Duke MBA Fall 1 Courses

Fall 1&2 are the first formal terms of the Duke Fuqua MBA after the Global Institute and the Health Sector Management (HSM) bootcamp (HSM students only). We remain in our sections and take 7 of the 8 core courses - accounting, statistics, and economics in Fall 1, and strategy, marketing and finance in Fall 2 - we take management communication in both terms. For Duke MBA HSM students, we also take a seminar series on top of the core courses.

In addition, this is when the 2nd years return to campus from their summer internships so everyone is back. Club activities also started in this term, as well as recruiting for the summer for 1st years. Each term runs for 6 weeks so classes are very fast-paced. 

Like most students with non-business backgrounds, I was enrolled into the full core. People who have studied business have the option of exempted out of some of the core courses. In this way, they can start taking electives early and really tailor the Duke MBA to their personal career needs. You can read about Fall 2 courses in a post that will be published next week.


Accounting was new to me, coming from a scientific background. However, I now fully understand the fundamental principles (debits/credits, assets/liabilities/equity, etc) and can read and analyze a financial statement. Much of the course was applied and based on real-life financial statements, giving me skills I could use right away.  


I had taken statistics back in undergrad but the focus of a business statistics course was different. There was a big emphasis on regression and forecasting. With the abundance of data that companies have nowadays, brushing up on stats was very helpful. It was also great to master the analysis tools that are most relevant to business.


Having a science background helped with economics, as there was a lot of logical thinking as well as formulas to interpret. It was a great introduction in the relationship between buyers and sellers and offered the theoretical and quantitative backbone for Strategy in Fall 2.  

Management Communication

One area I wanted to work on when entering into the MBA program was being more effective in communicating my ideas. It is such a critical skill to have in both the professional and personal setting. In both Fall 1&2 we had the opportunity to practice our communication skills in class. There was a combination of both impromptu and prepared speeches, as well as exercises on persuasion, defending an argument, etc.

Health Sector Management Seminar

At Fuqua we don't have class on Wednesdays, so we have time for recruiting, extracurricular activities, group work, etc (Usually though, Wednesdays become our busiest day of the week). For students in the Duke MBA HSM program, we have a 1 1/2 hour seminar series on Wednesday morning.

External folks from various areas within the health care industry, many of which are Fuqua HSM alums, are brought in to talk about their work and how it relates to industry trends. Invited speakers have represented numerous players including providers, consulting, pharma, biotech, venture capital, health IT, etc. 

Read about Fall 2 classes here.


  1. Hey Steve, I enjoy reading your blog. Fuqua is on the top of my list for fall 2016, so your blog is very informative. My background is similar to yours, just that I have a PhD in chemical biology. Am curious to know what other activities do you have as a part of HSM apart from courses & seminars (any biotech/pharma consulting clubs, regulatory approval case studies etc.?)

    1. Thanks for your comment Sathya! It's great to meet science folks who are interested in transitioning into business. There are many activities that we do as part of HSM that give us industry experience and knowledge. Because you asked, I will write a blog post on this and publish it in the next few days. Please stay tuned!

    2. If you'd like, you can subscribe to the blog with your email. This way you'll get a reminder when it's ready. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for your prompt response Steven. I will subscribe to it.