Flexibility is the name of the game for current first-year and future business majors at Notre Dame.
A new college-level core curriculum approved for this year’s first-year undergraduates in the Mendoza College of Business includes 24 fewer credit hours, or eight courses, to check off their four-year plan of study.
Courses no longer required of all business majors include:
- Statistic for Business I
- Accountancy II
- Business Technology and Analytics
- Business Law
- Managerial Economics
- Macroeconomic Analysis
- Foresight/Business Problem Solving
- Process Analysis
At the same time, the class of 2026 and beyond will have nine credit hours, or typically three courses, to take “broadening electives.” The stipulation is that the nine hours must be taken in at least two business departments outside the student’s primary major.
Why was the curriculum changed?
Martijn Cremers, dean of the college, said the core changes allow students to have more control over their undergraduate studies while still providing a “comprehensive business education.”
“The key ‘why’ is to allow our students to be able to take more ownership of their own curriculum and ideally, allow them to take another major outside of the college,” Cremers said.
The change is also part of a larger plan to offer more time for discernment among underclassmen. In fall 2019, in Cremers’ year as interim dean, the college began allowing first-years to take Mendoza courses, making the undergraduate degree a four-year program as opposed to three.
“The old structure meant that the sophomore year was completely dominated by business courses,” Cremers said, adding that students had less time to decide whether to switch majors within Mendoza or have the opportunity to transfer to another college within Notre Dame.
Mendoza will continue to offer its five majors: finance, accounting, marketing, management consulting and business analytics.
Assistant dean Andrew Wendelborn manages the advising office and serves as the point person for undergraduate affairs in Mendoza. Wendelborn said he thinks it will allow students to expand their skill set, leading to more opportunities for a wider variety of internships.
“Today, people aren’t just doing accounting,” he said. “People are dabbling in all sorts of stuff.”
Wendelborn’s office also approves all Mendoza study abroad applications. He says studying abroad should become not only more flexible, but more doable, as students can consider programs that don’t offer any business courses.
“We want to see, can you still graduate, do that location without business and be done in eight semesters,” he said. “So with the reduction in the College Core, that’s opening up a whole other batch of credits [and] I think it’s going to be more attractive for business students to take a location that has no business courses.”
However, all current sophomores, juniors and seniors must finish out the old requirements, regardless of where they are in their degree.
Junior Morgan Rader, a finance and economics double major, expects to be done with her core requirements by the end of her junior year. And that’s with a planned semester abroad in London. While she can’t take advantage of the new space in the curriculum, she sees it as a holistic education for future business students.
“I guess I’m not really benefiting from it,” she said, “But I like the idea that people will have more flexibility to actually just take classes they’re interested in rather than having a set schedule plan that they have to do.”
Rader added that she thinks it may be beneficial for students to still have a “recommended” schedule to promote a well-rounded one.
Given that he is in a student-facing role, Wendelborn acknowledges that he knows some upperclassmen are disappointed they missed the change by a year or two.
“Just to be fair to everybody and consistent, we had to signal that we’re going to start with the class of 2026,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the office.”
Implementation to affect faculty course assignments
All courses cut from the core curriculum will still be available for students to take rather than phased out, Cremers said, but they will be offered under new names. In theory, any incoming student could take the same exact curriculum as the class of 2025 and older.
Yet, as fewer students inevitably enroll in the dropped core classes, professors will have to shift to teach different ones.
“We’ve made it very clear, very explicit, that due to these changes, no faculty will lose any opportunity to teach here,” he said. “We will ask some faculty to teach a different course that’s still within their expertise.”
The less structured curriculum is also built to offer faculty a chance to be more creative and free to teach specialized courses on topics of interest to them, Cremers said.
While this fall’s news has been years in the making, Cremers noted he didn’t know the last time the curriculum had been changed, just that it had been a while.
“We haven’t revisited the Core for a long time,” he said. “So I do think it’s a good idea to occasionally do this.”
Contact Alysa Guffey at firstname.lastname@example.org.