Elective Courses

Each year a series of electives on different advanced topics are offered. The offerings change from year to year and have included Advanced Corporate Finance; Creativity and Innovation; Contemporary Topics in Marketing; Gender and Leadership in Complex Organizations; International Business and Finance; Investments; Financial Modeling; Venture Capital; Culturally Intelligent Leadership; Sustainability Analysis and Reporting; and Nonprofit Management. Certain prerequisites may apply. 3 credits per elective.

Sample Electives

GSM 501 Internship
Organizations in a variety of industries may offer formal or informal internship programs in a variety of functional areas. Internships are a great way to develop/enhance your skill sets while providing exposure to an industry or function that you are interested in from a career standpoint. Choose your internship strategically — answer the question: is it going to make you more marketable to target employers upon graduation?

  • Interns will meet with a faculty advisor regularly over the semester.
  • Interns will be expected to work 225 hours over 16 weeks for 3 credits.
  • Internships should be paid but may be unpaid. Hourly rates can span from $12 - $20/hour on average, and some organizations pay students in a lump sum.
  • Internships are graded on a pass/fail system.
  • Internship credit is determined based on hours worked over the course of the semester.

Prerequisites: Faculty Advisor approval. International students on an F or J visas should inquire about additional requirements.

GSM 570 Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Where do great new ideas come from? And how can we evaluate and transform our creative ideas into workable plans, projects and organizations? In this course we will investigate, interactively and experientially, three dynamic concepts of great value in the world of work today — creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. We begin by exploring creativity including the tools and practices that open the mind and heart to experimentation. We then consider creativity in the context of innovation — the route whereby ideas become opportunities as they are defined as new products and processes of value to people and society. Finally, with entrepreneurship, we consider the personal values and mindset of the pioneers (yes, you!) who create organizations and organizational change to bring these new products and processes to life --from small routines to world changing schemas. The course is ideal for those who embrace or are intrigued by the label "change maker" including those thinking that they will launch a new business, a social venture, or bring change to existing organizations now or sometime in their careers. Anyone who understands that practical creativity is a necessary art for the successful professional in today's world is welcome. The course is open to all students as an MBA elective without pre-requisite, and it is also the first course in the concentration in entrepreneurship. Students in graduate programs other than the MBA at Simmons, are welcomed by the professor. Prerequisites: None

GSM 571 Business Plans
This course is the nuts and bolts of thinking through, testing, and presenting a creative plan for launching your own venture, whether that be a new business or social enterprise, or a venture with line authority in an existing organization (for-profit, non-profit, government). Students will use and add to their knowledge of finance, marketing, operations, and strategy to craft a plan thereby integrating their MBA training into a finished, professional product proposing a scalable, sustainable venture with impact (the SOM entrepreneurship program mission). (Note: Many graduates have said this is the best exercise they were given to truly capture the full MBA learning path.) Students will work on an idea of their choosing, or if they do not have a scalable idea at the ready, can develop an idea with the professor or work with a local entrepreneur. For the latter, students must be in touch with the professor at least a month before the first day of class.

Three other critical elements of the class beyond development of the plan are presentation skill development, cohort building, and interaction with guest speakers and advisors. Students will refine their skill in presenting a business idea in short (30 second), mid (2-3 minute) and long (10 minute) form. Each student will also be linked with a professional advisor to review the plan and comment before our final, public presentation day, entitled the Raw Business Plan Competition. While Business Plans and Proposals is the second course of the concentration in entrepreneurship for the MBA, it is also an MBA elective and all MBA students and alumna are welcome to participate, given satisfaction of pre-requisites. Prerequisites: GSM 425, GSM 570, GSM 421 or GSM 435 (co-req ok), or permission of professor

GSM 502 Independent Study
Independent studies are research projects done under the direction of a faculty member. Successful independent studies typically are mutually beneficial to both the student and the faculty member. The student should submit a plan outlining the hypothesis and areas of research to be explored and which faculty member will be her advisor. No registrations for an independent study will be processed until this is submitted. Students must identify a faculty advisor prior to registration for any independent study. A comprehensive 30-page research paper or another major piece of student output is required as the deliverable. Prerequisites: Faculty Advisor approval

GSM 503 Marketing in the Age of Social Media
This course is about the ways companies, and specifically marketers, must view, analyze, operationalize and respond to cultural shifts in real time. We will look to the past to understand what really has and hasn't changed as a result of innovation. We will survey what digital tools have made possible for marketers and advertisers, and ways to measure efficacy of online and offline programs. We will consider the decisions modern marketers make everyday — based on industry landscape, business model, customer preferences and inclinations, core brand values, technology, budgets, and anticipated future change and innovation. We will move fluidly between the offline and online worlds, just as customers do, and together unearth patterns and common methods that help us manage change in real time. We will hear stories from current practitioners, and discuss cases (some created specifically for this course).

GSM 511 Culturally Intelligent Leadership
In today's global economy, the ability to interact effectively across cultures is a fundamental job requirement and critical leadership competence. This course is designed to develop knowledge and skills in the areas of optimizing human performance, cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion, and leading and managing intercultural organizations. This course will explore the implications of culture on managerial and leadership approaches, business practices, communication and interpersonal relations, organizational and individual performances as well as on human resource management dimensions, in both international and domestic settings. Global cultures, subcultures, and domestic cultures will be considered. The ethical and sustainable implications of managing cultures and diversity will be examined. By learning about the dilemmas and opportunities that are presented in international and multi-cultural work environments, students will be better able to function in an increasingly global business world. Students will be positioned to lead in a way that is more culturally competent, effectively addressing critical human resource issues, challenges, and opportunities that will arise and leveraging cultural differences as a competitive talent management advantage.

The overall goal of this course is to convey a way of thinking that increases students' abilities to understand the influence of national and cultural boundaries on individuals, organizations, and on organizational practices. Special emphasis will be placed on the management of people, with a particular focus on women, and groups in international organizations. Students will also learn how to apply cultural intelligence (CQ) at all levels of an organization and will take a Global Mindset Inventory to asses personal levels of cross cultural literacy and preparation for overseas assignments. Prerequisites: GSM 455

GSM 512 Corporate Social Responsibility
This is a partially on-line course introducing the broad scope of issues addressed by corporate social responsibility and the economic rationale for business to consider its social role. Students gain familiarity with two specific tools of the trade, voluntary standards adherence and stakeholder engagement/prioritization. Applying this general overview of issues and tools, individual students conduct an organizational social responsibility audit and develop a strategic recommendation. The course concludes by exploring the intra-organizational dynamics of gaining support for social responsibility initiatives.

GSM 516 Sustainability Analysis and Reporting
This course introduces students to best practices in sustainability analysis, evaluation and reporting in corporate and non-profit settings. As discussed in this course, sustainability includes environmental, social and governmental (ESG) considerations. This is a competency-based curriculum with an emphasis on mastering specific management tools. The course comprises three modules: 1. Introduction to ESG measurement and reporting based on understanding non-traditional approaches to measuring economic value; 2. Methods for calculating external benefits of responsibility efforts that demonstrate the financial value of voluntary investments in social welfare; 3. Methods for calculating internal financial returns on responsibility investments. These methods are valuable for corporations seeking to build their sustainability performance and for non-profits aiming to build/improve social impact measurement capabilities. Prerequisites: GSM 411, GSM 435 (co-req ok)

GSM 520 Strategic Performance Measures
This case-based course focuses on the measures an organization develops to achieve its stated strategic, financial and operational goals in a business climate that emphasizes achieving ever increasing levels of corporate performance. A significant portion of the course will be devoted to both the elements and the applications of the Balanced Scorecard as an integrative tool to evaluate organizational performance in a variety of settings. Besides the Balanced Scorecard, we will briefly examine other ways to measure organizational success through risk assessment and other performance measures. Because the antecedents of many of these concepts lie with some fundamental management accounting concepts and their link to strategy, marketing, operations, organization behavior and finance, this course will focus on the whole organization. Prerequisites: GSM 420, GSM 421

GSM 524 Financial Statement Analysis
This case-based course emphasizes the skills required to analyze and value a firm for investment, lending, or strategic purposes. The case approach provides hands-on experience in the analysis of financial and non-financial information, including developing understanding of its creation and use within the firm's economic and strategic environments. Major topics include business strategy and accounting analysis, and performance analysis and valuation. Specific topics include evaluating the link between business strategy and financial reporting choices; evaluating earnings quality and determining the sustainability of current performance; making accounting adjustments to improve earnings quality for analysis; developing forecasts suitable for projecting value and for internal growth planning and financing purposes; and assessing equity value. Prerequisite: GSM 420

GSM 526 Research Design and Analysis
Effective strategic planning and decision making relies on management's ability to acquire and interpret relevant market-related information and have the skills to carry out sound research. This course will provide MBA students with an in-depth understanding of the research methods used by management researchers to obtain information to guide decision making. The goal is to provide students with sufficient knowledge about research methods to allow them to become sophisticated users and clients of marketing research services. Emphasis will be on how to: (1) specify information needs and design a research study to meet those needs; (2) collect, analyze, and use research data to make effective strategic and managerial decisions; (3) communicate the research findings and their implications to various stakeholders. Prerequisites: GSM 425 (Co-Req in Fall OK)

GSM 528 Brand Management
For many firms, the brand associated with their products and/or services are their most valuable assets, and, hence, much management attention is given to designing, communicating, stewarding, and protecting them. This course is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of brand management and how brands and the stories that define them are crafted and communicated to consumers via integrated marketing communications programs. Historically, brand stories were designed for and communicated to consumers through mass media vehicles like television advertising; however, changes in both the business environment and consumer culture have made this strategy less effective. The fragmentation of mass media, the proliferation of alternative ways to reach consumers, the increasing skepticism of consumers to marketers, messages, and the increasing desire of consumers to co-create the meaning of the brands that shape their lives have forced marketers to reconsider the ways in which they build and communicate their brands. This course takes a contemporary view of branding as a collaborative process of meaning making between firms, consumers, and other cultural producers, and includes emerging theory and best practices on open source branding, branding in Web 2.0, brand communications in brand communities, and consumer generated advertising. Prerequisites: GSM 425

GSM 536 Investments
Investments is an applied practitioner's course that will give you the skills to determine future goals for the risk and expected return of financial assets, choose appropriate investments to achieve these goals, and then monitor the actual performance of the investments relative to expectations/benchmark and the overall market's returns. By the end of the class you will be able to select investments, create portfolios and then evaluate the portfolio's performance to achieve either your professional or personal financial goals. Topics covered include the risk-return tradeoff, portfolio theory, U.S. stock market alternatives, stock valuation, stock price behavior, stock options, mutual funds, bonds, and futures contracts. Simulation trading will be used for the benefit of a chosen client. Client communication, education, support are a class expectation. The class will be a mixture of lecture, class discussions, and in-class problem review with semester end student presentations on portfolio performance. One research project and presentation will focus on the empirical results of the testing of a market anomaly, and how it might be used to achieve abnormal investment returns. The class will be heavily influenced by current business, investments and world events. Each member of the class, including the professor, will be actively seeking new investments and monitoring current investment positions. All students will be expected to have done the assigned work before class so that they can add to the class learning/discussion, or ask questions on assigned material. Prerequisite: GSM 435

GSM 537 International Business and Finance
This course discusses, analyzes and debates current issues in global business, with a focus on the role of emerging markets in today's integrated global economy. We will discuss foreign direct investments, global sourcing, and marketing efforts of western businesses in the BRIC countries. We will discuss the increasing importance of large BRIC businesses in the global market place. In a parallel fashion, we will pay special attention to international finance issues faced by international investors and corporations. We introduce the currency markets and follow with currency-derivative markets. Currency trading and arbitrage practices are illustrated and analyzed. Exchange rate risk management using these instruments is illustrated and analyzed. Important international financial parity conditions are discussed. We then extend basic financial management concepts and principles into an international framework. International capital markets and international portfolio investments are also covered. Prerequisite: GSM 435

GSM 547 Sustainable Business in Emerging Markets- Travel Course: China
The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of business and economy in China. We will consider how the economy, culture, politics and economics of China since the 1970s have shaped the China we see today. The goal is for everyone in the class to leave this experience with a working knowledge of this major world economic power house. We will look at important development such as foreign direct investments in China, China as production or sourcing base for western MNCs, and China as an increasingly more important market for western businesses.

We will explore how national policy and corporate strategies in the market shape the economic development, including opportunities for growth and sustainability. We will also examine the role of women business leaders and entrepreneurs. To the greatest degree possible, we will customize the course to look at industries and markets of interest to participating students. We will also touch on current "hot button" issues including environmental impact, human rights, women's role in society, and corporate social responsibility. Prerequisites: None

GSM 553 Gender, Diversity and Organizations
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore, compare, and challenge traditional and contemporary perspectives and models of leadership. You will learn about issues of leadership, how leadership is culturally constructed, and what it means to lead effectively. You will also examine how gender affects the way women enact leadership as well as how others react to women leaders. You will analyze yourself as a leader and have multiple opportunities to explore your style, voice, strengths, and opportunities for growth, creativity, vision, and goals. You will be expected to take leadership within the class; your role will be to help create a collaborative, innovative learning environment that will support you and your classmates in your journeys of reflection, learning, and growth. This course is an experiential one, requiring openness to learning in new ways and through many different modes. In the class, you will be asked to reflect on your values, motives, past (both positive and negative) experiences of leading and being led. An underlying question in the course is: what principles and values are guiding my leadership behavior? This course is only the first step in answering this question. The course is designed to capture a snapshot of your present thoughts, feelings, and reflections on the topic of leadership in a format that you can use after leaving the School of Management. The information gleaned in this class will be helpful in enabling you to continually refine and reflect on your own stance towards and practice of leadership.

GSM 560 Financial Management for NP's
Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations applies the concepts and techniques of financial management that you learned in financial and managerial accounting to nonprofit organizations. The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of financial management in a nonprofit setting. The central topics covered in the course include understanding the financial challenges faced by nonprofit organizations, using nonprofit financial statements to analyze the financial viability of the organization, developing and evaluating cash and operational budgets which underlay the work of nonprofit organizations, analyzing sources of capital and understanding the limitations inherent in the various sources. Prerequisites: GSM 420, GSM 421, GSM 435 (co-req ok)

GSM 561 Nonprofit Management
This course will prepare students for effective leadership and management in the nonprofit sector, a sector that spans organizations of all types and sizes and is a vital partner with the for profit and government sectors both nationally and internationally. The course will examine the nonprofit sector from historical, legal, societal, social entrepreneurial and social marketing perspectives and will address the skills required to lead a mission-based, nonprofit organization. There is a strong emphasis on the ethical underpinnings of nonprofit organizations and their applications; the differences between nonprofit and for profit organizations and how these differences drive decision making. Nonprofit-specific areas that are covered include the roles and responsibilities of boards of directors, fundraising and financial development, management of volunteer programs, financial structures, accountability, strategic planning and organizational growth. Subject areas will be examined through case studies, assigned readings, web based research, lectures, class discussions and guest speakers. Students are required to fully prepare for and participate in the class and select one nonprofit organizational topic on which to prepare a written report. Prerequisites: None

GSM 563 Philanthropy, Policy, and Fundraising
This course explores the history and development of philanthropy in the United States, the impact of evolving public policy and the spread of philanthropy throughout the world. The course provides an in-depth review of the major areas of fund raising in the 21st century, including the development of fund raising plans and campaigns, working with donors, corporations and foundations, and trends for the future. Prerequisites: None

GSM 564 Project Management
This course examines concepts, tools, and techniques for planning, directing, and controlling projects. It takes a multidisciplinary approach that comprises the quantitative analysis required to meet the technical, budget, and time constraints of projects as well as the behavioral and organizational factors critical to their successful completion. Coursework and class sessions include lectures, readings, case studies, simulations, guest speakers, group exercises, and on-line assignments. Prerequisites: None

GSM 610 Strategic Drivers, Policy, and Politics in Health Care
This course provides a strategic overview of the health care sector, to help you better understand the context in which health care institutions operate. During this period of debate over health care reform, we will examine both the historical roots of the U.S. health care system and possible trends likely to affect those who use it, work in it, and pay for it. In a sector that accounts for at least 15% of GDP, employs a majority of women, and still fails to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population while it continues to increase in costs, the requirement for strong and knowledgeable leaders is critical. To help meet that requirement, the course is designed to expose you to the major classes of issues affecting health care: macroeconomic, demographic, epidemiologic, microeconomic, scientific/technical, sociocultural, and political regulatory. Prerequisites: None

GSM 613 Health Industry Markets and Business Models
This course examines the variety of distinct products and markets that compose the health care industry. These include hospitals, long-term care, HMOs, physician offices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, medical devices, insurance and medical informatics products. Each marketplace would be examined in the course, with attention paid to the financial performance of the firms in each marketplace, the kinds of business models by the leading firms, and the marketing approaches used in each marketplace to reach customers. Students will develop cases of firms in several of these marketplaces, assess the firm's performance relative to industry standards, and explain what business and marketing practices have led to observed results. Prerequisites: GSM 411

GSM 614 Health Care Practicum
In the summer semester, the program requires students to complete a full-time, 10-week practicum with supervision by a faculty member and a field preceptor. Students receive broad exposure to a health care organization and conduct a specific management project that benefits the sponsoring organization. The program customizes the practicum depending on a student's level of experience and particular interests in a health field sector, e.g. hospitals, managed care, insurance, advocacy, pharmaceuticals, etc. The practicum is full time (some are paid) for 10 weeks. Currently employed students may opt for a part-time practicum by spreading this requirement over two semesters. Students present and defend their field projects to the faculty, preceptors and fellow students. Prerequisites: Health Care Concentration Students Only