamental, key skills you will learn in your Baylor MBA—and how they are integrated into the curriculum.
The skills you learn and the quality of your education are two keys that are not taken for granted at Baylor.Timothy Kayworth
"We believe in quality,” Timothy Kayworth, professor of information systems and associate dean for graduate business programs, said. “While we do have high expectations for program growth, we want the type of growth that maintains our high standards towards the quality of the classroom experience for students."
“Of course, there are different elements of quality. Three areas we focus on are relevant content, timeliness of response and faculty engagement. We have learned over time that these are keys to building student satisfaction and achieving a nationally ranked program."
Kayworth has had a large role in those efforts. He joined Baylor in 1996 after earning an MBA, working in information systems consulting and roles like MIS director and operations manager, and then getting his PhD. From day one, he taught classes and has over the years served in several administrative roles.
He took some time to describe and give context to the practical skills that guide each of Baylor’s MBA programs—the online MBA, full-time MBA and the Executive MBA programs in Dallas (one weekend a month) and Austin (Monday nights).
5 Practical Skills You Will Learn in Your Baylor MBA
Faculty members regularly meet to determine how they can achieve better learning outcomes. Part of that is making sure course content and skills remain relevant to the market.
"We have talked to industry leaders and said, 'if you are hiring a student from us, what are you looking for?'” Kayworth said. “These are the things we are hearing back from companies. These skills have been validated with outside industry as being important."
1. Functional Knowledge
Think of the very foundations of business—economics, finance, information systems, marketing and so forth. These are the set of skills that all MBA students needs to know, regardless of their career goals. The “table stakes,” as Kayworth put it.
“What we are doing is building students’ tool sets,” he said. That happens through the required core courses everyone takes. For instance, interpreting the health of an organization from their financial statements is part of that tool set students receive from their Baylor MBA. “One of the keys is for students to recognize how these different functions are integrated,” Kayworth said.
2. Critical Thinking
This may seem like a broad topic that is a given for virtually any academic program, but it is actually an in-depth, nuanced area within business.
For instance, consider decision making alone. How do successful business leaders tune out irrelevant information and concentrate on what they need to make a decision? How do they take a more holistic stance that keeps big-picture issues in focus? Those questions reflect the interest in decision-making skills for leaders, which is a critical subtopic within critical thinking.
Critical thinking is embedded into various courses, projects and assignments. Kayworth referenced how a marketing professor runs a simulation that helps students think about different variables and make decisions. In a strategy class, students are required to interview a CEO and write about how that person plans an organizational strategy.
Collaborating in cross-functional teams is another critical skill that is a hallmark of the Baylor MBA programs. It is important to stress how that is the case for all of the programs—even the online modality.
“Even while we promote our online program as being asynchronous,” Kayworth said. “I think we still do an excellent job of engagement. Whether it is through office hours or having them do a virtual team project where these students have to work together, they are still getting engagement."
For the other programs, the full-time and Executive MBA degrees, students benefit from a cohort model and in-person interactions with peers and faculty members. In a recent post for the full-time program, you can read about how students and graduates collaborate with faculty members, among other takeaways.
Communication spans verbal and written communication, as well as how you present ideas persuasively. “Even managing,” Kayworth added. “How do you manage up and manage down?”
It also encompasses a topic like negotiation, which comes into play in many situations. One example of negotiation was featured in the Baylor Business Review with Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speciale, who was only two weeks into his online MBA when he was deployed to East Africa. “He could have bailed out,” Kayworth said, but Speciale stayed in the program. “We worked with him, we would print assignments out for him, and sometimes he could print out assignments ahead of time before going to areas with poor connectivity.”
During his deployment, Speciale was in the negotiations class. He immediately took what he learned to his role as a public information officer while collaborating with the African Union, private sector and foreign governments to provide humanitarian services near the border of Kenya and Somalia. “There is not a lot of negotiating within the military, especially at junior ranks, so that class opened my eyes to the possibility of win-win situations,” Speciale said in the article.
Ethics involves applying values, integrity, accountability and service.
“I think business is often maligned in the press as being self-serving,” Kayworth said. “So, it is important to develop ethical leadership skills and concepts in our students. That is part of the Baylor DNA.”
The mission of the Hankamer School of Business clarifies the role that ethics, values and integrity play: “We cultivate principled leaders and serve the global marketplace through transformational learning and impactful scholarship in a culture of innovation guided by Christian values.” Plus, Baylor hosts the National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership to advance the development of ethical leaders.
“In one of our core faculty meetings, we discussed in our respective classes—how many classes are providing some type of exercise or assignment dealing with ethics?” Kayworth said. “We found that virtually every faculty was embedding some sort of ethics assignment or content into their respective coursework. That is a collective effort and part of our culture.”
Discover how you can build these and other critical skills with an MBA. To learn more about the Master of Business Administration, explore our detailed program page. Still have questions? Our admissions advisers can help you determine the best path forward. Complete the form below and our team will contact you directly.