MBA course timeline

The ESMT MBA in-depth

The ESMT MBA is about more than attending lectures.

Our MBA structure is based half on formal coursework, while a significant portion focuses on valuable experience outside the classroom. For information about the ESMT MBA course offerings please read below. Be sure to check out the Professional development, Student life, and Careers pages for information about networking and personal growth in the ESMT MBA.

In addition to the core curriculum, students have a variety of options to enrich their MBA experience with further international exposure. Be sure to check out other options ESMT offers to develop global leaders during the MBA.

Every year, ESMT MBA students begin their journey in January and finish in December. The MBA year is divided into two semesters: Mastering Management and Taking the Lead. The ESMT faculty designed all courses, including their sequence, to focus on the conjunction of theory and practice for the current challenges faced by global leaders.

The ESMT MBA is divided into six modules, or course groups. Each module builds on the previous courses to challenge students to think strategically, initiate creative solutions, and work in dynamic, international teams. Read below to see the full course offering in the MBA program. Follow the links on the right to discover some examples of ESMT MBA experiences.

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General management in context

General management in context

January & February

Straight from the first module at ESMT, MBA participants are immersed in general principles of responsible leadership. The courses in this module form the basis for managing organizations, assessing economic impact, and making decisions.

The Leadership Competency Development series forms an important part of this module with seminars which develop the participants’ problem solving, communication, and leadership skills.

Course highlights:

  • Economic Thinking
  • Introduction to General Management
  • Business Ethics
  • Managerial Analysis and Decision Making
  • Sustainable Business: The Triple Bottom Line

At the end of February, ESMT’s Dean and Program Director ask each MBA team to develop a decision plan for a corporate management board facing an ethically challenging situation. The assignment combines aspects of all courses learned in the module and integrates previous learning into a real-life team exercise that challenges students to combine and apply what they have learned.

Develop functional expertise: The manager’s toolbox

Develop functional expertise: The manager’s toolbox

March & April

The second module exposes MBA participants to the theories underlying various facets of business administration. During this module, ESMT MBA students build core managerial skills. Different organizational functions are studied rigorously, giving students exposure to all sides of an organization.

Course highlights:

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Accounting and Performance Management
  • Marketing and Market Research
  • Operations Management and Supply Chain
  • Introduction to Finance

In late April, students complete an interactive, three-day business simulation called MARGA. Each team operates as a business, and must make marketing, operations, and accounting decisions that could save or sink their company’s performance in the simulation.

Integrated business thinking

Integrated business thinking

May, June, & early July

ESMT MBA participants build on their understanding of management fundamentals and grow beyond basic management theory to become true integrative business leaders. ESMT’s objective at this stage is for each student to develop an ability to make a difference – through innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable governance, and responsible leadership. The courses in this module stress the areas where future leaders must excel, and where they must have specific awareness. There is a strong, coherent focus on the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.

Course highlights:

  • Managing and Developing People
  • Corporate Finance
  • Business & Corporate Strategy

By July, students have learned to apply their foundational knowledge to more complex problems and make solid, strategic decisions.

Right before the three-week summer break in July, MBA students have the option to participate in an optional ten-day International Field Seminar (IFS) to one of two destinations covering both Innovation and Technology and issues of Sustainability. Students may link their choice to their specialization during the elective part of the curriculum in fall. IFS destinations are chosen each year based on student demand and feasibility. Previous destinations include Silicon Valley, China, India, Mexico, Japan, Russia, South Korea, South Africa and Turkey.

Entrepreneurship & specializations in innovation & technology and sustainability

Entrepreneurship & specializations in innovation & technology and sustainability

August & September

After the summer break, MBA students continue to apply their newly acquired integrative business skills during a six-day capstone business simulation. The INTOPIA business simulation requires student teams to work as an executive board of a global company. Teams develop and implement their individual strategy, must negotiate agreements with other teams, and can form alliances if desired.

The capstone simulation is followed by a two-week Entrepreneurship class.

Through ESMT’s electives, MBA students can specialize in one of two tracks or split their course selection to create a personalized schedule. Every year, ESMT offers a series of electives in each track, as well as a selection of general electives.

The first elective track, Management of Innovation and Technology, concentrates on how to successfully innovate through technology, and how large organizations can stay creative to continually innovate.

The second track, Global Sustainable Business, focuses on issues of global sustainability – social, economic, and environmental – and how both businesses and non-profits create sustainable solutions to problems.

Past electives included:

  • Capturing Value from Innovation
  • Organizing for Innovation
  • Bringing Technology to Market
  • Strategic Leadership: Innovation & Execution
  • Sustainable Supply Chain Management
  • Fighting Poverty with Business
  • Corporate Environmental Strategy
  • The Economics of Climate Change
  • Brands of the Future
  • Raising Capital
  • International Finance

After finishing their on-campus electives, MBA students have the option to attend a one-week elective course at one of the prestigious partner business schools of the GNAM network. Partner schools include Yale (USA), EGADE (Mexico), HEC Paris (France), Fudan (China) and many more.

Applied fieldwork

Applied fieldwork

October & November

After the elective courses, participants apply their strategic learning to a team-based applied fieldwork. Projects are selected from ESMT’s corporate partners and contacts, and from submissions from the Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Clubs. ESMT selects only those projects that have a significant strategic component. Students use their team’s experience to write a master’s thesis on a theoretical topic based on the fieldwork.

The applied fieldwork part of the program is your chance to diversify your portfolio (with a project in a different industry or function) or strengthen your previous experience with a new strategic challenge. Students returning to their company after the MBA are encouraged to work with ESMT to develop and lead a project in their own company.

ESMT MBA professional club members have an added task - to develop their own project in line with the club’s mission. The Entrepreneurship Club can work with local startups to find an innovation project. The Social Impact Club members work with NGOs and social entrepreneurs to create viable solutions to development problems.

Just a few examples of past applied fieldwork projects:

  • Develop a business plan for a social entrepreneurial venture in the solar power industry in rural India
  • Design a development plan, strategic and operational, to internationalize a successful Berlin real estate startup within the next three years
  • Create a market overview and strategic recommendations for launching a new technological innovation onto the global market for a design and manufacturing firm based in New Zealand
  • Write a market entry strategy for a European-based renewable energy smart grid system moving into the US market
  • Study a recent merger between a German company and a Chinese company, and outline the strengths and weaknesses involved in the process, developing realistic organizational solutions to problems faced
Business plan competition

Business plan competition


The program ends with a two-week interactive seminar on Writing a Business Plan. Professors balance classroom learning with a series of guest lecturers from local startup companies. Students work in teams to develop a new and innovative product or business model on which they must write a comprehensive business plan. Students present their business plans at an Innovation Fair, where they compete against each other. ESMT community members act as investors and decide which student team they would most trust with their funds.

MBA Curriculum Timeline

MBA Curriculum Timeline



Optional pre-MBA courses

Optional pre-MBA courses

Optional pre-MBA courses run from October 1 to December 22, 2018 and include:

  • 3 months intensive German course at GLS (German Language School Berlin)
  • Full access to ESMT campus facilities
  • Scheduled meeting with ESMT Career Services Advisor
  • Ability to participate in ESMT Open Lectures
  • Integration into ESMT MBA Club activities
  • Networking opportunities with current MBA class

Application deadline for candidates wishing to attend these pre-MBA courses is August 1st. The fee for the pre-MBA course is €1,500.